You can get a sense of just how big Australia is by looking at a map, but the size really hits home when you arrive.
For travellers long on ambition but short on time, an extensive and compact journey up the East Coast of Queensland is nothing short of ideal.
From yachts, trains, 4x4s, and private vehicles - I embarked on an adventure that saw me hit the sand on Fraser Island and the sea around the Whitsundays on my way from Brisbane to Cairns.
It all began in a hostel room in Brisbane, where ten minutes after arriving I knew I had made two friends for life.
It wasn’t long before we met the lovely Holly from G Adventures, who affectionately became known as ‘mum’. On tours like these, it’s the tour leader that sets the tone, and after meeting Hol I immediately knew we were going to have fun.
It wasn’t long before we joined the rest of the group and headed north to Noosa, enjoying an afternoon by the beach and strolling the broadwalk to Noosa National Park, where the guys were lucky enough to see a snake sleeping in a tree.
The following day was spent on the beautiful island of K’gari (also known as Fraser), the world’s largest sand island. We walked through the rainforest, swam in the picturesque Lake Mackenzie (which is good for the soul as well as the skin) and drove along Australia’s only sand highway. The whole experience was phenomenal, topped off at the end with a sighting of a dingo strolling along the beach.
After a night spent back in Noosa, sleeping on the banks of the Noosa River, the whole group jumped in canoes and went exploring the everglades. After a wonderful story from our guide about Bull Shark sightings in the river, we warily jumped into the water for a nerve wracking but refreshing swim.
Hopping on an overnight train north to Airlie Beach, next came one of the most exciting parts of the trip… a 3-day maxi yacht sailing adventure.
Beach visits, island bush walks and endless opportunities to snorkel while anchored off of secluded tropical islands - we really were living the dream.
The lovely Boomerang team took great care of us, and despite the pouring rain on day one, it didn’t dampen our spirits - we just popped on our beautiful yellow raincoats and hung off the side of the boat.
Like most east coast backpackers, Whitehaven Beach was a highlight. The 7km unspoiled white sand is breathtaking, and also played host to my first Manta Ray sighting.
We continued sailing through the gorgeous backdrop of the Whitsunday Islands and spent our last night on the boat with a fancy dress party. We went for Nautical, which our lovely German friend mistook for Naughty (without a doubt the funniest instance of miscommunication).
It wasn’t long before we were back at Airlie Beach enjoying delicious Thai food and a little R&R before our trip north to Cairns.
Sadly we missed Tully and the G Adventures-supported Ingan Cultural Centre, due to the heavy rain and flooding. When we arrived in Cairns however, Holly told us all about the project and the wonderful ways G Adventures is helping the local community. You can read all about their wonderful ethos on responsible travel here.
Our last day of the tour was spent ticking dreams off our bucket lists as we headed to the Great Barrier Reef with Passions of Paradise.
The group was a mixture of experienced divers and complete beginners, but we all signed up to enjoy breathing underwater among some of the most beautiful marine life I have ever seen.
The dream day was finished off with a dream night, before the hardest part of the trip, saying goodbye to everyone and learning how to function without our mum.
Massive thank you to Holly for taking such great care of us, and to G Adventures for inviting me along, I’ll continue to remember your belief that travel is an exchange, not a commodity - and this trip is certainly one I’ll remember for years to come.
For more information, or to book yourself on a similar G Adventure, get in touch.