Somehow, it’s already been three months since I left home and arrived down under. Time has flown by for me, yet so much has happened. My life has settled down now that I found a home away from home in Sydney. I have three jobs, all for Wake Up! Sydney, the BEST hostel in Sydney (and top-rated in the world!). I work as a kitchen hand for the café and bar, promote events for the bar and hostel, and write blogs for the website. I have the most amazing roommates and the staff has been so welcoming. I’m loving life here and excited for the next few months in Sydney!
Day 68: Sunday, November 18th
I had a 6:30am shift in the kitchen where I learned how to make pizza and sandwiches. My roommate Amber and I went to Manly in the afternoon to take advantage of the Sunday transportation discount. I had a Ben & Jerry’s PB Cookies Waffle Cone and melted a little inside because it was so delicious. Manly is a peaceful place. It reminds me of Byron Bay because of the abundance of little cafes and cute shops. After sitting on the dock for a while, we headed back to Wake Up! to go on the pub crawl because a lot of our friends were going. Sadly, my roommate who didn’t even go to the pub crawl because she was at work broke her rib falling from her bunk bed. So crazy how it happened and unfortunate because it takes 8 weeks to heal!
Day 69: Monday, November 19th
I had an interview for door-to-door sales for Hello Fresh in the morning. I quickly realized it wasn’t for me and declined their offer. I went shoe shopping for another interview tomorrow, finally found these fresh vegan ravioli and a cola flavoured sparkling water I’d been searching for, and visited the hostel’s reception to ask about a travel writing opportunity that was posted in the hallway. I chatted with the social media director and sent her this blog to see if I would be a good fit for the position. After the gym, I had another shift in the kitchen.
Day 70: Tuesday, November 20th
I had my interview with BridgeClimb. It was a group interview and my team won the newspaper tower building challenge. It was a nearly three hour interview and at the END, they told me my availability (which they had before the interview) doesn’t work with their needs. Oh well, interviewing experience is always good! I shipped a package home, including my broken computer.
Day 71: Wednesday, November 21st
I met with Bruce, the manager of the hostel’s kitchen, in the morning. He offered me a paid position working in the kitchen 20-30 hours per week! It’s the perfect position because all of my hours are at the same place and I’ll get more experience in a kitchen to see if it’s a career path I actually want to explore. I’m really excited and feel so lucky that it worked out like this! I met with the social media manager again in the afternoon and she hired me, TOO! I now have three jobs all at the same place: working for accommodation in the kitchen, working in the kitchen, and writing travel blogs. I went to Side Bar after I finished work at 10 to celebrate my new jobs.
Day 72: Thursday, November 22nd
It may be Thanksgiving in Australia, but nothing interesting happens here! I had my first paid shift at Wake Up from 6:30am-1pm. Looks like early mornings are going to be normal now, so it’s lucky I can literally roll out of bed and head to work because I woke up at 6:25am. I took a long nap after work, ordered a burger from a place I’ve been dying to try for a late lunch, and went to bed early.
Day 73: Friday, November 23rd
I worked in the morning and went to the gym. Facetimed my family who was about to eat Thanksgiving dinner at home. It was weird seeing everyone together while I’m halfway around the world. A girl who used to work for the hostel but still lives here had a birthday dinner in the evening. It was nice being with a bunch of the Wake Up! staff members outside of the hostel for a night. We ate at a Mexican restaurant that had huge frozen margaritas for happy hour. After dinner, I began feeling homesick because everyone there knew each other so well and although they weren’t excluding me at all, I missed having friends that I knew as well as the ones in Seattle.
Day 74: Saturday, November 24th
Worked in the morning, relaxed, and then helped out my roommate who does event promotion for the bar and hostel. We led a beer pong competition and it was a blast! After, we split a Domino’s pizza because they have vegan cheese in Australia.
Day 75: Sunday, November 25th
Worked in the morning, worked out, cooked, did laundry, and went to bed early.
Day 76: Monday, November 26th
I work crazy hours this week. Worked 8.5 hours straight and then worked 3 hours again in the evening! It was an exhausting day.
Day 77: Tuesday, November 27th
Worked 9 hours straight and an additional 4 in the evening! But I managed to go to the gym so it was okay!
Day 78: Wednesday, November 28th
Worked from 6-3 and 6-10 again. My feet were killing me by now! I asked my managers if there was a way to switch around my work for accommodation hours because I was exhausted from so many double shifts and long hours in the kitchen. I feel blessed because the managers were so helpful in finding a solution so that I wasn’t working such long hours. Starting next week, I’ll be working in the kitchen for a job; and for accommodation, I’ll be writing one blog and working event promotions! I am pumped to have these positions because I’m gaining experience in a kitchen, seeing if I love writing as much when I have a prompt, and being social as an event promoter. This hostel just keeps getting better and better.
Day 79: Thursday, November 29th
Worked a few hours in the morning. My roommates Dani, Amber, and I went to Westfield mall about a 20 minute walk away. We were searching for retro costumes to wear to our staff party next Tuesday. We ate dinner at a delicious Italian restaurant that even had the vegan menu items labeled. We walked through Darling Harbour on the way home. I met up with Aggy and a few friends in Side Bar and we decided to go to Ivy, another bar nearby. This bar has a swimming pool on the roof and was about seven stories tall. I’ve never seen anything like it!
Day 80: Friday, November 30th
Slept in and had a new roommate move in! Her name is Katie and she’s from England. I met with my new manager about my role in event promotions. I’m even more excited now! Katie and I grabbed a beer at the café at the hostel before meeting up with Dani and Amber. We briefly visited what was supposed to be a beautiful place decorated for Christmas, but was closed for a wedding. When we got back, we went down to Side Bar because most of the staff was there.
Day 81: Saturday, December 1st
Woke up early for work, got a much needed pedicure with Dani, took a nap, went shopping for clothes to wear to the Christmas party again, journaled, and watched Miracle on 34thStreet.
Day 82: Sunday, December 2nd
Worked, went to the gym, and then headed to Manly to take advantage of the Sunday transportation discount where I saved nearly $20 on ferry fees! I shopped for new clothes but still didn’t find anything I like. Wandered through the beach area for a bit and then met Averill and Yoie for dinner at a Mexican restaurant. It was wonderful having a conversation with adults after being surrounded by backpackers for so long. We had a tasty dinner and frozen margaritas.
Day 83: Monday, December 3rd
Worked in the morning and then met with Jaimmi, my manager for blog writing. We ended up going to a costume store because we both desperately needed to figure out our costume situation for the staff party the next day. In the evening, I worked my first official shift as an event promoter for the free pizza night. It’s harder work than you would imagine, but really fun and social.
Day 84: Tuesday, December 4th
Worked in the morning making sandwiches for the staff party in the evening. Everyone in the hostel was in such a positive mood and filled with excitement for the staff party. At about 3:45, my roommates and I finished getting ready and went down to the reception area where other staff members were waiting. It was amazing seeing the costumes everyone came up with! The retro theme was a big hit. We started the night at a café/bar in Darling Harbour before setting sail on a private boat through Sydney Harbour for 4 hours. The views were beautiful and the company was even better. Working for a hostel generally requires an outgoing, friendly personality. As you might imagine, that makes for fantastic conversations and lots of laughs. After the boat, we took a bus to a bar in the city. This was the first night that I really began feeling like I had a home away from home and had REAL friends that went beyond surface level. I’m lucky to be surrounded by fascinating people from all over the world. Wake Up! has already given me so much and I’ve only been back in Sydney for about a month!
Day 85: Wednesday, December 5th
Slept in, caught up on my journal, and promoted the Wine and Cheese event in the evening.
Day 86: Thursday, December 6th
I went to Newtown for the day to wander around and check out more of the vegan spots. I had a lentil roll for lunch and bought a few things at the bulk food store. I went to the gym in the evening and got to know my new roommate Katie better. Amber, Dani, and Aggy went to Melbourne for the weekend and Billy moved out, so it’s just Katie and I for the weekend.
Day 87: Friday, December 7th
My official one month at Wake Up! I had the day off so I wrote, did laundry, and ran errands. I went to a spot called Spice Alley with Katie and two other coworkers, Andrew and Cameron. We went to a house party for a bit, but I left early.
Day 88: Saturday, December 8th
I cooked up a dish bursting with flavor: vegan bacon, potatoes, vegan cheese, peppers, and onions. I HAVE to make it again. I finally bought my non-slip kitchen shoes and found a little cardboard Christmas tree to buy. Alex, a girl I met up the East Coast, is in Sydney now so we caught up on life. Katie, Erik, and I went to the gym together and then Katie and I worked the beer pong competition for the hostel.
Day 89: Sunday, December 9th
Went to Bondi Beach and the Bondi Markets. I had yummy tacos and bought a neat printed towel and tote bag. I also found the Aussie version of Cards Against Humanity for $20 cheaper than anywhere else. Relaxing at the beach was nice and the ocean was even nicer. Before I went home to get ready for work, I got my second piercing in my ears! I LOVE it. I’ve wanted it for years and now I’ll have a piece of Australia with me forever (instead of a tattoo, which I don’t want). I worked the pub crawl at night which was a bit stressful because it was my first time and there were a lot of things to remember. But it was fun and I’m excited to work it again.
Day 90: Monday, December 10th
Worked in the morning, Facetimed my dad, worked out, wrote my blog post for Wake Up!, and worked the free pizza night.
Day 91: Tuesday, December 11th
Worked in the morning and then met up with Alex again at the gym. After, we went to Peanut Butter Bar and got these incredible vegan pancakes covered in peanut butter. It was nice talking to her because we met so long ago so it just feels easy. In the middle of the night, my roommates and I were awoken by loud screaming from somewhere in our room. Turns out, it was my roommate Aggy who has a tendency to sleepwalk. She was sitting upright with her hands above her head screaming, “GUYS it’s breaking! My bed is breaking!” She thought she was holding her bed up to prevent it falling and was panicking about it breaking. A few minutes later, she fell back asleep after laughing like a witch. It was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in the middle of the night.
Day 92: Wednesday, December 12th
Worked, bought costumes for the beach party themed event at the hostel, and cooked. I also got a yummy Crufet (unknown spelling?) pastry. I worked the wine and cheese event at the beach party and it was really fun! I liked dressing up and getting a giant pineapple floatie to bring to the beach later.
Day 93: Thursday, December 13th
It was my day off so I had a chill day. Bought groceries and then cooked a fried rice type of dish. Katie and I went to check out some places in the Harbour that we were considering for New Year’s Eve. It’s a big deal here and we’re trying to find amazing views with affordable prices. Places that charge $950 a person are NORMAL. After we walked around, I went to a Christmas market and got a chocolate chip donut covered in chocolate glaze with chocolate covered potato chips. Mind-blowing. The market was held at a museum about Australia’s convict history. It was interesting to read and see the old barracks. Minutes after I got home, a storm with thunder, rain, and lightening started. When it rains here, it POURS. In the middle of the night, for the second time this week, Aggy woke everyone up in the middle of the night with her sleepwalking! This time, she was standing above Amber’s bed yelling and asking why she was sleeping in the wrong bed (she wasn’t, she was in her bed). She kept repeatedly asking why we put her to bed in someone else’s bed (she went to bed on her own). She was SURE that she wasn’t sleepwalking until the morning when we were all laughing about it.
Update: both of my toenails have officially fallen off!
Day 51: Thursday, November 1st
Changed rooms at my hostel in Melbourne in the morning, VOTED, got lunch at a spot with vegan food, wandered around the beach a bit, and spent more time figuring out plans for where I want to settle and work. That evening once I checked into my new room, I spilled kombucha all over my laptop. I knew right away that my computer wasn’t going to make it. Just adds to the list of things that have gone wrong in Melbourne.
Day 52: Friday, November 2nd
Left early in the morning for Apple in Chadstone, a famous mall known as the “Fashion Capitol.” The mall was massive and even had its own transit station. I got an appointment for two hours later so I explored the mall to see what was there. Shortly after my Apple appointment began, it became clear that it was a much better idea to replace my computer. RIP. Luckily, the employee helping me for 3 of the 4 hours I was there was vegan, Australian, and great at keeping a conversation! It helped make the best out of an expensive situation. When I left the mall, I hopped on a bus that, of course, was going the wrong direction. That night, I managed to find a room for the night at a hostel called Summer House that had been recommended to me. The staff was really nice so I was feeling positive. That is, until I saw my room. I walked in the door and there was just crap everywhere, clothes, alcohol bottles, DRIED VOMIT, spilled soda. But what could I do? I needed a place to sleep for the night so I stayed. I met some nice people but wasn’t feeling very social after the past few days.
Day 53: Saturday, November 3rd
I left the hostel pretty early in the morning to Facetime Caitlin (finally) and work on some job applications. I Facetimed my dad to show him my new computer and he gave me the brilliant idea of leaving Melbourne because I felt so miserable there and had a horrible hostel. I booked my Greyhound bus for 10pm that evening! So after spending last night in the most disgusting, abhorrent room I’ve ever seen (seriously check out the pictures), I got two nights transferred to a hostel in Sydney because I fought with them over a refund. Once I finally checked out, I left and just started walking down the street to look for a café or restaurant to camp out at until my 10pm Greyhound ride. While I was walking, an Irish backpacker commented on all my bags. We got to chatting and he said I could wait at his sharehouse a few blocks away. He didn’t seem creepy at all and I really didn’t have a better option, so I went. Wow am I glad I did! I met the nicest people I’ve met in Melbourne. Four of the people I met will be in Sydney for Christmas and invited me to their home if I need a place to go. It was nice having somewhere to sit and relax because I had a headache and was feeling pretty down. At night, I took an Uber to the train station, grabbed dinner, and killed time until my bus.
As much as everyone told me I’d love Melbourne, I hated it. I didn’t meet good friends, I didn’t like my hostels, and the city felt like Seattle so I felt homesick because I wasn’t with anyone I knew. Just in the past few days of being in Melbourne, I took the wrong tram, had an Uber driver cancel when I was carrying all my stuff, called a new Uber and it was the SAME driver who was rude over the phone, went to an extremely antisocial hostel where I didn’t make any friends for five nights, broke my computer and had to replace it, got on a bus going the wrong direction, ended up in the most disgusting hostel room I’ve ever seen, lost my toothbrush, felt so homesick I cried, and rode on a Greyhound that broke down at 2am (see the next day). I was beyond ready to go leave. Maybe one day I’ll go back and (hopefully) experience the Melbourne I was told I’d love.
Day 54: Sunday, November 4th
In the middle of the night, my Greyhound broke down and added an hour to my travel journey. Seriously, Melbourne is filled with bad luck. A few hours later, I remembered that my friend Maggie who is traveling Australia might be in Sydney. I messaged her and honestly never felt so happy to learn that not only is she in Sydney, but she is in my hostel! I was so excited to check into Wake Up! Because it’s clean and social. Luckily I was able to go straight to my room even though it was only 11am. It had only been 20 minutes and Sydney was already better. After I showered, I met up with Maggie and we went walking around the city. It was perfect being with someone from home, especially after my emotionally exhausting few days in Melbourne. We both did laundry and then spent the evening together at the hostel’s event.
Day 55: Monday, November 5th
Maggie and I spent the morning being productive, she voted and I applied for three jobs. Straight away, I ended up with a job trial at two of the places! Sydney just keeps feeling more and more like the right place for me. Maggie and I walked to the Harbour, took a picture to prove we met up 8,000 miles away from home, and had lunch and gelato. Once Maggie left for her flight, I picked up a case for my computer and ate dinner at Din Tai Fung…in a food court. They even had little packets of ginger, soy sauce, and vinegar to make my sauce.
Day 56: Tuesday, November 6th
It’s officially been 8 weeks abroad, time has flown by. I had two job trials today. The first was for a Work for Accommodation job for the hostel Wakeup! Sydney working as a Kitchen Hand. My trial consisted of cleaning dishes, putting things away, and doing some basic food prep. The staff was really friendly and it went so well that I was offered the job! Two hours later was my trial for Peterpans, a backpackers travel agency, as an outside promotions person. The trial involved me walking up to anyone who looked like a backpacker and talking to them to see if they needed any travel help. Surprisingly, it was so much fun! At the end of the trial, they offered me a week paid trial. I had a big decision to make and only one day to decide! I talked to my mom, dad, and Facetimed Kevin (about time) to help me decide. I made dinner and went to the trivia event where I met up with some of the people that Maggie was friends with when she was in Sydney. We got fourth place!!
Day 57: Wednesday, November 7th
Big Day! I went down to Wake Up!’s reception early in the morning and accepted the position to work for accommodation as a kitchen hand! I’ve had the idea of working for Wake Up! in the back of my head ever since I first stayed here two months ago, so it’s exciting to be working for the nicest hostel in Sydney now. I made my decision because I’ll get an amazing community of backpackers, get to stay in a central location, gain more experience in a kitchen, and have a place to live through at least New Years! Before I moved into the staff room, I went to a vegan burger shop and vegan grocery store fifteen minutes away where I had the BEST fried chicken burger of my life. It was crispy, fresh, and bursting with flavor. I found three other vegan spots on my walk to the Cruelty Free Shop where I stocked up on all the vegan chocolate I could fit into my backpack. When I got back to the hostel, I moved in my staff room, a 6-bed room with four other girls who immediately welcomed me and invited me to join them to hang out with them. It was fun unpacking and actually getting to hang up my clothes. I got groceries and set up my dry food locker. Within just a few hours, I knew I made the right decision to work at Wake Up!
Day 58: Thursday, November 8th
Since I broke my computer and have to ship it home, I thought I would find an Australian Christmas ornament to send home. I trekked to a Christmas shop 35 minutes away only to be met by what seemed like a dollar store filled with cheap decorations. On my wander back to Wake Up!, I bought a $3 towel because now I can live a life of luxury. I signed up for a gym nearby. I’m excited to get back into a workout routine. In the evening, I had a shift cleaning the community kitchen at the hostel. It was a really simple job and nice to feel like I had a responsibility.
Day 59: Friday, November 9th
Went to the gym in the morning! After finishing up some resumes yesterday, I printed out seven and decided I wasn’t allowed to come home until all of them were passed out. It was kind of fun passing them out and talking to different café and shop managers. Hopefully I’ll hear back from somewhere! I had another evening shift at the hostel cleaning the kitchen and then hung out with my roommates and got to know them better. They’ve been introducing me to other people at the hostel who work for accommodation and showing me around the area.
Day 60: Saturday, November 10th
In the morning, I went to Glebe markets with the hostel. I bought some earrings and a beach towel because now I have room to store my belongings! I met a really nice girl from Vancouver, BC and after Glebe markets, we walked to Newtown to explore King St. Countless people have told me it’s fun to just walk the street and go into random shops, but I wasn’t expecting so many vegan places. We happened upon another market where I found an adorable romper. While I was talking to the booth owner, she asked if I was interested in working for her selling clothes at various markets when she needs help. I love markets already so to be paid to work at one every once in a while sounds like a dream. Along the street in Newtown we went into a bulk foods shop. I could have spent hours looking at all the varieties of bulk dried fruits, flours, seeds, nuts, and chocolates. I was thriving. We finished walking through Newtown and then headed back to the hostel to eat dinner. To my surprise, the woman from the market texted asking if I could work for her the next day in Bondi. Although I wasn’t expecting to work so soon, I said yes! AND one of the resumes I passed out a few days ago worked out and I have an interview Tuesday! After dinner, I went and had a second dinner with three of my roommates at this place called Spice Alley, which is an alley that has been upgraded and filled with tables and lights. There’s probably eight different stalls there and you can order from a variety of them to have a really fun meal. We ended the night at Side Bar, the bar below Wake Up!
Day 61: Sunday, November 11th
I headed for Bondi Beach Markets first thing in the morning. I helped set up the booth and was on my own for the day. One of my customers was the founder of the vegan chocolate company Alter Eco. Crazy! It was the slowest day at the market that any of the vendors near me had ever seen. So that was an unfortunate first day. After the market, I stopped at Bondi’s bulk food store and got some snacks and a vegan pesto I’ve been wanting to try for weeks. I cooked up a curried coconut quinoa dish with veggies and chickpeas. My feet were exhausted from standing for eight hours today so I called it a chill night and just applied for a few more jobs.
Day 62: Monday, November 12th
Today I went to Tamarama beach with two girls I met at the hostel. This beach is on the same coastline as Bondi, but much less busy. We swam and tanned. The water had strong currents that made it exhausting trying to get out of the water each time. After the beach, I went to the gym. I had my first shift as a kitchen hand tonight for free pizza night at the hostel, which essentially involved me cutting nearly 100 pizzas for the guests at the hostel. It was actually really fun! After my shift, I hung out with two of my roommates and a few others who work at the hostel. It’s really nice being settled and finding a vibrant community of backpackers.
Day 63: Tuesday, November 13th
9 weeks later… Today I had an interview with a café in Glebe, which is about a 20 minute walk from the hostel. They offered me a trial but didn’t confirm until I got a text from the manager at 3am. The whole situation made me uncomfortable so I declined the offer. After my interview, I went to the gym and then had another shift in the kitchen at night. During my shift, I was running a meal out and the customer happened to be two friends I met at surf camp two months ago! For how big of a country Australia is, it’s still a small world.
Day 64: Wednesday, November 14th
I went to the café at the hostel for breakfast with my roommates. I feel so lucky to have roommates who have been so friendly and welcoming, especially since they’ve known each other for a few months now. I had another shift in the evening and went to Side Bar in the evening because there was a mechanical bull!
Day 65: Thursday, November 15th
I applied for a bunch of jobs throughout the day and by 3pm, I had a call from the Bridge Climb Sydney, the most popular tourist attractive in Sydney! I have an interview on Tuesday for a customer service role that would fit perfectly with my schedule. For dinner, I met up with Danielle (my friend from New York who I met on Facebook) for dinner! We’ve been trying to meet for nearly two weeks now but our schedules kept getting messed up. We ate at a vegan Italian restaurant and caught up on our lives from the past two months.
Day 66: Friday, November 16th
I went to the airport in the morning for my roommate’s hostel job because she was out of town and needed someone to pick up her shift. Later, I went shopping to find interview clothes for Tuesday, some more workout clothes, and this vegan ravioli and cola flavored sparkling water that I’ve been searching for. Luckily, I found everything I needed. I cooked up a delicious tofu scramble and watched a movie.
Day 67: Saturday, November 17th
Had my first 6:30am shift at the hostel, which ended up being great because there was so much variety in my shift and it got me up early. I am loving working in the kitchen because I get to be surrounded by food and awesome staff for hours. I applied for more jobs, got more groceries, went to the gym, and relaxed. At night, I hung out at reception with a few others who work for accommodation. My days have become less interesting than they were when I was traveling every day, but it’s been good making friends with people who I’ll be with through at least the New Year.
P.S. Check out the cost of the ice cream I buy at home for $5! Also, I finally got my surf camp pictures and included a few fails for your viewing pleasure. Finally, I found toothpaste from Trader Joes at a market and just had to take a picture.
Day 38: Friday, October 19th
Checked out of the hostel and killed time until Rachel, Ellie, and I took the bus to the ferry to the Greyhound to get to Cairns, my last stop on the east coast! Crazy to think I’ll be flying to Melbourne in just five days (fingers crossed I can actually fit everything into my bags). I got to my hostel pretty late so I met up with Anja and we went to Australia’s version of Chipotle to catch up since last saw each other. I went to bed early to prepare for my dive the next day.
Day 39: Saturday, October 20th
Today was my day out on the Great Barrier Reef! I had a little time to snorkel before my intro scuba dive! It was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever done, I am going to get certified soon. After my first dive, which was about 30 minutes, I signed up to do the second dive later that day. I saw two sharks, a really rare fish, and some beautiful coral. As bright and fascinating the reef was, I was shocked at how much was dead. It really showed just how significant climate change impacts the ocean. For my second dive, I was the last person out of the water because I was able to breath less and therefore have enough air to last me an extra ten minutes. After the boat trip, I finally got my phone fixed and picked up cream that fixed my foot! Turns out I had somehow ended up with a phone number belonging to a man in China. That evening, I met up with Rachel, Ellie, Ben, and Anja to go to an Indian restaurant and check out the popular backpacker bar in Cairns. We had a blast talking about our east coast trips.
Day 40: Sunday, October 21st
Ran into my friend Alistair who I’ve run into at almost every stop along the way. Anja and I went to a spot for waffles for breakfast and then laid by the lagoon. The ocean is too dangerous (crocodiles, jellyfish, sharks, strong currents…etc.) in Cairns so the lagoon exists so people can still swim. I wandered around the shops a bit before going to the pool at the hostel to swim and relax for a few hours. Alistair and I met an American girl from New York so we went to the Indian restaurant again and met up with Charlie (Charlotte from Fraser). After, we headed back to the popular backpacker hangout and met Anja and two of her friends who I’ve met a few times now. It was Anja’s last night and really sad to say goodbye to her because she’d become one of my closest friends in Australia. We’ve made plans to visit each other in a few years!
Day 41: Monday, October 22nd
Headed out early in the morning for a tour of four waterfalls near Cairns. One was a place where over 30 people have died upstream (where we were prohibited from going other than the lookout point), one of the waterfalls had a natural slide that we could go down, another was a FREEZING waterfall but made for awesome pictures (one of the most photographed waterfalls in the world), and the last spot was a lake that has a crocodile named Dave living in it (sadly, we didn’t get to see Dave). I was again impressed with the vegan food on my tour. After I got back to my hostel that evening, I changed and went down to the pool area where Alistair and Ylva were hanging out. My plan had been to go to bed early, but they convinced me to hang out with them for the evening. It ended up being lots of fun!
Day 42: Tuesday, October 23rd
My last day in Cairns and my last day on the East Coast part of my travels! I slept in, went to the gym (so amazing to use actual weights again), FaceTimed Mackenzie, went to the grocery store, did laundry, and fought with my bag to fit everything. Later in the day, I met up with Will, Alistair, and a girl named Kristina who I met in Airlie Beach. We went to the Indian restaurant yet AGAIN, thank goodness they have an amazing samosa or I’d be so over this place. We went out to the popular backpacker bar again to celebrate the end of our east coast journeys, as we were all finishing up in the next few days. It was sad to say goodbye to the close friends I’ve made, but hopefully I’ll see them again soon.
Day 43: Wednesday, October 24th
Headed to the airport in the morning for my flight to Melbourne! I have five nights booked, but plan to extend and stay about ten days. Security was the fastest I’ve ever experienced, they don’t even have liquid limits on domestic flights so I was able to keep my water bottle full and bring my full size shower products. When I arrived in Melbourne, I took a shuttle to a train station where I was supposed to be able to take a free tram to my hostel. Instead, I got on the wrong one going the complete opposite direction. I then ordered an Uber which cancelled on me! When I ordered my second Uber, it was the SAME driver who had cancelled on me. Awkward. Eventually, I made it to my hostel, dropped my stuff, and went to one of the most popular vegan restaurants around called Vegie Bar. I ordered the Big Mac and an appetizer. WOW, the food was fantastic! I went next door and got chocolate hazelnut gelato in a waffle cone for dessert. I haven’t felt so full in a long time but it was so worth it! I have a fat list of restaurants to try in Melbourne, which is known for its coffee and vegan foods.
Day 44: Thursday, October 25th
I started my day at the hostel’s gym before going to the Queen Victoria Markets. It was weird how much the market reminded me of Pike Place. I made my way to the University of Melbourne to explore the campus and check out some of their art galleries. It was a beautiful campus that happened to include a normal bathroom with a squatting toilet. One of the strangest things I’ve ever seen, yet not the first time I’ve seen one in this country. The University had an exhibit talking about Perfection and the lengths that people go to meet it (aka surgery and Photoshop). After I explored the exhibit, I went to an art gallery on campus. By this point, I was starving so I walked to Fitzroy where most of the vegan restaurants are and got an insanely amazing “Chicken Parm” sandwich. Seriously one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. The deli was also filled with vegan snacks, so I went a little crazy and bought a bunch of chocolates you can only find in Australia. I’m going to have to pace myself eating everything! I walked to the free City Circle tram to see where I ended up. I hopped off near the Emporium, a huge mall that spans multiple blocks in the Central Business District (CBD). I ran into India, who I met in Cairns. We decided to spend the next day together so went to bed early that evening!
Day 45: Friday, October 26th
It’s honestly bizarre how much Melbourne reminds me of Seattle; from the weather to the parks to the buildings, it’s all so similar. India and I began the morning at the Melbourne Museum for three hours. It was an amazing museum. My favorite exhibit was about the mind and body and talked about personality, the history of treating mental health, and creepy tactics that people used to think were effective, such as lobotomies. Then we went to Vegie Bar for lunch and I had the BEST nachos of my entire life. I’ve been searching for good vegan nachos for months (I went to 4 places in Seattle in the last two weeks I was there) and nothing has come even close to these. We walked around Fitzroy more and then hopped on the free tram to go check out some of the street art that Melbourne is famous for. We walked around a few different alleys and saw so much incredible creativity. We even got to watch a satire piece of Trump being painted. That evening, we watched a movie in the hostel’s cinema room and went to bed early. It’s a nice relief actually getting to sleep after weeks of having so much to do.
Day 46: Saturday, October 27th
I slept in and focused my day on figuring out what to do with my life. I made some tentative plans of where to go work and applied for a job. I walked to the State Library but most of it was closed off to the public so I didn’t get to see the areas that the library is famous for. I went to the Australia Center for the Moving Picture but discovered it was mostly focused on video games so I took an Uber to a vegan pizza place in Fitzroy and worked on my resume and cover letter for another job. I saw some interesting art on the way, too! It was India’s second-to-last night, so we went to a rooftop bar to celebrate.
Day 47: Sunday, October 28th
Slept in again! I worked out, worked on my resume more, and went to a vegan Vietnamese place for lunch. I also got to talk to my grandma on the phone for a few hours. I booked a two-day tour that leaves tomorrow, partially to postpone making a real decision about what to do next.
Day 48: Monday, October 29th
I left for my two-day tour of the Great Ocean Road and Grampians National Park at 7am. My day was spent on a bus with a tour guide and a bunch of other travelers. We went to all of the amazing (popular) destinations on the Great Ocean Road and did a few mini hikes, took pictures, and appreciated the scenery. One of our stops included the best ice cream shop in Australia, which had a vegan chocolate ice cream that was easily the best I’ve ever tasted! We were touring until 10pm that night. Once it was dark out, the driver had to keep an eye out for kangaroos to make sure he didn’t hit any. I was shocked at how many just hopped in front of the bus, forcing our driver to slam on the breaks the entire way to the hostel. Only in Australia!
Day 49: Tuesday, October 30th
It’s officially been 7 weeks! Spent the morning hiking Grampians National Park. We did three hikes, one of which involved climbing up rocks to an amazing viewpoint! It was a lot more fun than a regular hike because we weren’t just following a dirt path, we were climbing over rocks and mini creeks. Around lunchtime, I got a call for a job interview! Fingers crossed it works out. The place we stopped for lunch had a little café with a vegan burger. It’s still crazy to me how even the smallest of towns in Australia seem to have loads of vegan food. When I got back to Melbourne, I switched hostels to a more social place in St. Kilda. Within one hour, I had met more people than five nights at my previous hostel. I went to part of the trivia event that evening, but went to bed early to prepare for my job trial the next day.
Day 50: Wednesday, October 31st
Happy Halloween! I had a job trial/interview for a job as a travel agent up in Cairns. Most businesses in Australia do trials instead of the typical interview so that they can see you in action. I honestly had so much fun during the trial! I’m hopeful I get the position, but either way I’m glad I had my first trial here so I know what to expect in the future. After the trial, I wandered around, worked on my blog, and then made dinner. At dinner, I was talking to a girl named Charlie and we decided to go find a cheap costume for the hostel’s even that evening. We decided to dress up as candy and filled clear plastic bags with colorful balloons. It was the cheapest, low-effort costume I’ve ever worn and it was a complete hit!
It’s been an exciting week full of tours so brace yourself for some long paragraphs!
Day 27: Monday, October 8th
Woke up early for more of the free pancakes at the hostel. Before heading out on my Fraser Island tour, there was a safety briefing about driving the 4WD cars on the biggest sand-only island in the world. There were about 35 people in my group, but unfortunately 19 of them were traveling in a group and already knew each other. Luckily, Charlotte (who I’ve met multiple times before) was on my Fraser Island tour so we shared a tent. One of the guys in my car kicked off the ride asking why girls were allowed to drive since it’s “so hard” and guys are naturally better drivers. So I had a very….odd car group to say the least. A guy from Ohio and a girl from Belgium were my saving grace in my strange car group.
Our first stop on the Island was Lake McKenzie. I’ve never seen such crystal clear water, it was absolutely stunning. We enjoyed a refreshing swim before eating lunch out the back of our cars. After that, we headed to our campsite about two hours away. Riding in the cars was so bumpy, almost like a ride at a theme park. The campsite had clusters of 2 person tents with a communal kitchen and bathroom. I shared with Charlie (Charlotte). Our guide for the tour was absolutely hilarious, the most cliché Australian you could imagine – he even grew up with a pet Dingo! Once we were settled in our tents, we headed to the beach for some pre-dinner bonding. I found out that a few people on this tour will be at my Whitsundays tour, too. Dinner food was provided, but it was our responsibility to cook. Surprisingly, it didn’t taste too bad! There was a bonfire and a different guide with a guitar playing music until about 1am.
Day 28: Tuesday, October 9th
Headed to another freshwater lake on the island, except rather than crystal clear this lake was red from the tea tree oil leaves that fall into the water and release their oils. It’s said to be healing, so hopefully it’ll help my ripped up toes (I’ve ran into too many sticks and trees to count). Had a nice swim there before doing the short hike around the lake with Charlie, our guide, and a guy from Charlie’s group. After the lake, we headed to Indian Head Lookout. I keep saying this but honestly I can’t believe places this beautiful even exist! It was incredible to see the ocean below and fascinating to learn the dark history of the lookout point. I took some fun pictures with Charlie before we climbed back down the rocks to get to our cars. Our next stop was the Champaign pools, named for the way the water looks as it rushes over the rocks that create the small cluster of pools. There were fish in the pools as we swam. I ran into Will, who I met in Byron, and Alex, who I met in Noosa. They had the same Fraser Island tour so it was fun to run into them. Our final stop for the day was a shipwreck where we took a photo of our entire group and were lucky enough to have a dingo walk up right as we were taking the picture! I’m still a bit fuzzy on why there’s a shipwreck because our guide told a completely different story than another guide. Apparently they have fun creating stories and then telling the truth to everyone on the last day of the tour! That evening, we cooked dinner (I got tofu with veggies) and played card games.
Day 29: Wednesday, October 10th
The final day at Fraser Island was spent at a freshwater creek where we swam and floated down in tubes. We had nearly three hours at the creek so we laid on the beach for a while, too. I saw another dingo, bringing the total to 5 for the trip. They are so cute, just like dogs but secretly way more aggressive to the point that we are given sticks at night to fend them off if they come near. After lunch, we took the ferry back to Rainbow Beach and my Fraser Island tour was over. I met some great people and saw some of the most beautiful places in the world right next to the second most dangerous place to swim in the ocean (we weren’t allowed because the current will pull you in and you’ll die). I laid by the pool at the hostel, did laundry, and made dinner. There was a live guitar singer at the hostel’s bar that night who played covers of a lot of popular songs. Will and Alex (the friends I ran into at the Champagne Pools) were staying at the same hostel so we chatted for a while about Noosa and similar people we had met.
Day 30: Thursday, October 11th
Had my final morning of free vegan pancakes, packed up my things, and went for a wander around the very, very, very small town of Rainbow Beach with Will and Alex. We stopped for coffee and they got food, wandered around one of the ridiculously expensive grocery stores, and played at a park. The parks in Australia in general are significantly more expansive with cool ropes and swings. They’d never exist in the U.S. because someone would sue. We took photos at one of the only things worth seeing in town, a rainbow staircase with the quote, “How Good is Living.” We walked along the rocks, up some sand dunes, and then I had to go back to eat before catching my six hour Greyhound to Agnes Water (also known as the town of 1770). They walked back with me to hang out until I left. It’s always sad leaving people who feel like actual friends, but that’s traveling! Hopefully I’ll see them again! My bus ride was mostly uneventful, except for a text message from the Australian government warning of tornados in the area! Turns out that my bus was just ahead of a massive storm. My hostel for the night was called Cool Bananas. An employee was waiting at the bus stop in a banana costume to take us to the hostel. I checked in and within 10 minutes had run into two people I had met before. The hostel shuts off their WiFi from 6-8pm for “family time,” and then forces you to solve a riddle in order to get the password. Kind of a pain, especially when you arrive at 7pm after 4 hours of no reception and just want to message people back home.
Day 31: Friday, October 12th
I woke up early, went for a short run, and packed my things to prepare for my Whitsunday boat trip the next day. You can’t bring bags with zippers because tiny bugs will create nests inside of them! I wandered around the tiny town of Agnes Water, explored their tiny grocery store, and then went back to the hostel to eat lunch and hang out in reception where there was WIFI. One of the people from my Fraser Island trip hung out with me for a few hours because there was literally nothing to do there. Partway through the day, I discovered Will would be arriving at the hostel a few hours before my Greyhound so we grabbed food and caught up on the past few days. I then left for my overnight Greyhound bus to Airlie Beach!
Day 32: Saturday, October 13th
I arrived in Airlie Beach at 7:30am and had to walk 20 minutes to my hostel. Luckily, I met a few others walking to the same hostel. One of those people was a 22 year old American who also just graduated from University, it was nice talking to someone in pretty much the same situation as me. After checking in for my boat and storing my bags, I went to a café that had vegan nachos! I spent the next few hours exploring Airlie Beach. It’s similar to Byron Bay but smaller and the water is much more Turquoise. While I was wandering around, I ran into Anja who had just finished her tour! Around 2, I walked to the Marina to board my boat. A bunch of people from my Fraser Island tour were also on my boat and before I’d even boarded, I had made more friends. My boat was called the Atlantic Clipper and has a reputation for being a bit crazy, which I didn’t realize until after I booked it. But it ended up being the BEST part of my trip so far! The group of people was incredible, everyone was so open and friendly and happy to be there. The crew was fun, the food was good (the chef was vegan!), and the water activities were amazing! The first night on the boat we went to a spot to swim and go down a slide into the water. There were a few games, including one where you pick up a cereal box with your teeth. I won for the second time on this trip! Now that I’m farther north, you have to wear stinger suits in the ocean (similar to a wet suit) to protect yourself from the deadly Jellyfish. Everything in Australia wants to kill you!
Day 33: Sunday, October 14th
Woke up at 6am without trying and couldn’t go back to bed! I was the first one awake and didn’t see anyone until probably 6:30. That day we went to Whitehaven Beach, which was easily the most beautiful place I have ever been. The sand is silica and so white and squishy. The patterns the sand and water make are simply incredible. I saw the biggest spider I’ve ever seen in my life, swam in the ocean, and relaxed. After the beach, we had lunch on the boat and then went to a spot to snorkel. It took a few hours to get to the snorkeling location so we laid around in the sun and socialized. I saw some gigantic fish while snorkeling, probably somewhere between 3-4 feet long! I’ve never seen anything like them. The water was pretty cold so after an hour, everyone was shivering and the water activities for the day were done. When everyone was back on board, the jacuzzi on board was packed and the few showers were full because everyone was just trying to warm up. That night we played more games and the crew did a fashion show type of thing. It was such a great group that it didn’t matter what we were doing, it was energizing the entire time! That night, I also managed to rip a toenail almost completely off. It’s hanging by a few threads of skin now. Don’t worry, I’ll post pictures when it does fall off!
Day 34: Monday, October 15th
Managed to sleep in until 6:40am, ate breakfast, and the boat took a journey to a spot to hang out in the water for the morning. There was a gigantic inflatable slide, a spot to jump off the boat, and a Banana Boat ride! When we got back to town, I got a smoothie and then had to deal with changing phone providers because my provider had horrible reception. Long story short, I’m STILL dealing with the switch and trying to keep my old phone number! So please use Facebook messenger if I don’t reply. Checked in to my hostel eventually, dealt with the phone more, stubbed another toe and ripped off ANOTHER nail, met up with Will (my friend who I keep running into), and then took a much needed shower after 3 days on a boat. There was a big afterparty with the crew that night. Most of my Whitsunday group is heading to similar places and staying in the same hostels for the next week. At this point, I run into people I’ve met before nearly everywhere I go. It almost feels like a community now. I only have a few days left of my East Coast adventure before I head to Melbourne and then choose where to work.
Day 35: Tuesday, October 16th
I had a 10am bus to Townsville this morning with Rachel, Ben, and Ellie. From the bus station, we took a Ferry to Magnetic Island. I spent an hour trying to fix my phone, only to be met by more horrible customer service. So I’m still waiting to get my phone number fixed. Once we arrived, I checked in and then waited until 5:30 to use our free dinner vouchers. The chef made an amazing chickpea curry that wasn’t even on the menu. I was exhausted from the past few days of little sleep and lots of activities so I went to bed early.
Day 36: Wednesday, October 17th
I decided to extend a night in Magnetic Island and skip my reservation in Mission Beach because there isn’t much to do there and I wanted more time to relax at Magnetic Island. So I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to use the WiFi to change my reservations. I got an Acai bowl and then headed to get groceries before going to the pool for a few hours. For sunset, I took a mini hike to Hawkins Point with Rachel, Ellie, and Ben. It was beautiful, but cloudy. That evening, we went to the trivia event at the hostel. After five rounds thinking we were doing pretty well, WE WON! It was insanely exciting.
Day 37: Thursday, October 18th
After our more relaxed day yesterday, Ellie, Rachel, and I rented a car for the day. Magnetic Island is fairly small, but walking takes too long and there is only ONE bus on the entire island. So most people rent a car for the day. It was a topless mini car. We drove to the area where “shops” were supposed to be, only to find roughly 6 stores/restaurants. None of us could imagine living so isolated from things to do. Next, we did the Forts Hike. It only took us about an hour roundtrip, but we saw a BABY KOALA and its mom. I’ve never been so close to such an adorable, fuzzy, tiny creature before. So thankful for portrait mode on my phone because I got really good pictures. We found a spot with vegan gnocchi for lunch, which was delicious. We drove down a dirt/sand/paved road that was basically just potholes the entire way trying to find a lookout point that we never found. I got to finally try driving on the wrong side of the road on our way back on the dodgy road and to the hostel. It was so fun! We took a nap and then Rachel and I went to a spot to see Rock Wallabys. They were cute, but both of us had expected to see way more than what was actually there. When I took off my shoes after our hike, I discovered that what had been a small cut on my foot was now white and purple and super swollen. I’m clearly really good at protecting my feet from damage. Seeing Ellie and Rachel’s friendship really makes me miss being with my friends at home who know everything about me.
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Please add my Australian phone number to my contact on your phone to make sure you receive my messages: +61 405167768. Since leaving Sydney, I’ve been to Spot X, Byron Bay, Surfers Paradise, Brisbane, Noosa, and am currently in Rainbow beach about to leave for a 3 day tour of Fraser Island (where I won’t have any reception). My adventure is still going better than I ever imagined and I’m falling in love with the beauty of Australia!
Day 13: Monday, September 24th
After taking an overnight bus from Sydney, I arrived at Spot X! Spot X is a surf camp a few hours south of Byron Bay and about 10 hours north of Sydney. In the early morning, I had my first surf lesson! It was really fun, but so much harder than I expected. I swallowed so much water from all of the wipe outs. I’ll be getting pictures from the lessons sometime in the next few weeks.
The camp includes all meals and was really vegan-friendly. I bought an extra surf package so I got to surf in the afternoons, too. Most of the day was spent playing cards and waiting for the next meal. I met a lot of really awesome people at the camp and many of us have similar travel plans over the next month. A girl from Italy named Anja has the exact same schedule as I do for the next week and a girl named Charlotte and I have similar schedules after that.
Day 14: Tuesday, September 25th
Woke up even earlier for my second surf lesson at Spot X. It was easier to stand up this time, but still exhausting. It was raining all day and I didn’t change out of my swim suit, so I was freezing until the afternoon surf session. We played kneeling volleyball and there was an ocean rafting activity in the early evening. Spot X is one of only two places in the whole country that you can raft in the ocean. I quickly realized why after being hit in the face with a paddle after a wave towered over us and the guide goes “Well, we’re all going to die.” I had a black eye for about a week after!
Day 15: Wednesday, September 26th
Woke up early yet again for a bus to Byron Bay. The hostel I stayed at was probably the nicest place I’ve ever stayed on vacation, it used to be a resort so the rooms were two stories and had fancy bathrooms. Anja and I went into the town to wander around and get lunch with another girl we met. The food was significantly cheaper than Sydney. Byron Bay is the perfect beach town. It has a laid-back, almost hippie atmosphere and is filled with surf shops and vegan food! Every place I walked by had the word “vegan” on the menu, it was heaven.
That evening, I went to bed early but was woken up by a group of people coming in to my room to hang out. I decided to join them and ended up playing cards for hours! I love having the freedom to wake up and hang out with new people, the people I’ve met have made my experience so much more exciting.
Day 16: Thursday, September 27th
The hostel had a personal training session in the morning. It’s great having a workout built into the social aspect of traveling because it’s hard to find places to workout without disrupting others. I wandered around the town myself today to get a better feel for Byron Bay and replace the two swimsuits and two towels that I had accidentally left on my Greyhound bus. Found an amazing restaurant with a fancy vegan grilled cheese. In the evening, Anja and I went to the event at the hostel and then joined one of my roommates in the town.
Day 17: Friday, September 28th
I had signed up for a sunrise (aka 5am) walk to the lighthouse, but intentionally snoozed my alarm. Instead, I went on my own. The walk is supposed to take about 2 hours total, but I got lost a few too many times and it ended up taking me FOUR hours. Hello sunburn! The view was more than worth it, I saw whales flipping and jumping around in the ocean. On my way back to the hostel, I stopped a vegan place and had the best burger I’ve ever had (there’s a picture below). I was supposed to go Dolphin Kayaking, but it was cancelled because of the poor weather. Anja and I got ice cream to watch the sunrise and then went to the BBQ at the hostel.
Day 18: Saturday, September 29th
Anja and I both rescheduled our Dolphin Kayaking to a river kayak in the morning. It turned out to just be the two of us so we had a private kayaking tour! We saw a few sting rays and a neat spot where the river met the ocean. I broke my flip flops. When we got back to Byron, we went to a beachfront market and got gelato. I’m still so impressed with the vegan scene here, I want to eat everything. We both took long naps that afternoon and explored the nightlife together that evening. After just four days in Byron Bay, I’m almost sure I’m going to return to work here for at least a few months.
Day 19: Sunday, September 30th
Took a Greyhound to Surfers Paradise that morning. I ran into Charlotte who was also at Spot X and we discovered we have almost identical schedules for the next two weeks. When we arrived to Surfers Paradise, we were extremely disappointed. It felt super touristy, wasn’t that pretty, and had weird resort skyscrapers everywhere. After four days in Byron Bay, it was a big disappointment. We got Dominos for dinner (vegan cheese!) and played cards that evening.
Day 20: Monday, October 1st
Kicked the morning off with a workout (shoutout to Mackenzie for the creation) with a few friends Charlotte and I made the night before. After, we went to the beach to relax for a few hours. We briefly swam in the water but the current was so strong that just trying to stand you’d fall over and hit people. I found a vegan Indian buffet for lunch and ate so much food! It was delicious. The hostel had a pool so we relaxed there until it got cold and the sun went down.
Day 21: Tuesday, October 2nd
Checked out of my hostel and asked for a coffee recommendation. I got a free coffee card and when I asked if they could do iced, the guy said no. Then he asked where I’m from and said he couldn’t say no to someone from Seattle! It was the best coffee I’ve had here, most of it tastes so bizarre. Took a Greyhound to Brisbane and explored their river front. It’s called South Bank and is essentially just a huge park with purple flowers everywhere. They had a neat art exhibit going on in the park. The nearby Queensland museum was free so I wandered around a learned a little about the history and wildlife of Australia. I found an ice cream shop with vegan cappuccino ice cream. I walked across a walking bridge and wandered around the city for a little bit before booking a tour for the next day. When I was making food, I met some people in the kitchen (one of the best places for making friends) who invited me to hang out with them later. After checking out a few places near the hostel, I went back and played cards for a few hours.
Day 22: Wednesday, October 3rd
Woke up early (notice a pattern yet?) for my tour to Moreton Island. Moreton island has about 50 shipwrecks right near the shore that were placed there to help build a reef. There were only 10 people but everyone else knew each other and didn’t speak much English, so I hung out with the guides. It’s an almost entirely sand-only island, meaning most people fail miserably at driving on the island. My guide was great so we got to the sandboarding site quickly. I got a nice mouthful of sand on my first run because I didn’t follow directions very well. It was much more fun the next few times. When we got back to the beach, we had a very bland lunch and went kayaking in transparent kayaks! It was awesome seeing the fish and coral beneath the kayaks. After kayaking, it was time to snorkel. I had been looking forward to this all day. I was the only one who had snorkeled before, so they let me go off on my own to explore. I saw a TURTLE while snorkeling, it was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever witnessed. Definitely one of the highlights of my trip. I slept on the ferry ride back to Brisbane. That night, I hung out and played cards with the same group as the night before.
Day 23: Thursday, October 4th
Up early again for the Australia Zoo!! This is the zoo that the Irwin family owns so most aspects of the zoo are dedicated to Steve Irwin. I got to pet multiple koalas and kangaroos, a snake, and a weird lizard. A huge perk of traveling alone was that I could spend 2 hours petting the kangaroos without annoying anyone! I went to the famous Crocodile show and saw a talk about Koalas where I saw three babies! I had such a peaceful day alone getting to explore the zoo and see the animals. At the end of the day, I took a bus to Noosa. Checked in and went to the welcome meeting where I ran into a friend from Byron Bay. I’ve started running into people I’ve met at other places. We went to the beach with a big group that evening and played games.
Day 24: Friday, October 5th
Went surfing in the morning, which was quite the failure. I stood up twice and got hit by another surfer once. Overall, fun to try again but there were way too many people there. Got lunch and went back to the beach after surfing to relax and tan for a while. That afternoon, I did the coastal walk to the Fairy Pool and Hell’s Gates. The Fairy Pool was a beautiful spot to swim where waves rush over the rocks. Hell’s Gates was an incredible place to see water hit rocks near a rainforest. During my walk, I saw a WILD KOALA, lizards, whales, and dolphins! I’m in love with the wildlife here. It’s drastically more interesting than anything I’ve seen at home. I ran back on the trail. That evening, I got an amazing Acai bowl and walked to a river before relaxing at the hostel.
Day 25: Saturday, October 6th
I walked around downtown Noosa to see what it has to offer. It’s a cute beach town similar to Byron Bay, but with fewer vegan options and less to do. It started raining so I went back to the hostel, made lunch, and then headed out on a Greyhound to Rainbow Beach where I will soon leave for my Fraser Island tour. When I arrived, I learned that the hostel serves free vegan pancakes every morning! I ran into Anja at the hostel! It was so exciting seeing her again because we had great adventures together in at Spot X and Byron Bay. I attempted to go out to eat with some people from her Fraser Island tour that she just returned from, but literally nowhere had vegan options so I just made some food on my own. I met people staying at the hostel and went to bed early.
Day 26: Sunday, October 7th
Had a dolphin feeding tour in the morning. Finally saw dolphins up close and got to feed one of them. There are only 1,000 of this particular breed left and they only live near Australia. Ate some of the free vegan pancakes – by far the best breakfast I’ve had here. The rest of the day will be quite relaxing to prepare for my busy Fraser Island tour the next 3 days!
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Day One: Friday, September 11-12
Walking out of customs at the airport, I was met by Averill and Yoie, two women who live in Sydney who my mom and I met while in Hawaii. We went straight to a beautiful restaurant called the Potting Shed at The Grounds. The restaurant was almost entirely outdoors so it felt like you were in the middle of an elaborate garden. There was refurbished furniture, light up signs with inspirational quotes, and even a few farm animals. It was the definition of an instagrammable place. I tried mulled wine for the first time and spent the night at Averill’s home in Mona Vale, a suburb in northern Sydney.
Day 2: Thursday, September 13
It’s funny to think that I’M the one with the accent here.
My first real day began with avocado toast and a walk to Mona Vale Beach. Most of the beaches here have swimming pools so people can swim without worrying about the waves and potential creatures lurking about. The sand was so squishy, significantly better than the rocky “beaches” in Seattle. On the walk back to Averill’s house, we stopped at a little coffee shop and I had my first coffee here. The birds here are loud with vibrant colors. I couldn’t stop taking pictures. Later that day, Averill drove us to Palm Beach to get lunch at a restaurant called the Boat House overlooking the water. We laid on the beach for a few hours as my brief moment of jet lag hit. I went into a supermarket to explore the vegan scene and discovered that the cheese I usually buy in the US for $5 was $15! EVERYTHING is expensive here.
I spent the evening celebrating the birthday of Averill’s son at his resting place. It was beautiful seeing how loved he was.
Day 3: Friday, September 14th
Woke up bright and early at 6:30am to go on a 9 kilometer walk with Yoie. I can’t get over how diverse and amazing the wildlife is here. Cockatoos and turkeys are all over the place.
I went with Yoie and her family to an art gallery in Manly beach before going to lunch by the water. I rode to central Sydney on a ferry with one of Yoie’s cousins who helped me find the train to Central Sydney, where I got slightly lost and sweaty before finally finding my hostel. The staff at Wakeup! Sydney is phenomenal, they helped me set up my phone and find my bank. When I got to my room, I was disappointed to find that all 9 roommates were gone. This was the most homesick I felt because Seattle was sleeping and there wasn't anyone to talk to here.
I made the sad discovery that Netflix is different here and I don’t get to watch Friends anymore. A few of the strange things I’ve noticed so far are that the bathroom door closures twist and the doors don’t leave a crack, all the light switches are a different shape, and outlets actually have off switches.
Day 4: Saturday, September 15th
My attempt at sleeping in failed miserably. I got some coffee and walked to a vegan shop a few blocks away. The girl who I made friends with in my room and I decided to go to Glebe markets with the hostel. The market was similar to Pike Place in terms of what was sold, but wasn’t nearly as cool. It was 90 degrees so after finding some water (it isn’t free like it is in Seattle), we went to Bondi Beach. Bondi Beach is arguably one of the most beautiful places in the world. The water is an incredible bright turquoise, the pool is placed in a perfect location, and the sand is so soft! It’s what you imagine a beach town to look like.
The hostel had an event called “Frat Saturday,” AKA a beer pong competition. I went with my roommate but we lost our first game. We made some really cool friends with people from Denmark and France. Those two friends had made two other friends so we were able to have a great group of 6 hang out! By the end of the night, four of us had decided to go to the zoo the next day together.
Day 5: Sunday, September 16th
The ZOO! It was so exciting seeing the animals and going to the bird, sea lion and seal, and spider shows. The highlight of the zoo trip was watching a baby elephant cover herself in dust.
Day 6: Monday September 17th
I went with my roommate to pick up the car she rented and go to Featherdale Wildlife Park. She’s also used to driving on the right side of the road so it was a team effort in the beginning! Featherdale has been the highlight of my trip so far. I got to feed, pet, and play with so many different kangaroos. They were friendly and would try to grab the cup of food out of your hand. The small ones would grab on to your hands as they ate. I was in total awe. We also got to pet a Koala and I finally saw a wombat walk! They are much bigger than I expected. One of the wombats attracted a crowd as it scratched its butt on the side of the fence for a solid minute.
Looking for relaxing night, the group of friends that I met Friday and I played cards. It’s awesome how friendly all of the travelers are. Almost everyone I’ve met is traveling solo, which makes it really easy to make friends.
Day 7: Tuesday September 18th
I checked out of my hostel in the morning and made my way to Sydney Harbour YHA - The Rocks. This is the only hostel near the harbor and the only one that includes some of the historical archeological rock homes that used to be a part of Sydney. I walked over the Harbour bridge, down by the water front, through the botanical gardens, by the Opera House, and got a little lost in the middle of the city. No picture could ever do the harbour justice. Sydney is such a beautiful city.
A few weeks before I came to Australia, I met a girl named Danielle from New York on Facebook. After messaging for what feels like forever, we finally met tonight at a vegan restaurant! It felt like a little piece of home talking to someone else from the U.S. and being able to use Venmo to split our bill.
Day 8 : Wednesday, September 19th
I checked out of the Harbour YHA and in to a hostel right across from Bondi Beach. It was hot today so I immediately went to the beach and laid in the sun for hours. The water is still freezing from winter. A few friends from my first hostel came to Bondi Beach to hang out for the day. I went to the hostel event that evening and met a ridiculous amount of Americans. The vibe of this hostel was much more relaxed and laid back than the others.
Day 9: Thursday, September 20th
It was raining most of the day today and I could feel myself getting sick so I took it easy. After researching the travel desks and talking to a few people, I decided to work with the hostel’s company and planned out the next 6 weeks of traveling! It took a few hours, but was really exciting to choose what to do and where to go.
Day 10: Friday, September 21st
The hostel offered a personal training session at the beach. It felt great to have a really hard workout, my face hadn’t been so red in years.
I was still feeling sick so I played it safe and organized pictures and my travel plans. I went to the hostel event that evening to meet some more people and discovered that there were even more Americans there now.
Day 11: Saturday, September 22nd
There’s a famous coastal walk from Bondi Beach to Coogee beach so after I checked out of my hostel, I went walking. It took me a few hours because I stopped so frequently to take pictures of the strange rocks and beautiful landscapes. Everything in Sydney is just beautiful, no matter how many times I see places.
That evening, Danielle (the girl I met on Facebook) invited me to spend the night at her house and hang out with her boyfriend and his friends. I had a lot of fun meeting more people actually from Sydney and New Zealand. There’s so much slang I have to learn!
I saw my first spider outside and I swear it was at least 3 inches and had a sack. Creepiest thing I never wanted to see.
Day 12: Sunday, September 23rd
After a slow morning, I went to Starbucks (the second one I’ve seen the entire trip). I met Averill for dinner and then took an overnight bus to a surf camp near Byron Bay.
And that’s my first 12 days here! It’s an amazing place and everything is going better than I imagined. There’s been times that I really miss home, but it’s exciting to be meeting people from all over the world and learning more about Australia.