Down Unda…Australia

Great Barrier Reef on Australia's coast, Lady Elliot Island

Australia is in the South Pacific pretty isolated from the rest of the world geographically. But when it comes to fashion, architecture, economics, business, and social innovation, Australia is right alongside everyone else. Australia is a continent as well as a country, which pretty much means…it’s big. There’s a lot going on on the east coast with the Great Barrier Reef and Sydney and the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast. As of the past decade or so, the west coast has developed- the main city being Perth. Everything in the middle is basically uninhabited.

Lady Elliot Island sunset

I got to spend about three weeks on the east coast of the country and checked off most of my bucket list, except for Melbourne (so, I had to return a few years later to check it out and now I live there).

One thing I really appreciate about Australia is there global minded-ness. The majority of people know what is going on around the world and form an opinion based off of experience. Most Australians travel extensively within their own country and throughout Europe. Many of the friends I made while backpacking through Europe were from Australia that I still keep up with to this day!

Great Barrier Reef nurse shark

Getting Around…

It is not necessary to have a car in Sydney or in Australia at all. Everything is pretty spread out, and domestic flights are cheap!

Day 1…Arrive in Sydney

Accommodations: Sydney Harbor YHA in the Rocks.

The Rocks” is an area of Sydney that is walking distance to the Sydney Harbor and Opera House. There are also fun markets and museums close by. The Rocks is located near transportation including trains and buses to get anywhere else.

Sydney Opera House sunset

Note: Some Telstra phone booths are wifi hotspots that will allow you to have 30 minutes of wifi free. Most McDonalds also have free wifi and many coffee shops will give you 30 minutes free with purchase of a coffee.

Day 2-4…Sydney

Sydney is huge!!! You could be on a train for an hour and a half and still be in Sydney.

They have great museums such as the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Australian Museum. We also did a tour called Giba Nura: History of the Rocks from an Aboriginal Perspective via Sydney Learning Adventures.

Other things to do in Sydney include Manly Beach, Bondi Beach, China Town, Botanic Garden, and Parliament. All of these things are accessible via public transportation.

Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach

Day 5…Sydney to Hervey Bay Airport and flight to Lady Elliot Island

Because there was a large group, we chartered a bus from Sydney to Hervey Bay. Hervey Bay is a small beach town with souvenir shops and restaurants. We had lunch at Hervey Bay, then flew on a 10 seater airplane to Lady Elliot Island.

Harvey Bay dock

Lady Elliot Island is a small island- literally one mile wide- located in the Great Barrier Reef. There is a resort called Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, which was all-inclusive. There are several islands that can give you access to the Great Barrier Reef, but it is important for sustainability purposes to choose a place that is focused on the conversation of the Reef.

Great Barrier Reef

Day 6-9…LEI

Although Lady Elliot Island may be small, there is so much to see! Most days consist of snorkeling, reef walks, walks around the island, and watching the sunset and the sunrise. The food is amazing, and the staff is very helpful in educating their guests about the Reef.

Great Barrier Reef scuba diving with sea turtles

Day 9…LEI to Carnarvon Gorge

We flew back to Hervey Bay and took a 10-hour drive to Carnarvon Gorge on a chartered bus.

Koala in Noosa

Carnarvon Gorge is located in the outback; we stayed at Takarakka Bush Resort. The resort consisted of small huts and a communal bathroom surrounded by wild kangaroos and wallabies and otters and more.

Day 10-12…Carnarvon Gorge

We used Australian Nature Guides (our guide’s name was Simon Ling) to show us around Carnarvon Gorge. It is helpful to have a guide, because there are a lot of animals and insects you may want to know about as well as rich history.

Stargazing in Carnarvon Gorge outback

At Carnarvon Gorge, there is a lot of activities including Warumba Gorge guided walk, Spotlighting and Nocturnal Wildlife, Carnarvon Gorge hike, Boolimba Bluff Hike, and Southern Skies stargazing.

Day 13: Carnarvon Gorge to Noosa

This is a big travel day, as it takes the entire day to arrive in Noosa. Noosa is on the Sunshine Coast and was my favorite city that we visited during this trip. We stayed at the Coral Beach Resort, which consisted of condominiums.

Canarvon Gorge hike

Day 14-15…Noosa

Noosa is a small, quaint coastal town. There is a lovely downtown area and fun parks. Activities include the Noosa Spit, Noosa National Park, swim at Main Beach, surf, and Eumundi Markets.

Noosa Spit

Day 16…Noosa to Brisbane to Surfer’s Paradise

On the way, we stopped at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, where you can pet kangaroos and hold a koala.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary kangaroo and Joey

Brisbane is another big city along the east coast- there are shops and restaurants just like a typical city. I did not get much time here, but they were having a fun festival the night we arrived. We stayed at Astor Metropole Hotel. We flew out from Brisbane via Brisbane International Airport to Surfer’s Paradise.

Surfer's Paradise beach on the Gold Coast

We rented an AirBnb for one week in Surfer’s Paradise, which is located on the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast is famous for its surfing and beaches. There is also a lot of fun markets- when we were there, there was a sand castle contest. My friends also went skydiving at Byron Bay- another lovely town full of hippies!

While you are here…

Let’s be honest, you are already in the South Pacific. Why not check out more of the region?
New Zealand
The Big Island of Hawaii
Melbourne, Australia

One month Down Unda, a trek down the East Coast of Australia
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