After well and truly getting our city fix in Melbourne and Sydney we were ready for our next Australian adventure – a three week road trip down the East Coast. Here’s the story of the first half of our Australia East Coast tour.
Driving the East Coast of Australia
We flew from Sydney to Cairns and were instantly bowled over by the heat and non-stop sunshine. We felt like we’d arrived in a completely new country with all the tropical birds, palm trees and bikini-clad tourists everywhere. Even though you couldn’t swim in the sea because of crocodiles and stingers, Cairns itself was a pretty enough beach town. We did get sick of hearing British accents everywhere and being stuck in hostels with young backpackers on gap years crashing around drunk, running up and down the corridors and vomiting in the bathrooms.
Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation
We’d been planning on travelling the east coast of Australia by train, but in the end we decided we’d much prefer to travel independently and move at our own pace, so we rented a car. This allowed us to take an overnight trip up to Port Douglas; the drive there was the most beautiful we experienced in Australia, far better than our uninspiring ‘Great’ Ocean Road trip. We spent the day exploring beautiful Port Douglas and got bitten to pieces by mozzies at Mossman Gorge. Completely by coincidence we ended up staying the night with fellow travel blogger Alyson of World Travel Family; it was great to meet another blogger in the flesh! The next day we drove up to Cape Tribulation, where the rainforest meets the sea – we strolled along some beautiful deserted beaches and explored the rainforest.
Back to Cairns
We stopped off again in Cairns for one of the highlights of our time in Oz – snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef. Our day-long boat trip took us out to three amazing snorkelling spots; the water was as clear as glass and crowded with all kinds of strange, mesmerising fish. Within seconds of getting in the water we saw a reef shark gliding through the coral; later we encountered giant clams, clownfish and all manner of colourful fish – we could have spent hours out there exploring this new alien world.
Next we headed down to Townsville where we came across the nicest hostel in Australia – the Civic Guest House. We breathed a sigh of relief and settled into the quiet rooms, cooked in the sparkling-clean kitchen and took advantage of the fast wifi to get some work done in between walks along the beach. One evening we hiked up Castle Rock to watch the sunset; on the way a rain shower created the most perfect rainbow I’ve ever seen and even though I was exhausted, grumpy and soaked I couldn’t help but be awed by the spectacular pink and orange sunset waiting for us at the top.
Airlie Beach – Whitsundays
Our next destination was Airlie Beach, the gateway to the famous Whitsunday Islands. We spent a brilliant day sailing around the islands on an old-fashioned sail boat, the Derwent Hunter, stopping to snorkel near one of the islands. The weather was fierce and windy – great for sailing, not so great for snorkelling as it made the water thick and cloudy; we still had a great time though.
After all that we still had another 750 miles left to go on our East Coast road trip – find out about the second half of our journey.