I’ll admit, I was hesitant about Brisbane. I couldn’t have been more wrong. They’ve spent millions revamping this city, and that was obvious the minute we hit the new waterfront. They’ve got riverside boardwalks, tons of cafes, a really nice urban beach and one of the nicest ways to do city tours- they actually get retired volunteer locals to show you around.
Brisbane was smaller than I expected, which was actually really good. It’s compact enough to allow you to explore the sights in just a few days. The South Bank was really vibrant, there was a riverside pool and the city is really clean. You can Segway around, bike along the waterfront or see the sights like the Story Bridge.
It was a one-night stop, so I didn’t have time to visit Chinatown or Fortitude Valley’s live music, but I’m sure I’ll be back.
It’s Hard To Put The Sunshine Coast Into Words
The drive north to the Sunshine Coast was an easy 1hr 50 minutes and the views were lovely. Once you get out of Brisbane, it turns very green (almost alpine) and that made the drive incredibly picturesque.
Noosa Heads was just so relaxing. It reminded me of Home & Away- just so laid-back, right by the beach, proper small-town charm, with some pretty impressive houses too. I really loved Noosa Heads. Everything here fronts the beach, including the main Hastings Street, where there’s loads of little boutiques, breakfast spots and places to sit. It’s quite upmarket, but with everyone walking around in flip-flops, it doesn’t feel pretentious. Surfing here is pretty big, so we gave it a try and I’m still massively proud of myself for being a first-time surfer and managing to stay standing! Tucking into local food was something I’m more experienced in, and doing it overlooking the bay was brilliant.
Staying in a large resort was definitely indulgent, but I mainly liked the Sofitel Noosa for its Beach House Restaurant. We also did a lovely sunset cruise along the waterfront homes.
Next up, was a drive north to Rainbow Beach to transfer to Fraser Island- the largest sand island in the world. Fraser Island was just stunning. It’s got over 100 freshwater lakes, bumpy sand dunes and a real wilderness feel to the beaches. I spotted lizards, dingoes and Blue Whales. With a human population of just 194, it’s not like the wildlife has much in the way of interruption. The full island day tour was brilliant, as was the light aircraft option- the runway is actually on the beach here which was unique. We also got to swim in Lake McKenzie which was amazing!
I also want to take a moment to recommend the Kingfisher Bay Resort I stayed in. The sunsets here are stunning, and its modern design blends really well with its rainforest setting.
Onto Rainforests And The Great Barrier Reef
I flew to Cairns next to transfer over to Port Douglas. A lot of people feel they should stay in Cairns for The Great Barrier Reef, but Port Douglas is much nicer in my opinion. I stayed in the Peninsula Boutique Hotel. It’s family run, right by the beach and an easy 10-minute walk into town. Again, it’s really relaxing. The Four Mile Beach overlooks mountains, the main Macrossan Street has loads of busy restaurants and the Ballyhooley Steam Railway is here.
I then visited the Daintree Rainforest, which is the oldest rainforest in the world. You’ll see saltwater crocodiles popping their heads out the water here, plus loads of bird and plant species. Temperatures were hotter here, so the greenery was refreshing, as was the Mossman Gorge.
The absolute highlight of my trip though, was The Great Barrier Reef. After seeing it on TV, it was pretty much what I expected, but seeing it in the flesh was something else. I did the Quicksilver Tour, which offers scuba diving and an underwater experience. Definitely something I’ll never forget.
The snorkelling was amazing and I couldn’t stay out of the water! There’s clownfish and tropical varieties, and the waters are crystal clear. I then got to see a bird’s-eye view from the helicopter tour over the Pontoon.
Not on bucket list
Australia wasn’t actually on my bucket list, but I’m so grateful I got to go, as it completely changed my opinion of it. There’s so much culture, diversity and natural beauty there, so lots of possibilities for unique itineraries. For more inspiration take a look at our most popular or contact us here at the office for advice. A number of the team have been, so between us we’ve explored most the country… a couple of the guys have even lived out there, so if you are considering Australia give us a call and let us help you find something suitable.