This week, hear from an awesome blogger who took three months off from work to travel throughout Australia. Jessica from Turquoise Compass is a teacher at heart, but her true passion is traveling (especially to turquoise beaches), adventure, and trying new things. She has been to 17 countries and she is ready to see more. She has completed more than a hundred items on her bucket and encourages others to live life to the fullest, while taking advantage of every opportunity that comes. As you can tell, this hyperactive traveler loves visiting beautiful turquoise destinations.
It is hard to believe that I have been in Australia for over two months now. The time is flying by. With only two more weeks, my time in Australia is quickly coming to an end. My first 6 weeks were spent on the spectacular East Coast. I traveled from New South Whales, through the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, and all the way up to Northern Queensland. How can I sum up my first 6 weeks in Australia in just one blog post? I am not sure that I can, but I will try. The East Coast gave me my first impressions of Australia, while allowing me countless opportunities to check off items on my bucket list. The East Coast was a dream come true.
When I arrived in Sydney on February 3, 2014 I made it my mission to see all of my Australian dream destinations. Australia is known for its turquoise hot spots and I want to see them all. A lot of people come to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa and end up staying in one place for almost the entire length of their stay. Many leave with regrets. I don’t want that to be me. I don’t know if and when I’ll be able to come back to Australia (it’s just so far from Canada), so I want to make the best out of my visit. Of course I want to return again and again, but if I am unable to I will know that I gave it my best to see as much as I can.
I decided to come to Australia for just shy of 3 months on a Tourist Visa. I decided not to work in the one destination I dreamed about visiting, yet I knew that meant I would not be able to come for as long as I could have if I worked park of my holiday. On my year off, I decided not to work at all and to enjoy the destinations I planned to see with the limited money I saved up. After working so hard over the years to save up, I have no desire to work on my sabbatical. I am bound and determined to see as much of Australia as I can in the almost 3 months that I have. Someway, somehow, I’m finding ways to see everything I hoped to see while staying within my budget (or the lack there of budget). At times, I have to be creative in planning my tour so that I can see as much as possible with the limited time (and $$) I have in each destination. Thus far I’ve been able to make it work.
I knew Australia was expensive. My friends were relentless in reminding me how expensive Australia is (compared to Eastern Canada), but I don’t think I truly understood it until I arrived. Spending more for the same things I could get at home for less is unsettling for me, yet I know there is no way around it. I am sucking it up and enjoying Australia none the less. I’m looking for as many free activities as I can find, promotions on tour combinations, and asking for discounts. It always works out in the end right? Although Australia is more expensive then what I am used to I didn’t want to skimp in the one place that has so much to offer. I’ve waited this long to visit I might as well enjoy it. I don’t want to go home thinking I should have done it. Money is not everlasting, yet memories are. So I am paying and going (within my means of course). A little splurge here and there won’t hurt my budget, especially if I trim from another area. For example, if a tour cost more than I expected, I’ll just spend less on groceries that day. In the end, it all works out. I’m great at budgeting so I’ve always been able to find a way to make it work.
So here is what I did with 6 weeks on Australia’s East Coast:
-Fly into Sydney– Spend 10 days in the Sydney area checking out all of the neighbourhoods, CBD, suburbs, and surrounding North and South beaches.
-Fly to Coolangetta- Spend 1 week on the Gold Coast exploring the amazing beaches and seaside communities, including the renowned Surfer’s Paradise.
-Bus to Byron Bay for 3 days- Explore Byron Bay and its glorious beach and quaint community
-Bus to Brisbane- Spend 3 days in Brisbane
-Spend a day on the Sunshine Coast
-Bus to Noosa
-Camp 4 days in the Noosa Everglades– Canoe Trip
-Spend 6 days in Noosa relaxing on Noosa’s 5 beaches while exploring Noosa National Park
-Bus to Rainbow Beach (2 nights)- Explore Rainbow Beach and the sand blow
-3 day Fraser Island 4×4 self-drive camping trip
-Bus to Airlie Beach– Spend 4 nights relaxing in Airlie Beach waiting for the cyclone to pass
-Day trip to the Whitsunday Islands
-Bus to Townsville
-Ferry to Magnetic Island– Spend 2 nights on Magnetic Island. Explore Maggie Island in a 4×4 to see all of the best (and hidden) sights.
-Bus to Cairns- Spend 3 nights to see Cairns and the surrounding area
-One day Great Barrier Reef sailing trip
–Dive the Great Barrier Reef
-One day trip to Daintree Rainforest, Cape Tribulation, Port Douglas
-Leave the East Coast and fly to the West Coast
With limited time in Australia, the East Coast is my main focus because the majority of the sights I wanted to see are in that region. From scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef, sailing on turquoise water, snorkeling the Whitsunday Islands, dipping in Mackenzie Lake on Fraser Island, body boarding in Noosa, sand boarding in Rainbow Beach, and beyond, the East Coast continually made my dreams come true. Day after day, I checked off my bucket list items, while finding new and exciting things to do and try. Living life to the fullest is one of my life motto’s and I am definitely able to do that on Australia’s East Coast.
Of course I wasn’t able to do everything on the East Coast. Australia is huge and there is so much to see. I tried to plan a 6 week trip that allowed me to see all of the most popular sights, while also getting off the beaten path as well. I skipped some places others wouldn’t want to miss so that I had some flexibility in my travels in the case that I wanted to stay somewhere for longer (which happened more than once). I can always visit the places I missed on my second trip to Australia (assuming that is I get a second trip). Exploring less visited areas has always been a passion of mine. I don’t want to spend my whole vacation in “touristy” places, but rather experience a place as more of a local than a tourist. I’m a traveler, not a tourist. I’ve been having fun living like a local in Eastern Australia.
If you could visit only one place in Eastern Australia, where would it be?
Like what you read? Check out more of Jessica’s adventures at: