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The perks and the quirks of riding solo along the East Coast of Australia

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It’s only when you return from your travels and are struggling with post-holiday blues that you can truly reflect on the moments that made your trip to the East Coast of Australia just that extra bit special compared to any other holiday you have been on.

Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays

Here are some of the quirks and the perks that I experienced during my time travelling alone, which I am sure many of you will already be able to relate to, or have yet to encounter…

Trying to get SOME sleep during your 24-hour flight

It’s 11pm, you left London Heathrow three hours ago and have just finished watching your first blockbuster movie of the flight. You have seven more hours until you reach Hong Kong and you’re feeling rather sleepy as your body clock is still well-attuned to Greenwich Mean Time.

However, you weren’t lucky enough to bag the window seat and so you are now sandwiched between two businessmen who certainly do not want you snuggling up to them and resting your head on their shoulder.

Instead you open the dinner tray in front of you and attempt to use this as a form of head rest… eughh this is a great start to the journey… NOT!

Your first night in Aus

Ok, so you have arrived in OZ, you have just checked in and settled yourself into your first point of call in Brisbane. The room is empty and there is not a soul in sight. Of course, it’s a Saturday night; everyone is downstairs at the bar doing tequila shots, preparing themselves to sing and dance until their hearts’ content to Justin Bieber’s latest love song in the cheesy back packers’ night club next door. You think to yourself, ‘Am I really up for this tonight?”. However, it’s best to get your body clock well in tune with Aus time by staying up a little bit longer, make some friends and have a bev or two (but not too many, as you’re on your own now and your travel insurance does not cover alcohol induced issues!).

Ok, so now you have made this decision, it’s time to loosen up, to put on your best smile and fully your embrace your extrovert self – you don’t want to come across as that lonesome local perched at the end of the bar, staring aimlessly whilst nursing a pint.

Setting out on your big adventure

You wake up the next day feeling much more revived and fresh as your body has recovered well from jet lag. You set off with your mini rucksack on your back and your map wide open, in hand, navigating yourself down the streets of Brisbane like Dora the Explorer.

Updating your Facebook fans as to your whereabouts

You have been walking for ages and have finally stumbled across the iconic Brisbane sign, complemented by the backdrop of the chic, modern city. Perfect, now’s your chance to upload a photo to Facebook, showing all your fans that you’re still alive and have indeed made it to the other side of the world! Everyone around you is having group photos taken in front and on top of the sign and here you are, looking for someone to take a picture of just you. This might be the first moment where you suddenly think, ‘Aww, I wish my mates were with me’.

City scenes to surfer’s sands

After spending a day or two in the city of Brisbane, you travel a few hours down the coast to the surfer’s paradise of Byron Bay. It’s renowned for being THE place to visit if you want to ride some of the world’s narliest waves. Of course, you have spent many a summer conquering the waves of Fistral beach and so would now consider yourself an intermediate surfer.

However, being an intermediate surfer in the UK unfortunately translates as being a beginner in Aus! You confidently enter the water, strapping the board to your ankle, yet the strong current suddenly whips around your legs, causing you to stumble and sway side to side. If you can barely even stand in shallow waters, then how on earth are you even going to attempt to surf?!

Fully embracing that beach bum life

After spending two weeks of soaking up the sun and embracing the chilled Aussie way of life, your Levi shorts and your Haviana flip-flops might as well be the only things you brought with you. Your skin is radiating a golden glow and you no longer feel a slave to the daily ritual of applying your make-up. You have truly embraced the ‘au naturel’ appearance and you’re absolutely loving it – this is your real self and no one who meets you has anything to compare you against.

Modelling at Lake Mckenzie

You rock up to Rainbow Beach ready for your three-day trip around Fraser Island and you are placed in a truck with only one other girl your age, a middle aged German couple and a group of four lads who have just graduated from Leeds University. Unfortunately, although you hold a UK driver licence, you are only 19, and in Aus you must be 21 to drive. Oh well, looks like you’re being chauffeured around for the weekend! Lake McKenzie is your first stop… or should I say, your first Instagram snap of many to come!

Now to become a scuba diver

After visiting Fraser Island, you simply cannot believe that anything will ever be as beautiful as the warm, turquoise waters of Lake McKenzie and the sparkling champagne pools.

However, you are proven to be considerably wrong as each new place that you visit reveals even more of the unique beauty that is intrinsic to the East coast of Australia. You spend the following weekend on a boat sailing around the Whitsunday Islands and visiting Whitehaven Beach – comprised of the purest sand in the world – diving into the deep blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.

This is where you attempt your first introductory scuba dive, where you see some of Australia’s most incredible marine life. After initially feeling panicked about wearing such a heavy tank on your back whilst having to breathe correctly through the mouth piece, you finally get used to the whole process and realise just how calming an experience scuba diving really is.

Back to the city and back to the club

You have been travelling for a long time now; you have surfed the East Coast, seen over ten kangaroos, and consumed one too many a Tim Tam slam. It’s now time to return to the city for your last stop in Cairns. Although, you are slightly reluctant to do so as you have become well accustomed to the beach bum way of life. However, you’ve got to make the most of the final few days of your trip, you can’t just sit in your room at night whilst the club bangers violently shake your bed. You force yourself to go out, wearing your favourite pair of shorts and your Havaiana flip flops which cling to the sticky floor as your feet unwillingly tap to the beat.

Yet, after a while, you get back into the party spirit as Gilligan’s night club becomes a massive place of reunion; everyone that you met earlier on in your travels suddenly reappears for that one last time. I spent my last night jamming to ‘Cotton Eyed Joe’ with the lads from Leeds who became like brothers to me during my journey, and who I renamed ‘The In-betweeners’.

One more time

Your time’s now up: you’re on your flight back to the UK, listening to Daft Punk’s ‘One More Time’, whilst flicking through the millions of photos which are now the only physical evidence of your journey along the East Coast.

What an amazing time you have had, what great people you met, and what funny memories you have shared. You’re straight back home and onto STA travel, ready to start planning your next travel adventure. This is when you need to start reviewing and renewing your travel insurance and researching the visa and entry requirements of your new chosen destination!

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