Heading to Australia for a year or term abroad? Megan Warren-Lister gives us the low-down on how to spend your Spring Break when you're out there.
Did you really go on a year abroad if you didn’t use it as an excuse to travel anywhere and everywhere..? (No)
I am lucky that I am in Australia for two semesters, lots of my friends only had the luxury of one - this resulted in the planning of an extremely busy spring break trip last September. The whole expedition took ten days, with sub-groups diverting off to various islands at the relevant points. With most attractions scattered up the East coast, we decided to trek it all – starting in Sydney and finishing at Cape Tribulation (the bit right at the top where the reef meets the rainforest).
Our first jaunt was a flight to Byron bay – a glorious oasis of relaxation, street shops, acoustic music and also lot and lots of bats at night. Whilst here we hired cars and accidentally stumbled across a pristine waterfall and plunge pool. Our second venture by car from Byron was to Nimbin – a town straight from the 80s, complete with hippie vans, men holding snakes on the streets, and a de facto uniform of baggy trousers. The point of attraction for half of the group was the similarly de facto legalisation of weed – however, a group of nearly 20 uni kids were apparently ripe for being conned...
Whian Whian Falls weren't the worst thing to stumble upon!
(Epigram / Megan Warren-Lister)
When we got back to Byron, for the rare few not hungover the next morning, it was a quick sunrise visit to the lighthouse (the most easterly point of Australia) before we drove up to the Gold coast. Our stop off here was Surfers paradise, and it was, exactly as it says on the tin: white sandy beaches bordered by equally as white skyscrapers, with an overall Miami-esque feel. Our hostel (YHA) overlooked a beautiful harbour – the only downside being the quiet time of 10pm which resulted in some very prematurely ended pre drinks.
After a few days we drove again to Brisbane – being rather cloudy it reminded me of England, apart from the huge artificial lagoon which was a stark (and gorgeous) reminder of where we were! I was one of the few who ventured to the Whitsundays – so after just one night in Bris – me and some of the girls flew to Airlie beach and stayed at the hostel Magnums – think 20 bed dorms and lots and lots of red beer pong cups in the middle of a forest-like setting.
After spending day one here by yet another lagoon, the next day comprised a speedboat tour around the famous islands, involving stop offs for snorkelling where you could see clownfish, and huge mauri wrass just from the surface. This was glorious but I got stung by sea lice and so my enthusiasm for the sea depleted quite quickly! Undoubtedly the best part was stopping at the notorious Whitehaven Beach – which has the finest sand in the world and is the most beautiful place I have ever seen (a must visit if you are ever in Aus).
Brisbane's artificial lagoon
(Epigram / Megan Warren-Lister)
Next up was a 9 hour coach from Airlie to Cairns – much less glorious, but made more bearable by the fact it was a night bus (a top tip to any potential future year abroad students or travellers – greyhound coaches are a massively cheap alternative to domestic flights.)
Cairns was the hottest place of all, and also home to the best nightlife. When here we travelled up to Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation – home of the crocs - but sadly only saw one teeny weeny baby! Unlike YHA, the hostel we stayed in- Gilligans- had its own club and so we ended up staying out the night before our flight back to Sydney the next morning – this was as regrettable as it sounds.
Featured image: Epigram / Megan Warren-Lister