After nine months spent travelling around Australia, which saw me run around the beautiful Sydney, catch waves in Byron Bay and take on an epic adventure with G Adventures, my final Aussie road trip took me from Daintree, Far North Queensland, down to the Sunshine Coast with the best travel buddy I could wish for, my mum.
We spent her birthday soaring over the Whitsunday Islands in our own tiny jet, but the rest of the trip proved to be just as exciting.
I thought I would pass over to mum for the details…
“Having waved my daughter/best friend off at Heathrow in January and not knowing when I would see her next, was not the best start to the New Year. So you can imagine how excited I was to find myself at Heathrow nine months later to start the longest journey I have ever done to see her again. Australia via Hong Kong was an epic journey but made better by seeing her smiley face when I landed at Cairns to receive a much-needed cuddle.
Hollie had a rough itinerary planned which would start in the Daintree Rainforest, where she had been working for the past six months, before heading on a road trip down the East Coast towards Brisbane in her van, Miley, which would be our home for the next three weeks. As I arrived in Daintree I quickly realised why it was so difficult to speak to Hollie over the last few months. It really was jungle life, with very little electricity, let alone phone signals. The wildlife also took some getting used to, with Hollie even drawing a line on the beach as a marker for me to come in when the tide reached it. It was crocodile country - hence no swimming allowed. The next day she took me to a beautiful creek to swim (crocodile-free apparently), but I was spooked by a snake swimming by - prompting Hollie to remind me ‘mum you're in Australia now, so get used to it’. After saying her goodbyes in Daintree our road trip began. Our first stop was Port Douglas for lunch in a beautiful harbour restaurant, then onto Bingil Bay campsite for our first night in the van - a truly picturesque setting on the beach, and with this coinciding with my actual birthday (more celebrations followed), we had breakfast the next morning in the Bingil Bay Cafe - an absolute must if you are in the area.
I did not have a huge checklist for Australia, but holding a Koala and seeing a Kangaroo in the wild were a must. The Kangaroo took nearly three weeks to see, but the Koala cuddle took place on the beautiful Magnetic Island with 'Claudia' - who was a natural in front of the camera. We soon settled into life on the road, cooking out the back of the van, showering in flip flops and dressing horizontally, with no set times other than Hollie's request of finding our next campsite before dusk, and before the Kangaroos came out to play. My next birthday surprise would be when we reached Airlie Beach. I was told to take beachwear, so you can imagine my horror when GSL Aviation arrived to collect us - parachuting out of a plane was all I could think of, and with this being my biggest fear, I began to panic! I was relieved and excited to find myself on a small aircraft flying over the Great Barrier Reef, Whitsunday Islands - it was stunning. And it didn't stop there, next we travelled by boat to Whitehaven Beach - which has to be one of the most breathtaking beaches I have ever been on, and finally, I had my first attempt at snorkelling on the reef - a day to remember forever.
What I didn't envisage before arriving in Australia was how vast the country was. With my month nearly coming to an end, I had only seen a fraction of the East Coast and was now wishing I had booked longer. But alas it was soon time to say goodbye to my Hollie, and after a tearful farewell at Brisbane airport, I started my long journey home. I can honestly say that I had the most wonderful time travelling in Australia, the people were friendly, the pace of life slower, and the weather incredible. We had such fun on the road, but as for the critters - bushtucker trials are not for me!”