DISCLAIMER: Advertisement. All locations and restaurants are my personal recommendation and we paid ourselves.
if you know me personally or have followed me for a while already, you might have heard me gush about my dream destination: AUSTRALIA.
After 12 years dreaming myself into this continent, this year I finally managed to go.
On this note, I have to thank my friend Feza so much that she worked her ass off to get an internship there for 6 months, because without her being there and asking me to come visit her, this would probably still be a dream of mine.
So, did Australia live up to my expectations?
And all I want is to just go back and stay…forever.
Ok jk, I’m still into traveling, but I could imagine myself settling there if I’m 100% honest!
Ok, guys. Let’s start this little walk through memory lane with Newcastle.
So, my friend has worked there. Naturally that’s where I spent quite some time, too.
Especially, because day 1 and whoops, I got an eye infection.
What a bummer!
But the only thing that has hurt in the end was that I had to postpone and rebook all my flights, because I was set on antibiotics and bed rest.
On that note, I HATE antibiotics and if you need to ever take them again, too:
Please read through these tips to help maintain or build your microbiome at the same time! Thank me later!
Now, back to Newcastle!
Newcastle is a city approx 2 1/2 to 3 hours north of Sydney and if you get an Opal Card, it only roughly costs 6$ to get there (except if you take the airport stations in Sydney, because they have a fee of approx 17$ on top (or avoid them by walking to the Mascot station if you’re traveling from/to the domestic airport).
Newcastle has, as my friend Feza always emphasises, the most beautiful beaches in Australia!
I don’t know if I can agree with that, but the beaches are definitely very beautiful! You’ve got Bar Beach, Newcastle Beach and Nobby’s Beach next to each other. And somewhere, a bit more secluded is Susan Gilmore Beach where Fez and I also had our first ‘proper’ photo shoot together!
Yeah, thought it might be something different to show you a video 😀
And we nearly had the beach to ourselves 🙂
Ok, so what else can you do in Newcastle?
Well, you can stroll through Darby Street for cute little restaurants and stores (where we found a store carrying the exact dress I bought from Spell & The Gypsy, this uber boho sustainable fashion brand almost everyone knows, from Byron Bay).
You could also do the Memorial Walk (which we managed to blow 😀 ).
Or you could attend one of the regularly held food festivals or music festivals, especially in summer!
Well, that’s at least what I have done.
Newcastle might not be on your radar, but I would definitely recommend to visit it. It’s small, but the people are hospitable and the proximity to the beaches is a luxury!
I LOVE BYRON BAY!
Let me just say that first.
And now, I will explain why.
Yes, Byron Bay is a tourist trap, just like Bondi, but it really depends on the kind of traveler you are, if you get influenced by that.
This time, I could finally call myself a real solo traveller.
And even though I didn’t manage to find a host on Couchsurfing this time, I still had one of the best experiences ever!
So, I booked myself into the Wake Up! Hostel instead.
And I wasn’t disappointed is an understatement!
Literally 5 seconds into my room, I made my first friend.
And that’s what I can say about Wake up! Byron Bay:
It’s the most social hostel I have been to, EVER!
They have these free and paid food special nights. For example:
Monday was a 10$ all you can eat pizza night with live music from a local musician in the BBQ area.
Wednesday the most famous Wine & Cheese Night (FREE), also with live music.
Thursday, a sunset lighthouse tour (also free) and also a 10$ all you can eat sushi night.
Apart from that, there’s also free 2 hour surf board rentals, 3 hour bike rentals, a free shuttle into the city almost every 30 min and free yoga and personal training alternating each day.
Now please, tell me if you have ever heard of a hostel like that!
I stop gushing now, because, yes, it’s pricey, but you get so much value for it.
Back to Byron Bay.
Byron Bay is known for being different.
From the way the local restaurants source their produce to the way people live, everything is more, let’s say hippie-like in Byron.
You don’t find the same 0815 stores like in in every other city there, but independent little local boutiques and food spots.
A lot of them have put an emphasis on regionality and sustainability.
For a vegan, zero-waste living person (which I am not in any way though), this IS paradise.
I always believe the best way to go is just whatever seems to be in your power at that certain moment.
To live and consume consciously, to always try to do one’s best in the area we feel most connected with.
Food is that area for me.
I’d rather pay more for high quality food that is nourishing than pay less for fast food that can be detrimental if consumed regularly.
In a separate post I will list my top food recommendations from all my Australia travels, but for now, the place you have to go to for AH-MAZING food is ‘COMBI’.
For sustainable shopping, I personally like the styles of ‘The Spell & The Gypsy’ and ‘Arnhem Clothing’ the most.
However there are a lot more stores like these.
As for partying, you’ve got a few options.
There are bars/open dance floor kind of spaces directly at the beach.
On the other hand, Woody’s promoters come to Wake Up! every day and you can enter for free and claim a free drink until 10:30pm.
I know that’s quite early, especially for us Europeans, but you can just go there, exit and come back later.
The music varies from night to night.
The other place that’s widely known is ‘Cheeky Monkey’, although I can’t say anything about it, cause we didn’t go into it 😀
Well, besides the name Surfer’s Paradise, I believe the real paradise for surfers is Byron Bay.
There are so many beaches with surfable waves.
I just had my first surfing lesson near Ballina and it was one of the coolest experiences ever. (Yes I stood up on the board a few times – don’t believe me? Well, you have to take my word on that one 😀 )
And then, there are SO many musicians just chilling there and sharing their art, motivating you to dance to their tunes or sing with them. I just love that so much!
So, yeah. Byron Bay is my favourite place (or better one of my favs) for sure!
Unlike many other travellers I didn’t travel up the east coast.
The reason for that was mainly because I wanted to spend the weekends with Fez.
And that always gave me 5 weekdays to fill with as much adventure as I could.
Doesn’t mean I wasn’t slow traveling though.
For me, the most important part about traveling is actually trying to get to know locals to soak up some of the lifestyle and culture of the places I go to.
I already spoke highly of Couchsurfing in Barcelona.
And for Brisbane I found another host, Nicholas.
This time I really was totally on my own, and I wouldn’t have exchanged this experience.
Even though Nicholas and I only managed to really spend the first evening together, throughout my stay, we always had a little chat at the end of the days.
And I really appreciate him always asking if I needed anything or helping me out with stuff to do on my own.
That’s a proper host, you guys!
So, back to Brisbane.
Brisbane is not directly on the beachside, but what is fascinating and probably the most favourite attraction there, is the South Bank Parklands.
That’s the famous beach in the city.
And what you guys probably don’t know is they also offer daily sport’s programs like yoga and barre workouts for free.
If you want to go shopping on the other hand, just walk from the ferris wheel at the South Bank Parklands over the Victoria Bridge to Queen Street and there you have all the shops you may desire.
If you’re more into nature, just a bit outside of the city is Mount Coot-tha where you can get a great look of the skyline of the city.
Another option would be to go to Kangaroo Point.
For me personally, I just loved South Bank, especially at night!
And if you don’t happen to stay in a hostel or with a host, I’d totally recommend just using Couchsurfing Hangouts to meet up with fellow travellers or locals in the area.
I managed to arrange a meet-up with up to 5 people throughout my 2 1/2 days there 🙂
Eating out, I would recommend West End especially as there are lots of different cuisines to choose from.
Everything is walkable, but you could also just get a ‘go card’ for public transport.
My next destination was Surfer’s Paradise and I got there with a cheap early-bird ticket (14$) for the Greyhound bus.
Ok, we’re in Surfer’s Paradise now.
Because I didn’t manage to find a host again, I stayed at the BUNK Hostel which is directly next to the Greyhound station, absolutely perfect!
The hostel is clean and the beds are built like these pods, so you got a lot of privacy, but also it makes it harder to connect with people.
But again, this really depends on the kind of person you are.
After talking to numerous people and still haven’t have found anyone who had the time to hangout, I just decided to wing it and join the pub crawl. But I couldn’t find the people organizing it.
Because, the hostel doesn’t have their own pub crawl anymore and they gave me the directions, but no one was there, so I just got dinner.
While at dinner, that was the first time I had a bit of anxiety, because I really didn’t want to be alone, but meet people. So, I went online again on my Couchsurfing app and, hallelujah, found Maris who had time.
And we spent a nice night on the beach together, playing pool in Duke’s Parlour and just talking.
Duke’s Parlour btw, is the bar next to the Bunk hostel where some social events take place, like beer pong tournaments, bikini jello fights and stuff 😀
I went there again the second (and my last night).
Besides just exploring the beaches, promenades and night markets, you can also rent a bike for 8 hrs ($25) and drive to Burleigh Heads.
That takes approx. 1h20 min with pauses for photos and videos in between.
And Burleigh Heads is a cute small town with a lovely beach and local stores as well as restaurants.
You can almost always drive right next to the coast which is beautiful as you see all the different beaches of the Gold Coast!
And besides meeting cool people and spending the day with them, I didn’t manage to explore a lot more.
In some ways, it really looks like Miami. I would say it’s rather a real vacation destination than a place typical to live in.
I love it still!
So, when I went outside out of the airport, I already was pleasantly surprised.
The airport is really artsy with its architecture. Very bright and open once you step outside, with colourful tiles.
Apparently everything in Adelaide is reachable in 15 min by car. I can agree with that 😀
Adelaide isn’t really the biggest city, and I would say it’s better for families to settle down.
There are quite a lot art galleries and our family friend told us, there’s a very known university for acting.
We only managed to see the Botanic Garden and the Wine Museum in it.
Besides that there’s also the Central Market worth seeing and maybe the Rundle Mall area.
But we heard the beach a bit farther outside is beautiful and also you can rent some bikes for free right in the heart of the city and go explore.
Our next stop was halfway in between Adelaide and Melbourne and sadly, no, we didn’t take the Great Ocean Road with the 12 Apostels on the way to Melbourne.
Health goes first and we just took the fastest route.
Apropos, we stayed at a wonderful AirBnB right in the centre of the city (in Halifax Street). If you want the details, you can contact me 🙂
I don’t have a lot to say about Mount Gambier as we only stayed one night.
But Umpherston Sinkhole is a cool outdoors attraction and you can take beautiful pictures there!
Besides that, there are also lakes, we didn’t manage to go to, as well as a grotto.
What I can say though, is we stayed at the most modern and spacious AirBnB with a great location! If you need a place to stay in the area contact me as well.
Off to a paragraph about a place we finally stayed a bit longer at!
First of all, our accommodation was an AirBnB again, absolutely in the perfect location.
Near the Monash University to be exact which is so funny, because a few years ago I wanted to study there 😀
Melbourne is known as this artsy place with very unique people oozing individuality.
Also it has quite a few cool rooftop or underground bars.
It’s a bit cooler there and people say, you have to be equipped for sunshine and rain throughout the day.
So pack a warm sweater and jacket which you will definitely have to take off and carry around until it’s cold in the evening again.
Let’s talk about stuff to do.
Well, as you know, I love food, so we always went out to eat brekkie, mostly in Fitzroy/Bushwick which turned out to be our favourite area.
You can walk into the city and go through street with a lot of cool vintage stores.
Of course, you gotta see Hosier Lane with its graffiti art, check out South Bank and Federation Square, just to tick it off the list 😀
Rooftop Bar recommendations are the following:
Cookie (a bit more of an alternative crowd) and Rooftop at QT (more fancy and expensive).
Another new attraction is the suddenly pink turned salt water lake for beautiful pictures 🙂
From Melbourne, we caught the plane to Tassie next.
We started off our Tasmania journey in South Hobart right in the middle of nature close to Mount Wellington in our TINY HOUSE!
Man, was I excited!
It was always a dream of mine to live in a tiny house. And yeah, it was a 2 floor tiny house with the sleeping area upstairs and a little kitchen and dining area downstairs with a couch area too.
It was a bit secluded so we always had to use Ubers to get into the city.
Honestly, we aren’t the biggest fans of Tasmania, because it was already so cold and there isn’t too much to do if you’re not prepared with good hiking clothes and gear.
The nature there is beautiful as well as the harbour area, but for us youngsters, we really struggled.
Besides the Mona Museum which was quite exciting, the only other highlight was the Franko Eats food festival which is held every Friday.
And of course, after two cold and turbulent nights in our tiny house, the remaining days in our new warm and possible most known AirBnB place in West Hobart.
We also checked out the Botanic Garden, but because of weather again, basically just sat there and drank coffee 😀
So yeah, Tasmania is too far away from everything, but if you enjoy hikes, you’ll probably like it.
We might have too, if we went in summer.
Last, but definitely not least, I’m writing about Sydney.
I was quite often in Sydney, but only for short periods of time. Like I landed, but immediately drove to Newcastle. Or drove there to fly somewhere else.
But I spent one weekend there with Fez, because we attended the Arctic Monkeys concert.
And even though Fez might possibly never again try Couchsurfing after we kind of had a lockout situation with our host, I still believe it was the best option if I think back.
Because on that weekend, there was this big Mardi Gras parade promoting LGBTQA+ rights.
The whole city went there, if not to participate, just to watch the spectacle. I’ve never in my life seen so many different kinds of people. And you all know, I love diversity!
It was great to watch the participants having fun and like I said, I feel like everyone in Sydney went there. So, the street were packed full.
But of course, besides these big events, Sydney doesn’t lack stuff to do.
The last thing I did there with Fez was going to Bronte Baths and just chilling at the beach soaking up some some, before she had to go back to Newcastle and I flew to Byron Bay.
Fast forward to the end of my travels.
I spent there another 6 days and fell in love…with the city 😀
Of course I saw the Botanic Garden and the Opera House! But I did so much more.
Like going on a free city tour from my hostel which lasted the whole day.
Apropos, I stayed at Wake Up! in the city centre and it’s cool, but not as cool as the Byron one.
Basically you also get these social events like the city tours and pizza night as well as the wine & cheese night, but they aren’t organised and tasty as well as the ones in Byron.
You get free personal training and yoga as well and in the hostel, there’s Side Bar with daily cool events and Roy’s Café for your food fix.
The rooms can be quite big and there’s sometimes stuff happening you might not actually want to see or hear 😀
But other than that, I can’t complain.
The small Wake Up! chain is by far the best hostel chain in Oz.
Back to stuff to do:
Well, you know there are a lot of cool beaches, one of them of course is Bondi. But you can also go to Coogee or Manly Beach.
Out of those, I’d definitely say I loved Manly Beach the most. But that’s because I love Manly in general and I ate the best Açai Bowl at Bare Naked Bowls there, so yeah 😀
Bars and Clubs:
We went to a club called ‘Chinese Laundry’ on my first evening and I gotta say, you have to love techno to like it. It’s a cool underground club, the entry fee is $30 and it has 3 different floors or better rooms.
Other recommendations are ‘Establishment’ and ‘Ivy’ (especially on Thursdays) where I got to take the word from my roomies who lived there for a long time already.
Another recommendation I got from my tour guide was to go to O Bar which is basically the cheaper version of the 360° Tower and restaurant. We went there for my last night, as well as to Side Bar for a silent disco.
I definitely couldn’t have had a better farewell!
But I’m not finished with my post just yet.
If you want a local insider info for the best food:
Go to Lentil as anything. You can pay whatever you want, the food is served by volunteers and it’s all vegan and definitely one of the best dishes I had in my whole Oz travels.
So if you’re ever short on money, that’s an options. But I would pay just for the concept of it, or volunteer.
This place is in Newtown which is known for their vegan restaurant paradise.
There was a whole ice-cream place serving all vegan ice-cream which was also sugar-free. MINDBLOWING.
Besides that, there are also a lot of sustainable fashion stores or vintage shops. Paradise for me 😀
Other parts of Sydney worth seeing are definitely Circular Quay where you can take the ferry to Manly from and which is the closest station to the Sydney Opera House.
Additionally, I like just strolling around the Martin Place area.
So, yeah. I’ve seen a bit of Sydney already, but there’s still so much to explore.
It won’t be too long until I am back in Sydney, I know that for sure.
And because I don’t want to end this blog post on a sad note:
Here are some pictures (some are unedited) and the map I made for all of Australia (you see, there’s still so much to see 😀 )
So, that was it for Australia. There is a special food post following, too.
Don’t ask me when. But I’m planning on writing it soon!
And if you have any questions, do not hesitate to leave a comment or write an e-mail.