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imageThe incredible natural beauty of Noosa has made it a highlight of the east Coast for me, even now after having finished the trip I still look back on it as one of my favourite places. I wasn't expecting much after Brisbane, if anything my expectations had been lowered but I was blown away by how much I loved Noosa. It helped that we were back by the ocean and were staying with a National Park right on our doorstep - I'm definitely less of a city girl and more of a nature lover. We were unfortunately staying at Nomads hostel which not only was one of the dirtiest hostels I've ever stayed on - throughout Asia and Australia - but it was at the bottom of a huge hill we had to climb every day to get to the beach. Any of my Norfolk readers will understand my aversion to hills after being raised in the flattest part of the UK. The hostel was horrible - the kitchen was unusable and the staff were not very helpful - I don't mind if they want to get stoned all the time but it would be great if they could actually function in their job instead of staring at you blankly and giving you the wrong keys twice.imageimageThe hostel might have been rank, but we barely spent any time there. Up first in the morning, we were out running through the national park and discovering more and more beautiful viewpoints, sunbathing on the beach, walking through the woods and up to the sunset viewpoint, and just discovering the area. On our first day, we did a big walk at sunset through the coastal path of the National Park, it was gorgeous. The ocean on one side and the woods on the other, koala bears clinging to eucalyptus trees, so many viewpoints to stop and and enjoy watching dolphins playing in the waves. It was stunning and obviously a popular route from the numbers of people walking along with us and running the path. We decided to try a run the next day and explore the other paths through the woods - there were several to choose from and I don't know how anyone could ever get bored of them.imageWe spent our days sunbathing on the beach or exploring the town which was filled with places to eat and shop - sadly I had no money to enjoy the shopping! One evening we walked up to the sunset viewpoint to watch the sun go down and this is definitely worth a look - offering a beautiful view across the whole of Noosa bathed in a golden glow, it's one of the best things to see there. Although it was pretty chilly on the walk down, as soon as the sun set in Noosa you started to feel the difference in temperature. Our nights were pretty fun too, especially when we returned to the hostel for a night after our Fraser Island trip with the entire gang and partied the night away. It was a hilarious night filled with way too many drinks and laughs, and we even managed to win some pretty awesome prizes! Nomads at Noosa had the best prizes on offer of any backpackers hostel I have seen so far so definitely get in on them! The boys managed to score a free Whitsundays trip and I won a free North Island Kiwi Experience Pass for New Zealand for doing nothing other than putting my name in a raffle!image

What did you think of Noosa? Do you prefer cities or being out in nature?

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imageWhen 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.imageTo 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?

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