Category Archives: Australia

Travels from Australia

Tasmania | Exploring the East Coast and Wineglass Bay | Australia

IMG_2304The Great Eastern Drive is one of the absolute highlights of travelling Tasmania – travellers come from far and wide to witness the incredible natural beauty of the East Coast. While you may have already read about how I planned my Tasmanian road trip and the highlights here – I thought it would be good to show you in more detail some of the amazing sights and experiences you’ll find along the way. This beautiful drive is one of the best road trips I have ever done, taking you through sleepy little towns, rolling countryside and pristine empty beaches with no-one but the kangaroos and wallabies to disturb you. If you’re looking to get lost in Australia’s best kept secret, you’re in the right place.IMG_2357

Hobart

Starting in Hobart, there is around 200km of spectacular scenery lying ahead of you so once you’ve seen the sights and experienced the cute little port town, you’ll be keen to get on the road. Check out my guide to the sights of Hobart here. I planned my trip according to the booklet available from the tourist information centre – 60 Great Short Walks – which is also available as an app and contains all the information in terms of locations, difficulty of the walks, national parks information and even what to take with you.IMG_2359

Tasman National Park

Not far out of Hobart, the first of many incredible national parks will take you round the Tasman coastline through Waterfall and Bivouac Bays. With opportunities to spot dolphins and seals in the glittering waters, and bright white sands lining the plummeting cliffs, this makes for dramatic scenery. You can walk for anything from one hour to five along this route by hugging the coastline and making your way around the bays, in the sunshine it’s well worth a walk.IMG_2380

Freycinet National Park

Wineglass Bay

The highlight of the East Coast – the sparkling gem in the crown of Tasmania – Freycinet National Park is famous as the home of Wineglass Bay and Friendly Beaches. One not to be missed in your East Coast trip, this is where you’ll find the iconic view over what has been voted Tasmania’s best beach. One good tip – if you’re not too scared of heights and fancy a challenge try climbing Mount Amos instead of going to the Wineglass Bay Lookout. It stands about 200ft higher and is perfect for adventurous bushwalkers – just be aware that this route involves slippery rock scrambling and shouldn’t be attempted in wet weather.IMG_2310

Friendly Beaches

One of my favourite campsites in the whole world – this one is perfect for any nature lovers out there. While the campsites may have very basic amenities with just toilets there, they have a whole lot more to offer travellers. This most eastern point of the island is perfect for witnessing an incredible sunrise out on the beach as you camp just a few metres back. Spend an afternoon wandering the shores of the beaches and spot countless whales migrating over November/December – we watched for hours as they jumped and dived through the waves. Around the campsite, you’ll be sheltered by the bushes from the wind and can look forward to spending a night with some of Australia’s finest – wombats and wallabies fill the campsite so be sure to take a flashlight for after dark. Don’t feed the animals and make sure to store any rubbish inside the car, but enjoy the moments when the tame creatures will walk right up to you with baby wallabies in their pouch. Absolutely incredible.IMG_2382

Douglas-Apsley National Park

Fancy another stop off? Check out Apsley River Waterhole and Gorge for a nice three hour walk that will take you through forest and along the rivers to the gorge. A good place to spot an endangered native fish called the Australian Grayling.

Mount William National Park & Bay of Fires

Don’t forget to stop at the Bay of Fires to marvel at the contrast between the crystal-clear waters, white sandy beaches and orange lichen-covered granite boulders. Stretching from Binalong Bay up to Eddystone Point and the beginnings of the national park, there are countless beaches, inlets and gullies to explore at your own pace. Perfect for surfing, snorkelling, swimming and just relaxing between locations.IMG_2306


After this, head inland across the North of Tasmania to explore the Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail to experience the finest food and wine the island has to offer. The North-West is crammed full of local producers of wine, cheese, chocolate, beer, meat and much more.  With over 40 businesses included in the Tasting Trail, there are plenty of  tours, tastings and much more available along the way. Follow the signs and pick up a brochure along the way for a guide, there are also various itineraries available for those who prefer to focus on wineries or food producers.

Planning a trip across Tasmania? Check out my road trip planning guide here and keep an eye out for my upcoming post on highlights of Tasmania’s West Coast.

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Travel | Planning my ultimate West Coast road trip adventure | Australia

imageI’m standing on the cusp of my next big adventure. Currently sitting in a cafe in the tiny port town of Fremantle, Perth, I’m making plans for the trip I’ve been looking forward to for the whole 18 months I’ve spent in Australia. For a long time I’ve dreamt of living that traveller dream of picking up and taking off into the sunset in a van with nothing but weeks of sandy toes and star-filled skies ahead of you. Tasmania was just a teaser for what lay ahead, read all about my road trip in the Tasmanian wilderness here. Now I’m waiting for the real thing – the camp fires on the beach, the endless sunsets and sunrises, the surfing and snorkelling, the ciders and the smiles.

East Coast has so much to offer in terms of exciting trips, parties and fun, but if you ask me, travelling is about getting lost and discovering something you never expected. That’s what I want right now, I’ve spent so long working away and biding my time until I saved enough money, I’ve spent so long stuck in the same place and dreaming of everywhere else. But now I’m well and truly ready to get lost, to spend my days on the beach watching the salt of the ocean dry on my skin. Yesterday was an unusually warm day for Fremantle and I spent the whole of it on the beach drinking ciders in the sunshine and playing in the waves. It was a taste of what my life could be for the next few weeks and it got me more excited than ever to be on the road again.image

How to plan a West Coast road trip:

Distance/Time

It can seem a little daunting to plan a trip for such a huge distance – don’t forget Australia’s West Coast covers 3-4,000km depending on where you start and stop. My plan is to start from Fremantle in Perth and work my way up to Broome or even possible heading back to Darwin to work. Now I’m pretty flexible thanks to the money I have saved and the time it takes me to do this trip – it could take 2-3 weeks or 2 months for all I care – if I’m enjoying myself I’m happy to take longer to finish the trip. But if you’re not as lucky, you’ll want to work out exactly how much time you have and the driving distances to work out what is realistic in terms of driving and stopping off for sights/hikes/experiences.

Mode of transport

Are you buying a car/hiring a car or jumping in with road trip buddies? Have you plumped for a van, a 4WD or a big car? Are you and your buddies sharing the driving or is one person driving the whole way? Has the vehicle been serviced and checked to ensure it is roadworthy enough for the journey? There are so many questions when it comes to the vehicle – I personally have chosen not to buy a vehicle or hire, instead I’m hunting for road trip buddies who already have everything sorted – less stress and hassle for me in terms of buying/selling or limiting my travel time through hiring. Another option would be checking out camper van conversion kits if you’re hiring a vehicle as these mean the van is fully decked out with everything you could need on arrival – perfect for road tripping all over the globe.image

Equipment

You’ll want to think of everything before you leave otherwise you could be stranded in the outback without a key item. Make sure you have good camping gear if you don’t have a vehicle you can sleep in – a tent and camping stove will come in handy. Things like snorkels, surfboards and anything for fun activities would be great as they’ll be cheaper to buy in a city than they will be to buy/hire along the road. Use your common sense and make sure you have extra containers or water/fuel for when you are in the middle of nowhere.

Trips

Even though it can be hard to plan ahead on a road trip, certain trips and activities you will need to to avoid them behind totally booked up. In this case I’m thinking particularly about swimming with whale sharks up near Exmouth – it’s prime season to see them and I can’t stand the thought of missing out because it’s too busy so this is an important one to book ahead.image

Road trip necessities

Most importantly – make sure you have good road trip buddies to have fun with, a great soundtrack for the road trip and a big smile on your face.imageIf you ask me, road tripping is the perfect way to really see a country. The changing landscapes and the freedom to explore at your own pace are so different to any other form of travel. It’s the company you take with you, the tastes and smells, the music you play along the way – everyone has to admit a road trip stays with you longer than other trips. So if you’re planning a road trip abroad – check out these camper van conversion kits to plan ahead and make your trip the best it can be!

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Melbourne | Getting lost in Wilson’s Promontory National Park | Australia

IMG_2691Spoiler alert: Prepare for stunning images and a serious case of wanderlust!

Ever since the first time I lived in Melbourne, visiting Wilson’s Promontory National Park has been high on my to-do list, sadly working too much got in the way and I had to wait a while year before I would actually get to see this masterpiece of nature. I’ve travelled all over the world and explored countless national parks now, but this one will remain one of my absolute favourites and I can’t wait to share it with you. A perfect city escape for a weekend, you’ll find Wilson’s Prom down on Mornington Peninsula, one of the most beautiful areas of Victoria where you will also find Phillip Island. You’ll need a car to reach it, so if you don’t already have one then hire one with friends – it’s cheap as chips compared to the UK (try Budget, they’re my favourite company to hire with over here). With a small group, the weekend can cost almost nothing once you’ve shared out hire care, fuel and food costs, I think in total I spent about $60-70 for a whole weekend of activities, food and drinks.IMG_2606The drive there takes around three hours so set off early to make the most of the day, you’ll be camping at Tidal River which is a great campsite with bathrooms/showers, barbecues, plenty of spots for your camp (although book before to ensure space during peak season) and all kinds of wildlife wandering around including huge wombats that come right up to you in the evenings. It’s just a hop, skip and a jump from a stunning river, marshland and even a beach which is beyond perfection at sunset. Take my advice – head down there at sunset with your gang and a few beers – it’s breathtaking. Once you arrive, best to head straight for the office at the campsite to get your permit and then find a spot to camp – always best to get this done quickly in daylight so you can secure a good spot. If you’re anything like us, we were aiming to be close to the barbecues/toilets but far from families with young children so we wouldn’t disturb anyone later on.IMG_2593

GET HIGH

Once you’ve set up camp, it’s time to start exploring so hopefully the weather is on your side! Wrap up warm and head for Mount Oberon – the summit is the perfect place to get your first impressions of the park and the hike isn’t too tough. It’s around 3.4km on a gravel road at an easy-medium grade uphill – we saw plenty of elderly people and children manage it fine so don’t be put off just be sure to take plenty of water. The climb took us around 40 minutes, for others it took an hour depending on ability, and when you reach the top the view is more than worth it. Prepare for spectacular 360 degree views across three beautiful beaches including the famous Squeaky Beach, and in the other direction the sand dunes. It’s windy at the top so be prepared with layers and make sure you take your camera!IMG_2628

GET LOST

Next up is my favourite part of the trip – the Big Drift sand dunes! Almost at the entrance to the park, you drive along a treelined road almost into the middle of nowhere. Then after parking up, head a bit further on foot before you discover the trail becomes sandier. Climb the steep, sandy hill and you’ll find a little piece of heaven in the rolling, endless sand dunes. Stretching as far as the eye can see, and completely untouched, they warp your sense of distance and perspective in the most magical way. It’s easy to forget the beaches and mountain are just a few kilometres away. Fantastic for photos and exploring, but don’t forget to keep an eye on where you are – it’s easy to get lost and forget the way out of these dunes.IMG_2622

GET BEACHY

Of course you can’t visit Wilson’s Prom without getting up close and personal with some of it’s beautiful beaches. The most well known – Squeaky Beach is beautiful no matter what the weather and the sand really does squeak! Other ones worth visiting are Picnic Bay, Little Oberon Bay and Leonard Bay. If you’re in the mood for beach walks – pick up a great leaflet from the Tidal River campsite offices with a list of the best walks/hikes to do in the national park. They list the gradients/distances/difficulty and what you need to take with you so you can be totally prepared. We would have loved to have done the three bay walk but sadly the weather went crazy and we had bad storms on our second day that prevented us.IMG_2612

GET EXPLORING

Around the campsite alone there are several small walks and beautiful spots to explore before you set up the barbecue. Make sure you take a walk early evening to experience Tidal River campsite in all it’s natural beauty. Stroll along the boardwalk in the shadow of mountains set against the glassy, still waters, walk alongside fields of gold in the setting sun. It’s just beautiful and shouldn’t be missed.IMG_2627 2

And relax…

So after a long day of exploring the park, taking stunning photos, climbing mountains and running around sand dunes – it’s about time for a beer. How about taking that beer to the next level? Fill a bag with drinks and put on your warm layers, then walk through Tidal River campground to Norman Beach, just east of the campground. If you time it right for sunset, you’re in for a spectacular show as the waves roll in towards the beach tinted pink and purple against the setting sun. A perfect place to sit with your very best friends enjoying a beer and with some good music playing in the background. Moments like this are why I came travelling.IMG_2618Make the most of the barbecues and cook up a feast – you’ll all be starving after that day of adventures and then pitch up some seats to sit and enjoy the stars. Hopefully you have a drier night than we did – unfortunately the heavens opened and the campsite flooded that night so we didn’t have much fun packing up the next morning and couldn’t do much in the park the next day. But we were glad we had crammed so much into the first day so we could go home happy. Definitely one of my favourite Melbourne experiences and in my opinion, better than Great Ocean Road/Grampians.

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Travel | A sharp reminder that not everyone out there is a good person

imageI’ve just arrived in Perth after an amazing week in Adelaide, and although I will be posting all about my time there at a later date, I first wanted to talk about the worst part of my trip. It’s been praying on my mind ever since Saturday night and the more I tell people about what happened, the less I understand how it could possibly have happened. To put it in context, I have travelled all over the world solo to countries considered dangerous and unsafe for a girl to travel by herself. I’ve been stranded at the side of the road in Vietnam and Laos, I’ve been in seemingly dodgy tuk-tuk rides in Thailand and Cambodia, I’ve been lost in Hungary. But not once have I ever felt so unsafe in the middle of a city in a Westernised country, surrounded by people and with police patrolling the streets.

So what happened?

I was visiting a good friend of mine, who I met when I was in Asia, but sadly he had to work all week. Our one time to really hang out was Saturday night when we went out for dinner and drinks with his friends, and the Sunday when we had planned to go on a tour of the wineries. We went out for dinner as planned and then had drinks and found a place we could have a dance, eventually we all decided to call it a night. We didn’t want to be too wrecked for the next day so we decided to get a taxi home, on the way my friend wanted to show me Adelaide Oval so we took a detour to the taxi rank. As soon as we wandered down the side street, three lads looked over and shouted “slut” at me, naturally my friend told them to leave me alone.

You would have thought that would be the end of it since they were just teenagers, but if anything it spurred them on. Suddenly, all three of them launched themselves at us. My friend pushed me out of the way and I hit the deck, but all of them, plus another five lads who appeared out of nowhere went for him. Now my friend is probably around twice or three times my bodyweight, he’s a wall of pure muscle and soon to be a personal trainer. He’s not someone you pick a fight with, but when you’re drunk and eight guys attack you out of nowhere, there’s little you can do to stop them. After they all threw their punches and ran off, he was left with a huge lump on his head, a busted nose with blood pouring all over his clothes and the street, swollen lips and cuts and scratches. It was horrible.image

But the worst thing?

I can appreciate that it all happened so quickly that perhaps people didn’t have time to react, but not one single person tried to jump in and help. Not one except me, I’m sure I would have just ended up hurt too so it’s probably a good thing a guy dragged me back, but at least my basic instinct was to help someone who was in danger. Afterwards, I took my friend across the street to get help, I walked into a shop to ask if the guy in there had any tissues or could help at all. He just looked at me like I was crazy and told me I could buy a packet of tissues. If this is the reaction a girl covered in blood gets on a Saturday night, it’s disgusting. I managed to steal tissues from a takeaway in the end and then on our way to jump into a taxi, I saw the police.

I headed across the road to tell them what had happened and they proceeded to interview my friend, despite the fact that he had no idea what had happened. They wouldn’t listen to what I had seen as a witness, we had to force them to listen when I could identify one of the lads who attacked my friend. It was terrible to see firsthand how little the police really care in Australia when it comes to a brutal attack like that on a busy street with witnesses everywhere, compared to traffic policing. It didn’t even seem to matter that much to the police that several other people were attacked immediately after, the lads went on a rampage up the street beating up three guys in suits, and several other small groups further along. It was clear they were just out to hurt people that night, it didn’t matter about race, gender or sexuality for once, but it did matter if you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.image

So why am I writing about this?

Therapy mainly, this is my way of making peace with the incident even though I’m still really upset that this could happen in the middle of a well-policed Australian city. It was the most brutal, vicious, nasty attack I have seen firsthand, done in cold blood and for the stupidest reason. My friend was beaten to a pulp for trying to protect me from being verbally abused, he poured blood on the street because he was a gentleman and a good person. He is the kind of person who wouldn’t hurt a fly despite being more than capable, and it makes me incredible sad to think there are people out there who would take advantage of that simply for kicks.

I’m not naive enough to think this doesn’t happen anywhere in the world, but I do think that things like this shouldn’t be happening to innocent people just trying to make their way home in Adelaide. Perhaps nothing could have been done to stop this from happening, but the complete lack of support and help we were shown after the incident was an embarrassment to the police service in South Australia and the local people who refused to help us. Bad things happen, there’s nothing we can do about that, but we can do something about the way we react and support those who are victims. The same thing happened in the Bourke Street incident in Melbourne – so many preferred to stand and watch, or record on their phones than actually help those in need. It really is heartbreaking to think that human instinct for so many has become a spectator’s sport instead of a desperation to help preserve human life.16683867_10154214948757617_1195632386496349610_n

Wow, this ended up being quite a long post. Apologies if you’re bored reading this but well done for making it to the end, I know it’s very different to my normal posts. But the important thing for me is to show both sides of travelling – the fun, exciting side and the scary side as well. Don’t take this as a warning not to travel to Adelaide – my friend said himself it’s the first time in his whole life that he has seen an incident like this there. As far as I’m concerned this could have happened anywhere in the world and it sounds much like what happened every Saturday night at home. But what really got to me was the way people just didn’t seem to care – don’t be that person.

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Melbourne | It’s not goodbye, it’s just see you later | Australia

18156885_10154403565411587_6853557680687942111_nLeaving Melbourne is always much harder than leaving any other place I’ve been to. I’m lucky enough to have the most amazing group of friends there that have become more like family over the last few years, and they make it very hard to move on. Right now I’m sat in the airport waiting to board my flight to Adelaide where I’ll be spending a week catching up with an old friend, but as excited as I am to see him, there is part of me that is really sad to be leaving this city. It just holds so many amazing memories, so many incredible people that have meant the world to me. In my two six-month stints living here I’ve had some of my biggest travelling highs and lows – I’ve had great loves, found some crazy new careers to be successful in and made some new friends for life. 18119482_10154397889157617_3489637678049166533_n18157647_10154403565656587_3157155389815643964_nSo it seemed only right to leave with a bang and how better to finish my time here than with a weekend spent with some of the best people I’ve met here, and my closest friends, celebrating a joint birthday? Around 16 of us rented a house for the weekend in Ocean Grove, just past Geelong on Great Ocean Road, for a weekend of fun, partying and luxury. The house was amazing – more than we could have hoped for – with a heated outdoor swimming pool, a huge barbecue area, surfboards, a man cave with a pool table, karaoke and much more. Best of all? It overlooked the ocean with some amazing views of passing ships including the Spirit of Tasmania. At just $100 each for the weekend, it was a bargain with plenty of money left over for barbecue food and drinks.18157282_10154400283947617_3670206234147849524_n18194087_10154400283967617_4324587580327674885_nDriving up on the Friday evening, we were overwhelmed by the incredible home that awaited us for the weekend. Celebrating with birthday cakes, pizzas, a LOT of drinks and a LOT of crazy dancing ending with a pool party. It was so much fun and just what we all needed. The following day we headed down to check out the beach, some of the gang grabbing scooters and skateboards from the man cave. A blustery beach walk awaited us, and a lot of hilarity as one of the boys stripped off and dived into the freezing water. Afterwards we headed into the town for a pint and to buy more food for dinner, before heading back to the house for more pool time and a lot of girls vs guys games. It was so nice to have so much chill time together as a group, while getting drunk was fun, I will treasure the downtime we had just as much. Our last night was filled with barbecue, chilled drinks, games of pool and some bad karaoke. A perfect end to a perfect last weekend.18157369_10154400283792617_4180433971508699855_n18157433_10154400320187617_3408158262536299086_n18198707_10154400283582617_7522112489273918499_nWhile I’m sad to be leaving, it has definitely reminded me how lucky I am – not only to have such amazing friends but also to have the freedom to live this traveller life. What is it Winnie-The-Pooh said?

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” – A.A.Milne

What makes me luckiest of all is knowing I have this to come back to – if it doesn’t work out on the West Coast, I have a family waiting here for me to return. That’s what makes it easy to leave – knowing it doesn’t have to be the end of this life or these friendships. Melbourne, you’ve been great to me these past few months, but it’s definitely time to move on and see something new, something different that takes my breath away.18199563_10154400283447617_7623693828758081317_n18193782_10154400283442617_4659430114986560562_n18157478_10154400283487617_7396288866987745520_n

But for now, Melbourne, over and out.

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Leaving Melbourne – back to life and back to blogging | Australia

imageToday marks the start of a brand new adventure. Yesterday, I sat in my apartment attempting to squeeze my life into my backpack and felt like I was standing on the edge of a precipice about to jump. Oh god how I’ve missed that feeling. I’ve missed the feeling of freedom and excitement at picking up and starting again somewhere new and different. I’ve been back in Melbourne for five months after living here for five months last year – don’t get me wrong, Melbourne has turned into a home from home for me and remains one of my absolute favourite places in the world. But when you know it’s time to go, it’s time to go.

Living in the city, both times, has been a real challenge with surreal highs and some crazy lows that have left me questioning everything. Every time I come here, I seem to end up in jobs that push me to the very end of my tether and while I’ve loved my cocktail waitress gig and have had an amazing time working on a rooftop bar all summer – I am more than ready to move on and get back to traveller life. This last few months have been both amazing and exhausting – I’ve worked too much in my goal to save as much money as possible and I’ve had to sacrifice my writing due to lack of time and routine. But at the same time, I’ve made some amazing new friends and I’ve had some pretty special adventures in this city and beyond. I don’t regret a single second of it, but I know that out there a healthier and happier life is waiting for me, so I think it’s about time I went and found it.

This past week has been a flurry of goodbyes and leaving drinks, after living here for a total of ten months I’ve picked up a pretty special crowd along the way. I want to say a huge thank you to every single person, who no matter how short a time we spent together, really made my Melbourne experience. Now I plan to finish my time here with a bang, tonight I’m heading to a pretty incredible house I’ve rented with my friends for a joint-birthday celebration along Great Ocean Road. We’ll be spending the weekend there and, just as it should be, I’ll be finishing my time in Melbourne with the people who mean the most to me. Follow me on Instagram and check out my InstaStories for all the live updates.image

So what’s next for Absolutely Lucy?

On Monday I’ll be flying to Adelaide, where I’ll be catching up with an old friend and checking out the city for a week. I’m definitely going to need a chilled week after this hectic last few weeks in Melbourne! Then I’m heading to Perth, where I’m hoping to find some road trip buddies to start heading up the West Coast with – it’s been a dream trip for a long time and I’m so excited to be on the road again. I can’t wait for the sunshine and beaches after this last week of rain in Melbourne, get me tanned, fit and healthy again. I’ve slipped into so many bad habits lately, not sleeping enough, barely eating and drinking way too much – hospo life has definitely got the better of me – so now I’m looking forward to taking care of myself for a while.

I’m excited to get back to blogging and to be able to focus on my passion for a while instead of working the same repetitive job and having the same conversations over and over again. Being a waitress in the bar was fun but I’m so much more than that and I can’t wait to pursue the things I really love, to have the time and the energy to be creative again. I’ll miss my big city life, my cute little apartment all to myself with a gym downstairs, my local coffee shop and bars where the staff remember my orders, my work crew and how much they cared about each other. I’ll miss the families I found in my neighbours, my work crew and my besties I’ve met all over Australia. Melbourne is an incredible city but it is always the people who make the place and I’ve been lucky enough to meet some amazing characters who I already can’t wait to see again. Next week I’ll have lots more to share with you all – trust me I have a lot of adventures to catch you all up on! But for now Melbourne, over and out.16683867_10154214948757617_1195632386496349610_n

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My top 5 places to escape into nature around Melbourne

IMG_2025As a backpacker who has now lived in Melbourne twice, I’ve loved getting out and exploring the city and far beyond. Not being much of a city girl, I’ve noticed Melbourne really has a fantastic balance of modern built up areas interweaved with beautiful sprawling parks that really help to make the skyscrapers feel less claustrophobic and imposing than they do in English cities. It’s easy to wander around the city and quickly find yourself leaving the busy streets behind to get lost in lush, green woodland. Having lived in both South Melbourne and Southbank, I’ve been lucky enough to live with Albert Park right on my doorstep – a perfect place to run around the lake of an evening, or to gather with friends for barbecues or to watch the Grand Prix. Just behind sits the Royal Botanic Gardens, huge endless parks that stretch across the city with all kinds of treasures tucked just out of sight of the city.IMG_2059Fancy getting a bit further out of the city? There are so many amazing places right on your doorstop in Victoria that it would be a shame not to! Here are my top 5 places to escape into nature around Melbourne:

Wilson’s Promontory National Park

Just a couple of hours drive down to Mornington Peninsula and you’ll feel like you’ve entered another world. Wilson’s Prom has everything from forest and mountain, to marshland, river, beaches and even sand dunes! You’ll want a weekend to explore at your own pace so pack up the camping gear, the beers and bring your best mates for a weekend you won’t forget. Definitely don’t miss seeing the view from Mount Oberon Summit, sunset from the beach at Tidal River campsite and The Big Drift sand dunes.IMG_2627

Great Ocean Road

The absolute must-do when you go to Melbourne – Great Ocean Road is a perfect road trip to take with your buddies and is perfect whether you’re on a budget or fancy a big blow out. There are plenty of luxury escapes to take your breath away, or do like my gang and just pack a tent, hire a car and take advantage of the many free things to see and do. There are so many hikes, beaches, viewpoints and more to explore – don’t miss Bells Beach during the surfing competitions, Twelve Apostles at sunrise, the Round the Twist lighthouse if you’re a 90’s kid. Camp in Cape Otway National Park for an amazing experience and take a break from driving at Loch Ard Gorge for spectacular views. On your way home, take a detour through the Grampians National Park!IMG_2024

The Grampians National Park

A perfect trip to do on your way home from Great Ocean Road, you can see the highlights in 1/2 days. Taking you up into the mountains, don’t forget a jumper for that fresh mountain air. Stay in the Hall’s Gap campsites, they’re perfect for a campfire and nice and sheltered from the wind. Don’t miss the Pinnacle viewpoint – take the walk through the canyon – the Balconies, and Mackenzie Falls for those perfect photographs.12809706_10153417103997617_2184495225173723966_n

Dandenong Ranges National Park – 1,000 Steps

One I only ticked off my list last week, this national park is easily within reach for those without a car as you can get the train from Flinders to Upper Ferntree Gully and then walk from there. It takes just a few hours to get out there and complete the walk so perfect if you just fancy spending an afternoon in nature. The 1,000 Steps are the big attraction and although they’ll definitely have you huffing and puffing, they’re not as daunting as they sound. You’ll see runners of all shapes and sizes taking them on over and over again as they sprint up and down. Pack a picnic to enjoy at the top then take a different path down to enjoy a different pace of walk.IMG_2103

Phillip Island

The last one I had to tick off my list, I was so excited to finally be visiting Phillip Island to overdose on nature, especially seeing wild penguins down by the shore. One that can be done in a day either by organised day trip or by just hiring a car with your mates and heading off independently. Home to some seriously beautiful beaches and even a Grand Prix circuit, there is plenty to explore and it is a perfect day escape from city life. 17634702_10154322029987617_6507020851842610414_n

This post previously featured on Wild Melbourne – see the original post here.

What are you favourite places to escape into nature around Victoria? Can you recommend any other places across Australia or the world?

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Travel | How to get that luxury 5* experience on a budget

imageI will always be a backpacker at heart, but even I cannot deny the dream of luxury travel. While I love the simplicity and the freedom of carrying my life on my back and being able to change my plans at the drop of a hat, luxury travel does give you a wealth of opportunities to stay in some incredible places and doing amazing things you only dreamt of until now. Having worked in hospitality at a rooftop bar in a 5* hotel, you soon get to grips with what takes a regular hotel stay and turns it into a luxurious one. It’s those tiny details, and most importantly the staff who really transform your experience. This combined with my experiences as a traveller has really showed me what defines the 5* experience and how you could get this on a budget to still live within your means while travelling.

Most importantly – you don’t have to be filthy rich to live like a queen on your holidays. You just have to be smart and do your research before you go. putting in a few hours of reading and booking time before you go can make a world of difference to your trip. Especially when it comes to planning your actual travel.13892178_10153669370592617_5126173372115806732_n

Travel tips for luxury on a budget

  1. Think carefully about how you spend your money, would you rather fly business class or spend that money on a nicer hotel at the other end? A few hours in economy won’t hurt if it improves your holiday overall. Or, vice versa, if you’re going to a life of backpacking and hostel beds but face a 2-day flight, you may want to invest in your seat by chasing an upgrade.
  2. If you’ve got a long layover, why not purchase some lounge passes? These give you access to luxury food and drink, massages and spa treatments, beds to sleep in, unlimited wifi and could make-or-break your time in the airport.
  3. Parking at the airport? Look into services where drivers will drop you off at the airport and pick you up after you arrive back – these can really make a difference and mean you don’t have to wait in line for a bus.

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Accommodation tips for luxury on a budget

  1. When picking your accommodation, look at websites that offer last minute bookings for much larger properties as you may find some spectacular deals if they have had little interest. Most renters would rather hire out their place for a reduced fare than for none at all.
  2. Sometimes it can be better to sacrifice the size of your room and to go for the smallest room in a 5* hotel instead of a larger room in a 4* just because of the amazing services available that could save you money elsewhere.
  3. When booking, look at whether adding in meals and booking a bed and breakfast package might save you money overall. Sometimes if you go off peak season, you might even find half board can be offered at drastically reduced rates which could save you a lot of money buying meals and will give you the 5* dining experience.

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Activity tips for luxury on a budget

  1. When planning your trip, try and get a big group together as this can save you a lot of money overall. Whether its a backpacking trip or family holiday, a group booking ca make a world of difference to the overall price. Plus you often get extra added bonuses and rewards for booking as a group.
  2. Look on apps like Groupon and others for discount treats when you’re in the big cities – it’s amazing what you can find on there, from massages and spa treatments to entry to big attractions and shopping deals.
  3. Depending on what country you are travelling to, know the standard rates for things like hiring a private driver for the day. I did this in Bali several times and it was such a cheap and great way to see the island. We had a private driver who would take us to each attraction and would wait until we were ready to move to the next. No cramped bus, no schedule, just luxury.
  4. Plan your whole trip as one and save a huge amount. When I did the East Coast of Australia – which can be a very expensive trip – I saved $$$ and even got free meals and activities out of it by booking the whole trip as one package in Sydney before I set off. It does put you on a schedule but it also gave us luxury upgrades like our own private cabin on our Whitsunday’s cruise.

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Fancying some serious luxury for your next adventure? Try a tailor-made holiday from Travelbag to one of countless worldwide locations.

It could be the trip you never forget.

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Backpacking | Why you should go on a Tasmanian road trip | Australia

IMG_2310Perhaps it’s the wild, rugged landscapes that are incomparable to anywhere else in the world, the fact that so few backpackers actually make it down from the mainland or just that so much of the island still feels undiscovered. But there is something about Tasmania that really captures the imagination and memories of the breathtaking scenery will often stay with travellers long after their trip has finished. After spending nearly a month down there exploring and road tripping the heart-shaped island, filling my lungs with the cleanest, crispest, freshest air, and eating the finest locally produced foods. I can safely say it is one of my absolute favourite places in Australia and the trip was everything I needed to fall in love with the country all over again. Read all about my experiences in Hobart here – including my guide for where to stay and what to do. My favourite part of the trip was the 10 days I spent in the complete wilderness of Tasmania, I was completely offline, surrounded by great people and back to basics. It was bliss and an experience I wish every backpacker could have so they could experience a real taste of Australia instead of just the mass-produced party of the East Coast. For any backpackers reading this – there is so much more to Australia than party hostels and goon – step outside of the box and chase experiences like this that are once in a lifetime.14938388_10153922457372617_5309997962770160888_n


Planning your trip

Finding your road trip gang

Travelling solo and don’t know a soul in Tasmania? Neither did I, but that didn’t stop me having the trip of a lifetime! Everyone who arrives in Hobart is looking to road trip so you’ll never be short of people to travel with. Your best shout is staying in a major hostel like The Pickled Frog which is full of travellers who are planning big two week and short weekend trips you could tag along with. I actually used the backpacker Facebook groups for finding my road trip gang – I just put a message up on both of the Tasmania backpacker pages I found explaining my plan to travel for around two weeks, to hire a car and try to do a full circle of the island. Within less than 24 hours I had a group of four people, including one guy who decided to fly over from Melbourne overnight to start the trip with us. That’s what I love about backpackers – they just say yes and grab the opportunity with both hands!15203213_10153957407647617_5588392711465277933_n

Hiring a car

We hired a car from Budget – after researching and visiting every car company in Hobart we found they were the cheapest both online and in person. We hired a big SUV because we were planning to take a lot of camping gear and to have two people sleeping in the car and two in a tent each night. It worked out at roughly $450 for 11 days between four of us, the pick-up was just round the corner from the hostel and the company were really helpful. The car was fantastic – brand new and easy to drive, we had four wheel drive but didn’t need it even when we went very rural and travelled through the national parks. When it came to insurance, we didn’t take the Budget insurance to lower our excess, instead we used a separate online company which cost us just $60-80 overall instead of an extra $30 a day. It may all sound complicated to anyone not used to hiring a car but this all took us less than a day – it was worth doing the research to get the cheapest and best deal for us.

*It costs more money is drivers are under 25, so be aware of this when planning your road trip group. We had two drivers over 25 so just put them on the licence but with just one person it would be a lot of driving.15095500_10153957408002617_7789733408271269548_n

Planning your route

When I first came to Tasmania, a friend of mine recommended I head to the tourism office in Hobart and pick up a booklet called 60 Great Short Walks Tasmania – this booklet became my Tasmania bible and quite frankly the trip would have been nothing without it. The book splits Tasmania up into five key areas and breaks down the best walks ranging from 20 minute strolls to eight hour treks, all varying in difficulty levels and the incredibly beautiful views they sure with you. The booklet gives all the information you need including talking about what to take, weather effects on the track, whether they are suitable for children/elderly and what kind of footwear is suitable.IMG_2335We planned to travel up the East Coast, around Wineglass Bay, up towards Bay of Fires and Launceston then across to the West and down via Cradle Mountain back to Hobart. This was our original plan but we checked again and again with the weather – it’s so unpredictable down there that you have to be smart to get the most out of your trip. There is another useful booklet available from tourism centres called Tasmania, Your Complimentary Touring Guide, which gives you all the information you need on 11 different touring routes around the island if you have limited time or just want to target one specific area. For me, the most important thing was being active – I wanted to break up the driving and to stop off to do as many hikes/climbs and explore as much as possible along the way – by planning this way we stopped off in 11 national parks and saw an incredible amount of national beauty and different landscapes.IMG_2337

Packing the right gear

Tasmania is definitely not as built up as other parts of Australia so you’ll struggle to find many hostels outside of Hobart/Launceston. Skip them all together and save money by picking up camping gear and diving deep into the national parks. You’ll need a good tent, sleeping mats, take a tarp for sitting on damp ground and any chairs you can get your hands on. We borrowed a lot of items from the hostel which saved us a lot of money as we just put down a deposit for them which we got back when we arrived back at the hostel. One of the girls already had the tent, we all chipped in for a good stove and gas cylinders but this was our most expensive outgoing for camping gear. I bought myself a sleeping bag and torch from KMart which were great for the trip and perfect to sell afterwards. We bought a cheap plates/cups/cutlery set from Target, and everything else we “borrowed” from the hostel and brought back with us. Just be sure to make sure you try and sell anything you buy after the trip – recycling is great among backpackers and it helps you save money. Also, if you have big bags with you, just leave them all in hostel storage while you are away and just take the essentials.15181339_10153957489932617_2533724623235037281_n

Pack the right clothes

This is important because the weather is so changeable down there – you want to make sure you have clothes for all weathers without taking too much. The best things I bought for the trip were definitely thermals from Kathmandu – bright pink and stripey – they made one heck of a statement but most importantly, they kept me warm both at night and during the day and acted as a good wind resistor. The rest of my clothes were just workout leggings, a few tops and vests, lots of socks as there’s nothing worse than sweaty old socks. I took a jumper, a hoody and a thin waterproof jacket for the rain. I also took sweatpants which were a great warmer layer for over my leggings when it was wet or cold. You have to be prepared to smell and feel gross when you’re camping for 10 days, but small things can make it better. Things like wet wipes and keeping one clean set of clothes just in case you decide to shower at one of the campsites.15095557_10153957407347617_757346241930156525_n

Other important details

Don’t forget to get your National Parks pass! This can be bought for around $50 from the tourism office and gives you access to all of the national parks, it stops you picking up fines and buying it in Hobart means not being slowed down later on.

Always make sure you are stocked up on fuel – some parts of Tasmania can see you driving for ages without a petrol station and it is not a nice experience to run out as we almost did on Sunday night miles away from an open fuel station. Trust me, driving on eco mode up steep hills is a pretty stressful way to drive when you don’t know where the nearest fuel stop is.

Use Wiki Camps app – this app is great for letting you know where the nearest camp sites are, particularly free ones, and what facilities they have available. We didn’t pay for a single one and had amazing campsites surrounded by wallabies on the beach or in the shadow of mountains.

Expenses apps like Splittr and GroupMe are great for working our what everyone owes on the trip, we had once person in charge of documenting every charge/cost and then worked out easily at the end what everyone owed to who. So much easier that way!


IMG_2304Planning a Tasmanian road trip? Leave any questions below and I’ll try to help. Also, look out for my upcoming posts on highlights of the East and West Coast.

What was your favourite part of Tasmania – did you road trip? Any tips for other travellers?

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Release your inner mermaid at 10 awesome Melbourne beaches | Australia

15747862_10154056897662617_3367207312712882158_n-2Some people swear by snowy skiing holidays, some people can’t live without fresh mountain air – for me it’s beachy bliss and ocean dreams that fuel my travels. I’ve been a total water baby since I was a kid and I can’t stand being far from the ocean – I’ve always lived no further than 20 minutes from the sea and it’s always been the one thing to soothe me. From winter beach walks to summers running along the seafront and charing the waves, I just love the peace and simplicity of a life with sandy feet and salty hair. My farm work was possibly the hardest time of my travels – and some of that I put down to being the furthest away from the ocean I have ever been. 800km west of Brisbane, I was pretty much in the centre of Australia and a minimum of 12 hour driving away from the sea. It sounds silly, but we humans are 80% water and it seems crazy that being near or far from water cannot affect our mood.10475462_10153314611377617_6987772805095941001_n-2Since being back in Melbourne, I’ve been working like crazy sometimes 50/60 hour weeks and so it’s become more important than every that I make the most of my time off by going to new places I haven’t yet explored. For me, that means venturing in different directions to explore the best beaches and most beautiful places I haven’t yet seen in this amazing city. I love Melbourne and there is so much more for me to discover so I’ve been on the buses, trains and trams to find my favourite new beachy destinations in the area. I’ve come up with my top 10 list of my favourite beaches I’ve been to in the area – all within easy reach of Melbourne CBD and well worth visiting if you fancy a change.

My top 10 beaches in Melbourne

St Kilda Beach

It goes without saying that St Kilda Beach is a lot of fun – it’s far from the prettiest beach in Melbourne but it’s the place to be if you want to enjoy beers in the sunshine, the odd festival or to warm up for a night out. I spent Christmas Day here with my nearest and dearest – we enjoyed a full Aussie Xmas Day from beers in the sunshine to water fights in the sea and a full rave on the beach – so much fun and always a good place to head to meet people. Plus, penguins… need I say more?!10600585_10153380769872617_5013501189314184811_n-2

Sandringham Beach

My new favourite after visiting the other day, this one is perfect for escaping the city. Just 30 minutes on the train from Flinders, this beautiful untouched beach promises crystal clear waters and gorgeous golden sandy beaches. Endless rock pools and nature to explore, or you can just relax in your own little cove.17264832_10154270651237617_3044248189885802026_n

Half Moon Bay

Last time I was in Melbourne, I went on a lovely date with a guy to Half Moon Bay. It was a beautiful little cove attached to Sandringham Beach but also completely separate. We had the whole beach to ourselves and went swimming at sunset, it was beautiful to watch the sun hit the water and watch the ships sailing past. A perfect spot to romance anyone special in your life.12728940_10153314616307617_2135933775195956825_n

Brighton Beach

A home away from home, this little gem comes complete with an amazing view of the city from across the water and cute little beach reminiscent of those you’ll find on quaint English beaches like those near my home. Plus, it’s only 20 minutes by train! A lovely chilled beach and great for swimming as there isn’t too many rocks in the water and it isn’t quite as shallow as some of the beaches. While you’re in the area you can also check out Elwood and Hampton beaches.16996157_10154229226972617_4915799084566740125_n

Port Melbourne

This has become my local beach of late -just 5 minutes on the tram from my apartment, it’s my perfect escape for a sunny morning before work. on the same stretch of Port Phillip Bay as St Kilda, it couldn’t be more different. Usually empty of people and very peaceful, this is more of a family beach and less party. It’s a perfect place to take a book and relax for a few hours.16603094_10154195515547617_7048427845693070214_n

Mount Martha

Halfway between a beach and a cliff face – this one is definitely worth a visit. The water was ice cold when I went but you couldn’t miss the beauty of the place. Come here for cliff jumping and a good swim in crystal clear deep waters. On hot days the place turns into a party for the Mornington crowd!15230827_10153986113157617_8100843845037770067_n

Williamstown Beach

Take a 25 minute train ride and a step back in time to Williamstown, a small seaside town with all the cuteness of a British seaside resort. I went on a windy day when it was perfect for sandy beach walks instead of sunbathing but still saw the beauty in the simple, untouched beach. Perfect if you fancy escaping the busy sands of St Kilda.16832185_10154214948637617_6379463003513546934_n

Bells Beach

Escape the city for a day or overnight like I did, I went to visit a friend who lived down in Torquay, near the start of Great Ocean Road. This was a perfect excuse to head down to the gorgeous surfing beaches like Bells Beach to walk the dogs and catch up for a few days. While you’re at it, why not hire a car for a few days and do the whole Great Ocean Road? Check out my posts for planning your trip here and here.15319029_10153978729872617_8726140641782645268_n15319070_10153978729842617_4618403670014633404_n

Mornington

I just spent a few hours on one of the many Mornington Peninsula beaches during a stormy day, but it was very beautiful and the whole area is covered with gorgeous beaches to explore. Easy to get to in a day, they’re worth exploring and if you have more time then Sorrento and the beaches down at Wilson’s Promontory are also worth a visit.15241265_10153986113162617_8413323955103607956_n

Frankston

Pretty far out of the city but worth a visit if you have more time, Frankston is full of lovely beaches to explore, most of them I saw during windy days so I enjoyed walks rather than sunbathing but they’d be beautiful on a hot day!13178557_10153502015042617_9220132387357246480_n-1


There’s something so soothing about the ocean isn’t there? If you love it as much as I do, why don’t you check out Celebrity Cruises by Bolsover Cruise Club for their take on modern luxury while you explore the globe.

What’s your favourite Melbourne beach? Can you recommend any others?

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