Tag Archives: road trip

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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Making plans for another huge year of travel in 2017

15181277_10153970689502617_3934123284494633256_nNow that the new year is well and truly underway, it’s about time I gave you a little life update. This blog has been a little infrequent the last few months and I know that means many of you actually have no idea where I am right now. Well, after a month of flat-hunting and staying with friends as I job searched, I can now officially say I am all settled in my amazing new flat right in the middle of Melbourne city, I have an awesome job working in a rooftop bar, and life feels pretty damn incredible. Once again, Melbourne feels like the home I’ve been waiting for and I couldn’t be happier to be back surrounded by all my amazing friends, and a whole heap of new ones. I know the blog posts have been few and far between since I left England again, but between Bali, Cairns, road tripping through Tasmania and now Melbourne – it’s been pretty hectic. Life just got in the way and I won’t apologise for that, because life is exactly what this blog is about – living every second to the max. And I can assure you I’ve been doing just that.

Yesterday was officially my two year travel anniversary, just two months ago I hit my 30th country, and I’m already making plans for the next exciting year of travel. I’m still the same girl who left home two years ago, I still have the same best friends at home, the same family and I’m still happily single and independent. But I’m also an amazing new version of myself – happier, brighter, bolder, crazier and ready to take on the world with every step. I’m capable, I’m knowledgeable and quite frankly, I know exactly what I’m doing, I don’t second guess myself. It’s the best version of myself I’ve ever been and I plan to keep taking steps to evolve and grow myself in this direction, I can’t see any reason why not to. So for all the people who have asked when I’m coming home, or when I’m going to stop travelling. My answer is who knows, whenever I get bored of growing as a person, learning, changing and being happy – but it won’t be anytime soon.

If you haven’t seen my post from just before New Years, check it out here to read about my travelling highlights from 2016. It was a year of serious highs, and one serious low, but you can’t live the highs without having the lows to compare them with. I use the lows to add fuel to my fire and make plans for the future, it’s the one thing that pushes me to make snap decisions and to book the trip, or take the plunge. So for all those girls out there who message me almost daily to ask about their relationship problems, or choosing between love and travel. Two years on, I will still say that choosing travel over love was the best decision of my life, that we remain the best of friends but both say this was the best thing to ever happen to us. That choosing to keep travelling and forget the love that I found on the road was also the best decision I could have made, because I know otherwise I would have regretted it and been let down. It wasn’t so much choosing travel over love, but choosing myself over people who would just let me down. That’s not a selfish decision, it’s a smart one and because I chose well, I have no regrets.15181702_10153970688737617_8366636806619897556_n

So what are the big travelling plans for 2017?

I’ll now be settling in Melbourne for a few months to work and save money for my big West Coast road trip – hopefully happening around March/April – when myself and a friend will drive from Melbourne up to Darwin over a few months. I’ve been looking forward to this trip since arriving in Australia and I know it’s going to be the best yet. Then up in Darwin, we’ll be taking in all the National Parks as I work and save for my last few months in Australia – gotta make the most of these $$$.

After my visa runs out, I’ll be having a month-long holiday somewhere in Asia – possibly the Philippines as I’ve been desperate to visit since I arrived in Asia. I’ll be craving huge untouched beaches by then and a chance to relax and detox after Darwin. Then I’m hoping to be joined by one of my best travelling friends for a huge trip to South America where I’d love to spend a few months travelling as much as possible.

It’s all just a vague plan at the moment and it may all change at the drop of a hat, but it’s exciting to have goals for the year. So this year will be less countries ticked off, but I’ll be crossing at least three continents and should hopefully get at least another five countries ticked off my list which is far more than many people around the globe. I’d say I’m a lucky girl, but I made all this happen by investing in myself and my trip. You can make it happen too, it’s very easy, just make a decision to do it and you’ll get there.15230746_10153970703987617_5186619301054171263_n

My New Year’s resolution?

Forget all this “New Year, New Me” bullshit, I’ve been doing awesome the last two years so if anything, I’m planning to keep up my attitude to life and following my own bliss – the rest all falls into place as a result. Stop worrying about the small negative things and the rest suddenly becomes the everything you’ve been searching for.

What are your New Year’s resolutions? Where do you plan to travel in 2017?

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Travel | 15 reasons you should road trip across Bulgaria

imageSometimes you meet people and you get that feeling that this is just the start of a big adventure together that will span years. This summer, almost 18 months after we first met in Thailand, I was reunited with my favourite squad – The Pioneers – in Bulgaria. We were thousands of miles away from where we first broke all the rules, had all the fun and forged a lifelong friendship but nothing had changed. Amazingly with very little planning, a reunion came together and before we knew it, we were sitting in a bar in Sofia, Bulgaria, together ahead of a week-long road-trip around this amazing country. imageYou know those friendships where you don’t even need to speak for months on end, but when you finally see each other everything just slots back into place? Well that’s these guys, to the max. We all have such different lives that take us to opposite ends of the globe, but when we saw each other again it could have been just another day in Thailand. In true pioneer-style, we decided to go a little off the grid, all being true travelling souls we weren’t made to stay in a resort, we wanted to explore a new country together. It was actually my second time in Bulgaria, but eight years on I was looking forward to seeing how it had changed.imageSo what was our plan? We decided to spend one night in Sofia to give us time to catch up before picking up our hire car the next morning and starting the drive towards Plovdiv, stopping off at a few sights along the way including the Seven Rila Lakes, we then spent a few days exploring Plovdiv before finishing our trip with a night out in Sunny Beach. imageConsidering we only had five nights together, we crammed a heck of a lot in and saw a lot more than I managed to see eight years ago. Plus we got to have an amazing road trip experience along the way which has given me enough laughs to last a lifetime! Very unlike my first trip to the country, this one gave me an amazing opportunity to really see the beauty of Bulgaria set against it’s communist past, it was an interesting contrast and I’m so glad I had the chance to experience Bulgaria in this way.image

So why should you road trip Bulgaria?

  1. It’s cheap! If you’re looking for somewhere to explore on a low budget, Bulgaria is the one for you, its cheap to fly to, it’s cheap to hire a car (especially if there’s five of you – it was just £30 a day for us), food is cheap and it’s cheap for accommodation. I barely spent anything during our five-day trip and still had an amazing time.
  2. The roads are amazing – seriously, compared to the UK, the quality of the roads is fantastic and it’s pretty easy to navigate your way around. Most of the time the roads are empty so you’re free to enjoy driving through the countryside.
  3. The cities aren’t very busy so actually if you stayed in one place for a week you might find yourself a bit bored, it’s a great opportunity to see a few cities and the Black Sea.
  4. Who doesn’t love a road trip with their buddies? Old school tunes, too many snacks, laughing until your stomach aches…
  5. Something always goes wrong – we managed to get the car clamped within the first hour of having it – it was hilarious and made for a great story!
  6. There’s such a range of places to stay in – we used AirBnB which was fantastic for Plovdiv and Sunny Beach – we ended up with a lovely apartment in a resort with two pools for our last day and it was still cheap as chips.
  7. Plovdiv shouldn’t be missed and you have to road trip to get there from the airport – it’s a beautiful centre of culture, architecture and the food was great.
  8. The countryside is amazing – endless rolling hills and fields of green with the stark contrast of old abandoned communist buildings – it’s a sight worth seeing and one I haven’t seen anywhere else.
  9. Seven Rila Lakes – these glacial lakes are one of the biggest attractions on the Balkan Peninsula and one not to be missed. It’s a beautiful place but sadly when we went it was so foggy we could barely see the chair lift taking us up the mountain let alone the lakes. Still an incredible experience and one you need to road trip for.
  10. The people in Bulgaria are very guarded to begin with, but talking to them really shows you that once you make the first move they are filled with warmth and hospitality. Travelling around gives you the opportunity to meet Bulgarians from across the country and to really understand the culture.
  11. Random experiences – if we hadn’t road tripped to Plovdiv and decided to go to a club called “Pasha” one night, we wouldn’t have had the chance to watch rapper Ice Cream perform live – it was seriously one of the most hilarious nights out ever.
  12. Trying out Bulgarian culture, as you can see from the pictures, we decided to go full Bulgarian and dress up for a photoshoot! It was so much fun and gave us a chance to get into full character – I was a Bulgarian bride with a full headdress that probably weighed more than me.
  13. Gelato – you wouldn’t think it but Bulgaria is big into ice cream and we’re talking really good ice cream – head to Plovdiv and try ALL of the flavours. I was pretty obsessed with the mango, and couldn’t resist the Nutella!
  14. The road trip experience – there’s very few people in this world that I could spend 24/7 with but this gang is definitely one of the groups of people I can. You get such a different experience when you’re all in the same car, in the same beds, and living every second together. It takes a level of being comfortable together that you only get with travellers.
  15. Sunny Beach – it’s still as disgusting as it was when I went there eight years ago, a total resort party town, but you simply have to do it for one night when you’re in Bulgaria. If only for the laughs and the stories you’ll have to tell after. I can’t repeat most of what happened there but we definitely had an entertaining time.

imageimageimageStill don’t know if Bulgaria is for you? Well neither did I, but I’ve visited twice now and and had the most amazing trips. It’s not the first place that comes to mind when you plan a trip to Europe, but that’s part of it’s charm – the fact that is isn’t as touristy as places like Amsterdam and Barcelona. Here you can still get a taste of European charm untainted by Starbucks and McDonald’s on every corner, you can still get lost in the winding streets, cultural sights and incredible countryside. I can’t recommend it enough for a budget road trip.

Have you been to Bulgaria – how was your trip? Which country has been your favourite to road trip?

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Melbourne | Exploring the Grampians | Australia

imageMaking the most of the four day weekend, we couldn’t resist extending our Great Ocean Road trip by visiting the nearby Grampians National Park on the recommendations of good friends. Just a couple of hours north west of the coast are three amazing national parks for adventurous and outdoorsy types to explore to their heart’s content. As three girls who love adventures and miss camping trips, we were excited to spend another night camping in a national park, and were excited to have two other friends joining us for two days of exploring the bushwalkers’ paradise. We headed to Hall’s Gap, which was packed with families, to meet our friends who had already found us a great camping spot at the Plantation campsite. It was a lot wilder than the previous night but a great campsite and nicely sheltered from the wind by Mount Zero.imageWhen we arrived during in the late afternoon, we quickly set up camp before heading up Mount Victory to explore some of the lookout points. We drove straight up the steep and winding road – not a fun experience for our friend who suffers from terrible vertigo and happened to be driving – until we reached the Reeds Lookout and The Balconies. It was a perfect place to start our time in the Grampians because it gave us a nice and easy 10 minute walk to the summit where we found the most incredible 360 degree view of the national park from Victoria Valley and Lake Wartook, to the Serra, Victoria and Mt Difficult mountain ranges. The endless empty space was breathtaking. Such an astonishing experience to see nothing but empty space and to breathe that clean mountain air after being in the confines of Melbourne for months. Afterwards we took the easy 2k walk to the balconies to see more incredible panoramic views of Victoria Range, Lake Wartook and Mount Difficult, a perfect location to spend that misty afternoon.imageWe were instantly reminded of the Blue Mountains in New South Wales for those of us who has previously visited Sydney, but the Grampians felt so much wilder and vaster in comparison. As we headed back down to our campsite for dinner, we were excited to spend the next day exploring the other viewpoints. (Check out Planet Camping for equipment.) Back at the campsite, we rustled up a quick dinner of salad wraps with cider. Very basic but we were glad we hadn’t bothered with the excessive set-ups and barbecues those around us were having – we preferred to spend our time having drinks and building a campfire of our own. The five of us (Shoutout to Absolutely-Scootsie) went off collecting wood and rocks to build our fire and our dedication paid off – we ended up building a fantastic fire that kept blazing for around six hours in the end. We sat round with ciders and toasted marshmallows and slices of bread on the fire, it was so much fun! There’s something about getting back to basics that really brings out the best side of everyone. Later, as the other fires around us died down, several others from the campsite came to join us and have drinks. We all ended up pretty drunk and had a hilarious night together.imageThe next morning we all woke up later than planned but eager to start the day’s hiking after a breakfast in Hall’s Gap. After some delicious bacon and eggs, we started driving up the mountain again for an amazing walk we had seriously underestimated. We were to take on The Pinnacle on the advice of our friends – there are two options to enjoy the walk by taking an easy route from the Sundial Carpark, or the challenging hike through the Grand Canyon from Wonderland Carpark. I would seriously recommend the hike – we went for it not knowing about an easier option but were glad we did. The climb through the gorge was incredible and although hard work, was so rewarding when you finally reached the top.imageMake sure to take plenty of water, we took three bottles but it was a hot day and we wished we had brought more with us. We hiked all the way to the very top of the Pinnacle before taking a different route down and rejoined back at the Gorge. We also followed some silly Canadian lads who ended up getting us lost by not following the path so we ended up rock climbing down the last part of the walk. It was brilliant fun, but make sure you pay attention to the paths. By the end of the walk we were knackered but felt amazing – it was lovely to get some real exercise in such beautiful surroundings. In the end we covered around 8km through the routes we took, so it’s well worth it.imageAfterwards we were excited to be heading to Mackenzie Falls to cool off after the hike. At the bottom of a steep 2km train down the cliff, a spectacular view of the water cascading into a deep pool awaited us. Fine rainbow mist sprayed across the faces of those descending the slippery steps as the reached the floor of the gorge. It was a beautiful sight and one that would excite the mermaid in all of us – it definitely had one guy excited as he slipped off his shirt and dived into the water for a photo right under the waterfall. We were disappointed we hadn’t brought our bikinis although I’m not sure you’re actually supposed to swim there, and the water was bloody freezing! We dipped our toes in and watched the water for a while before heading back up the steep steps.imageWe finished the day by heading to what is supposed to be one of the best lookouts in the Grampians – Boroka Lookout. It offered a stunning 180 degree view of Western Victoria, overlooking Halls Gap and Lake Bellfield, and only a tiny stroll from the car to the viewpoint. It was beautiful but I found it hard to really enjoy this on as there were far too many people dangling themselves precariously from the rocks for the perfect photo. It was pretty annoying having to wait ten minutes for a simple photo because there were so many people in the way, and personally I did think the Reed Lookout was far more breathtaking. But Boroka is definitely worth a look! It was the end of an amazing trip and we were all exhausted after a busy couple of days of hiking, camping and having way too much fun. It was time to head back to Melbourne, but we left with huge smiles on our faces and amazing memories with great friends. Our weekend could not have been any better and I’m still grinning now just thinking about it. We’ve already started planning the next trip!image

 

Have you been to the Grampians National Park? What was your favourite part? Can you recommend any other Australian national parks?

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Melbourne | Cruising along the Great Ocean Road | Australia

imageI love road trips – they’re such a great way to travel and to experience a country whether you stay in the UK or venture abroad. You have so much more freedom when you share a car with friends and don’t have to stick to timetabled flights or buses. The whole experience of driving on the open road without a care in the world is just incredible if it’s done well and fair play to my road trip gang, we did it very well considering we didn’t plan a thing. We set off on Good Friday and after picking up the car at around 9am, we cruised back into the city to pick up the third member of our team, our tent and to ill the car with duvets and food. We left the city around 11am, which was right on schedule for the vague plan we had made – it seemed leaving at this time had helped us beat the real bank holiday traffic of the previous evening and that morning. Despite it being a cloudy, grey morning in Melbourne, as soon as we ventured out of the city and hit the highway, the sun broke through the clouds and with the tune blaring out of our little Yaris’ speakers, we could already feel the holiday vibes.imageThe first hour of driving took us through Geelong, keen to make good time and explore the later beaches we didn’t stop but cruised through on our way to Torquay. This was a town I was keen to see, it’s somewhere I’ve heard about for ages and as we drove along the ridiculously hilly road to Bell’s Beach (hills like this still seem weird to a Norfolk gal) we started to see signs for not just any surfing competition, but the 2016 Rip Curl Pro, the longest running professional surfing contest in the world, and this was the 55th year of the event. We’d just missed the main event, but there were still countless surfers bobbing around in the waves so we walked out the viewpoint where we could see some epic surfing unfold.imageFurther along the road, we continued on past Anglesea which looked like the cutest little town, before stopping at Airey’s Inlet – a beautiful stopover and one that us girls got very excited about once we realised it was also home to the lighthouse from kid’s TV programme Round The Twist! We all walked up thinking the lighthouse loved familiar, but it was only when someone started singing the theme song that we realised why! It’s was a lovely little stroll to the viewpoint that reminded me very much of the Byron Bay lighthouse walk – also an absolute must in coastal walks. Further down from the lighthouse there is also a lovely beach that seemed very popular with visitors as we passed.imageComing up next were Cumberland River, Wye River and Kennett River as we approached Apollo Bay – we didn’t really stop off at any of these but paused at a few viewpoints for more stunning photos. The driving around this part was stunning – all winding cliffs, bright blue ocean and gorgeous sunshine. We got really lucky with the weather because I’m not sure the driving would have been quite as fun were the weather rubbish. Along this stretch of road we also saw a koala hanging from a tree as we approached Apollo Bay – first bit of wildlife of the trip!imageApollo Bay was great – you can see why it’s so popular for tourists and festivals – being Easter Weekend it was very busy so we just popped to the shops for some snacks and drinks for the night ahead as we planned our campsite. We had originally planned to camp around Apollo Bay but we hadn’t booked a campsite and a lot of the good ones were full or overpriced, and the other ones that had sprung up in recreation grounds and football pitches were decidedly gross. Not booking a campsite turned out to be the best thing we could have done, it meant we drove on past Apollo Bay and towards the 12 Apostles, where we had planned to arrive for sunrise.imageWe kept on driving, certain we would find a campsite along the way, and lo and behold we did as we were driving through Cape Otway and towards Port Campbell National Park, the sign sprung up in front of us and before I knew it I had swung the car off the main road and into the forest. Around 7km in we had passed countless kangaroos and all kinds of wildlife, arriving at the campsite we were told it was $50 for a pitch and that they could squeeze us in – there was loads of room left in the busy campsite and we were welcomed by Steve, the awesome campsite manager. It was a fantastic campsite with amazing facilities from spotless showers and toilets to a kitchen, barbecues, log fires and much more. We ended up exploring the campsite and making friends with a nearby group who had a campfire on the go and some great music as we sat under the stars. It was a perfect first night of camping and such a great experience to camp in the national park. We awoke early the next morning in hopes of catching a stunning sunrise with a view of the 12 Apostles.imageSadly we were disappointed by the cloudy day we woke up to, there was a fine mist of rain and despite packing up our campsite and leaving before 6.30am, we were not to see a sunrise. Instead I drove us out of the campsite, dodging kangaroos, baby deer and all kinds of spooky wildlife lit up by the headlights of our little car – we named her Rhonda by the way. But instead of being disappointed by the dark, overcast morning, we used the time to make an early start on the day, driving past the viewpoint we had aimed for, we kept heading towards the 12 Apostles and only stopped in tiny Princetown for a quick breakfast and a chance to spruce ourselves up for the day ahead.image We arrived at Gibson’s Steps – one of our favourite beaches – not long after where we were thrilled to get out and stretch our legs on this wild and untamed beach. The wind blew spray across our faces as we walked across the empty sands and we were glad to have beaten the crowds as we discovered a tiny penguin lying on the sand. He looked a bit lost but was soon rescued by a woman from an animal charity. After a brisk walk, we loaded back into the car for just a short journey to see the 12 Apostles – it was amazing. Incredible to finally see with my own eyes after seeing so many pictures over the years – we were gutted not to get to see them bathed in sunlight but it was still a majestic sight.imageThe rest of the day was perfectly broken up with lots of walking to viewpoints and various rock formations between Port Campbell and Warrnambool, including Loch Ard Gorge, the Arch, London Bridge, Grotto and Bay of Islands. Each one was more beautiful than the last and it’s well worth taking the time to stop at each of these to enjoy the walks and views along the way. imageI actually found some of these viewpoints more spectacular than the 12 Apostles – probably due to the weather improving as we moved further along Great Ocean Road – before 12pm the sun blazed across the sky and brightened up the wet day. We finished Great Ocean Road with a pit-stop in Port Fairy, which is an adorable little seaside town with a lovely picnic area overlooking the beach and quaint little craft shops set just behind, where we re-fuelled and stocked up on food and drinks for our second night of camping.

Read all about our adventures in the Grampians National Park in my next post.

Have you road-tripped Great Ocean Road? How was your experience? What was your favourite part?

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Experience the perfect Australian Road Trip on a budget

imageIt’s been less than 24 hours since I arrived home from my Great Ocean Road trip and already my fingers are itching to type and tell you guys all about it. I’m feeling so unbelievably happy and refreshed after a few days away from the city and with two amazing friends, especially knowing that I have ticked another amazing experience off my bucket list. Ever since before I touched down in Australia, it has been a goal of mine to road trip across the country. Although I’m putting off road tripping the West Coast until my second year, at least now I can leave in a few months knowing I’ve experienced an Australian road trip and what has to be one of the best road trips you can do in the world! From the moment I arrived in Melbourne, my friends and I have been talking about organising a trip down the coast, but typically with there being so many of us we hadn’t quite got round to organising it. Last week was a stressful week for a few of us and with the four-day weekend looming, we thought it would be a perfect time to get away from the city and get some breathing space.imageWe planned absolutely nothing, we didn’t even book the car until about two days before we were due to leave! We ended up with a perfect combination of myself, my flatmate and someone who has become one of the best friends I have met since travelling – all equally laid-back girls who just wanted a stress-free weekend. We got exactly what we wanted – packing up our things the night before we just took the bare essentials – warm clothes, good shoes for hiking, duvets and a tent. Our tent cost us $33 from K-Mart, and we struck gold last weekend at the Grand Prix when spectators left behind their brand new camping chairs for whoever could be bothered to carry them home! For food, we raided our kitchens and took tins of tuna, salad, wraps, fruit, bread, nutella and peanut butter. Sticking to backpacker mentality, we all wanted to cut back on costs as much as possible and didn’t see the point in spending a fortune unnecessarily, plus we didn’t want to spend hours perusing the supermarket shelves when we could be out having adventures. We took plenty of snacks for the drive – rice crackers and crisps kept us going, and saved our money for cider and wine. In the end our trip cost us a grand total of around $150 per person – that’s for the car, petrol, food, booze and campsite!imageThe trip itself was amazing – I can’t think of a single thing that could have made it better. Considering we didn’t plan anything, I’d say our trip was an even bigger success than I ever could have expected. So what made it so good? Amazing attitudes, great people, stunning surroundings and the freedom of life on the road again all played their part, but there are some far simpler things you can focus on to ensure your road trip – whether its from Devon to Newcastle, across the USA or outback Australia – will be a success. Here’s my guide to the perfect Australian road trip:

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Don’t over plan

The more planning you do, the higher your expectations are and the more likely you are to let the small things bother you. Australia is a big place and you rarely have to plan far ahead – we did GOR over Easter and still managed to book a car two days before leaving, and found accommodation when we arrived at our destinations rather than pre-booking. Doing it this way gives you more flexibility and for me, that is a huge part of the experience. Being able to change your plans at the drop of a hat has led me to some of the most amazing experiences yet! Don’t stress about finding somewhere to park or sleep, it always works itself out!

Book a car with a good company

We used Turnbulls Hire who were fantastic, they provided us with a brand new, spotless Toyota Yaris which was the perfect size for us there girls and all our stuff. It was great on fuel and nice and small for those winding coastal roads. It also had a great sound system – essential for a good road trip! It cost us just $180 for three full days and petrol added very little to this bill. Plus the staff were fantastic and allowed us to drop off the vehicle later the next day, before offering us a lift to the train station! Now that’s great service.

Choose your road trip gang wisely

You’re going to be stuck in a car with these people for three or four days, or possibly longer, so make sure you can actually cope with them being in such close quarters. It’s important to make sure you are compatible to travel – it won’t be fun being trapped in a car with a person who stresses over everything if you’re the most laid back person in the world. Or it may work as a good combination if you level each other out! Make sure everyone is pulling their weight by taking turns to drive, organising the car/food, and most importantly, make sure the person who is supplying the tent can be counted on to not forget it!

Don’t be over-ambitious with food

Road trips and camping is about getting back to basics – it’s not about tapas and three-course meals. A barbecue is always great, but think carefully about how long the meat will be sat in a warm car before you buy, and think about how much space it will take up in the car. We were planning to camp for a few nights so a barbecue wasn’t practical, plus we were pretty happy with just raiding the fridge at home and taking salad, wraps and tuna for dinner. Bread and peanut butter/nutella made a great breakfast, plus snacks of fruit and carrots throughout the day. And what road trip would be complete without crisps?! Keeping it simple can save you a LOT of money – we spent nothing on food over three whole days – and it can save you hours deciding in the supermarket.

Skip the hostels

Most of the time they’re overpriced and unnecessary when you’re on a road trip. You already have a great gang of people in the car and can save a bundle if you take a tent with you instead. Camping adds to the experience and gives you a chance to have more freedom with your trip – you can build camp fires, barbecue your own meals, arrive and leave when it suits you, plus you meet some great people in the campsites. The first night we camped at Cape Otway National Park – an amazing campsite with fantastic facilities. It cost us $50 for a pitch and we had heaps of room around our tent and car, we had access to clean toilets/showers, a kitchen and barbecues. In a hostel over Easter weekend we would have paid around $30-40 per person. On our second night in the Grampians we actually camped for free in an amazing campsite full of great people and had the best time.

Take your time

Do your road trip at a pace that suits you – it sounds silly but so often people either rush the trip or dawdle too much because they don’t organise their time well. It’s important to take time out to stop and explore the sights, otherwise all you will have seen is the inside of a car. But at the same time, you don’t want to take too long at one sight because you may miss out on seeing something else. We planned our trip as we went but we all had the same priorities – see as much as possible without stressing over whether we would make it to the campsite in time. Flexibility is key to this!

Get the perfect soundtrack

If you ask me, after the people in your car, the music pumping out of your speakers is the most important thing on your trip. Even if the weather is rubbish and you get stuck in traffic, you can still have a great time and put everyone in a good mood by belting out some great songs. Whether you prefer he older stuff or all the latest chart-toppers, make sure your iPod is charged and ready for action. We were lucky because my flatmate loves music and had all the best stuff downloaded on her phone. We had a great time singing and dancing along the journey! Also – don’t forget to choose you road-trip song! This is the one that five, ten or even twenty years from now will remind you of this trip.image

What was your favourite road trip? What countries would you love to road trip around? What has made your road trips so epic?

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