The Ultimate Guide to Australia

ultimate guide to australia

Melbourne and Victoria

flinders street station melbourne
We started our epic journey in Victoria, which is a small south eastern state. We arrived in July, which is Australia's winter, so it was pretty cold.  :

We enjoyed Melbourne from our House Sit in Buninyong. Buninyong is the tiny weeniest place ever, but it's close to historical Ballarat where we saw our first real life kangaroos - both in the wild and up close in Ballarat Wildlife Park:

kangaroos australia
Other than Melbourne and Ballarat what we also loved in Victoria was the quirky beach town St Kilda, which is a short tram ride from Melbourne. The final highlight of Victoria was when we battled my fear of heights by flying in a Helicopter above the seaside city Geelong:

helicopter ride geelong

Tips for visiting Victoria: Go in their summer.

South Australia

adelaide botanic garden

After six weeks in Victoria we took the bus to South Australia. We actually secured both our Victorian and South Australian house sits when we were in England (using the fabulous TrustedHousesitters ) and when I looked at the distance between Melbourne and Adelaide on a map I thought "ah sweet they're right next door, probably only like a two hour drive between them". No no. It took us 9 hours to get there... But we were so happy when we got there, South Australia was so much more than we expected! The house we sat had an amazing view of the whole of Adelaide and backed onto a wildlife reserve where we saw our first wild koalas

adelaide koalas

We had the best food of our lives at Windy Point Restaurant. My Grandpa's cousin took us there which was very kind :) He also took us to have the best wine ever in the famous Barossa. I urge you to take a day trip to the Barossa, even if World Wide Awarding Wine isn't your thing, the beautiful landscapes will be. 
wine barossa australia

The lovely lady that we house sat for in Adelaide also had a unit on Kangaroo Island and she very kindly let us stay there free. Kangaroo Island was one of the best parts of Australia but we almost didn't go because of the price. I'm so glad we got that opportunity though because we saw clear beaches, wild seals, kangaroos, koalas and sea lions

kangaroo island seal

Not to mention the Remarkable Rocks, which are some pretty remarkable rocks: 

remarkable rocks kangaroo island

Tips: Don't miss South Australia! It's rich in nature and culture. The food and wine were the best that we had in the whole of Australia, and we wouldn't have missed Kangaroo Island for the world. (Adelaide's pretty boring though, you can miss that.) 

Brisbane, Queensland
Queensland was where we first experienced proper Australian heat (40 degrees). Brisbane is  an excellent city with a free outdoor swimming pool right in the centre! We dined on crocodile, emu and kangaroo at Tukka Restaurant. We also kayaked along the Brisbane river:

kayaking brisbane river

The couple we house sat for kindly took us to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the oldest and largest koala sanctuary in the world. We saw our first red kangaroos here and got to hold a koala

lone pine koala sanctuary australia

Tips: Definitely go to Lone Pine Koala sanctuary, it was our favourite nature reserve. Brisbane is very hot and hard to conquer, so take a bikini (they call them bathers or swimmers) and swim in the FREE outdoor swimming pool.

Western Australia

beach western australia

Most people who go to Australia stick to the east coast. They may get as far down as Melbourne, they may get as far west as Uluru, but most stick to Sydney, Brisbane and the Great Barrier Reef. Everyone we'd spoken to who had managed to divert from tradition and get to Western Australia said that it was a hidden gem and we shouldn't miss it. So when we scored a house sit in Hopetoun, WA we decided to grab our chance.

The flight from Brisbane to Perth takes five and a half hours (Australia is big)! We stayed for a week with my Grandma's friend's son, his wife and their lovely daughter. We loved the beaches near Perth, they were always pretty much deserted and the waves were really rough and fun: 
perth beach australia

Our hosts generously took us to Caversham Wildlife Park and where we got to see Albino Kangaroos, they were the softest kangaroos that we encountered:

caversham wildlife park australia

perth city western australia

Perth is a modern city and has a real 'business people' feel to it. It can definitely be conquered in a day but it has some beautiful parks and the buses are free! 

After our week in Perth we took a coach ride to Hopetoun, WA. It's beyond remote with it's nearest city Perth seven and a half hours away! The negative side of this was that food was ridiculously expensive. (Which it is in Australia anyway, but it was even more so here!) The positive side of Hopetoun though were the deserted, breathtaking beaches

hopetoun western australia beach

We spent three wonderful weeks here, swimming, sunbathing, chillaxing and walking the dogs who we were looking after:

hopetoun western australia beach

We then went back to  Perth where we found accommodation by couch surfing for the first time ever. It was four of the most exciting days we loved it and everyone we met, plus this hammock:

perth couch surfing

Tips: Not really a tip, but it may be worth noting that we found Western Australia had the best weather - not too muggy like Queensland, hotter than South Australia and barely any rain (unlike Victoria). 
Living in a remote seaside village was something else, do we regret it? No absolutely not. Is it for you? I'm not sure, you tell me!

Gold Coast, Queensland

We then went back to Queensland and continued couch surfing, however, this time we had a really creepy weird host. Luckily we were saved by the Brisbane couple who we house sat for earlier (the koala ones). They gave new meaning to the term Christmas spirit and we're so grateful to them.

Two weeks before Christmas we arrived at the Gold Coast for more house sitting. The weather was scorching (35 plus everyday) and the house we were sitting had a pool!

gold coast pool australia

The lovely lady we house sat for there very kindly took us to the  awesome Gold Coast Theme Parks.

gold coast theme park

We learnt to surf at Surfer's Paradise, which is aptly named and stunningly beautiful. I love city and I love beach - I've never been able to decide which I love more but the Gold Coast is where they meet and have a baby, which is what I need in my life:

surfers paradise australia

The house we were sitting had a cat to look after and no dogs - the first time this had happened since Victoria, so we made the most of the cat's independence and went clubbing on the Gold Coast for New Year's Eve:

surfers paradise australia

It was an awesome night, but 20 minutes into the new year Tanbay fell and broke his arm.. so we had to experience Australian hospitals. The Gold Coast University hospital is absolutely fantastic! Please make sure that you have a medicare card or appropriate health insurance.

Tips: Don't miss the Gold Coast! It's epic. Sure it may be a bit more crowded, but in Australia that just means there are more than two people on the beach. The roller coasters and the surfing were definite highlights too. 

New South Wales

A week into the New Year Tanbay's arm was still very sore, but our next home owner picked us up and took us to their home in Alstonville, NSW. The Gold Coast is only an hour away from Alstonville but the change in scenery is so dramatic!
Queensland is very dry and red, but literally as soon as you cross the NSW border everything is green and lush and a tree. It's crazy.

Alstonville is very close to Byron Bay, and our plan was to go there, but Tanbay was still in a lot of pain so we missed it. Next time Byron! If you're near Byron, please go there - we hear it's great!

After a week we took an eleven hour train to Newcastle. We weren't expecting much from Newcastle (having seen Geordie Shore) but it turns out the Australian Newcastle is a billion times better than it's English name sake, I mean just look at it:

newcastle australia beach

We were only in Newcastle for a few days (where we met three of the greatest guys ever), before we moved onto Berowra, which again was another pleasant Aussie surprise. We were expecting a small suburb an hour out of Sydney, which it is, but it also looks like THIS:

berowra australia

Whilst staying in Berowra we got to visit Sydney, which again surprised us! We expected Sydney to be overrated, touristy and nothing compared to Melbourne. However, Sydney is cool! Sure the Sydney Opera House has a few tourists, but if you compare it to the number of tourists that you get at the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben, it was practically empty:

sydney australia opera house

Another 'must see' that we saw using our base in Berowra were the Blue Mountains. We had really mixed feelings about these, the forest was absolutely beautiful and verdant. But the mountains were completely obscured by the mist and we (stupidly) overpaid to go to Scenic World which you should never ever do if there's mist..

blue mountains australia

We also got to watch a cricket match (Sydney Sixers vs Sydney Thunder) in the Sydney Olympic Stadium. This was the first time we'd ever watched or understood cricket, and the atmosphere was awesome. If, like us, you have no interest in cricket I still urge you to go and see a cricket match in Australia - it's part of Australia's 'culture'. 

sydney olympic stadium

We visited Manly Beach too, which is one of Sydney's famous beaches. I got to bodyboard here for the first time. We preferred Bondi to Manly, so if you're strapped for time maybe just do Bondi. 

Tips: Don't miss Sydney or the Blue Mountains - there really is a reason that everyone does them. Try and do an 'off the beaten track' place like Berowra or Newcastle too - they're refreshingly beautiful.

Australian Capital Territory

canberra parliament house australia
After New South Wales we actually returned to Brisbane for a couple of weeks to house sit for our lovely, life saving, koala, Brisbane couple. Then we moved onto the ACT and Australia's capital: Canberra. Canberra is a strange place, it was created just to be a capital city and you can really feel that. Canberra isn't like London, Paris, Berlin or really any other capital city, you don't have to feel bad about not doing it. Really they should call Sydney the capital and get over it. 

canberra parliament house
We still had a great house sit and got to go on the roof of Parliament House, which had a great view of Canberra (above). Canberra also has a great Portrait Gallery and some excellent restaurants.

Tips: We really loved Canberra, but that was mainly due to the excellent house sit. We wanted to do the ACT to tick off more Australian states that we'd been to, there's no need for you to feel that - it's a territory anyway. 

New South Wales (again)

new south wales beach australia

We ended our Australian trip in New South Wales. First we house sat  for our three favourite guys in Newcastle. Tanbay and I ended up getting engaged on the beach in the above photo :D it was our favourite Australian beach, always deserted with beautiful sand and sea. Tanbay wrote "will you marry me" in the sand, it was proper romantic.

For the last three days in Australia we decided to celebrate our engagement (and our eight year anniversary) by staying in a hotel in Sydney. We spent most of the time at Bondi Beach. Like Sydney, we expected Bondi Beach to be overrated, but like Sydney we were pleasantly surprised. Bondi Beach is epic! Sure there were lots of people there, but it gave it a fun exciting feel. The shops are pretty dire there though. 

sydney bondi beach australia

We hired surfboards here from a guy on the beach, the waves weren't massive but they were great for beginners like ourselves. It was the perfect end to our trip in Australia.

bondi beach surfing

Tips: Don't miss Bondi! We loved it so much. 

Things we'll go back and do

We do regret not getting to do three things: See the Great Barrier Reef, see Uluru and go to the Ningaloo Reef. We couldn't do Uluru and Ningaloo Reef because of the price issue, and they were so far from everything else. We were all set to do the GBR, but because Tanbay broke his wrist we figured it would be better to come back when he could snorkel and enjoy it too. We recommend that you do those things and make us feel jealous of you. 

All in all we absolutely loved Australia, it was the best year of our lives (so far). The places we enjoyed the most were the Gold Coast, Kangaroo Island, Melbourne and Bondi Beach - don't miss them! 

How were we able to stay so long in Australia for so long (9 months) AND move around so much? The reason is: House Sitting 

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Travelling through the kyriarchy and weaselling our way out of the rat race - a female travel blogger writing about socially and politically conscious travelling.


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