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How to Use the Sydney Opal Card and How to Get Around on Public Transport!

How to Use the Sydney Opal Card and How to Get Around on Public Transport!

Sydney is one vast city. Its boundaries appear limitless and I’ll be honest getting around Sydney can feel like trying to navigate a giant labyrinth maze! After living in Sydney for 6 months with no car it’s safe to say I’ve experienced more than my fair share of public transport getting around Sydney.

Luckily, there a few systems in place, like the Opal Card, to make your commute from A to B run smoothly. In this post, I’ll be going into detail about how to use the Sydney Opal Card and how to get the best out of it, including rewards! I’ll also be going over all the important things to know about Sydney’s public transport system! If you’re planning on visiting this vibrant city in Australia then I suggest getting to know a little about the transport first. I can tell you that if you don’t it will be very confusing when you land in one of the worlds most popular cities. 

How to use the Sydney Opal Card - Image of train station
A very quiet central station

How to Use the Sydney Opal Card 

Before going into the public transport systems in Sydney lets talk about the Opal Card.

I decided to write this post because I found the whole Opal Card thing quite overwhelming when I first arrived in Sydney. Roll your eyes and call me old fashioned but pre Australia I lived in the countryside where we paid on board for buses and still bought paper tickets for trains. And I’ve also been driving for many years and unfortunately once you stop using public transport you become useless at figuring it out – I can’t be the only one?! 

So if like me you can be a little clueless to the systems then I hope you find this guide before you’re in the city and using the Opal Card for real!

What is the Opal Card?

Basically, the Opal Card is a pre-paid travel card that you top-up and then use to pay for public transport. If you’ve been to London and had an Oyster card then it’s exactly the same thing. 

Wynyard station in Sydney Australia
Wynyard Station is pretty special!

How to Use the Sydney Opal Card – Technical Aspect

Topping Up

The Opal Card is super easy to use. To top up your card simply go to any newsagents, shop, or station that has the Opal sign. You can honestly top-up anywhere in Sydney there are so many places that do it including the big supermarkets like Coles. The other option which I found so helpful is to top-up via the free opal app!

Download from the App Store or Google Play store, register the card and then top-up by using a master or debit card. 

Tapping On and Off 

The Sydney transport system works on a tap-on tap-off system. To get on and off public transport tap the opal card on the sensors at the train/ferry stations and on the reader as you hop on the bus. It really is that simple. When the balance is running low the reader will let you know that you need to top-up. If you run into a negative balance then the amount will be deducted the next time you top-up the Opal card. 

Now you know how to use the Sydney Opal card on a technical level there are few other things to keep in mind when getting around public transport using an Opal card. 

Initial Cost of Opal Card

The Opal card doesn’t cost but there is a $10 minimum requirement when you top-up for the first time. Honestly, you won’t get far on $10 in Sydney so top-up at least $20 to begin with!

It’s also worth noting that if you purchase an Opal Card from the airport the minimum top-up is $35! This is a total tourist trap if you ask me so don’t purchase until you get to the city! The train from the airport to city is a standard $20 so just buy a ticket from the airport! 

how to use the sydney opal card

Using a Contactless Card instead of an Opal Card as a Tourist 

Again, if you’re familiar with the London Oyster card then you’ll know you can now use a debit/master card on the underground instead of an Oyster.

There is that option in Sydney too. This is for sure an easier way to travel around in Sydney opposed to topping up the Opal card all the time. However, if you’re a tourist just get the card! Using an International card will occur international transaction fees. Sydney transport is already expensive enough without that extra cost on top! 

Alternatives to Using the Opal Card in Sydney 

If you really don’t want to buy an Opal card then you can buy a single ticket on buses and in stations. But these will be more expensive so I honestly recommend just getting a card on your first day and make it cheaper for yourself! 

The downside to the Sydney Opal Cards for travellers is that you can’t get the money that’s on the card back unless you have an Australian address/bank account. Keep an eye on your travel costs throughout the day so that you don’t top-up too much! But if you are on a working holiday visa make sure you claim any unused balances back from your opal card before you leave!

Fare Capping on Sundays in Sydney! 

Sundays are an important day in Sydney for public transport as all transport costs are capped at $2.70! This does mean that Sundays in Sydney are extra busy but worth it for the cheap travel! No matter if you use the Opal card or contactless the fare will be capped at $2.70. 

Other Budget caps on the Opal Card 

As well as capping the public transport fare at $2.70 on a Sunday the fares are also capped daily and weekly. The daily amount is $16.10 and weekly is $50 for your standard adult. Also if you make more than 8 journeys in one week the rest of the week is half price using the Opal card. 

Guide to the Public Transport in Service

Now you know how to use the Sydney Opal Card and everything else that comes with it, here’s an overview of the types of public transport available and the easiest ways to get around! 

Available Public Transport in Sydney 

Like most big cities in the world, Sydney has a fairly decent public transport system. I personally think it could be a lot better but that’s a matter of opinion. If Sydney had a tube system like London then I think it would make so many commuters very happy indeed! In Sydney, you’ll find the usual public transport options, trains, buses, ferries and the light rail (just another word they use for the tram – don’t ask me why!).

Sydney spent the last year rebuilding the tram system in the city centre. The first tram ran on the 14th of October 2019 so I’m sure it would be wise to expect some teething issues over the next few months!

The Sydney Train System 

a train in sydney
All Sydney trains are double-decker inside!

Sydney has a decent train system and I would say it’s the most efficient way to travel whilst visiting or living in Sydney.

The trains run very frequently throughout the city centre and to the suburbs daily so it’s easy to hop on the train to your destination. You’ll need an opal card to travel on the train in Sydney and once you know how to use the Sydney opal card getting on and off the trains is easy!  

The only downside to the trains in Sydney is that I don’t think they go far enough! For example, if you want to get to Bondi Beach you’ll have to get a train to Bondi Junction and then switch to the 333 bus to Bondi Beach which is a little bit of a pain! On the other hand, there has been talk about building a train station on Bondi Beach which has attracted a lot of backlash from the locals. I can understand why because Bondi and the area surrounding it is just beautiful but I do think it would help in the long run. Standing in line for the bus at Bondi is not fun and definitely not quick. 

The trains and most of the public transport in Sydney run all night which is brilliant for those out exploring until late at night or having a few gins down at the chic Bondi bars! 

Buses in Sydney 

The bus network in Sydney is actually very good. The only reasons I hated travelling on Sydneys buses wasn’t because of the service but the sheer volume of traffic. Honestly, Sydneys traffic is ridiculous to say that a lot of people don’t actually drive in the city centre! I get terrible motion sickness and there is so much stopping and starting on these Sydney buses. The other reason why I don’t favour the bus is that it does take a long time to get from one end of the city to the other, again because of traffic. But don’t let deter you from using them!

The Sydney bus service is very reliable and in my experience, the buses are always on time! The fare for the buses and trains is similar so it doesn’t matter too much which one you choose! The best thing to do is use some of the planning apps on your smartphone to help plan your transport routes! Keep reading for information on which Apps you’ll need in Sydney to get around easily!  

Tram 

Back in the 60’s the tram system in Sydney was halted and ripped out. That was perhaps one of the worst decisions the city made because now in 2019 it’s back up and running once again! The tram system or ‘light rail’ as they call it in Sydney now runs between the CBD and Kensington. The light rail was still under construction when we lived there so I can’t comment on it really but take a look at the official light rail website here for more information.

Ferries in Sydney

the commuter/public transport ferry in Sydney
This is the ferry you want to pay less!

As well as buses trains and trams Sydney also has ferries! The ferries are brilliant and offer some of the best views of the city so I highly recommend getting one at some point! The ferries are expensive which is the only downside. If you’re in Sydney for a Sunday then this is a great time to take a ferry ride when the fare is capped! Otherwise, fares on the ferries are usually about $7 upwards. The most popular and my favourite ferry journey in Sydney is the Sydney – Manly. The views are amazing and Manly should definitely be on your Sydney itinerary!

Fast Ferries: There are fast ferries available in Sydney and it depends on the company as to whether or not you can use the Opal card so check beforehand. The fast ferries are good because they get you from A to B faster but they are more expensive. You can easily tell the difference between the fast ferries and normal ones. The normal ferries are the huge yellow and green ones as photographed above!

Helpful Apps to Download in Sydney for the Public Transport 

Opal Card App – Download the Opal Card app if you’re in Sydney for an extended period. It’s easy to top-up via the app and you can keep a track of your weekly rewards. 

Google Maps – You can use Google Maps to get all the public transport information in Sydney.

NSW Trip Planner – This app is also helpful when planning your trips in Sydney and sometimes has a little more information than Google Maps if there are delays. 

Handy Sydney Transport Tips: 

  • For Bondi Beach the bus you’ll need is the 333
  • You cannot get the train to Manly or Bondi – you have to switch to the bus
  • The 333 also runs an all night service which is handy to know 
  • Sydney public transport runs on Christmas Day (crazy I know)! 
  • The ferry to Manly takes 45 minutes 
  • For the best views of the city take the ferry to either Manly, Watsons Bay or Rose Bay and sit at the rear of the boat outside 
  • The Sydney Harbour is choppy as! So if you get seasick be warned! 
  • If you sit at the front of the ferries you’ll probably get wet on a choppy day!
  • Your journey will take longer than it says because of crazy traffic 
  • Opal Card fares do not apply when travelling to the airport 
  • Kids under 5 go free! 
  • Students, Children/Youths and Seniors get discounted travel 

I really hope you found this post helpful and it makes your journeys in Sydney a little easier! Once you get used it and know how to use the Sydney Opal card then the system is really handy! If you’re on a Working Holiday Visa and have an Australian bank account then use contactless making it even easier to get around on the public transport! My biggest takeaway on getting around Sydney is to schedule enough time for traffic and always set off early!

Find more of my Sydney posts here!

If you did enjoy this post or find it useful then I would so grateful if you could share it! Thank you! 

Happy Travels, 

Alicia

Things to Do Indoors in Sydney, When The Weather isn’t On Your Side!

Things to Do Indoors in Sydney, When The Weather isn’t On Your Side!

Australia is renowned for its exceptional sunny weather and its true Australia has some of the best weather in the world. But much like everywhere else, contrary to belief, it does still rain and when it rains in Sydney, it pours. When it does pour you’re going to need to find things to do indoors in Sydney! Don’t get me wrong, Sydney in the summertime is magical. The beaches are some of the beautiful in the world. In fact, a lot of my favourite beaches in Australia were in Sydney. But when the heavens open it’s safe to say that beach days are off-limits in Sydney. In fact, the first day we arrived in Sydney, it chucked it down.

We’d just come from Queensland and experienced glorious sunshine for 3 months. Much to my dismay my first glimpse of the Sydney Opera House was through a condensated bus window. Chances are the weather when you visit Sydney will be perfect. But if you find yourself to be one of the extremely unlucky ones then here are some of the best things to do enjoy inside in Sydney! 

Quick side note: I naturally associate bad weather with ‘rain and storms’ in Sydney but let’s not forget about the days it’s too hot to go outside! We experienced some corkers during our year in Australia. 42 degrees Celsius and a humidity of 80? No thanks! When the sun is scorching take some respite and find things to do indoors in Sydney! Honestly, the Australian sun will burn you a lot quicker than you think!

Indoor Museums in Sydney 

Things to Do Indoors in Sydney – Go Inside the Opera House 

Sydney’s most famous and iconic building has to be the Opera House. It first opened its doors back in 1973 after 14 years of hard construction. The Opera House has been a staple landmark in the city of Sydney ever since. Even though the Opera House can be enjoyed for free from the outside and, believe me when I say you could literally just look at it all day, you can go in and enjoy the inside too. There are shows on every night on the stage, take a look at the timetable here. But seeing a show can be expensive. If you want to explore the inside for cheaper, enjoy a guided tour instead.

sydney opera house
I do LOVE the outside but the inside is pretty nice too!

There are actually so many different tours to choose from when exploring inside the Opera House. From the basic guided tour to a ‘tour and dine’ package or a ‘tour and tasting plate’. For most people visiting the Opera House, the standard tour will be exactly what you’re looking for. Learn all about the rich history behind the magic of this iconic build and how exactly it came to be. The views across the harbour are stunning from every single angle so bring your camera even on a rainy day.

If you do find yourself in Sydney on a perfectly sunny day the Opera House Tour is still awesome to enjoy. The standard tour only takes an hour and you’re bound to learn some facts about Sydney that you didn’t already know! The cost of the tour is $42 per person for a standard ticket so I admit, it isn’t cheap. But worth it if you’re looking for things to do indoors in Sydney and don’t worry I’ve got plenty of other free options in the rest of this post.

OR a complete guide of Free Things to Do in Sydney here!

You can take photographs inside the Opera House and in the auditorium but never when a show is taking place. If you a take backstage tour photography is not permitted there either. 

National Art Gallery of New South Wales 

Another great spot to check out, whether you’re into art or not, is the National Art Gallery of New South Wales. If you are into art I recommend finding at least a whole afternoon in your Sydney itinerary to fully enjoy the gallery, it’s huge! Located in The Domain in central Sydney it’s super easy to find from the Botanical Gardens, it’s actually signposted all the way through! The art gallery is magnificent from the outside in, the architectural aspect of the building is inspiring:

one of the best things to do indoors in sydney is to visit the new south wales art gallery as photographed here.
The Art Gallery of New South Wales – Image Unplash

The museum was established back in 1871 and showcases both 19th-century Australian art as well as modern and contemporary. It’s completely free to enter and enjoy the many exhibitions. There are some exhibitions that you need to pay for but you can have a glance at the website here to find out what’s on and what you might like to see. The one thing I’ll say about this Gallery is don’t expect to be able to do everything in one visit. Unless you’ve got a whole day to spend at there, which if you’re looking for things to do indoors in Sydney then you might, it near impossible to get around it all and enjoy it.

You can’t eat and drink inside the gallery but there is a cafe you can enjoy. All large bags have to be checked into storage beforehand, which is free. Cameras can be used but no flash allowed. 

The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

Located on the harbour front at Circular Quay this museum hosts the finest of Modern and Contemporary art in Australia. I must admit I’m not always a huge fan of the Contemporary arts but it’s a great place to have a wander around nonetheless and it’s indoors so you’ll be away from any bad weather! The museum only showcases the artwork of those that are still living, sounds morbid doesn’t it, but I actually think it makes it pretty unique. The museum holds over 4000 pieces of work so you certainly won’t get bored during your time inside! 

the contemporary arts museum of Sydney
The Contemporary Arts Museum of Sydney

If you’ve got a good imagination and enjoy edgy, colourful art then this might just be your place! You also get great views of the harbour through the long glass window panels too! If there’s one thing you should try do in a Sydney storm it’s watching it – those lightning bolts are incredible!!! 

The museum is free to enter which makes it even better!

The Museum of Sydney

If you want to learn about the city your visiting then have a look at the Museum of Sydney! This building is actually one of the oldest in the city! It was the first Government House in the city. Today you can learn about the history of Sydney and the European settlement inside the museum. The Museum of Sydney is located right in the middle of the city on Corner Phillip and Bridge Street so it’s super convenient. There is an entrance fee of $15 per person so really think about how much you want to learn. I would recommend the on of the Art Galleries over this spot! 

Hide Indoors in Cafes and Bars!

The cafe culture in Sydney is amazing. There are gorgeous little cafes popping up everywhere and it’s darn impossible to get around them all! Every time I walked through the city or a suburb I’d add a new cafe to visit on the list in my notebook. The reality of the matter is that even coffee is expensive in Sydney so cafe trips were kept to minimal during our working weeks whilst living in this vibrant city! Anyway, that said there are some cafes that you just have to visit in Sydney.

The Grounds of Alexandria 

Hands down everybody’s favourite cafe in Sydney. Honestly, if you don’t believe me then just go and do an Instagram poll or something! It’s the most beautiful cafe I’ve ever been to and before I went I honestly didn’t know if I’d like it. Unfortunately, like a lot of places, it was Instagram that brought my attention to this spot. I use unfortunately loosely because I do think Instagram does contribute to over-tourism in some places but that story is for another day! I’d seen so many photographs of people roaming around the gardens enjoying and photographing all it has to offer. But when you get there it’s so much more than a bunch of people posing for the gram. 

Cute decor in Easter 2019 at The Grounds!

The Grounds of Alexandria is more like a playground than a cafe. It honestly reminds me of something that belongs in Alice in Wonderland. The grounds first opened in 2012 with the idea of creating unique experiences that everyone can enjoy. It sends the imagination wild as it conjures up different themes throughout the year. For example, they’ll be a Christmas theme, summer theme, there was an Aladdin theme when the film came out etc. The Grounds create an experience for everybody to enjoy. When we visited it was Easter time so colourful easter eggs were everywhere.

But its defiantly not just about the decor there’s also 2 cafes and a flower shop inside. The cafes themselves are an experience with cakes to die for! Good to note: it’s definitely not just a place that looks good, the food tastes good too! I recommend going with a completely empty stomach as there’s often a doughnut trailer and other treats hanging around too! 

I wouldn’t recommend a trip to The Grounds in full on Sydney storm but it’s definitely good for when its a little drizzly and grey. 

Enjoy a Pint in the Oldest Pub in Sydney

Filled with character and those who love a good pint or schooner is the Oldest Pub in Sydney otherwise known as, The Fortune of the War. Located in The Rocks why not take a book and ignore the foul weather outside. It’s a great spot to get refreshed and enjoy some well-brewed beer. The Rocks, in general, is full of wonderful pubs you can hop between! 

The oldest pub in Sydney
The Oldest Pub in Sydney!

Try some ‘Middle Eastern’ Inspired Dishes at Shuk

Located on Mitchell Street in the heart of Bondi is Shuk. A cafe infused with tastes from the Middle East. What I love about this place is, it’s different. If you’re looking for a decent Avo on toast or Eggs Benedict then anywhere you turn in Bondi is almost guaranteed to have it on offer. Shuk is different which I love! Their food is also delicious and with space to sit both inside and out you can hopefully find a spot indoors on a rainy day. It is popular so don’t be surprised if you do turn up to a full cafe. But don’t sweat it, embrace the Aussie way of life and just relax elsewhere until a table turns up free.

Enjoy a Beverage at Opera Bar

Underneath The Opera House, you’ll find Opera Bar. The same kind of speaks for itself. It’s probably one of the most touristy bars in the whole of Sydney but it offers a drink with those incredible harbour views. You’ll find undercover seating and an inside area where you don’t get the views but you can keep dry or cool!

Things to Do Indoors in Sydney – Explore Bookstores! 

Sydney has some amazing bookstores and one or two double up as cafes making it even more worth it! Though I’m only going to share my two favourites there are heaps of bookstores to explore in Sydney come rain or shine! 

Gertrude and Alice 

An avid reader’s little slice of heaven on Bondi Beach. If you’re like me and easily get bored on the beach, unless I’m reading of course, then head up to Gertrude and Alice’s bookstore come cafe. The shelves are lined with every genre you can imagine, and the cafe does an excellent coffee and the tea is decent too – hard to come by in Australia, sorry. 

Either sit and enjoy a book with your hot drink or rummage the shelves for something to take away. Honestly, books cost a small fortune in Australia and if you look hard enough here you might find one that’s reasonably priced. In the UK we pay 7 GBP for a new paperback realise here on the other side of the world? You’re talking $30-40 15-20 GBP, to me it’s steep! 

Sappho Books and Wine Bar 

This is another little gem and a great thing to do indoors in Sydney. After checking out what titles they’ve got on the shelves, everything! Head into the cafe for coffee or wine and either read the afternoon away or play a board game! It was in this very cafe that Dave taught me how to play chess. And whilst I still have no idea what I’m doing it’s a very memorable afternoon that I treasure. The weather was crappy and it was just a blessing to spend time with each other away from the hustle and bustle of the city. 

If you only have 3 days or similar in Sydney you’re probably going to want to stick to the more ‘touristy’ areas of the city to make sure you see all it has to offer but if you have longer to stay definitely check this little space out in the suburb of Glebe! 

Green Square Library 

Green Square Library is a brand new state of the art library that’s opened up in Sydney, paired perfectly with a day at The Grounds of Alexandria as it’s just down the road! The architecture of the library is stunning and the reading room offers wonderful views. There’s also a very popular colourful backdrop that does make for great photo-taking too! The library is free to explore making it a great place to relax indoors in busy Sydney!

Scout out the Best Views of Sydney from Inside! 

Go up the Sydney Tower Eye 

Head up to the top of the Sydney Tower Eye for amazing views of the city below. There is plenty to do inside the tower from shopping and dining but the star of the attraction is seeing the city below! I recommend going up at night time if you do decide to because the city looks so much more magical when the lights are glistening! The observation deck is 250 metres above the city offering views for miles and miles! 

Tickets are cheaper online starting at $23.90 per adult. 

sydney tower eye
The views from up there will blow your mind!

Other Unique Things to Do Indoors in Sydney

Cork and Chroma in Surrey Hills

Honestly, I wish we had experienced this in Sydney! This is something I’ve come across very recently in Wellington, more on that after we’ve been to our class. Basically, grab a bottle of wine and some friends and let’s paint! These art classes are for anyone wanting to get a little creative on their next night out. Book online depending on which painting you’d like to have a go at and go along to the class. The company was created by husband and wife and has expanded all over Australia! 

Prices start at $30 depending on which painting you choose but that includes all of your supplies and canvas painting to take home at the end of the night!

Book your tickets here!

It’s a great way to get your creative juices flowing and I can’t wait for Dave and I to give a similar event a try in Wellington. I’m no painter but it’s all part of the fun, right? 

Indulge in the Shops in the Queen Victoria Building (QVB)

If you don’t like shopping then do not worry the Queen Victoria Building is somewhere everyone can appreciate. The QVB is my favourite building in Sydney by day and night. It was first built way back in the 1890s as a Municipal Market on a whopping scale. It was restored in 86 and to such a beautiful standard indeed. It’s one of Sydney’s most sought after shopping centres attracting people from all different walks of life. 

The Royal Clock in the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney
The Royal Clock in the QVB is certainly impressive and opens on the hour for all to enjoy!

Expect the designers, architectural buffs and tourists looking to watch the famous Royal Clock which opens and puts on a show every hour – A must-see inside the building. If you get the chance go back to see the QVB at night too as it’s lit up brilliantly and if you’re anywhere near Sydney at Christmas then you’ll want to go in and see the Christmas tree! 

Go Indoor Rock Climbing 

Okay, this list wouldn’t be complete with adding our true passion on the end! If you’ve followed me on Instagram or just here at Alicia Overseas then you may have noticed we rock climb, a lot. We’ve tried out all the climbing gyms in Sydney and we love Nomads Bouldering Gym in Glebe! Probably because its the exact style of climbing we love but there are plenty of others to choose from and the 9 Degree’s Gyms are very popular – they also have air conditioning which is exactly what the gyms need in the summertime! 

Explore the Indoor Things to Do in Darling Harbour 

Darling Harbour is a fun spot in Sydney with heaps to do but it can be very touristy, which why I’ve left it until last. There are plenty of indoor activities on the harbour like Madamme Tussauds and the Sealife Aquarium but I kind of think you can do those anywhere. But if you are looking to hide away from bad weather and aren’t too bothered about museums, books or anything else I mentioned above then go check the harbour out! Here are some of the best indoor things to do in Darling Harbour Sydney: 

  • Madamme Tussauds 
  • Sydney Sea Life Aquarium 
  • Australian National Maritime Museum 
  • Wild Life Sydney Zoo 
  • Powerhouse Museum 

Round-Up of Things to Do Indoors in Sydney

I hope that this post has given you a few ideas on how you can enjoy Sydney even when the weather may not be on your side. I have to admit Sydney is its best self when the sun is shining. There’s no better feeling than experiencing the beaches, Opera House and Harbour Bridge in the sunshine! But that doesn’t mean there isn’t fun to have! I highly recommend the Opera House Tour, Cafe/Bookstore Hopping, Rock Climbing and the Sydney Tower Eye! If you want to avoid the Sydney tourist traps then stay away from the Darling Harbour indoor actives I mentioned above – My opinion only!

If you did enjoy this post then I would really appreciate it if you could share it with your friends! I hope you enjoy Sydney and if you know of any other great things to do indoors in Sydney let me know! 

For more of my Sydney content take a look here!

Happy Travels, 

Alicia

Things to Do in Nimbin Australia – A Unique Hippy Village!

Things to Do in Nimbin Australia – A Unique Hippy Village!

Nimbin is by far one of the most interesting and unique places we visited during our time in Australia. Before embarking on our east coast road trip from Sydney to Cairns I had never even heard of this tiny hippy town. It wasn’t until doing my research on Byron Bay that I discovered this village and knew I had to visit. This post is all about things to do in Nimbin and why you should definitely take time to visit this village in the hills. If you thought that Byron Bay was the hippie capital of Australia then you’re sadly mistaken, Nimbin without a doubt takes that title! 

The Story of Nimbin

Before I dive into things to do in Nimbin let me tell you a little about the village and its history. You can find Nimbin nestled into the Rainbow Region hinterland just 43 kilometres west/inland of Byron Bay. If you are visiting Byron then I definitely recommend leaving an afternoon spare to visit Nimbin. In the past, Nimbin was attracted to loggers for the rich forests that surrounded the area. Those forests were quickly cleared back in the 1800s and the region was then used by dairy farmers but with the recession, the number of people living in Nimbin was falling. It wasn’t until Nimbin was chosen as the destination for a festival when things started changing for this small region. 

Main street in Nimbin
The main street in Nimbin is lined with gift shops

Aquarius Festival 1973 

In 1973 the Aquarius Festival would be the ‘party’ that would be the beginning of a great revolution in Nimbin. The festival attracted those interested in an alternative lifestyle, counter-culture some may refer to the people are ‘hippies’. The festival brought those passionate about the arts, music and perhaps most importantly sustainability to the area. Once the festival was over many decided to stay in Nimbin and create communes. And there begins to story of Nimbin. 

Over the years Nimbin has become one of the most famous villages in Australia. It’s done great things in terms of sustainability. In 1979 the community fought against logging in the nearby rainforest and in turn managed to save it as a ‘no logging’ legislation was introduced. Nimbin has since been the home to those seeking an alternative lifestyle, is the self-proclaimed drug capital of Australia and holds a heavy sense of community. 

Things to Do in Nimbin Australia

So, what exactly can you get up too in Nimbin? Well, the most exciting part about the village is honestly just observing what’s going on around you. I found the culture and vibrancy of Nimbin astounding. It’s probably one of the most colourful places I’ve visited in so long. We have a good habit of making buildings so ‘aesthetic’ these days. Lot’s of white and fewer colours fill our billboards and store signs. The streets and people of Nimbin are colourful and vibrant. These days Nimbin may be a little different to how it once was but not that much different. There is a heavy sense of love, community and still a lot of cannabis.

> Related: Things to Do in Byron Bay This Year <

Wandering the streets of Nimbin is one of the best things to do in Nimbin Australia
So colourful and vibrant!

The Best Things to Do in Nimbin Australia

  • Simply Explore the Main Street – Nimbin isn’t very big so you can explore the village is just a few hours. I think only spent three hours in total in the village. Walk along the main strip and find plenty of souvenir shops, the dye sellers. And a lot of people offering you cannabis cookies.
  • Nimbin Candle Factory – Take a look inside the Nimbin Candle Factory! The factory is located just outside of the village but certainly worth a visit. Pick up some unique smelling and looking candles whilst watching how they are made! Nimbin is actually a haven for picking up gifts!
  • Visit the Hemp Embassy– The Hemp Embassy was first established in Nimbin in 1992 as a non-profit organisation to help reintegrate cannabis into peoples lives and still runs today. They organise the yearly MardiGrass event in Nimbin as well as running a shop.
  • Clothes Shopping – Nimbin is tie-dye heaven so if you love wearing bright colours then this could be one of the best things to do in Nimbin for you! There are a variety of shops from upmarket boutiques to a cheaper alternative too. You’re bound to find something that you like. They also have the cutest children’s clothes!
  • Nimbin Rocks – Nimbin doesn’t just have the village to visit either! Nimbin is located in the hills and surrounded by unique and beautiful landscape including the Nimbin Rocks! The rocks formed after a volcano eruption millions of years ago. Though these rocks can only be seen from the world they add such character to the area.
  • Enjoy the Cafe Culture – Nimbin wouldn’t be an Australian village if it didn’t have its own cafe culture and you’ll find plenty of cafes. Full of culture in Nimbin enjoy a coffee whilst exploring to help out the local businesses who have made such an impact on the sustainability of the area over the years.

    > Related: Best Cafes in Byron Bay <
  • World Heritage List Sites – Another popular thing to do in Nimbin is to explore the nature that surrounds the village. Nimbin is built around an array of world heritage sites offering beautiful areas for bushwalking and waterfall chasing. The national [arks sat close by are,  Border Ranges National Park, Bundjalong National Park, Mebbin National Park, Nightcap National Park and Wollumbin National Park. The parks are unique to themselves so just click on the park for more information but getting out into nature is a great idea if you have more time to spend in the Rainbow Region!
  • Visit the Markets – Markets are held in Nimbin on the fourth and fifth Sunday of every month so they’ll definitely be worth checking out if you happen to be in the area on those weekends!
Shops in Nimbin Australia
Hemp Embassy in Nimbin

Is Cannabis Legal in Nimbin?

The question on everyone’s lips right? Well no, Cannabis is not legal in Nimbin but over the years there seems to have been a little bit of a blind eye turned towards Nimbin. In fact, there is actually a police station in the village! What I do know is that there have been more crackdowns when it comes to the police and use of Cannabis in Nimbin. But if. You do visit you will no doubt about it be asked if you’d like to buy some ‘cookies’. 

How to Get to Nimbin

You can easily drive from Byron Bay to Nimbin and I must say the drive is beautiful! The drive is just under kilometres from Byron taking just over an hour. Like I said before you don’t really need that much time to explore what Nimbin has to offer. I wouldn’t recommend trying to get public transport up to Nimbin as it could take you up to three hours!

Shuttle Bus – There is a shuttle bus that runs daily from Byron Bay but it is costly at $20 ONE WAY per person.

A better deal if you don’t have the luxury of your own vehicle might be an organised tour from Byron Bay up to Nimbin! Some of the popular tours with great reviews are:

  • The Happy Coach – A day tour from Byron Bay up to Nimbin and the surrounding hinterland including waterfalls! Includes Lunch.
  • Grasshopper Tours – Similar to The Happy Coach a day out in Nimbin and the landscape!

Where to Stay in Nimbin

Personally, I wouldn’t opt to stay in Nimbin. You only need a short period of time to explore the area and the bigger areas of Lismore and Byron Bay have much more to explore so it makes sense to stay there! Most people visiting Nimbin will stay in Byron Bay but if your looking for a cheaper accommodation option then Lismore may be cheaper as its less popular than Byron Bay and away from the coast a little.

The cost of accommodation varies in Byron Bay depending on the time of year. In high seasons they tend to hike up the prices because of its such a popular traveller destination. That said you can definitely find a room to fit your budget in Byron. There are a range of hostels offering dorm rooms and then heaps of more luxury hotels/villas if that’s what you’re looking for!

Nimbin Town Hall
The town hall was . my favourite building in Nimbin!

Accommodation Recommendations in Byron Bay

Our find time in Byron Bay we stayed at Suffolk Beachfront Holiday Park in Suffolk which I highly recommend – it’s right on the Tallow Beach and probably one of the cheapest options for powered sites in Byron as it’s slightly out the way!

Lodge at Discovery Park Byron – The second and third time we visited we stayed at Discovery Park which is in a great location. The sites are more expensive so try to stay unpowered but the lodges are beautiful. We stayed in a lodge during low seasons o actually got quite a good deal!

Booking.com

Sharing is Caring!

Either way, it’s quite easy to reach this Nimbin to enjoy all the great things to do in Nimbin. You can easily visit Nimbin on a budget especially if you’re driving – you really don’t have to spend any money at all because just wondering the streets is an experience in itself. You’ll be greeted by colourful houses and shops giving the town a very. Happy vibe promoting peace and love.

Nimbin is one of the most unique villages I've ever visited. If you think Byron Bay is the hippy capital of Australia then think again. Nimbin is famous for being a place people can go who are into an alternative lifestyle and counter-culture. The Nimbin community has made some incredible impact when it comes to protecting the neighbouring rainforests. In this post I'm telling the story of Nimbin and the Things to Do in nimbin Australia! #nimbin #nimbinaustralia #hippytravel #peave #love #happy

I hope you enjoyed this post on things to do in Nimbin Australia. It may only be a small village but it’s certainly interesting, to say the least! If you did enjoy this post then I would be so grateful if you could share it with your friends! 

Happy Travels, 

Alicia 

Australian Bucket List – 71 Places You Have to See/Experience!

Australian Bucket List – 71 Places You Have to See/Experience!

The great big Australian bucket list, everyone has one right? I sure did when we left the UK for a year in the sun. There was so much I wanted to see in Australia and there still is. One thing I found out is that one year is not enough time to see it all! What I also discovered a year later was that both Dave and I had managed to make our Aussie dreams come true and seen so much of this beautiful country!

In this post, I’m sharing the parts of Australia we loved and the parts we are still yet to see! I hope you enjoy it!

New South Wales – Australian Bucket List 

Sydney Opera House

No visit to Australia is complete without a visit to the Sydney Opera House. You can go right up to the Opera House for free or take a tour inside for a cost. Grab some food and drinks at Opera Bar for the best views in the city.

The Sydney Opera House must be on everyones australian bucket list
Seeing this building is such an experience!

2. The Sydney Harbour Bridge

You can see the Harbour Bridge from anywhere in Circular Quay but the best way to experience it fully is to walk or climb over it!

3. Bondi Beach

Sunbathe and swim in the sea on Bondi Beach just watch out for the sharks!

4. Walk from Bondi – Coogee

The most famous coastal walk in Sydney and for good reason it pretty spectacular. But if you don’t want to follow the crowds then there are plenty more gorgeous walks in Sydney which you can check out here! 

the views along the bondi to coogee walk
The spectacular views are endless from Bondi-Sydney!

5. Drink in the Pubs at The Rocks

Find Sydney’s oldest pub in The Rocks and feel like you’ve been transported to the UK as you sup a pint.

6. Spend an Afternoon on Milk Beach

For calm waters which make it swimming spot and gorgeous views of the city in the distance!

7. Explore Manly 

Manly is my favourite part of the Northern Beaches in Sydney. The Northern side of Sydney is beautiful and Manly is one of the most popular spots in the city. Manly will be busy but the beaches are worth it! Walk from Manly Beach round to Shelley Bay which is a great swimming spot in the summer

women sitting in the beach in manly australia
Taking a little break on the way to Shelley Beach!

8. Vissla Surfing Competition – Manly

I mean visiting Australia and not watching a surfing competition? They are so crazy to watch and so inspiring. I have no idea how they get so good but it’s pretty incredible! Take a look at the competition schedule in Sydney here!

9. Visit Watsons Bay

A cute bay with plenty of beaches, coastal walks, fish and chips and nude sunbathing if that’s what you’re into! 

10. Learn to Surf on Bondi Beach

Another experience you’ve got to have whilst in Australia. It’s mesmerising watching the professionals in the water but so much more fun trying to stand up yourself! We took our lessons with Let’s Go Surfing and I couldn’t recommend then more!

11. Hike in the Blue Mountains

Go hiking or photographing in the Blue Mountains one of the biggest UNESCO Heritage Sites in Australia spreading itself over 1 million hectares.

12. Spend the Weekend in Byron Bay

Hands down my favourite surfer town in Australia! Byron Bay gives off nothing but good vibes. Learn to surf, go hiking, watch dolphins or just relax on the beach! There are so many things to do in Byron Bay! Check out this post for more details on the best things to do in the bay!

13. Cape Byron Lighthouse Walk

If sunbathing on the beach in Byron is all you want to do then that’s great but make sure you at least do this hike too! It’s beautiful and you’re 99.9% likely to see dolphins on route!

14. Take a Day Trip to Nimbin

Nimbin is hard to explain. If you thought that Byron Bay was the hippy capital of the East Coast then you’re wrong it’s certainly Nimbin. You may get asked to buy ‘cookies’ on every corner so be prepared!

nimbin australia
One of the many rainbows in Nimbin!

15. Cafe Hop in Byron Bay

As well as the beaches, hikes and great day trips Byron Bay is also full of all these amazing cafes! There’s every cuisine you can imagine in Byron Bay so dig right in!

16. Day Trip to Lake Macquarie

This Lake is beautiful and so scenic! Wildlife watch and just enjoy a day full of nature! In summertime its great time to try your hand at paddleboarding.

17. Go to Newcastle for the Day

A smaller city just a couple of hours north of Sydney. Swim in the natural pool and enjoy a quieter New South Wales city.

18. Wine Tasting in the Hunter Valley

We took the iHop tour which was amazing value for money! We definitely left the tour with full stomachs and a little tipsy!

iHop wine tasting tour wine and lunch
One of the stops in the iHop Hunter Valley Wine Tasting tour .. yum!

19. Experience Sydney on New Year’s Eve

What an experience! New Year’s Eve in Sydney is one of a kind! Even though we sat in torrential rain for those fireworks it was 100% worth the time and money – I’d do it all again in a heartbeat!

20. Enjoy the View from Sealy Lookout in Coffs Harbour

Coffs Harbour is a great place to stop off on the way to Sydney. But if you do anything in Coffs Harbour drive up to Sealy Lookout and enjoy the view!

sealy lookout in coffs harbour
Sealy Lookout!

21. Visit Jervis Bay

Jervis bay is a popular weekend travel spot for those looking the escape the big city for a few days!

22. Visit the Queen Victoria Building

Australia is all about the beaches, we all know that! But there are a few good looking buildings around. The QVB in Sydney is beautiful inside and out!

New yers eve fireworks in sydney 2018
The photo doesn’t do how amazing these fireworks were justice!

23. Visit the Northern Beaches in Sydney

Sydney’s Northern Beaches are incredible! The best ones I recommend visiting are, Narrabeen, Manly, Dee Why and Palm Beach! Sydney has so much to offer other than the obvious Opera House and Harbour Bridge – make sure you add some time in the Northern Beaches to your Australian Bucket List.

Queensland – Australian Bucket List

24. Sail the Whitsundays

The best experience of my entire existence so far! Sailing the Whitsundays is one hell of an experience everyone needs to try in Australia! Find out more about our time sailing the waters here!

Whitehaven Beach a must do on any auatralian bucket list
The incredible swirls of Whitehaven Beach

25. Swim the Great Barrier Reef

Whilst it’s still got its colour and plenty of marine life to watch.

26. Explore Fraser Island

A trip to Fraser Island, the worlds biggest sand island, is another once in a lifetime experience I urge everyone to enjoy at least once! Take a tour so you don’t have to drive on the crazy sand tracks and enjoy some Australian history, perfect beaches and pristine lakes.

sunset on fraser island
Sunsets on Fraser Island are nothing short of incredible!

27. Lake Hop in the Tablelands, Cairns

The Tablelands in Cairns has some beautiful lakes to go swimming in! Visit Lake Eacham and swim with a crocodile (nope I’m not joking), kayak and paddleboard on Lake Tinaroo and enjoy lunch on the water at Lake Barrine. 

lake eacham national park
Pre-swimming in Lake Eacham!

28. Self Drive Waterfall Trail in Cairns

Cairns is full of incredible waterfalls and the best ones are just an hours drive away in the Tablelands. Take a look at this post for all the details!

29. Visit the Daintree Rainforest

Cairns is called the city where the rainforest meets the reef. So it would be rude not to visit one without the other!

30. Find the Curtain Fig Tree

It’s one huge tree that’s worth stopping at to be amazed at!

the curtain fig tree in australia
The impressive Curtain Fig Tree!

31. Sky Dive onto Mission Beach 

Mission Beach is the only beach in the world where you can land on the actual beach! We didn’t actually skydive but we did enjoy being the only people on the beach! Mission Beach is one of the most relaxing places on the East Coast! We enjoyed sunbathing and hanging off the trees a little like the monkey you see in the photograph below! Be careful when going in the ocean on Mission Beach. Marine stingers are found in the water and their sting can kill you – best not to risk it!

Mission Beach Australia
Hanging out on Mission Beach 😉

32. Visit Australia Zoo

Ran by the legend Steve Irwin’s family find some giant crocodiles and have the chance to cuddle a koala.

33. Camp with Kangaroos in Agnes Water 

Our favourite campsite in Queensland was Horizons Kangaroo Sanctuary. The owners rehabilitate orphaned and injured joeys before releasing them. They have created a small camping area with powered and non-powered sites to help fund the sanctuary.

34. Visit Noosa

Enjoy the coastal town of Noosa. Perfect for sunbathing, surfing, swimming in the Fairy Pools and shopping! 

Take a look at this post for everything you need to know about the Fairy Pools in Noosa!

35. Kayak the Noosa Everglades

The Noosa Everglades are beautiful so why not rent a kayak and enjoy them from the water!

36. Visit the Quiet Town of 1770

The second landing point of James Cook when he discovered Australia. There isn’t a lot in 1770 but it’s certainly a nice town for a walk. It’s just down the road from Agnes Water so you can do both in one day or over two days.

37. Sand Board on Rainbow Beach

Take a sandboarding lesson on Rainbow Beach or just take in the gorgeous views! Rainbow Beach is located about 30 km off the main highway down the East Coast but it’s certainly worth putting into your Australian bucket list!

38. Visit Brisbane

One of Australias most underrated cities. We lived for over 6 months, take a look at all my other Brisbane posts here!

39. Take a Day Trip to North Stradbroke Island 

North Straddie is the perfect day trip from Brisbane. Catch the ferry from Cleveland and enjoy gorgeous beaches, the gorge walk and in the winter go whale spotting! I have a full guide on how to spend one day on North Stradbroke Island here!

Cylinder Beach on North Stradbroke Island
Cylinder Beach on North Stradbroke Island

40. Eat at Eat Streets Markets in Brisbane 

Eat Street Markets is my favourite place to eat in Brisbane! Make sure that you plan your trip to the city on a weekend so you don’t miss out, the market is open Friday-Sunday every week.

41. Climb Mount Coot Tha in Brisbane 

One of Brisbane’s best hikes with amazing views of the city when you reach the summit! If you’re not up to hiking then don’t worry there’s a bus that will take you to the very top!

42. Take a Day Trip to Shorncliffe

Shorncliffe is a charming fishing town about an hour from Brisbane. The sunset from the edge of the jetty is beautiful! Wander the beachfront enjoying the views and maybe treat yourselves to some fish and chips! Shorncliffe is beautiful peaceful getaway from the busier Queensland cities.

43. Go Whale Watching from Brisbane

From June to November the humpback whales make their migration through Australian waters. We were so lucky to see a number of whales during our whale watching tour in Brisbane. 

This is the company we chose to go on our Whale Watching tour with and I would recommend them to anyone! We saw so many whales, they use a unique vessel to keep the whales safe and the food was great!

44. Visit the Gold Coast

The Gold Coast is home to some beautiful beaches. If you only have a short period of time to visit the Gold Coast then skip surfers paradise – there are far nicer beaches on the Goldie to enjoy! Some of the places to go on the Gold Coast are Greenmount, Nobby Beach and Burleigh Heads!

45. Go Up the Sky Point Observation Deck in Surfers Paradise

If you do visit Surfers Paradise then make sure you go up the Sky Point at sunset and watch the sun go down over the strip. Sunset is the perfect time to visit because you get to see the aerial view of Surfers Paradise in the daylight, at sunset and all lit up on an evening!

Book your tickets here!

46. Rent a Barbie Car on Magnetic Island 

Ever wanted to ride around an island looking out for Koalas in a barbie car? Well, now you can! If you have no idea what I’m talking about here then take a look at this website!

Victoria Bucket List!

47. Drive The Great Ocean Road

Did you know that the Great Ocean Road drive is actually a memorial to those who fought in the wars? It’s the biggest memorial in Australia and lined with incredible views. The sea cliff formations that mother nature has calved over the years is mind-blowing. 

48. Lunch in Port Campbell

Port Campbell is one of the most picturesque spots on the Great Ocean Road. The beach is divine and although a popular spot with tourists the town is actually pretty quiet. Simply enjoy – if you’re in a campervan full right round to the beach and park directly across from the sand. 

49. Find Melbourne’s Street Art

Melbourne is famous for incredible street art and you don’t have to go far to find it. ACDC and Hosier Lane are two of the most popular spots. 

> One Day in Melbourne Itinerary <

50. Shop or Eat in the Melbourne Laneways 

Grab a bite to eat in the cute laneways that give Melbourne its urban chic vibe. The only trouble is deciding where to eat!

51. Take a Day Trip to St. Kilda

St Kilda is a cute beach town just 10 minutes from Melbourne. Walk along the beach or hire a bike and explore a little more than just the beachfront.

> One Day in St. Kilda <

52. Watch the Penguins from St.Kilda Pier 

Every night at sunset Little Penguins come home to nest on the pier in St Kilda. We saw hundreds coming back from their fishing trip and it was such an honour to watch. This experience is free but please read all of the rules on this website before visiting!

53. Visit Phillip Island 

Phillip Island showcases a different side of Australia.  It actually reminded me a lot of Scotland and parts of the UK. Maybe its the lush greenery and choppy waters but Phillip Island was one of my favourite destinations we explored down under! 

> Unique Things to Do on Phillip Island <

54. Watch the Pelican Feeding in San Remo 

Ready for another Aussie wildlife encounter? Every day at 12 pm in San Remo the fishermen feed the Pelicans, it’s so mesmerising to watch and I’m telling you these Pelicans are feisty little buggers!

55. Watch The Penguin Parade on Phillip Island

Unlike watching the Penguins in St Kilda it is expensive to watch the Penguin Parade. That said it’s certainly a more ethical way to watch the Penguins coming home to their nests. We saw over 200 little guys make their way up the beach!

56. Spend a Weekend Hiking in The Grampians 

The Grampians is our favourite national park in Australia. It’s full of hikes and wildlife which are two of our favourite things to do whilst travelling! Check out my three-day itinerary to The Grampians here.

57. Visit the Surfer Town of Lorne 

Lorne is a surfing town at the end or beginning of The Great Ocean Road. It’s a sleepy town but if you want to live there then get ready to pay millions of dollars!

58. Visit Wilsons Promontory National Park

Wilsons Prom is a great place to stop off to explore on a road trip from Melbourne to Sydney. The scenery is beautiful and you can find both Kangaroos and Koalas in the park!

59. Find the Brighton Beach Boxes 

Brighton has some of the cutest beach boxes in Australia and probably the southern hemisphere! Though they are super fun to enjoy it has become a little bit of a tourist trap!

brighton bathing boxes
Our favourite box by far – if you’re new here Dave and I L O V E van life!

Australian Capital Territory Bucket List

We both ‘ummed and ahhed’ about visiting the ACT during our time in Australia. Canberra was somewhere we hadn’t really thought about visiting. Not because I didn’t want to see the Australian capital but because I wasn’t sure what there was to do there! Anyway, we made the decision to go and I’m so glad we did! It was actually a family we stayed with in Sydney who persuaded us to go and we were not disappointed!

60. Visit the Australian Parliament in Canberra

t would be rude to visit Australia and not pay a trip to the countries capital! Did you know Canberra was made the capital because the country couldn’t decide whether to choose Melbourne or Sydney as the capital!

61. Hike Up Mount Ainslie Lookout for Sunset 

Mount Ainslie towers over Canberra and it’s honestly one of the best sunsets we saw in Australia! You’ll also get to spot some kangaroos too!

62. Visit the National War Memorial in Canberra 

Pay your respects to those fallen at the National War Memorial and the building is pretty epic too!

All of the things on this Australian bucket list os far we have done! I can’t believe we’ve managed to enjoy all of these experiences. Creating this blog post has made me feel so damn lucky! But I must admit we are far from done with Australia yet. We only scraped the surface during our first year in the country.

So, below are the experiences that remain on our Australian bucket list! I can’t wait to return one day to see more of the land of down under but I don’t think it would matter how long you spent in Australia you could never see it all! 

The Rest of Our Australian Bucket List 

63. Visit Uluru

Known as ‘Ayres Rock’ or the ‘Red Rock’ situated in Australias Northern Territory. This was always pretty high on our Australian Bucket List but time just ran away with us and we didn’t make it!

ayres rock in uluru an experience on the top of my australian bucket list
Impressive right? Photo by Holger Link on Unsplash

64. Visit Perth

We visited 3/4 of Australia’s main cities with just Perth left and I’ve heard amazing things! I’d also like to visit Darwin too!

65. Perth to Broome Road Trip 

Photographs and blog posts that I’ve read about this road trip look amazing! In fact, the whole of Western Australia looks out of the world!

66. Visit Alice Springs

I would love to visit this remote town in the middle of the outback! It seems so far away from anywhere that I’d call ‘normal’ I think it would be so interesting to see how the locals live!

67. Wine Tasting in Adelaide

The Adelaide Hills are famous for the wine and I would love to get a tour around the best wineries! 

waterfall in cairns
Waterfall Chasing in Cairns!

68. Visit Adelaide

The City of Adelaide looks gorgeous too it reminds me of small cities in the UK from the photographs I’ve seen!

69. Tasmania Hikes

Basically visit Tasmania and hike everything in sight! 

70. Train Ride through The Red Centre 

I’m not a huge train fan but this journey looks incredible. Find out what I’m talking about here if you have no idea!

71. Visit Rottnest Island 

We all want that cheeky selfie with the Quokka! 

So at 71, I decided to wrap this post up. Australia is high up on most travellers bucket list and then all the experiences you can enjoy in Australia need a separate bucket list themselves! All of these adventures we had in Australia were some of the best I’ve ever experienced. I’ve conquered the fear of snorkelling (I was not a fan of deep water until Australia), I learnt that you can enjoy the many hikes and national parks without getting eaten by a shark, I learnt of flipping surf – the proudest moment of my life was when I stood up on that board!

Australia catapulted me out of my comfort zone on more occasions than one which is why I LOVE IT. Travel is about discovering new places, meeting new people, having new experiences and maybe even learning a little bit more about yourself along the way!

If you plan on visiting Australia then start making it happen and plan that Australian Bucket List! To help here are the rest of my Australia posts!

Happy Travels,

Alicia

Perfect Blue Mountains Day Trip From Sydney

Perfect Blue Mountains Day Trip From Sydney

A trip to New South Wales wouldn’t be complete without visiting one of its most unique UNESCO National Parks. Spreading over 1 million hectares, the Blue Mountains is an incredible place for lovers of the great outdoors. Though not my favourite National Park in Australia a Blue Mountains day trip is certainly worth doing! Whether you love hiking, photography or just want to drive around hunting for those incredible views, there is something for everyone to enjoy in The Blue Mountains Sydney.

We spent one night and two days in the Blue Mountains but for a lot of travellers, a day trip from Sydney is all they have time to squeeze in. Luckily you can see a lot in the Blue Mountains with just one day but to do so you will need to hire a car or go on a group tour of the Blue Mountains. But more of that as you read on! 

I’ve decided to split this post into three sections: 

  • One Day Itinerary in the Blue Mountains – my recommendations of exactly what to see and how to plan your day! 
  • Best Photography Spots in the Blue Mountains – If you love photography but only have one day in the Blue Mountains then you might want to hunt down the best spots to get that perfect shot. 
  • Unique Places to Visit in the Blue Mountains – If you like to wander off the beaten track then you might want to visit these unique places in the Blue Mountains. 

But before we get into these travel guides for a Blue Mountains day trip let’s get the logistics out of the way first! But before we start a quick disclosure; 

Some of the photographs you’ll find in this post will be stock images and all photographers will be credited in the caption. We spent a lot of time during our two days in the Blue Mountains taking epic photographs. Then my very old very sad laptop completely died and took all my photographs beyond the grave with it! It was honestly a tragic moment and I have since invested in a lot of back-ups for my photos! 

Where are The Blue Mountains? 

The Blue Mountains National Park is located 1 hour North West of Sydney. Even though it might mean getting up early it’s easy to drive up to the Blue Mountains for a day trip. If you’re on a road trip of the East Australian coast then I recommend stopping at the Blue Mountains either on your way in or out of Sydney depending on where you started the road trip. When we travelled the East coast for a month in 2018 we actually left visiting the Blue Mountains out. We knew we’d be staying in Sydney for 6 months so we had plenty of time to visit. In the end, it would’ve been so much better to have visited when we had our campervan – just some food for thought! 

Getting to The Blue Mountains for a Day Trip

For a Blue Mountains day trip the easiest way to get there is by car. We hired a car from the company Car Next Door in Sydney for a good price. The drive is only a couple of hours and it’s pretty straight forward. The Blue Mountains are very spread out and especially for those photographers out there if you want to find all the great spots in just one day then driving around is the best way. 

Car Next Door – a little more info 

Car Next Door is a really easy app to use. Basically, everyday people put their cars up on the website to rent when they don’t need it. You pay a total for the car and then like 19 cent per km for afterwards, it’s pretty cheap and you can have a membership for just $19 a month. There’s no talking to anyone required as the keys are placed in a lockbox by the owner which fits onto the car window. The instructions on where to pick the car up and drop back off are really simple! I highly recommend this app for renting cars in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane. A quick word of warning you do pay a deposit for your first hire but get this back 7 days later. 

Public Transport 

If hiring a car for your Blue Mountains day trip isn’t possible then don’t worry you can take public transport. There are a couple of ways to reach the Blue Mountains via public trains. There are a few different routes possible so make sure you check on Google Maps or Sydney Transport Website before you go which route will be best for your situation. The only thing you’ll be sacrificing on the trains is time. It’ll take just over 2 hours to reach the Blue Mountains by train but once you arrive it is quite easy to explore the different areas of the Blue Mountains by train. 

Day Tours to the Blue Mountains from Sydney

Planning a day trip to the Blue Mountains can be tricky. There is so much to see and when you’ve only got limited time to see it, it can be hard deciding which places are worth. This is one of the reasons why I decided to write this post! But if you really don’t want to mess around planning the day yourself or catching a train then why not take a day tour?

There are so many tour companies in Australia and a few tours running day trips to the Blue Mountains from Sydney. Obviously these tours come at a price but are a great way to this unique national park. There aren’t many places in the world where a blue haze fills the horizon! I’ve linked some of the most popular guides according to Trip Advisor right below! If you do decide to a day tour to the Blue Mountains from Sydney then I would recommend planning in advance especially in summer!

One Day Itinerary to the Blue Mountains Sydney

In this section of the post, I’m going to give you all the spots I recommend seeing during a day trip in the Blue Mountains. This itinerary is going from sunrise to sunset to make the most the only day you may ever spend in this gorgeous hinterland.

One Day Itinerary to the Blue Mountains – The Highlights: 

  • Echo Point 
  • Honey Moon Bridge 
  • Katoomba Falls 
  • The Yellow Deli 
  • Wentworth Falls
  • Evans Lookout 

Morning 

Set off from Sydney early in the morning. Get the car packed up the night before and rise before the sun comes up. That could be 5 am in Australian summertime but it’s worth the early rise to get to the Blue Mountains just after or as the sun is rising. We arrived at Echo Point our first stop in the Blue Mountains for about 8:30 and it was perfect. There were hardly any other people around and honestly an hour later the lookout at Echo Point was packed full of people! 

First Stop – Echo Point

Echo Point is probably one of the most popular lookouts in the Blue Mountains so I recommend getting there early. It’s located in the Katoomba area of the national park and offers panoramic views of the famous Three Sisters. The Three Sisters is a famous sandstone formation in the Blue Mountains and an important part of Aboriginal Culture in Australia. 

Legend tells the story of the three sisters as three women who were sisters that lived in the Katoomba Tribe. The sisters fell in love with three men from another tribe nearby but marriage between these tribes was forbidden. Them and the men refused to abide by this rule so the men captured the sisters. The sisters were then turned into stone. Of course, you’ll read many different variations of this tale but it’s certainly interesting.

three sisters lookout from above
One of the photographs I managed to salvage – I love how much you can see the blue haze over the landscape here!

Echo Point is also the gateway to Honeymoon Bridge and some great walks including the Prince Henry Cliff walk and Giant Staircase. We managed to get about halfway down the Giant Staircase during our visit but we figured what goes down must then come up so we decided against the rest of the walk as we didn’t have loads of time! I do recommend enjoying The Three Sisters Walk to Honeymoon Bridge though, the views are fantastic and the walk will take around 20 minutes! 

Katoomba Falls 

After spending some time at Echo Point take a quick drive around to Katoomba Falls. You can park for free next to the playground and then follow the short track to the lookout point. Katoomba Falls is a wonderful waterfall that cascades 150 metres down the cliffs of the Blue Mountains into the Jamison Valley. You can also watch the cable car that runs from Scenic World across the top of the national park. We didn’t do it but I can imagine that it’s a lot of fo fun with some incredible views! There are various other walks you can enjoy at Katoomba Falls but the Katoomba Falls Round Walk is perfect when spending just one day in the Blue Mountains. 

Katoomba Falls Round Walk

The walk will take about two hours so will bring you up to lunchtime.  The walk is a 4 km circuit so it depends how good at walking you are, you may be able to conquer it a little quicker. I think the walk took us about an hour and a half but we were taking photographs for a while at the smaller waterfall you can enjoy on the walk! If its summer you can also take a paddle. 

Lunch at the Yellow Deli 

The Yellow Deli is one of the most unique places we found in the Blue Mountains. It was actually a friend of mine who recommended this spot to us and I’m so glad we went! The food is great and the atmosphere of the cafe is incredible. The Yellow Deli is actually a chain ran any a family who started out in America. Their mission is to provide love and a network of people through the art and spirit of great food. You can read a little more about the history behind the Yellow Deli here! They also do AMAZING green bars too which you just have to try honestly you’ll be craving this healthy snack – if you do like it you can find the green bars at a few of these markets around Sydney: (yes, I became obsessed)!

  • Bondi Junction Markets (weekends)
  • Frenches Forest Farmers Market (Sundays) 

Afternoon 

Wentworth Falls 

Next stop is Wentworth Falls. Fletcher’s lookout provides an amazing view of these epic waterfalls (my favourite in the Blue Mountains). The Wentworth Falls track is another easy track I recommend enjoying during your Blue Mountains Day Trip. The walk is just 1.4 km so will probably take an hour depending on how fast you walk. The walk shows off incredible views and leads to the top of the great Wentworth Falls!

Evans Lookout 

Evans lookout was quite a surprise during our time in the Blue Mountains. Located in Blackheath this lookout was so vast and the scenery below so incredible! As we arrived at Evans lookout the sun has disappeared behind the clouds and the clouds were low. The thing about this was that the blue haze that fills the horizon was even more evident from Evans lookout! The national park isn’t called ‘The Blue Mountains’ for the fun of it after all. 

After spending some time at Evans lookout it’ll be getting close to sunset. The sunset in the Blue Mountains is wonderful and I highly recommend it if you don’t have to rush back to the city. Of course the weather in the Blue Mountains is highly unpredictable but hopefully, you get a beautiful day with an incredible sunset! Some of the best points for sunset are:

  • Lincolns Rock – Wentworth Falls 
  • Three Sisters
  • Hanging Rock 
  • Evans Lookout 
  • Grovetts Leap 

Choose a spot or just take a look at the #bluemountains tag on Instagram – I LOVE doing this to find great lookouts in places I’ll be visiting!

Getting Back to Sydney

Of course, if you’re driving it doesn’t matter too much about what time you set off back to the city. Just watch out for those kangaroos once it’s dark! If you take the train then you might not be able to stay for the sunset! 

The Best Photography Spots in the Blue Mountains 

Photo by Si Thu Aung on Unsplash
Photo by Si Thu Aung on Unsplash

The Blue Mountains is every photographer’s dream especially if you enjoy photography landscapes. The sunrises and sunsets on a clear day are spectacular and even in the middle of the day the Blue Mountains a great spot to photograph. A Blue Mountains day trip dedicated solely to photography would be amazing. In this section of the post, I’ve compiled some of the best photography spots in the Blue Mountains. 

  • Three Sisters – it may be one of the most popular spots but there is no denying the beauty of the Three Sisters. The way these rock formations tower over the valley is so impressive! 
  • Grovetts Leap – Watch the sunset over the valley and create beautiful images using the suns rays as they dip low. 
  • Hanging Rock – An Instagram favourite for sunrise! 
  • Lincoln’s Rock – Any time of the day would be amazing to photograph this spot but especially at sunset!
  • Mt Portal Lookout – Not only is Mt Portal a great place for photography especially the lookout but it’s also great for those who love climbing or abseiling! 
  • Scenic Skyway – Scenic world offers the cable car 270 metres above the landscape that is the blue mountains. Though most photographers won’t want to photograph through glass you could definitely capture some awesome shots from up there if you wanted to! 

5 of the Most Unique Places to Visit on a Blue Mountains Day Trip 

If visiting the busy Three Sisters and famous waterfalls don’t take your fancy then step off the beaten track. The Blue Mountains National Park is huge. There are so many small villages, bushwalking tracks, places to try adventure sports and other things that are a little more unique to explore. When we travel I like to do a little bit of both. 

wentworth falls in the blue mountains
The top of Wentworth Falls – Photo by Bee Balogun on Unsplash

I love seeing the landmarks that gave that destination their place in the world. I would never visit New York and not go and see the Statue of Liberty! But I also like to spend some time exploring different places too. It’s a great way to give back to the locals and just enjoy somewhere a little different and hopefully quieter! 

Visit Jenolan CavesThe Jenolan Caves are millions of years old and most travellers visiting the Blue Mountains don’t even know they exist! There are tours running in the caves which you can attend all year round. These caves not only some of the oldest in Australia but in the world! Take a look at the website here to look at booking a tour of the Jenolan Caves!

Explore Mount Portal – If you’re an adventure junkie then why not try rock climbing or abseiling in Mount Portal rather than hiking or taking photos all day?

Katoomba Street Art – Explore the town of Katoomba and you’ll find plenty of very artistic street art! 

Visit the Yellow Deli – As the only ‘Yellow Deli’ in Australia this place may be popular but it’s certainly unique to Katoomba!  

Take a Horse Riding tour across the Blue Mountains – There are so many farms out in the Mountains and many of them offer Horse Riding tours around the Blue Mountains which I think is pretty cool! 


    
        Booking.com

Best Time of Year to Visit the Blue Mountains?

I’d say anytime during the Australian spring is perfect! Spring in Australia is anytime from early September to November. Don’t get me wrong, the views in the Blue Mountains will be epic in summer with those clear skies. The photographs I’ve seen of summer are perfect, especially at sunrise and sunset. But summertime in Sydney is extremely hot and my idea of hiking in Australia isn’t in summer. Honestly, you spend more time sweating than enjoying yourself. Summer is also the busiest time for tourism in Australia!

In spring the temperature is perfect for hiking and there are fewer crowds. If you really want to avoid the crowds then visit the Blue Mountains in winter but it will be cold and they do get snow up there so just do your research and be prepared! 

Check out the Australian Tourism website for information about the best times to visit Sydney in terms of weather!

Sharing is Caring!

The Blue Mountains day trip is one of the best you can do from Sydney. After living in the big city for 6 months it’s so nice to have these beautiful places so close by. Sydney is busy and tourist-heavy it can be so overwhelming sometimes! But with the likes of the Blue Mountains not too far away, it’s easy and so refreshing to get out of the city even for just a day. 

I hope you enjoyed this post about taking a Blue Mountains day trip! If you did enjoy it then I would so grateful if you could share this post with your friends. 

Heading to Australia? Well, you might like some of my other posts on Australia which you can find here! Its the most beautiful country I’ve visited so far and will always hold a very special place in my heart! Make sure you sign up to my monthly newsletter (sidebar) to keep updated on where I’m heading next, life updates and the occasional travel freebie!

Happy Travels,

Alicia

The Best Cafes in Byron Bay & Other Places to Eat!

The Best Cafes in Byron Bay & Other Places to Eat!

Eating and travel go hand and hand. Anyone who disagrees with that notion, well we simply can’t be friends. Seriously though, wherever I go travelling finding good food always finds a place in my travel plans. Whether that’s finding the best street food in New York, best pasta in Italy or best triple chocolate muffin (David’s favourite) in the local cafes. Byron Bay is one of Australias most laid back surfer towns and so inspiring. As a creative, I could live on the shores creating my life away and of course, eating! So, in this post, I’m talking about all of the best cafes to eat in Byron Bay and other places to eat too! 

Please note this post may contain affiliate links. This means that I may receive a small commission if you book or purchase something through a link on this page at no extra cost to you – thankyou! 🙂

Byron Bay is the ultimate haven for all travellers. It’s hip, chic, urban, relaxing and perfect for everyone. No matter how you travel, as a couple, solo, as a family, you’ll find the perfect place to eat. Whether your a meat-eater or vegan there will be somewhere for you to indulge in! Byron also has some of the best chocolate brownies I have ever tasted. So get ready for some serious mouth-watering chat! 

The Best Cafes Byron Bay – In no particular order!

  1. Spice – The hole in the wall serving up some killer brownies. 
  2. Folk Cafe – Plant-based goodness served up just as you leave (or enter) the bay!
  3. Suffolk Bakery  – Take-Out coffee with a danish pastry or maybe some freshly baked bread? 
  4. The Pass Cafe – A perfect pit stop whilst enjoying the Cape Byron Lighthouse Walk 
  5. Mokha Cafe – Sometimes a bit of a wait but the brunches are so worth it!
  6. Fish Heads – The best place for fish and chips in town!
  7. Asia Joes – Authentic Asian cuisine hidden down one of Byron’s side streets that buzzes with independent restaurants! 
  8. The Sticky Wicket – Perfect for sports lovers or anyone who fancies some hot wings! 
  9. Miss Margaritas – Because Mexican is always a good idea!
  10. Balcony – Happy hour cocktails from 4-6 every day with a gorgeous outside area to people watch over everyone!
  11. Byron Beach Hotel – Perfect for some daytime nachos whilst nursing an ice-cold beer overlooking the beach!
  12. Bella Rosa – Seriously the best ice cream I have tasted, ever! 
  13. The Loft – Classy bar with a balcony overlooking the bay – pretty glam so put those glad rags on! 
  14. Byron Bay Sunday markets! 

Byron Bay probably has hundreds of cafes, take outs, bars, restaurants but these ones are definitely my favourites! We spent a lot of time in Byron Bay during our year in Australia and honestly I could move there tomorrow. So what makes the places the best cafes in Byron? Well, they are all different so if you want a little more information on them then keep reading! 

Where to Eat – The Best Cafes and Restaurants in Byron Bay 

Spice aka The Place with the Brownies 

There’s no point in leaving the best indulgent until last. Splice is literally a tiny cafe nestled in-between two other shops on the street. It serves up dessert treats and great coffees but the brownies are the main star of the show! Choose from an array of gorgeous flavours from white chocolate and raspberry, salted caramel, walnut and many more which I can’t remember – too busy eating! There’s no place to eat in as it’s just a small takeout area so grab a brownie and walk on the beach. The owners also have an adorable German Shepard in tow too so if that’s not a reason to stop by then I don’t know what is! 

Check out their Facebook page here!

Spice one of the best cafes in Byron Bay
Cute Right?

Mokha – Perfect brunch cafe!

Mokha is a great place for brunch in Byron! We’ve revisited every time in Byron so far! Its central location makes it a great spot to start off the day. The brunch menu is filled with pancakes, eggs benny, Acai bowls – the lot! The only thing about this place is that the last time we visited we did have a bit of a wait for the meal. But with such a central location it’s a lovely place to watch the world go by whilst you do wait. When the food arrived it was delicious as always. Something else just to bare in mind is that this cafe does get very busy so plan ahead and they only accept card payments over $10, which in Australia is easily done for brunch! 

Folk Cafe 

This cute little cafe has quickly become one of Byron Bays most popular cafes. Its location is a little strange so given the popularity not really says something about the place. You can find Folk Cafe on the main road out of Byron next to the Discovery Park camping ground, which by the way is a great camping spot for a weekend in the bay. Folk focus on plant-based eating and vegetarian meals. Even if you do eat meat this place is certainly worth checking out. I’m personally not a vegetarian but the brunches are gorgeous! The drinks are lush too, they do a great Chai latte. So even if you’re just staying at the campsite grab a drink to take away or grab one for the road on your way home. But if you can sit outside in this chic cafe and enjoy a relaxing morning. 

Folk cafe Byron Bay
Folk Cafe!

Suffolk Bakery 

Suffolk Bakery is a great cafe to visit whilst in Byron Bay. It’s more of a takeout cafe with a few tables outside but the coffee is great and pastries so yummy! It is located in a little way out of the town centre but. No more than a ten minute away though, if you take a trip a Nimbin then you can stop off on the way! There’s also a great campsite down the road from the bakery which is sat right on Tallow Beach – one of the best places for sunrise in Byron Bay! I recommend staying there is want a cheaper campsite than those closer to the beach.

The Pass Cafe 

The Pass Cafe is a little hidden gem in the hills of Byron. We came across it whilst hiking the Cape Byron Lighthouse Walk which is a Byron must-do by the way! The cafe does drinks and food but it’s a great place for a cold beverage before reaching the lighthouse especially on a hot summers day! Sit outside and enjoy the views across the ocean. Whilst at The Pass Cafe be sure to keep looking up at the area is surrounded by eucalyptus trees – the home of the fluffy koala! We saw our first wild koala in Byron Bay! 

Fish Heads 

Like a true Brit I think there is nothing better than walk on the beach eating Fish and Chips at the end of the day. Good fish and chips can be so hard to come by these days and in Oceania so can fish chips and curry sauce! It may sound gross but back in the UK, I lather the curry sauce on like no tomorrow. But in the absence of thick curry sauce, I’ll settle for gravy. But in Australia, even gravy is hard to come by at the chip shop! At Fish Heads in Byron Bay, I was very pleased to see gravy on the list of sides! 

But all jokes aside this chippy does the best fish and chips in Byron at a great price. For a takeaway Fish, Chips and Gravy is just $12 which in terms of Australian eating out prices is fairly decent! Fish Heads also have a sit-down restaurant but booking in advance is recommended especially on an evening. The restaurant is actually in a great location on the beachfront so you can watch the waves whilst you eat definitely, one of the best cafes to eat in Byron Bay. 

Asia Joes 

Byron Bay has a lot of Australian and American cuisines but if you fancy a taste of Asia then Asia Joes is the place to go. Located just off Johnson Street, the main Byron strip, Asia Joe’s is nestled in with a few other independent restaurants including the Cyprus Tree and Thai Lucy. Having eaten at both Thai Lucy and Asia Joes I think I have to give Asia Joes the best marks for Asian cafes! The masaman curry is perfect, definitely worth a visit during a trip to Byron Bay. 

The Sticky Wicket 

A little different to most other places on the list and definitely more of a bar than a cafe but still worth a place on the list. The Sticky Wicket is a great place for sports and music lovers. They play sports on the screens and often have gigs going on upstairs so it’s a strange mix. The best thing about this bar in Byron Bay is the prices! The happy hour consists of very cheap wine and $1 wings – pretty good deal! It’s a great place to visit whilst waiting for a table in some of the restaurants and cafes in Byron Bay.

The Sticky Wicket in Byron Bay
The Sticky Wicket

Miss Margaritas 

Miss Margaritas serves up some of the best Mexican in the world! Honestly, I’m not kidding the Mexican is so good. Every time we’ve been to Byron Bay there’s a queue out of the door, down the street and usually a wait time of up to an hour. But honestly, it’s worth it. Unfortunately, they don’t take bookings so it’s getting there early unless you’re happy to wait. If there is a wait when you arrive then it will be worth it. There’s plenty of bars and shops open late to hang around in whilst you wait or you can always take a stroll on the beach. Miss Margarita is more of a Mexican restaurant opposed to a cafe but the vibe is completely chilled!

Balcony 

Balcony Bar is another popular evening spot in Byron Bay. It’s a super nice bar with a great happy hour every day from 4-6. You can even enjoy $1 oysters if you really want it to. Balcony Bar is one of the more upmarket spots in Byron Bay so get dressed up and enjoy some great food and drinks! Though people do get dolled up for the evening it’s definitely more of a casual drinking place in the daytime. The Balcony that runs around the building looks over the town. 

Bella Rosa 

Ice cream at the seaside is a must-do and there is plenty of the places selling ice cream all over in Byron Bay. That said, Bella Rosa serves some of the best ice creams I’ve tasted. It’s super light with all of the rich flavours. The coconut or peanut butter are a few of my faves. Even after a big meal, these ice creams don’t leave you feeling bloated. Great for a hot day whilst enjoying the beautiful beaches. 

Byron Bay Beach Hotel

The beach hotel is on the corner of Johnson Street looking over the beach. It’s completely chilled out and the ideal bar for daytime cocktails and snacks! The nachos or hot chips are great to indulge in the middle of the day hiding from the hot sun! 

The Loft 

The Loft is a little like Balcony bar and definitely one of the nicest bars in Byron. We haven’t ever eaten here but the drinks are lovely and the view out onto the shops is lovely. 

Byron Bay Sunday Markets

The Byron Bay Sunday markets are on every week and have some awesome food stalls worth tasting! Choose from nachos, Moroccan wraps or maybe a healthy smoothie or juice! The markets host independent artists, fashion designers, foods and loads more! It’s a great market to have a look around even if you don’t want to shop or eat there! 

Check out the market timetable here!

Byron Bay Sunday Markets
The nachos are good!

So, I hope you enjoyed this post on the best cafes in Byron Bay. As well as some other great places to eat whilst relaxing in the best surfer town Australia has got! If you’re thinking about visiting Byron Bay then you might like my posts on ‘Things to Do in Byron Bay’ and ‘The Ultimate Weekend in Byron Itinerary’. If you did enjoy this post then I would love it if you could share it with your friends!

Happy Travels,

Alicia