After Fraser Island, we had one night to party in Noosa and then we're on our merry way again, hitting the road on the Greyhound to Airlie Beach. This one was all set to be one of the best places we visited. Not only was it a beautiful place with lots to do, the gateway to our next adventure on the Whitsundays but it was also where we would be reunited with one of our best friends from back home. We rocked up with two friends in tow, Louise and Jennifer had been on Fraser Island with us and just happened to be booked on the same bus as us, into the same hostel and the same Whitsundays trip! After a long night on the bus, we were all wrecked and had to walk across town laden with heavy bags to the hostel thanks to there being no hostel pick up service. We were staying at Nomads, which was in process of fusing with Base. After Nomads in Noosa our expectations were distinctly lower and we were dreading seeing what we would be staying in for the next few days. We were pleasantly surprised to see how lovely the hostel was - one of the best looking hostels with small lodge style dorms spread across a lawn and set around a swimming poll and volleyball net, the six bed dorms were clean, comfy and spacious. I would hugely recommend the hostel, just don't expect much from the staff. They were some of the rudest, most unfriendly and unhelpful people I have met since travelling.Our days were spent sunbathing by the pool, lagoon or on the beach - the choice of all three was brilliant and the lagoon was one of the nicest and deepest I have seen - just a shame it was so cold! On one morning, we decided to go for a run and explore the coastal path which is definitely worth a walk - it's absolutely beautiful and takes you the length of the bay. Plus you get to walk through the harbour which is full of yachts and you can pretend you're super rich and about to board your own. We ate out a few times, particularly at Fusion, which was just down the street. It was always there for us when we were too lazy to cook breakfast and we even had lunch one time. The food and the wifi was good, and it was very convenient being the closest cafe to the hostel, but the service was pretty slow and forgetful. Most of the time we cooked at the hostel, although it was a bit of a bummer having to put down a deposit for every kitchen item we needed to use, including chopping boards and knives.The nightlife was pretty good in Airlie Beach, it was great having one street with all the bars and hostels on it, and there was alway something going on whether it was live music, karaoke, BBQ's or something else. We spent a lot of time at Magnums and the Irish bar, but also checked out a lot of the others including a nice cocktail bar down the street. The crowd was great at most bars and you could see why so many people got stuck there when they just planned to pass through. Our friend had been living and working there for months and planned to stay there until her visa run out - she was actually working on one of the Whitsunday cruises. We had the best reunion after nearly two years without seeing her, within seconds it was like we'd never parted ways. Much rum was consumed, many stories were exchanged, laughs had, and we ended up getting matching tattoos - all on Mark's birthday. Then we headed out to meet our friends for food and drinks where I had arranged a surprise for him, a group of our closest friends from Fraser Island to come and join the birthday celebrations. It was such a fun night with our whole Whitsundays gang and some of the Fraser crew partying the night away after a movie trivia quiz.The best day we had in Airlie was hands down the day after the birthday celebrations when we were all hungover and needed something fun to distract us from how tired we all were. We ended up going to the inflatable water park and paying just $16 for hours of acting like kids, running around the inflatables and slipping off into the water, attempting to climb ropes and skidding across the giant climbing frames. It was hilarious and so much fun, definitely worth the money, although it did remind us were not as young as we used to be - it was a hell of a lot more exhausting for us lot than for the kids who were running rings around us. It was a perfect final day to have in Airlie Beach before heading on towards Magnetic Island for another adventure. I would definitely recommend planning in a few days for Airlie Beach, we stayed for about four or five around Whitsundays and it was nice to have a few days both before and after - especially to hang out with everyone from Whitsundays after the trip. The hostel is perfect for your stay as it's well positioned and has everything you need - minus smiley staff. Airlie Beach was definitely one of the best places on the East Coast - I could understand why so many ended up getting stuck there, I think we would have if we didn't already have our whole trip booked.
Did you love Airlie Beach? Can you recommend any good places to eat and drink there? Have you had any good reunions with friends while travelling?
When it comes to planning a huge trip like that standard backpacker route up the East Coast of Australia, it can be a pretty daunting task. Taking anywhere between two weeks to six months to complete, and with such a huge range of trips, activities, adventures and sights to take in - where on earth do you begin? There are so many questions to answer - what will we do, where will we stay, how will we get there? And so many options from sailing trips and four wheel driving expeditions, to waterfall tours and white water rafting. It's no easy task, but one thing I've learnt since being in Australia is quite how much it pays off to plan your trip in advance. A complete contrast to Asia where it usually works out cheaper and easier to be spontaneous and just book everything individually as you go along. Here in the land down under its a much better idea to book all your transport, accommodation and trips as a whole to save big time on cash. It's a shame to take the spontaneity out of backpacking and I'm still not used to it, but booking our trip this way saved us a small fortune.
I didn't realise at the time, but our booking agent gave us huge discounts which seriously cut back our spending and allowed us to save our money for goon. After meeting and talking to so many other backpackers, many of whom booked things individually, we have now realised how good our deal was. All of our Greyhound buses from Sydney to Cairns, all our accommodation and all of our trips were included in a £1,300 package per person with several free meals thrown in and lots of upgrades. During our trip we stopped off at Byron Bay, Surfer's Paradise, Noosa, Fraser Island, Airlie Beach, Whitsundays and Magnetic Island before finishing in Cairns. We stayed in fantastic hostels the whole way, met so many amazing people - you all know who you are - who had us laughing the whole way. We had the chance to take part in lots of amazing trips from kayaking with dolphins and surfing in Byron Bay, to driving four wheel drives around Fraser Island and whale watching, to cruising around the Whitsundays on a catamaran and swimming with sea turtles, to cuddling koalas and driving Barbie cars around Magnetic Island, finishing with white water rafting and a trip to the rainforest in Cairns.To say it was amazing is an understatement - with just two months of travelling together, Mark and I wanted to make sure we crammed in as much as possible and really made the most of our time. By heck we did, we were exhausted and broke by the time we finished the East Coast, but had the biggest smiles on our faces and made some amazing friends for life, some we're still travelling with now almost a month later in Darwin. My best advice? Research and plan everything - think carefully about your money and you can make it go so much further. By reading up about trips and talking to people before you book, you can be sure whether the trips are worth doing, whether they are worth the money, or if you can perhaps get a better deal elsewhere. It's boring to do, but worth it in the long run when you can party a few extra nights or afford an extra trip somewhere along the way. It's also worth thinking about whether you want to drive up the East Coast in a camper van or car, or whether you want to take the bus - in the end it often comes down to experience vs. efficiency - we chose efficiency because we wanted to be hungover on the buses and travel on the cheap but we had friends who travelled in a group in a van and had an amazing time.
There are so many choices and options, just be sure to make informed decisions and always shop around when booking! I'll be posting individually on each place we visited and each trip we took so you can get a better idea of what you might enjoy, but in the meantime I can definitely tell you our absolute highlights were our Fraser Island Trip, Airlie Beach and white water rafting trip - all were amazing and I highly recommend them. Other places we loved included Magnetic Island and Noosa because of the sheer natural beauty of the places, but we also had a blast in Surfer's Paradise thanks to an awesome hostel and crowd we met there.
Have you travelled the East Coast? What was your favourite trip or memory?