If someone asked me a year ago, “What will you do during your first year travelling Australia?” My answer would have been short. Truth be told I didn’t have a clue. Other than the stereotypical sights to be seen here in the land down under, I didn’t actually have a plan. Here’s a brief recap of what I’ve been up to in the past 365 days.
We lived in Perth, Western Australia
My first real taste of Australia. We landed in Perth in November and left in March. Although it isn’t my favourite place in Australia to date, it is where we made a lot of life-long friends. Billabong Backpackers Hostel on Beaufort Street was where we predominantly spent our time. I worked part-time in a pizzeria and part-time in the hostel for free accommodation. Perth is a beautiful city, it has some wonderful places and it isn’t too busy. The only problem is it is one of the most secluded cities in the world, so if you are planning on setting up camp there for a while, I would suggest buying a car! Read my post 10 free things to do in Perth, Western Australia for a few ideas of things to do.
We drove from Perth to the Gold Coast
When we arrived in Australia, I honestly thought we would fly from each city to the next. Why? Australia is huge. I don’t think I initially realised just how big this country is until I arrived. I think I read somewhere that our first leg (Perth to Adelaide) was the equivalent of driving from Liverpool to Milan. But we have done it and I am so glad we have. I speak to so many people who fly to Cairns, travel the East Coast, get to Sydney, get a picture in front of the Harbour Bridge then leave. But we have seen so much in between. The Blue Mountains, The Snowy Mountains, The Nullabor Plain, the South West Coast, Kangaroo Island, The Great Ocean Road and so much more! None of this would have been possible without our trusty Kia Sportage 2001.
We have seen so much wildlife
Australian wildlife was one of the main things I was excited about before we came to this country. Being in a city for so long we weren’t really around too much of it. Saying that, I held my first snake at Caversham Wildlife Park in Perth. It was a slippery little bugger and truth be told I was shitting myself, but that’s one ticked off the list!
As our drive around Australia has gone on, the list of wildlife we have witnessed has grown. I would talk about how cool it was seeing kangaroos for the first time, but the novelty has quickly ran out. I don’t think I can count the times we’ve been driving and almost hit one. Not to mention all the stories I’ve been told about people hitting them with their cars and crashing.
Wild dolphins, on the other hand I will talk about. Our first sighting was just off Kangaroo Island and our second off Mordialloc Pier near Melbourne. I was so excited about this, like a kid at Christmas. Next on the list is to actually swim with them. We’ve seen sting rays, countless types of marine life and a whale with its baby calf just off the coast of Kangaroo Island too! Incredible.
Marine life aside, we were also lucky enough to see wild echidnas and a wedge-tail eagle. (Both I hadn’t even heard of before I got to Australia). We also got to see a wild koala bear one morning before our farm work began! Koala bears are so much louder than I thought, we had heard heeps of them in the trees before but we could never actually see them. When I got up close and personal I realised just how evil they look, so I kept my distance. The same applied to the creepy looking penguin we saw. I was imagining all penguins to look like the cartoons on happy feet! But when I saw this particular penguin lets just say I was surprised.
We explored (unintentionally) South Western Australia
We had a few places we wanted to see whilst travelling Australia, but the South West was never really on my list. However, I am so happy we travelled through there. The initial reason was to go to Southbound Festival in January 2016, but because of a pretty severe bush fire the festival was cancelled. So we made the best of a bad situation and visited Margaret River, Dunsborough and Yallingup. After living in a city for a few months it was so nice to escape the hustle and bustle. We went paddle boarding, walking, wine tours, the beaches, and saw the most incredible sights.
We drove and camped on the longest straight road in Australia
The Nullarbor Plain, what a long drive. There is pretty much nothing around because you are literally in the middle of nowhere. I had never camped under the stars when there isn’t any light pollution before and it was amazing.
We worked on an abalone farm on Kangaroo Island
How many backpackers do you hear from that had a well paid, 9-5 farm work experience? We literally put an advertisement on Gumtree and our boss contacted us. My time on the abalone farm was if not my best experience since coming to Australia. Read more about my Kangaroo Island experience here.
We cliff jumped into the ocean (still makes me want to throw up)
You know the saying, “If they told you to jump off a cliff, would you do it?” The answer is yes! I used to jump off boats as a child, but a cliff? Not a chance. We were at Blackwall Reach in Western Australia. Literally, all my friends took the plunge and I didn’t want to be the only one to not do it. So I took a cup of man the fuck up and got on with it. It was an experience to say the least. The adrenaline rush was something else. It was all well and good until I hit the water and suddenly couldn’t hear anything for the next two days because I had water in my ears. It’s safe to say that I’ve done it once and won’t be doing it again!
I fell off a quad bike
Not one of the highlights of my year. I didn’t actually think I would ever get on a quad bike. But it was on the abalone farm, and it was one of the only means of transport whilst there (that or a 4×4 with no breaks, you can see my predicament). So I got on it and cruised along for a good 20 to 30 seconds. In my head I thought I was driving my car, so I didn’t realise just how much you have to turn the handles. I also went for the none existent foot break. When you put these two together? Leanne stacks the quad bike off the side of the road and lands underneath it. I was inches from a rock and to make matters worse I didn’t have a helmet on. But luckily I was OK. Again, I’ve done it once NEVER again.
AND I’M STAYING ANOTHER YEAR
When I first came to Australia I thought one year would be enough for me because I would miss home too much. Which yes I do. However, I asked myself, “If I leave Australia now, when will I come back?“. So we decided to stay. One more year to complete my ever changing, ever growing bucket list! Here’s too the next part of the adventure, the Gold Coast!