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Our journey to the land down under

Sydney, Our Favourite Place – NSW

6th February 2017 & 7th February 2017:

Over the past two days we have driven 1,100 miles in 21 hours from Cairns to Brisbane stopping overnight in Mackay. A very long car journey, taking it in turns to drive over the vast countryside. It was a strange feeling passing towns and cities that we now have fond memories of such as, one of our favourites, Noosa on the Sunshine Coast. We finally arrived in Brisbane in the late evening and made sure our rental car was ready and clean to return after our expedition across Aussie. 

8th February 2017:

This morning we headed to Ace Rental Cars to return our beloved Toyota Corolla which has been a real blessing over the past three months. 


Next stop was to Brisbane Domestic airport to catch an hour flight to Sydney. A very short flight but we were able to see the towering skyscrapers in Surfers Paradise on the GoldCoast through our plane window. Arriving in Sydney it was very foggy I was just able to make our the outline of the Harbour Bridge, which was a shame as on a sunny day we would have had amazing birds eye views. 

We finally arrived in Sydney and checked into our final of our 19 hotels, Rydges. Our room is beautiful with photos of the Harbour Bridge & Opera House to bring us straight back into the Sydney way. 


After a quick refresh we were straight back out on the subway to Darling Harbour where we had our final visit to the Hard Rock Cafe Sydney. The Harbour was lit up with beautiful lights to celebrate Chinese New Year. 


9th February 2017:

Today we wanted to make the most of our last day in Australia and I am so glad it was spent in Sydney. Although I love many places in Aus, nothing compares to the Harbour no matter how many times you see it. 

Our first stop was to Circular Quay which instantly gives you amazing views of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. We then visited the Opera House for the final time, walking inside and going as far as we could into the theatre. We stopped for drinks at the Opera Bar which has such beautiful views we stayed here for hours. 


Next we headed to The Rocks just below the Harbour Bridge. We past lots of Chinese themed decorations such as the Kung Fu Kangas which are part of the Chinese New Year celebrations, which were a fun photo opportunity. 



We climbed up to the bridge and walked along the streets until we reached Martin Place for a quick look around the shops and a visit to our favourite chocolate shop Haighs and then waking on to Darling Harbour for drinks in the bar near our old hotel. Evening was quickly approaching so during sunset we hopped on a ferry from Darling Harbour back to Circular Quay for once last visit to the Bridge & Opera House. 



I think today was actually one of my favourites of the whole trip and definitely the bluest sky a beautiful way to say goodbye. 

10th February 2017:

Today we are flying home from Sydney Kingford Smith airport to London Heathrow via Singapore. A 23 and a half hour flight & then we will be home!

 I can’t quite believe the time has come for us to leave Australia. A beautiful, extraordinary & humongous country. Since November we have had the absolute time of our lives, self driving 5,224 miles across state borders, crossing multiple things off of our bucket lists & getting completely out of our comfort zones. 

We have had a few testing moments such as being stuck on a mountain when our car wouldn’t start, losing valuables in the Tasman Sea and Jellyfish stings! But the experiences had and memories made will last an absolute life time. From wine tasting at Jacobs Creek in South Australia, bathing in Hot Springs in Victoria, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Wild Dolphin Swims & skydives in New South Wales and finally swimming with green turtles & reef sharks in the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland. I hope we are fortunate enough to come back one day because I have truly fallen in love with Australia and its Koalas! Even though I really want to stay longer, I cannot wait to see our families and have our English home comforts again. It’s time to fly home & start our next chapter.
🇦🇺✈️🇬🇧

Cairns, City in a Garden – QLD

22nd January 2017:

Today we travelled 42 miles south to the tropical city of Cairns which is considered as the gateway to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. We are currently staying at the Blue Lagoon Resort at Trinity Beach which is on the outskirts of Cairns. 

23rd January 2017:

Today we wanted to get a feel for Cairns so we drove to The Pier Marina in the CBD. We explored the local area and stopped for a delicious lunch with a lovely sea view. 

24th January 2017:

Today we went to Blazing Saddles Horse riding!! I was so excited as I haven’t ridden in so long and I miss it a lot! When we arrived in the yard we were allocated a horse each, mine was named Socks because of his white colourings on each leg and Pete’s was slightly bigger named Samuri! 

We set off for our trek into the rainforest past a small river which is known to have crocodiles in and through to a billabong which the horses sometimes swim in. We trekked through sugarcane fields with a beautiful backdrop of the Queensland mountains and before we knew it we were back at the stables. This is definitely one of the most beautiful places to horse ride in!

25th January 2017:

Today we visited our local beach Trinity beach which is a five minute walk from our apartment. The beach is beautiful quite long with golden sands. Unfortunately you are only allowed to swim in between the nets to protect you from jelly stings and even crocodiles! Yes crocodiles! The Monday we arrived a croc was spotted at the beach so the beach was closed for the day. We enjoyed a very laid back and relaxing day. 

26th January 2017:

Today is not only Petes 24th Birthday but also Australia Day so double celebrations! We started the day with birthday celebrations then headed to Cairns for an Australia Day Party on the seafront. To be honest it wasnt quite as busy as we had imagined and the weather didn’t help with all the rain! 


Not the best cake I’ve ever made but considering we had no baking utensils, it was baked in a casserole dish and the icing melted and was sticking to everything I tried my best! 

27th January 2017:

Today we headed back to Trinity Beach for a BBQ. Many of the beaches and cities have BBQs free to use, this one is probably my favourite with its view of the ocean. Pete cooked us Red Snapper with Asian noodles which I had never tried before but it was delicious. Similar texture to cod but not as strong. 

28th January 2017:

Today we headed to Cairns Marina to ride on the Bad Fishy Jet boat. This was a surprise birthday present I had planned for Pete’s Birthday in England. We were told that the people who sit in the back would get the wettest, so obviously we headed straight to it! It was awesome jetting around the Marina with the beautiful Tropical setting. We entered the trinity inlet which is known to inhabit hammerhead shakes and crocodiles, so no falling in! We both loved it and I would recommend this to any thrill seekers!


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29th January 2017:

Our weather has started to get very rainy and limits what we can do in the tropics! However, we decided to watch the final of the Australian open. Pete was team Nadal whereas I was backing Federer so Pete owes me for losing the bet! 

30th January 2017:

Inspired by the Aussie open we headed out to play some Tennis. I had no idea how bad I was at tennis and spent most of my time running after the ball rather than hitting it back.  Australia is way too hot to play tennis in, that’s my excuse anyway!

31st January 2017:

Today we woke up early and headed to Freshwater Train Station to ride the Kuranda Scenic Railway to the small village in the rainforest, Kuranda. The wet tropic location is a world heritage listed Rainforest and is amongst the oldest on earth. The views from the train were breathtaking, we past spectacular waterfalls and Baron Gorge aswell as beautiful landscapes out to the ocean. The train itself is wooden and with a very traditional style it rises from sea level to 328m and has been running since 1891! 

Arriving in Kuranda was like stepping out to a different time. The station was beautiful and only a short walk to the centre of the village. If anyone knows me well then they will know I love Chilli and all things spicy. So while we were visiting the Kuranda Heritage Markets I had to stop for a taster & buy one of the Hottest Chilli Sauces 🌶🌶 Pete also bought a boomerang hand painted by an indigenous artist. 


We then began our decent down the mountain by Skyrail Cable Way. We had beautiful 360 degree views over the heart of the rainforest, unfortunately true to its name it did rain a lot and our view was restricted on our final descent. 


1st February 2017 & 2nd February 2017:

Unfortunately for the last two days Cairns has been hit with a Monsoon, with a cyclone expected over the next week which has majorly disrupted our plans as they are all outdoor activities! We took advantage of the time to relax, sort some of our things out and save some money to spend in Sydney next week! 

3rd January 2017:

Today was our last trip to the Great Barrier Reef, this time we visited an outer Reef off of Green Island. The island was beautiful but not as quaint as the Low Isles. As soon as we entered the water there was a large presence of jellyfish which was a bit unsettling. 


There didn’t seem to be as much coral as the inner Reef we had previously visited but many many turtles which is always a beautiful thing to see. Pete was lucky to swim close to sting rays. We started our return home via catamaran but not before a quick stop for icecream. Not to self: never, ever get a chocolate ice cream cone in the tropics- mess like you wouldn’t believe. 

4th February 2017:

Today we nipped out while it stopped raining for a while and visited the Crystal cascades. The Crystal Cascades is a cascade waterfall on the Freshwater Creek. It has a secluded Freshwater swimming hole and is hidden in the troical Rainforest between granite boulders. A hidden gem and our last visit to the Rainforest for a very long time! 

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5th February 2017:

As we are leaving Cairns tomorrow to start our long journey home we spent the day organising suitcases and trying to fit everything in! Finishing off with a lovely dinner from the local Italian. 

Overall we’ve had a very laid back two weeks in Cairns with our favourite day probably being the jet boats! However, being in the reef from Cairns and Port Douglas I would definitely recommend Port Douglas as a gateway over Cairns. It is less touristy and a lot more Scenic. 

Port Douglas – QLD, Where the Rainforest meets the Reef

13th, 14th & 15th January 2017:

We’ve just driven 1030 miles to Port Douglas in Tropical North Queensland to the highest point on our journey. It took us twenty hours and a three day drive in torrential rain and a testing climate. We briefly stopped in Rockhampton and Townsville (the Capitol of North Queensland) for a nights sleep and then we were back out on the open road. 

Port Douglas is adjacent to part of the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. It has a tropical monsoon climate with a extraordinary high humidity level, which we have already had a taster of! We have come in one of the hottest and wettest months of the year. We are staying at the Shantara Resort & Spa, which is beautiful. It is full of tropical plants, palm trees and two very inviting swimming pools. 

16th January 2017:

Today we explored the small town of Port Douglas which is full gallery’s, clothes and locally ran businesses as well as an assortment of restaurants and cafes. It is actually known at the gem of restaurants. 

We headed to the Marina which has a beautiful backdrop of the Daintree Rainforest and then walked through the centre of town to four mile beach the other side, we were absolutely exhausted.. did I mention the humidity!?! 


We had a lazy afternoon with a delicious BBQ and testing out the GoPro in the pool. It was as if we were kids again, Pete can definitely swim better underwater but I insist I have the better underwater handstand. It has been one of my favourite days today, so laid back and tropical. 



17th January 2017:

It looked like it was going to be a gloomy day today with a few dark clouds covering the sky, but they soon cleared. I was awoken in the middle of the night but a huge thunderclap, like nothing I have ever heard before, Pete was pleasantly unaware and sound asleep. We have had another relaxing day today but this evening we headed to On the Inlet which serves seafood cuisine on the Marina. I was so tempted to try the Mud Crab, which is supposed to be the delicacy here, but they were huge… I just couldn’t do it! Pete enjoyed a beautiful Tuna steak though. 
18th January 2017:

Today we visited Mossman Gorge, a world heritage site, in the Daintree Rainforest. It is part of the traditional homeland of the indigenous Kuku Yalanji people. We stopped at all of the beautiful look outs and made our way into the Rainforest to the 2.4km circuit (which we thought was going to be a walk in the park). No, it was quite the opposite, I don’t think I’ve ever been more aware of my surroundings. The path disintegrated into a tiny track which often disappeared so we had to climb over rocks and over small creeks to try and go the right way. 


I was more worried about the insects and reptiles that we might bump in to rather than getting lost but we made our way back to the start and unfortunately we didn’t see any wildlife! 
19th January 2017:

Today we headed out to The Great Barrier Reef, via catamaran, to the picturesque small island of the Low Isles. My main hope for this trip was to get to see and possibly swim with a turtle but I wasn’t that optimistic! The 50ft catamaran was beautiful and we made ourselves comfortable on the outside trampolines for the hour sail to the island. Before arriving we made sure we were all geared up with our flippers, snorkels, masks and Lycra swimsuits to protect us against jellyfish stings. Then we transferred to a glass bottom boat which took us to shore. On the GBB the guide was pointing out turtles, and even noticed a shark causally swimming past. 

We set out with a small group tour of the corals and immediately we were met by a beautiful green turtle swimming in the shallow corals. We were extactic and it definitely increased our determination to find more! Our guide took us to three different parts of the reef. One which was nicknamed the turtle garden which had a sleeping turtle and others just chilling out. The second was an area which was full of huge clams, which are very impressive to see open and shut. Our guide picked up a sea cucumber, which is in the starfish family, it isn’t the nicest looking of living creatures but we were able to touch it. Pete says it felt very hard and slimy. Our final stop on our coral tour was to a part full of beautiful coral gardens. It is amazing to think that the reef is all living and created by nature, absolutely mind blowing. In total we saw four turtles, five clams and lots of beautiful fish with our guide. 

After the guided tour me and Pete set out on our own reef adventure. It did take us a while to find our bearings and to find the best parts for seeing the turtles. We came across one sleeping turtle but felt as if we weren’t in the right section so swam on further. While we were swimming I went slightly in front of Pete as he was filming with the GoPro. I thought I saw something coming towards us out the corner of my right eye and as I looked round a 1 & 1/2 metre Black Tip Reef Shark swam right in between us! It was amazing but terrifying at the same time and we were both definitely pumped with adrenaline after that. 

You can watch it here:

After 2 & 1/2 hours swimming we started to make our way back to the shore. We were surprised to come across three more turtles swimming in the crystal clear part of the reef. One of the turtles began to swim with us and came right up to the surface with us. He was so beautiful and majestic, I will never ever forget that moment. We were incerediby lucky to have experienced this and I’m sure we will be going back to the reef very soon in Cairns. 

We started our sail back to Port Douglas watching the sunset over the mountains and the ocean was beautiful. We’ll never forget the Low Isles. We both said it was one of the most beautiful places we have ever been to. We ended our cruise with sushi and an ice cold Corona. A great end to an extraordinary day. 

20th January 2017:

Today we visited Hartleys Crocodile Adventure to find some Crocs, as we haven’t seen many up close during our trip! We started the morning watching the Crocs being fed and learning a bit about them. Apart from there size I was more surprised about the loud noise their jaws make when they snap! We then departed on the Crocodile River Cruise which takes you around the lagoon in search for hungry Crocs! We were lucky to see loads, up close and very snappy! 

One thing is for sure, I wouldn’t want to be the one who has to go and gather the crocodile eggs from her nest. 

21st January 2017:

We were extremely lazy this morning. Infact I think the pictures below sums up exactly how we spent our morning: 

This evening we drove to Cairns to see Passenger play live at the Martin Munro Parklands. The Parklands are normally a place where the town can go to relax and have picnics but tonight it was transformed for passengers private venue.
 While we were waiting for the gig to begin thousands of bats flew over our heads and I mean thousands consistently coming from the mountains for at least half an hour. 

Bat Overpass. Simply magical. 🦇🙌🏻🇦🇺 #Travel #Queensland #Bats #Australia #Animal

A post shared by Emma Tait 🐨 (@emmaltait93) on

​​It was really laid back as people were allowed to bring their own chairs, blankets and picnics to enjoy, under the stars and during the performance. 

We were very lucky to be right at the front. The calmest gig we’ve ever been to! Passenger was as amazing as I thought he would be making us laugh, sing & dance.Even though it was night time it was still extremely humid, Passenger put it perfectly: “An Englishman should never get this hot.”

Thank you for making me sing, dance, laugh & cry. Awesome night with the one and only @passengermusic 💙

A post shared by Emma Tait 🐨 (@emmaltait93) on

Thank you for making me sing, dance, laugh & cry. Awesome night with the one & only @passengermusic 💙

A post shared by Emma Tait 🐨 (@emmaltait93) on

We will be leaving Port Douglas tomorrow morning for Cairns and even though we will still be in Tropical North Queensland I will never ever forget this beautiful Port or the experiences we’ve had this week. One of the best weeks of my life, no doubt. (I would also recommend anyone thinking of going to the reef via Cairns come to Port Douglas, it’s one of the prettiest, quaintest place I’ve ever been!)

Noosa & The Sunshine Coast – GLD

10th January 2017

Today we drove 130km to the outskirts of Noosa. Noosa is located in the Sunshine Coast region of south eastern Queensland. Noosa has no high rise buildings as locals don’t want to ruin the land or over crowd with tourism. 

We are currently staying at the Noosa Hinterland Retreat which has beautiful  views over the local hinterland. It’s actually a massive house and we have the the ground floor studio. It has a very homely, relaxing and spiritual ambience. The retreat has its own chooks (chickens) who freely walk around the grounds which provide us with fresh eggs daily.

 

11th January 2017

This morning we headed to Eumundi for their famous markets. The whole place was packed with hundreds of stalls and so many people! We were too hot so ended up in a cafe in the quirky town of Eumundi. 

This afternoon we went to Noosa Heads to Main beach where we took the boardwalk into the Noosa National Park. We followed a trail which went between the coast and the park to try and spot wild Koalas! (I wasn’t too hopeful)

View from the walking trail – Noosa National Park

We walked until we reached Dolphin Point and started to turn back. We were really lucky to see two wild Koalas on our way and it’s the first wild ones we’ve seen! 



12th January 2017

Today we ventured to Noosa Marina to look around the little nautical shops and galleries. Our next stop was at Noosaville for some lunch and a dip in the Noosa River. Noosaville was beautiful, one of my favourite places we’ve been to. The water was so warm (and extremely salty) that you could walk in without a shudder! 


The river was full of water sports from paddle boards, kayaks, jet skis and BBQ pontoons! I would definitely come here a lot if I was a local!

We then moved on to Sunshine Beach which is an open ocean beach. You could hear the waves crashing as soon as you stepped out the car. It was again very picturesque with golden sands but a lot rougher than the river earlier. 

Unfortunately Pete was stung by a Bluebottle Jellyfish on both of his arms! I was genuinely quite scared at first but he said he felt no pain and none of the tentacles were left on! We spoke to the Aussie life guard who just said “You’ve been stung by a jelly mate, just put a cold beer on it!” 

It’s started to heal now so that was a relief! It’s only been a short stop to this beautiful part of the Sunshine Coast but we have really enjoyed everything Noosa has to offer. 

Brisbane – The River City, GLD

3rd January 2017

Today we drove 51 miles to the river city of Brisbane. Brisbane was named after Scottish born Sir Thomas Brisbane. It began as a prison without walls for convicts who had recommitted crimes in New South Wales after being shipped from England for committing crimes. This area is now known as the Brisbane central business district. 

We are currently staying in an apartment at the Meriton building, Hershel Street which is the tallest building in Brisbane.. so we shouldn’t get lost!


4th January 2017

Today we wanted to explore Brisbane so we headed across the river to Southbank where we found theatres, restaurants and lagoon style swimming pools free for the city to use. After a brief look around we headed back to Brisbanes CBD to the City Hall (known as the million pound hall) which is home to the Museam of Brisbane. It was nice to learn a bit about Brisbanes history and present day values. 


My favourite section in the museum was an exhibition called 100% Brisbane and in particular a section called Brisbane DNA which is the first of its kind. It explores the thoughts and real lives of Brisbanes residents to reveal the heart of modern day Brisbane. It is supposed to create a reflection on our own lives and the world around us. The exhibition involved an interactive experience which allowed you to have your say about who you are, as well as how you feel about the part of the world you are from. We had a go at the radio booth which selects people’s stories to go on the local ABC Brisbane radio but I’m pretty sure ours won’t be chosen! 


After all the walking around stopping briefly at the Myer shopping Centre and Queen St Mall it was nice to return home and chill out! Today we got a feel for the city, it definitely feels a lot more laid back here compared to similar cities such as Melbourne. 

5th January 2017

Today we visited Lone Pina Koala Sanctuary which is home to 130 Koalas, Dingos, Wombats, Wallabies, Kangeroo and Platypus! It’s the worlds first and largest Koala Sanctuary. 


We were VIPs for the day which meant we had our own personal keeper who took us around the sanctuary to visit the Koala Kindergartens (which were adorable) and the Koala retirement home! We were able to meet a Koala Vet who showed us how to give them medicine. We watched as she gave Mr Peabody (a male Koala) medicine disguised in Paste which he seemed very happy to eat. 

Next it was our turn to hold a Koala! We’ve both been looking forward to this for the whole trip so was amazing to finally be here! We held an adult male called Maximus who weighed 9kg. We had to hold our hands out as if they were branches and we were the tree so the Koala would sit confidently. It was amazing to be holding one of these beautiful animals and I could’ve cuddled him all day! 

We were then allowed to enter the enclosure of the Koala Forest. It was so funny to see them sleeping whilst balancing on the tiniest branch. We learnt how Koalas are currently at risk of being endangered basically because of human impact. Their habitats are being destroyed which had led to smaller groups of Koalas going their separate ways. They are in danger of being hit crossing on the roads and they were hunted in their millions a hundred years ago which has majorly decreased their numbers. That’s why at the sanctuary it was amazing seeing so many Koalas together, a sight we surprisingly haven’t been able to see so far on our journey through Australia. I think I’ve found my new favourite animal.

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6th January 2017

Today we went to DFO, Brisbanes Designer Factory Outlets. As soon as we stepped out of  the car it chucked it down so we ended up looking around the shops soaking wet. 

7th January 2017

Today we did a little bit of souvenir and gift shopping then we went to the Brisbane Event cinema to see the new Disney film Moana which was really good! I may have shed a tear or two at the end! This afternoon we spent time in the hotels gym and swimming pool.

8th January 2017

This morning we went to the Brisbane Sunday markets in Southbank. We ended up buying some dictionary art which sounds a bit weird but it’s actually well done and is one of my favourite things we have purchased recently.

We then stopped for a lunch on one of the bridges over the Brisbane River where we had a beautiful panoramic view of the city. 


After we went across the river to the Botanic gardens where there was a look out to the Brisbane Story Bridge. 


9th January 2017

Today we went back to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary but this time it was all about the Kangaroos! Kangaroos are the largest marsupials in the Macropodidae family (meaning large foot) which also includes wallabies, who are the smallest! There are currently 50-60 million Kangaroos in Australia! We bought some Kangaroo food and headed for the field. Straight away we found a few Kangaroos which were quite sleepy and I wasn’t sure we were going to be able to get up close to them. 

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It didn’t take us long to come across a lot of them and we were certainly spoilt for choice. Up close they are so beautiful and calm and it’s such a rare sighting seeing them bounce around. Pete wins on the selfie with a Kangaroo! 


Our favourite Kangaroo (we named Bruce) was absolutely huge, definitely the biggest adult male in the field. When he sat forward you could see his huge muscles which reminded me of all story’s you here about how dangerous and strong they can be! But he seemed happy enough to accept food from us and posed for some photos. 

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So our week in Brisbane has come to an end and for us it’s been all about the animals. It’s been so nice to finally be up close to these famous Australian icons and they are even more speculator in real life. 

Surfers Paradise & The Gold Coast – GLD

21st December 2016: 

Today we travelled 70km to the golden coast of Surfers paradise. Surfers is a seaside resort on Queenslands Gold Coast . It’s best known for its high-rise skyline and long golden beach. The Gold Coast is also famed for its surfing spots, theme parks and rainforests. 

We are currently staying in an apartment at the Freshwater Point Resort. It’s so nice to be able to cook again! After settling in we headed to the grand shopping mall called Pacific Fair to fill the apartment with food and Christmas decorations to make it feel abit more homely! 




22nd December 2016: 

Today we wanted to get to know Surfers better. We took a trip up to the Skypoint observation deck located 230 metres above ground at the top of the Q1 building. Here you can see 360 views of the whole of the Surfers Paradise and a lot of the Gold Coast. 



23rd December 2016: 

Today we went to Seaworld. I was so excited as I’ve only ever been to the one in Orlando and wanted to see how similar they were. It did not disappoint, full of shows, rides and its own monorail. Our favourite ride was called Storm which is a high speed rollercoaster which finishes in the water getting you absolutely soaked. We also got to see the Palazzo Versace where the celebs stay after they’ve been on I’m a celeb which is located right next to Seaworld. 



24th December 2016: Christmas Eve

Today was one of the best days we’ve had so far. We visited the Warner Bros Movie World also known as ‘Hollywood on the Gold Coast’. The park is largely based on WB looney toons and DC Comics with a small part based on Harry Potter and other WB hits.  The moment you enter the park you’re hit with Hollywood themed music, themed shops and towering thrill rides! I couldn’t wait to experience it all. Our first ride was on the Wild West Falls which was probably a mistake getting wet straight away but we still loved it. There were hardly any queues all day and we even got chosen for the dance cam on the stunt show screen! We loved WB and we will definitely be going back. Best Christmas Eve ever! 



25th December 2016: Christmas Day

It’s Christmas!! Not going to lie it was very strange waking up on Christmas Day in Australia. Unfortunately the day began with rain and thunder! We started the day opening our stockings, all of our Christmas cards and gifts to each other. Then we headed out for a little bit to Surfers Paradise where the beach was packed and loads of people where in the sea, even in the rain! Aussies are crazy. We spent the afternoon eating and playing games, definitely a Christmas we will never forget but nothing beats an English family Christmas. 


26th December 2016: 

As we loved it so much, today we went back to Warner Bros Movie World. Today was a lot busier!! Our first ride of the day was on the Batman themed: Arkham Asylum. You can choose whether you go in the rollercoaster as normal or have the virtual reality experience which was horrible!!!! It involved a 360 VR experience where the technology syncs with the movement of the coaster for a multi-dimensional journey. I much preferred the coaster by itself as you couldn’t tell when you were about to do a corkscrew or a loop with the VR on so your head was flapping around a lot!


27th December 2016: 

Today we drove back in to the hinterland to Springbrook National Park which is a world heritage site, home to a sub-tropical rainforest and beautiful waterfalls. 

Our first stop was to the Natural Bridge which is known as the jewel in the Gold Coast Hinterland Crown. It’s a cave formation that is home to a waterfall, glow worms and a colony of tiny bent-wing bats.


We ventured on further to Purling Brook Falls which is a horsetail waterfall at 348ft tall.


Our final stop was to the ‘Best of all’ look out which was stunning. Here you can see the mountain range which is also the border between New South Wales and Queensland. It’s the closest point we could get to where I’m a celebrity is filmed near Murwillumbah.



28th December 2016:

We started the day at Wet ‘N’ Wild, Gold Coast. So much better than the one in Orlando! Filled with lazy rivers, beaches, tube rides, steep slides and even it’s own surfboard rollercoaster which was amazing! It was very weird doing a rollercoaster in your swimming costumes though! This is actually the water park which features in The Inbetweeners 2 film which they rename ‘Splash Planet’. Pete was brave enough to try the Aqua Loop which involves you walking in to a locked tube, anxiously waiting before the trap floor is released and you freefall 40ft before going in to a full loop with speeds up to 60km/h. So yeah, that’s why I didn’t try that one! Unfortunately I didn’t take my phone because I didn’t want it to get wet or loose it so we haven’t got any photos but here’s a link to the ride: 

https://youtu.be/MNWy7M9DM58

This evening we went to the local ‘Event’ cinema to see the animated film ‘Sing’ which was kind of silly but quite amusing. After we visited the HardRock Cafe Surfers Paradise. This one was so much better than the one in Sydney which was quite surprising! It was more themed and the food was a lot better.  



29th December 2016: 

I think we were extremely tired out from the previous week so today we didn’t do a lot just relaxed and hung out at the apartment and pool. 

30th December 2016:

Today we visited DreamWorld which is partly based on the film company Dreamworks including themed rides of Madagascar, Shrek and Kung Fu Panda. The park was extremely quiet due to the accident that happened in October 2016. Its Australia’s largest theme park, with its own water park Whitewater World next door, and is made up of five lands. 

Our favourite ride of the day was the Buzz Saw Rollercoaster. It is a Skyloop rollercoaster and it has the tallest inversion in the Southern Hemisphere and the second tallest in the world. This evening we chilled out with a BBQ and then headed to the cinema to see the drama/thriller Allied.



31st December 2016:

Today we visited Harbourside Outlet Mall for an excuse to do some shopping and shop we did! We had quite a lazy day and ended the year watching the fire works at Jupiters Garden. 

1st January 2017:

Today we chilled out with a stroll to our local beach Broadbeach, Pete took a dip in the sea and then we headed to the Pacific Fair shopping centre. This evening we ate dinner at Zen which is an upscale Cantonese restaurant at Jupiters resort and casino. The food was beautiful, probably my favourite since arriving in Australia. After we had a short go at the casino we ended up winning but not a lot because we didn’t want to loose anything we had won! I don’t think we’re very good at gambling! 



2nd January 2017: 

Today was absolutely boiling!!!! As it is our last full day in Surfers today we headed back to WB for the last time. We started with the Superman Escape ride which is both of our favourites, so it would have been rude not to have bought our ride photo! Superman launches you to 130ft reaching 100km/h in just 2 seconds. It is insane but that’s what makes it so good. You start in the Metropolis subway station and are warned of tremors in the area until gas mains burst and walls begin to collapse. But Superman is there to save the day who pushes you out… “Fast. Superman Fast!” 


I think we’ve found the Orlando of Australia! I have fallen in love with the Gold Coast and although we’re moving on to Brissy, I am sad to be leaving! I’ve put together a little video of our favourite times here! But for now as Bugs would say…. ‘That’s all folks!’ 

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Lamington National Park – GLD, The Sunshine State 

17th December 2016 – Max Temp: 27°C

Today we travelled in to the Australian hinterland to the beautiful green mountains in Lamington National Park, Queensland.  Lamington is a world heritage site with Australia’s largest preserve of sub tropical rainforest. Here you can find the most amount of birds, snakes, frogs and marispuals in one area in the whole of Australia. (It is also located next to Springbrook National Park where they film I’m a celebrity every year.)

We are now in the state of Queensland until February! QLD is the second largest state in Aussie. (Seven times larger than Great Britain!) It averages 261 days of the year full of sunshine hence it’s nickname! 

We are currently staying at O’Reillys Rainforest Retreat which has beautiful views of the surrounding rainforests and mountains. It has a very alpine feel to it and is very Christmassy at the moment!


The view from our room!
We visited the retreats theatre which shows ‘Miracle of the Mountain’ a 50 minute video of how Bernard O’Reilly came to save passengers of a crashed Stinson aeroplane in 1937 on the mountain where we are. The model from the 1987 Hollywood film adaptation called ‘Riddle of the Stinson’ takes pride of place at the retreat as a sign of remembrance. 



18th December 2016 – Max Temp: 28°C

This morning we took a small trek into the rainforest to Micks Tower. It was pretty scary as there wasn’t much of a path just a small track which lead deep into the forest. We were really lucky to find some wallabies just wondering around. It was really nice to see them in their natural habitat.


We took part in the Tree Top walk which is raised above the ground and reminds me of when the people walk across the bridges in I’m a celebrity. 

This afternoon we booked to eat a Sunday a Roast at the retreats dining room. We were both quite excited as we haven’t had a good English Roast since leaving Petes. Unfortunately, we wouldn’t call this dinner a roast. I think they could do with a trip to England! After, we relaxed in the retreats spa. It was quite surreal being in a hot tub at the top of a mountain but I’m sure I could get used to it! We were meant to have a campfire this evening but as its so windy and thundery tonight it’s been cancelled so we’re hoping for another chance on Tuesday. 

If you look to the left you will be able to see our room. 



19th December 2016 – Max Temp:29°C

We had a very chilled out day today just exploring the retreat and feeding the birds. The Crimson Rosellas and King Parrots have been a highlight of our stay here and you can freely feed or hold them! Here are a few of our favourites from our stay: 



This evening we sat back and watched the beautiful sunset over the mountains from our balcony. 

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20th December 2016 – Max Temp:28°C

We started the day on a four wheeled drive through the rainforest to a place where the Flying Fox (Forest Zipline) is located. Once we were all kitted out and looking rather funny we started our climb up the mountain to the start of the zipline. 


I was so scared whereas Pete was the complete opposite and raring to go! There where quite a few rules to make sure your decent ran smoothly. These completely went out of my mind when I started my run down the ramp. 

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I didn’t like going backwards at first but before I knew it I was at the end and safely on the ground. After a few goes Pete started to go down upside down! 

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This afternoon we watched the ‘Birds of Prey Flight Show’at the retreat. We were introduced to owls, kites, falcons and eagles. My favourite was the snowy barn owl named Star and I even had the chance to hold it. Petes favourite was the barking owl which get its name after sounding like dog barking! 

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The most impressive of the birds was probably the Eagle partly because of the size of its wing span and how close it flew over our heads. 

It’s been nice to relax and get away from everything for a few days but I think we’re both ready to get back to the cities! Bring on the Gold Coast!!

Byron Bay – NSW

12th December 2016 – Mac Temp: 26°C

Today we travelled 400 miles north to Byron Bay via Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour. Stopping to see the famous ‘Big Banana’ at Coffs Harbour!

This week is all about relaxing and coming back down to earth.  Byrons way of life is 💚Cheer Up. Slow Down. Chill Out. 💚Byron is a beachside town known for its surfing, whale watching  and scuba diving sites. It has a humid subtropical climate and winters are never cold! 


We are currently staying at Byron Beach Resort which is extremely colourful and caters for all people offering Yoga, BBQ and bikes. 

13th December 2016 – Max Temp: 27°C

Today we wanted to explore Byron Bay town which we found was a bit dissapointing to what we’ve previously heard about it at home. It wasn’t as quaint or quirky as we had imagined. I think the most quirky thing about it was the environment centre!


We stopped for lunch at Byron Fresh for some Tacos, it was so nice to have Mexican food again!  ðŸŒ®ðŸŒ®


This evening we went next door to the Treehouse for dinner, which had a laid back vibe and is well known for its stone baked pizzas! 



14th December 2016 – Max Temp: 28°C

Today we spent the day on Byrons Main Beach. I finally got time to start my book while Pete enjoyed chilling in the sea. 

The only thing that scared me about swimming in the bay is that this is one of the only places that does not have nets to protect swimmers from sharks. Byroners want it to be as natural as possible. Pete didn’t seem to mind and enjoyed the big waves! 🌊 🌊 


I finally got the courage to go in the sea and when we got out we found lots of jellyfish washed up over the shore as the tide had gone out! Quite scary!

15th December 2016 – Max Temp: 28°C

Pete has been looking forward to this day for a while. He was to finally do his skydive! We drove out to the skydive centre and had to wait around for a while until it was his turn. I’ll let Pete talk about his experience…

After waiting for around two hours, I finally got geared up and saftey briefed. I didn’t realise before hand that we were landing on the beach! I liked the idea of this until the instructor gave us all life jackets in case we landed in the sea!
The scariest part if this whole experience was not the jump, it was the plane take off. 14 of us, plus the pilot all squashed into this small plane. There was no proper runway, just a grassy field. All this resulted in a very shaky take off. Once we were in the air the views of Byron Bay and the Gold Coast were amazing. I was so lucky that it was such a beautiful day!

Out of the 7 jumpers, I was the last to go. It was quite scary seeing them one by one shoot out of the plane. Though when I got closer to the door, I wasn’t too scared, just raring to go! One of my favourite photos taken by the handicam camera is one the below, taken just when I leave the plane. I think the expression on my face says it all!

Jumping out the plane

The free-fall was simply amazing, there is no other feeling like it. It kind of felt like time stood still. I can see why some people do this a lot, the adrenaline rush is awesome.

Free-falling
Skydive Selfie

The parachute ride down was very nice, it gave me time to take in the views of the coast. I was allowed to take control of the parachute which was pretty cool! My instructor trusted that I wouldn’t accidentally take us out to sea! He took over nearer to the ground. On the beach there was a big target that had been drawn into the sand. I think all the instructors were having a little competition to see who could land closests to the bullseye. We landed really close, my instructor said that this meant he wouldn’t have to buy the round of drinks later!


Safely in the landing area

16th December 2016 – Max Temp:  29°C

Today we visited the spiritual Crystal Place and Shambala garden. The Garden is full of beautiful crystals, spiritual monuments, sub-tropical plant life and aims to provide it visitors with a spiritually enriching experience. 



First off we took part in the experience of the Labyrinth. There is only one way in to the centre and only one way out, no tricks or dead ends. The believed outcome of completing the Labyrinth is to unravel our current viewpoint on reality.


We stopped for lunch at the gardens ‘Lotus Cafe’ which proactively encourages vegetarian and vegan cushine. Whenever they can they use the vegetables and produce from the Shamabala Garden. We both enjoyed a delicious mushroom and leek risotto.


The Buddha walk takes you on a trail through the Bamboo forest and past large statues of spiritual god and goddesses. First we past Ganesh, Lord of success and destroyer of evil. Then Lakshmi, Goddess of fortune and prosperity, wisdom and fertility, genouristy and courage. Next Avalokiteshvara, the embodiment of compassion. Lastly arriving at our personal favourite, the historical Buddha, who represents peace and freedom from suffering. We learned the basic principals of Buddhism: Nothing is seen as fixed or permanent, Actions have consequences and Change is possible.

The impressive monument of Buddha was both of our favourites in the whole of the Shambala garden. 


Next we past The Wishing Tree, which is essentially a lemon tree, which visitors have tied a personal wish on to in the hope that it will come true. 


The world peace stupa here is a sacred monument that represents universal divinity. It includes prayer wheels full of prayers and it is believed that if they are spun then the prayers are released and are likely to come true. There are only seven of these in the world and this one is unique to the Southern Hemisphere. 

World Peace Stupa
On our final stop of the garden we took part in the Reflexology Walk. Reflexology is an ancient healing art which is based on the principle that there are specific reflex area on the hands and feet that are linked to the internal organs and other parts of the body. It was recently found that walking bear foot on cobblestone surfaces significantly reduces blood pressure and improves balance and overall physical performance. Although, I do think I preferred the Reflexology walk in the Mornington Peninsula. 

This evening we made out way up to Cape Byron, the most eastern point in the whole of Australia.


 It was a beautiful place to watch the sunset and Pete even caught sight of a Dolphin in the ocean. This was a pleasant way to end our way in Byron Bay. 

Nelson Bay – NSW

10th November 2016 – Max Temp: 25°C

Today we went travelled 120 miles north of Sydney to the picturesque coastal suburb of Nelson Bay in Port Stephens. Nelson bay is most popular for its dolphin and whale watching and other aquatic activities. 

Road trip 🇦🇺

We are currently staying at Nelson Bay Bed & Breakfast which backs onto a national park. We are staying in the room called Yaracubba which has its own private hot tub! (Which eases the pain of leaving Sydney a little bit). Our host Trish is lovely and is quite motherly towards making sure we’re ok and we’ve always had enough to eat.

This afternoon we took a walk in to Nelson Bay to look for bottlenose Dolphins. After about 20 minutes waiting we spotted one coming up for air and he stayed around for quite a bit which was nice to see. Hopefully we will be seeing a lot more tomorrow! 

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This evening we are watching some Christmas movies and having an early night because we are both so tired and we have to get up at 4am! But I did just find out that we have the Disney Channel and the Disney movie Channel so I might be up a bit longer! 

11th December 2016 – Max Temp: 25°C

This morning we had to get up at a shocking 4am to be at Dolphin Swim Australia by 5am for wet suit fittings. We were surprised how noisy the wildlife was this early in the morning. As soon as we stepped out the door, we heard loud bird calls which sounded just like monkeys!

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Dolphin Swim Australia is the first of its kind, to swim with wild short-beaked common dolphins. They pride themselves on respecting the dolphins and their environment. They don’t chase the dolphins or feed them to lure them in. They wait for dolphins to chose to interact with the boat.We departed the bay at about 5.40am and headed to the open ocean. Unfortunately I got very sea sick, very quickly, because the sea was so rough. So Petes going to take over the Dolphin blog now as he was able to do a lot more! 

5am – Catamaran

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As we headed out to sea, we were split into 4 groups and given safety harnesses and snorkels. My name was literally read out last so I knew I had a while till I was getting in the water. The first job was to actually find the dolphin pods. Before the trip, I was quite nervous about not being able to find any dolphins at all, as I knew this would be my only chance to do something like this. I was soon at ease when I heard they crew had found a pod. They do this by looking out for birds circling above the water or splashes from the dolphins.

Pod of Dolphins

Sure enough, we were suddenly treated by a pod of dolphins. It was awesome. The most I saw at once was around 20-30. What was truly amazing was how the dolphins loved interacting with us as swimming right up to the boat. We were told the more excited we were and the more noise we made, the more the dolphins would interact. Everyone was screaming, whistling, clapping – you name it. It made a great atmosphere, and as you can imagine, I was itching to get into it the water!

Ready to go

As I said, I was in the last group, so I had to watch three groups go in before me. I was just hoping the dolphins would stick around! The reason why only 5 people were allowed in at once was because of the width of the boat. Basically, you get lowered underneath the catamaran and clip your harness to a rope that hangs across the bow. So, just 5 swimmers + the instructor can fit along this rope. When everyone is clipped on, the swimmers get lowered into the water off of the net and the boat starts to move, which is called bow-surfing. 

Ready to go under the bow

It was finally my turn, and I was not disappointed! As soon as I got in, I felt the presence of these beautiful dolphins around me. As the boat moves, it felt like I was swimming along side them, as if I was part of the pod. I could see quite a few dolphins near me – the most I saw at once was 5. Near the end of my swim I reached out my arm to try and touch one, but couldn’t quite reach. It truly was a unique and unforgettable experience!

Our own Pod photo
Wild Dolphin Swim Certificate

This evening we just wanted to relax so we made use of our private spa bath, preparing ourselves for the seven hour road trip tomorrow. Nelson Bay is lovely and we could have quite easily stayed a couple more days to explore the sand dunes. Onwards and upwards!

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