I didn’t come to Australia with a plan of how to spend my 3 months. At first, I felt like I had too much time in my hands. I’m glad to have gone on my 3 week west coast trip when I first arrived. After coming back to Sydney, I just wanted to relax after the exhaustingly adventurous road trip. I felt a sense of community coming back to Sydney the second time around. I guess I lost track of time since coming back from Western Australia. I had so much time on my hands, but the days are quickly racing by that I need to figure out where to go next. The other question is, should I go somewhere next? Whenever I arrive at a new city, I always wanted to experience living like a local. Although I wasn’t sure if I would be able to continue this motto in Australia, I was able to get a sense of how it feels like to live in Sydney during my second stay here.
People continued to ask me what I’m going to do next. I know I will spend some time in Melbourne, but do I want to do the east coast? How can I go about visiting the east coast? Find new travelmates to go on a second road trip or go by bus? Where should I visit in the east coast? I’m hearing mixed feedback on how long it takes to explore the east coast. People had told me things from 1 week to 2 or 3 months. I suppose it really depends on what you want to see and do.
I was talking to a Dutch hostelmate one morning and he really gave me a wake up call to get moving. I’ve been in Eva’s for almost 2.5 weeks and it’s probably best if I move on. He told me that if he was me, he’d hop on the next flight tomorrow and go somewhere. He’s right, I should really start exploring other places now that I’ve grown too comfortable in Sydney. I only have 5 weeks left in Australia! I can no longer say that I have a flexible schedule to just slowly cruise by. I don’t have the time that I had when I first arrived to randomly find people to do the east coast.
Originally, I wanted to visit Melbourne first and stay there for a week and then fly in to Brisbane and work my way up to Cairns. I had picked up a Lonely Planet book specifically focused on the East Coast. At first, I was reluctant to open the book because I know once I mark down places I really want to visit, I would stress over fitting all the destinations in my trip. I avoided looking at my travelmate’s Lonely Planet book because I didn’t want to discover a ‘must-visit’ spot in the west coast and then stress over getting there. I decided that I want to spend 1 week in Melbourne and 2.5 to 3 weeks travelling up the coast and spend the remainder of my time in Sydney. After conversing with other backpackers, I decided to head up to Brisbane first to do the east coast trip and then fly back down to Melbourne after I reach Cairns and eventually return to Sydney to spend my last days in Australia in the city I started in.
Many people at Eva’s had worked their way down from Cairns to Sydney and mentioned all the different places to stop at along the coast. I also learned that most of the activities along the east coast requires me to book tours. With limited time, I must be selective with where I go. As a non-swimmer, I can filter out the top surfing, snorkeling, and diving destinations; that’s why I decided to skip over Byron Bay, Gold Coast, and Surfer’s Paradise to start in Brisbane directly. Because this is a much more time sensitive trip and most of it involves going on tours, I felt the necessity to figure out most of the itinerary out before starting the trip. It was annoying since I would much rather go with the flow than having a set itinerary. Unfortunately, I spent too much time in Sydney and that time cushion has been used up.
I decided to go to a travel agency to help plan out my trip. As suggested from some travelers, I went to Wicked Travels to see what they have to offer me. Prior to going, I had skimmed over the Lonely Planet book to jot down a few places I’d like to visit. With my travel agent, we mapped out where, when, and how long I should stay at each location. The two main tours people go on are to Fraser Island and the Whitsunday Islands. Because I have to arrive the day prior to each tour for briefing, the timing of the two tours pretty much shaped my entire schedule. I had told the agent that I would like to keep my schedule open ended, but it ended up being a concrete itinerary.
I will be traveling via Greyhound bus with their hop on hop off bus pass which allows me to make as many stops as I would like going from Brisbane to Cairns, but I cannot go backwards. Going by Greyhound is a popular option for backpackers looking to make their way up the coast. It is a little restricting to travel according to the Greyhound bus schedules, but I don’t have the time flexibility to find travelmates who wants to do the trip at the given dates and in a specific time frame to rent a car together.
It would be a different experience traveling by myself. This time, I must be more alert and aware of what’s happening around me. With all the mishaps that crossed my way thus far, I am a bit concerned about making this trip alone. Hopefully, I don’t get stranded somewhere; the last time I checked, people told me there is cellphone service throughout the east coast so I can always call for help if needed. We shall see where my luck brings me! I have 3 weeks to make it to Cairns and then head to Melbourne for approximately 1 week. I hope I make it on time and in one piece!
Let the east coast adventure begin! Brisbane on July 14th, here I come…