Work life balance can be difficult to achieve in any job. As a full-time nurse, I often find myself being at work more than I’m home. Thus, When I am home, I’m often extremely tired from work. It can be easy to let our work life take over. After all, the majority of us have to work to continue living the life we currently love or to create a life we aspire to have. Research and the gurus of self-care suggest that to find a true work-life balance we must exercise ‘work’ that we love. This way, we won’t see going to work as anything other than doing something which we love. I know what you’re thinking, easier said than done right?
Finding a good work-life balance is a technique that can take years to achieve and I know many people who think it’s just about impossible. When I began travelling a year ago I wanted to make a healthy work-life balance the priority. The mission was to experience. I want to live, breathe and enjoy Australia whilst working to make that all possible to fund these some spectacular adventures.
So, what did I do as we set out on our journey down under?
Of course, I decided to start a blog!
Well, that completely threw finding any kind of work-life balance wild. I adore my blog but it is sometimes like work. I love writing, I could sit and write all day every day. The part I don’t enjoy as much is marketing and editing. So, yes I do view some aspects of blogging as work. So with a full-time job, a new country explore how did I manage to find a healthy work-life balance? Not with ease, I assure you that!
It’s taken me almost a year of blogging to get the balance right and that has a lot to do with my mindset and what I want out of my blog. In this post, I share some of the strategies that I’ve adopted which have helped me keep my blog alive whilst balancing a full-time job AND travelling Australia (call me superwoman)!
I thought I’d format this as a list so that I don’t go off babbling on a tangent! I hope you enjoy it and if you have any other tips on how you juggle your full-time job with a blog or other demanding side hustle/hobby – let me know I could always use extra guidance!
Strategies I Use to Achieve a Healthy Work-Life Balance
1) One Post at a Time
This is the most valuable lesson I have learnt since founding Alicia Overseas. Prior to Australia, I had travelled to the West Coast of America. So, for some crazy reason in my crazy mind, I’d decided I needed to write about those destinations first. I have no idea how I even came to this conclusion. As a result, I was stuck writing five posts at once in the early days! My energy at that time was all about Australia and I was so excited to write about this new country I was discovering more of each day.
For some bewildering reason, my brain was spoiling all the fun by screaming, STOP! Don’t forget about all that USA content to produce first – crazy I told you! Anyway, it didn’t take me long to shake this habit and it’s one I’ll keep forever. Some people won’t dig it but for me, putting all my focus on one post at a time makes me so much more productive. This way I’m not worried about the 4 other drafts I have saved that I know need finishing.
PS I still haven’t written much about my time in the USA but it’ll come!
2) Plan Posts in Advance
The internet is full of do’s and don’s when it comes to blogging. As beginners, we read every article we can get our grubby hands on. Some blogging queens say that planning is everything and others swear by writing when you feel inspired. When it comes to creating content for your blog the truth is no one can tell you how to do it.
For months I struggled to keep on top of creating content and I really didn’t want a calendar for my blog posts. I wanted to write about what I wanted when I wanted. I managed to create like this for a while but when I started to ‘up my blogging game’ I started publishing twice a week (and found a huge spike in traffic as a result). To find the inspiration to write two blog posts a week and maintain a healthy work-life balance with my full-time job AND travels I realised I needed a schedule.
At the start of every month, I now write out the blogs that I want to publish then spread them out over the course of the month. Sometimes I know specifically what the blog post will be about and other times I simply decide only on the destination that I’ll write about. By using this simple planning technique I’ve managed to spend less time deciding what to write about and just doing it and quite well too. Planning posts in advance is a huge must in my opinion, especially if you’re looking at posting more than once a week. Of course, life often gets in the way and the schedule changes but I’ve learnt that that’s okay too. This simple plan I make is just a guide to refer back to as the month goes on. I hate calling it an editorial calendar as that just sounds WAY too official!
3) Don’t Try to Do Everything
Put your hand up if you’re guilty of this one? If you’re that then I’m not quite sure I totally believe you! We often find ourselves wanting to be the best at everything so. We want to try to do everything and do everything well! In terms of blogging that may come down to a few things. Social media, the actual blogging itself, becoming a blogger, writing a course, starting a facebook group, the possibilities in this blogging world are endless. But if we continue to try to do everything all at once we’ll end up doing nothing and have zero work-life balance.
Take social media. When I first started blogging I opened a social media account for every platform and tried to build an audience on each one. I’m talking, Facebook, a Facebook Group, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube and honestly it was damn right exhausting. When I finally decided to take a step back and realise what I was doing wasn’t helping my blog, but hindering it, a lot changed.
I now swear by putting your energy on the platforms you enjoy and bring you the most results. Make sure you only choose a couple at first – this is crucial!
I currently focus mainly on 3 platforms, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram. I do have a Facebook page which people can like but I don’t really put too much of my time into it right now. Pinterest brings me the most traffic so obviously, I spend a lot of time with it. I also enjoy Pinterest so that gives me so much more motivation to get stuck into the platform. Twitter is my fave for genuine connections and conversations. I don’t need to put much effort in with Twitter because the community within is already effortless. It’s a place where there is no competition, friendly banter and supportive bloggers.
Instagram, meh I have love and hate relationship with it – who doesn’t! I don’t particularly like the way Instagram works. Personally, I don’t like how it gives most of its credit to influencers that have thousands of followers and feeds full of glossy photographs. I keep my Instagram real with some gorgeous photos of my travels. These photos include Selfies, Landscapes and a whole lot of different colours. If to grow on Instagram I need more than that then I am simply not interested. Honest travel is what I’m about and I think Instagram advertises a lot of ungenuine travel without realising it.
For now, I only focus on these 3 platforms because I’m not 100% there yet when it comes to having a solid marketing strategy. For me, these 3 platforms give me enough work to focus on. Any more time on social media would see me again losing the current work-life balance that I’ve created around my blog.
Top Tip: When launching a blog sign up to all the social media platforms so that nobody else takes the name! Remembering that just because you signed up doesn’t mean you need to use it right away.
4) Schedule as much as possible for more Work-Life Balance!
I talked a lot about scheduling tools in my previous post on resources for travel bloggers so, I’m not going to talk about the actual platforms I use.
What I will say is that scheduling in advance makes a huge difference in achieving work-life balance. As a blogger, I can schedule so so much in advance which is incredible! I try to write my blog posts 1-2 weeks in advance. I sometimes do it a month in advance if I’m feeling like wonder woman, and schedule them for posting. This means if one week I don’t manage to write anything I’ve already got posts ready to go! I also schedule and plan social media.
Each week I set aside some time for scheduling for social media, mainly Pinterest. By creating a pinning schedule each week it means I can spend less time on the platform and more time writing or with my family. I also like to plan Instagram in advance. By that, I mean collecting the photographs I want to share over the next 3 days – 1 week.
When it comes to Twitter and Facebook I usually schedule a couple of posts sharing a blog. I don’t like to schedule too much, especially on Twitter, because I feel like it’s more of a conversational platform. Scheduling for social media doesn’t take long usually one morning or afternoon during the week.
5) Find Work-Life Balance by Deciding what you want from your blog
Deciding what you want from your blog is huge when it comes to finding a work-life balance. Especially, if you’ve still got a full-time job which is most of us! Blogging is a wonderful world and so often when we realise how much income we could make from it, we all decide we want to quit our jobs and live on blogging. Wanting to take a blog full time is a great goal and mass achievement when it happens but to get there, we’ve got to be prepared to do the work. Look at like this, if you worked at your day job for 4 hours a week would you get paid the same? Probably not, I know I wouldn’t. So if you only spend 4 hours a week on your blog how you can expect to see growth and eventual income? You always get out what you put in.
Also, don’t be afraid to want to keep blogging as your side hustle or hobby. So many of us think you need to want to go full time with a blog. This definitely isn’t the case and blogging with a full-time job does have its benefits! Ellie, from The Wandering Quinn, wrote a blog post about this a few years ago and I still refer back to it now. Ellie talks about the positives of being a travel blogger with a full-time job and I must admit I agree with so much of the post! Read the post here!
6) Focus on the right things instead of time-wasting on the wrong
Answer me this. How many of you have sat at your computer and changed your theme 1000 times? In the process spending 12 hours a day getting it right? Or spent hours one end editing photographs for Instagram? These things may be somewhat important for a blog but they are not the be-all and end-all. When I first started blogging I spent hours making it look all pretty wasting valuable time when I could’ve been writing. I used to think to make a website look nice was important for people to take me seriously. But of course, the most important part about blogging is writing.
Procrastination takes form in so many different ways but making changes to your blog, that don’t really need to be made, instead of writing counts! Time is valuable, so spend it on the most important aspects of your blog. After all, if you have great content the rest will follow.
As someone once said to me, if your content is decent then it wouldn’t matter if you had a black and white blog in font New Times Roman – wise words to remember folks.
7) Make sacrifices
Finally, I want to talk about making sacrifices. Running a blog with a full-time job is hard work. There’s no way to sugar coat it so I’m not going to try. All of the above have made a huge difference in finding my a good work-life balance. BUT, the ultimate factor that allows me to spend time on my blog is the sacrifices I make. In order to blog I know, I need to set time aside in my week to do so. I’m lucky in the sense that I work twelve-hour shifts so I work 3-4 days a week nursing and then have at least one full day to blog/do things associated with the blog. This then cuts down my actual days off to even less but I love writing this blog so it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make!
This year I’ve turned out nights out and social events so I can blog. I must admit it took me a long time to make these sacrifices. I thought that people would think I was crazy. Why would I not want to enjoy time with friends or family just so I could sit at my computer and write something, that quite possibly, nobody would ever read? Well, the reason is that I enjoy it and it makes me so damn happy! What other reason do I need? I love blogging so I make time for it – simple.
PS People do actually read it too 😉
This list may be short but these seven things have helped me so much when it comes to blogging alongside my full-time job. You have to learn to prioritise. If you really want your blog to work then you need to put in the time. Of course, you can use tactics like scheduling and using time wisely but ultimately it comes down to the same saying we hear again and again. You get in what you get out. Unfortunately, if you do have a full-time job plus a blog then you’ve got your work cut out! Trial different schedules and see what works for you.
Maintaining a great work-life balance is possible but it all depends on you and how you want to spend your time. If blogging is going to take way too much from your social life and you’re not okay with that then maybe rethink what you want from your blog. Is it a hobby? A place you go to unwind and feel connected or somewhere you want to earn a living? Think hard about it because these factors will influence how you manage your time.
Kiki from The Blonde Abroad also has a great blog post on tips she gives on running a blog full time. I also refer to this post time and time again when I lose my way! Read it!
Do you have a travel blog?
Or any other blog for that matter! I’d love to connect and hear how you manage to fit in having a full-time job with a blog! Let me know in the comments below or send me an email at [email protected]!
The End of My Mini-Blogging Series!
As I hit publish on this post I’m aware that this is my final post in this mini-blogging series I’ve been writing! In case you’re new here, Alicia Overseas turned 1 in May! To celebrate, as well as getting a new logo, I decided to write four blog posts on my first year blogging and this is the final one! I’ve actually enjoyed writing about my blogging journey more than I thought I would! But the question I would love you to answer is have you enjoyed it? This won’t be the last ever ‘blogging’ post that I share. But for now, I’ll be focusing solely on travel and a little nursing. So let me know what you’ve thought!
Everybody has to start somewhere. We all come into this world with no idea how it all works. As humans, we learn to evolve and adapt to our environment. Discovering how to walk, talk, eat, read, write, draw even going to the toilet had to be learnt. Learning is a way of life which is why I don’t understand why we think we should be perfect at something before learning about it. I have a feeling everybody reading this is guilty of just wanting to fast track and be good at ‘that thing’ you’ve been working on, right away. The truth is life isn’t like that and it’s something I’m only just grasping myself, especially it when it comes to blogging.
Throughout my first year of blogging, I made mistakes, failed at things and carried on going! This post isn’t a pity party more a reflection of what I’ve learnt after something didn’t quite turn out well.
Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. Therefore if you purchase something through a link on this page, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you! Thank You 🙂
Rookie Blogging Mistakes I Made in My First Year
If this is your first time here then you may want to check out this page and then my first post in this mini-blogging series. Alicia Overseas turned 1 last week so throughout the whole of May I’m sharing some of my blogging experiences from the last year. My first post in this series talks about What I’ve Learnt after One Year of Travel Blogging, click here to read it first.
Blogging has become a phenomenon over the last few years. People say it’s fading out and being taken over by social media but I have a feeling there will always be room for blogs. Blogs are about the people behind them and the world loves people and their stories. With the digital world ever expanding more and more of us are turning to blogging as a hobby or even a career. With so many of us now writing on the internet, it can be overwhelming as a new blogger. There is just so much information out there! So, after one year I’m reflecting on the blogging mistakes that I hope you won’t make.
Blogging Mistakes I made in my First Year
Taking it back to the start I can see how many blogging mistakes I made before my blog even went live. I was so excited at the prospect of starting my own blog. It had taken years of courage to actually put fingers to keyboard and decide to start Alicia Overseas. So, of course, I just wanted to get started right away, I bought a domain, got all of my social media handles and was ready to go. I chose a free WordPress theme and hit publish…and so it begins.
Not Having Posts Ready for Launch
To most reading this it may seem like such an obvious point not to follow. You read so many blogs on the internet that tell you to have at least some blog posts lined up to post when you first go live. Some say 5 some say 35 or even more! But this I didn’t do. I mean let’s be honest here I had no idea what I was doing. So after creating a semi-cute looking blog I hit publish and realised I hadn’t written anything yet.
It didn’t take me long to start writing, my mum and I had just been to New York so I had all that material to work with. I started writing posts but once you publish one people want to hear more so you have to keep writing. When I first started Alicia Overseas I thought writing posts would be easy. I had no idea that one blog post might take a full day or even a full week sometimes. So at the start, I found myself posting weeks apart, making it really hard to gain a trusting audience from the get-go. I was also moving to Australia the following weeks after starting my blog – Great timing Alicia!
My biggest advice when it comes to launching a new blog would be first to create a website that you like aesthetically. Then have at least 2 months of posts already written that way you can get straight into marketing your blog from the start rather than writing the content. Of course, the content is the most important part of a blog but it actually takes the least amount of time. If nobody knows about the blog you’re writing on then how will they know it exists? That’s where marketing comes in, especially via social media!
Caring What Others Thought of Me – Blogging Mistakes
I briefly touched upon this subject in my previous post but I have a hunch that I’m not the only one who’s done or thought this! When I first began Alicia Overseas I tried with all my power to hide it from my friends. I didn’t mind telling my family and partner because I was sure they would support me. My friends, on the other hand, I wasn’t so sure. I knew which ones would be supportive and which ones would roll their eyes and laugh. Probably says more about them than me.
The truth is it wasn’t just my close circle of friends I was afraid of. It was other people around me, my colleagues, acquaintances and people who I had yet to meet. What would people think when I tell them, I have a travel blog. My fear was that they would laugh and think who does Alicia think she is to have a travel blog and post all about it on social media. So I hid it for as long as possible. This meant not sharing it with the people in my life who love me but strangers behind a screen.
Because of this, I LOVED Twitter in the early days (it’s still my favourite social media platform) none of my pals had Twitter so I knew I could hide safely on there! As a result, I did manage to find a fabulous #traveltribe community who I now see as my friends. But I neglected the other platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. In the long run, I don’t think it did my blog much harm and I now have a well-engaged audience on Instagram and Facebook but it would’ve been better to have started building relationships immediately.
So, did they care?
As for the friends and other random people? Well, my friends have supported me. Sure there are a few who never read my blog but there are the others who read every post and share every post! Your friends and ‘real life’ circle of people are going to be amazing at spreading the word about your blog which we all need in the early stages! It’s blogging mistakes like these that get me the most. Not because I didn’t market my blog right away but because I was hiding something I was proud of!
Be proud of what you are creating and tell the world!
My Top Tips for Social Media in the Beginning
Whilst you’re drafting up your backlog of posts mentioned above start being active on social media. Find where your niche hangs out, get to know other influencers in that area, follow their blogs and start interacting. Tell people what you are creating and when they can expect a live website. It will give people an idea of what to expect from you and probably give your blog a great boost in traffic at the start 🙂
Save this post so you can come back to it some time!
Blogging Mistakes – Getting Stressed About Instagram
Instagram, Instagram, Instagram, who doesn’t have a love-hate relationship with this platform? As the second biggest social media site in the world and over 1 billion active users every month as bloggers we just can’t ignore (even if it’s all we want to do). Don’t get me wrong I know some bloggers who refuse to use the platform and still do well. But it is a great platform to get exposure on. The key is to not get too immersed in the ‘games’ that people play on Instagram.
When I first started my Instagram account I was able to grow quicker than I ever thought but I was a little obsessed with it. Posting every day, trying to learn about editing tools such as Lightroom and run a new blog. It was honestly exhausting. As soon as I hit 2,000 followers I was stagnant for months. No matter what I did my for every one follower I lost 10. If you have Instagram then you’ll know what I’m talking it, it can feel pretty demoralising.
I stressed about Instagram for months and was putting all my energy into it, neglected my blog. This is probably one of my biggest blogging mistakes I’ve ever made. It wasn’t until I listened to Mollie Bylett, from Where’s Mollie, at the World Travel Market which you can find on YouTube, that my relationship with Instagram and social media changed. Yes, Instagram can be a great way to make money and collaborate with brands BUT what happens one day when Instagram, or any other social media platform, disappears? Like MySpace did? We may have moved on in the digital world since MySpace but It could still happen. Social Media could be there one day and gone the next. And when it does go, what happens to you? I really want you to think about this.
Social Media could be whisked away from beneath our feet your blog can’t. Alicia Overseas is mine and the only person who can take it from me is me. So that is exactly where I put in all my hard work and this is what successful bloggers will tell you. I now put more energy into my blog, SEO and then use social media to market Alicia Overseas. I’m much happier from it and my blog is better than ever! I’ve found that my social media following has increases the more I put into my blog. Don’t let this be your biggest blogging mistake if you have or a starting a blog then focus on the blog the most.
Make sure you don’t miss out on anything here at Alicia Overseas by subscribing to my monthly newsletter. Once a month I send a round-up of my travels, what’s been going on blogging wise and what’s coming up next!
Blogging Mistakes – Not Learning SEO from the START
Search Engine Optimisation, the single most important thing to getting ranked on Google. I’m going to into the technicalities of SEO because I’m only just grasping them myself. The best kind of traffic you can get to a website or blog is via a Google Search. This is organic traffic. It shows 1 that people are searching for your blog and 2 that you’re answering a question that people are searching for. Making sure that each post is optimised from Google is so important when trying to gain traffic to your blog.
Creating an SEO optimised post involves searching for keywords, looking at other blog posts on that topic, individually naming photographs, back-linking, alt text, meta description, the list goes on. You may find conflicting information about writing for SEO on the internet because some people like to write in a story format. When you are writing for SEO then you want to be informative so Google can see that you’re answering a question that someone needs answering. For example, in terms of SEO, this post probably won’t do that well.
My advice is to learn SEO before writing posts for your blog! There is so much valuable information out there that you can at least start learning the basics before starting to write your posts. If not you may find yourself trudging through old posts to make them more SEO friendly – ME!
These resources have helped me so much when it comes to understanding SEO:
Make Traffic Happen by Gemma and Laura – check out their website for free tips and their eBooks. The Facebook group Make Traffic Happen is also so so valuable when it comes to learning SEO. It’s a real community where people are out to help each other understand SEO. Join Here.
I know that this is one of the biggest blogging mistakes that a lot of bloggers have made at the start of their blogging journey. There is an illusion that you need to have a big following or a lot of traffic to start using affiliate links! You don’t. In case you don’t know an affiliate link is when you link to a product or service, if someone buys through that link then you earn a commission. This could anybody who reads your blog so all you need is readers. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t a fast money maker and it takes gaining trust from your audience before bloggers see consistent income from affiliate links. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start linking your favourite services and products from the start – you never know what could happen!
I’m starting to get more and more clicks on my affiliate links the more my traffic at Alicia Overseas improves. I wish I’d learnt and incorporated affiliate links into my posts from the beginning of my blogging journey. To find out if a brand has an affiliate programme just type it into Google. For example, ‘FitBit Affiliate Programme’
Spending Money on Unnecessary ‘Blogging Courses’
Blogging Courses, do you need to take one? Well, that’s up to you. So many bloggers out there who start with no knowledge and build a brilliant empire through self-teaching. YouTube is my number 1 go to when I can’t figure something out on my blog – usually the technical stuff! There is a vast amount of free knowledge on the internet it’s just about filtering through the rubbish. You definitely do not to spend money on a blogging course to start a blog.
I’m not going to go into too much detail but at the start of the blogging journey, I bought a course which promised all the results. They gave a great sales pitch and I bought it. What I later found out what that it was much more of an affiliate marketing programme than a blogging platform. Basically, their claim was that you can blog full time by making money selling their course. Well, I didn’t want to do that, I wanted to learn how to create my own empire not sell someone else’s! Long story short it turned out to be a complete waste of money! I was sworn off blogging ‘courses’ for the seeable future.
But I did end up buying another…
There are so many other courses out there that I’m sure are amazing. Last year I was at a point where I didn’t know whether to continue my blog. I didn’t know if it was growing fast enough, that I’d ever become good enough to grow and inspire people to travel the world. So, I decided to reach out to a well-known blogger in the travel industry, Jessica Festa who runs the blog, Jessie on a Journey. I didn’t know what I was expecting when I reached out but I couldn’t believe it when Jessie personally replied to my email!
The email was heartfelt and so supportive, she knew what I was feeling. She gave some pointers and gave me the option to buy into one of her courses. This email wasn’t a sleazy sales pitch and it wasn’t all she spoke about. It was a simple, hey try this out and see if it could help you. She even offered me a huge discount for the first month of her Travel Blog Prosperity membership course. I wasn’t sure, I’d already lost money before but the more I research and read the reviews Jessie had I decided to go for it. It’s now the only blogging course I’ll ever take. From SEO to working with brands, monthly workbooks, affiliate market training this course has taken my learning to the next level.
You do not need a blogging course but it can be beneficial but I know it has been for me. My biggest advice is to do your research. Ask around, look at reviews and ALWAYS reach out to the creator of the course before opting in. A lot of people are out to help others but a lot are just out for themselves too. So just be careful.
If you’re just starting out in this crazy blogging world then be kind to yourself. I’m talking about these mistakes one whole year on, I’m able to reflect but by making these mistakes doesn’t mean I failed. Enjoy the ride and learn on the way. I thought I’d share one of my favourite quotes before writing off this post:
Share this post to Pinterest so your friends can enjoy it too!
There you have it my 6 biggest blogging mistakes I made in my first year. I hope that this post has inspired you in some way. Either to do some more learning before going in all guns blazing or, if you’re an established blogger maybe a gave you a smile as you thought ‘me too’.
Either way, I would love to know your thoughts about these mistakes and share some of your own if you wish! I’d love to continue this conversation in the comments below or you can always me at [email protected]. If you enjoyed this post then I would love it if you could share it for others to find!
Next week I’ll be talking all about what blogging resources have helped me in my first year of blogging!
Well, I can’t believe we’ve made it one year, by ‘we’ I’m referring to myself, my laptop and gorgeous readers like you. If you’re reading this on 5th of May 2019, which I hope you are, then its officialAlicia Overseas has been up and running for one whole year. This also means that Dave and I have been in Australia for almost a year. But if you’ve been following our journey for a while then you’ll already know that (because it’s all I’ve been talking about) but if you’re new then you may want to start here and then come back to this post.
To celebrate my journey of becoming a blogger over the last year I’ve written a little blogging/personal series. I’m going to be talking all about one year of travel blogging. So as well as my recent travel posts I’ll be posting one extra post every week for the next month because every birthday should last the whole month right?
After one year of travel blogger, one thing is certain, I’m more organised so I can already tell you what post’s I’m going to be publishing in this mini-blogging series:
What One Year of Travel Blogging has Taught Me (this post)
I guess I wanted to write it all down myself so in another 3 or 4 years time I can look back at the first-ever year I started doing this and see how far I’ve come! So I figured I might as well share some of that with you guys.
What One Year of Travel Blogging Has Taught Me About Blogging
Starting Alicia Overseas
In this first part of the post, I want to talk about what my first year has taught me about blogging itself. Let’s rewind a to over a year ago when Instagram was just starting to blow up with influencers and I started paying more attention to bloggers. I’ve probably always read blogs but had no idea that’s what they were. In fact, most of the search results that we get in Google are in fact blogs. I probably consciously started reading blogs, mainly about travel, about two and a half years ago. This was the time when I had just got serious about visiting Australia. I was pouring all of my spare time into researching the land down under.
That’s when I found two blogs that inspired me above anything else on the internet. Where’s Mollie by Mollie Bylett was the first ever blog that I sat and read from ‘start to finish’. In other words, I stalked the blog until I had read every page! I remember being fascinated with the empire that Mollie was creating. Of course, she had heaps of information on Australia too which was amazing for me! I also read This Battered Suitcase by Brenna Holman and found myself in awe of these women who were travelling the world and inspiring others to do the same.
I thought it was pretty damn amazing and I was bursting with a feeling of wishing I could do something like that. Of course, my mind took over and I knew that of course, I couldn’t do that. I had a list of reasons why I really couldn’t be a blogger it went a little like this:
not travelled enough, not enough time, no one cares what I’m doing, my real friends would laugh at me, not pretty enough, nobody would get it, I don’t have the money, people are already doing it so why does the world need me – the list could literally go on and on.
So with all these doubts why did I decide to start Alicia Overseas?
Well, in April 2018 I found myself with a skin condition called Gianotti Crosti Syndrome. A rare autoimmune reaction to a virus. My skin broke out in what I can only describe as chicken pox-like spots that turned out to look like cottage cheese under the skin from head to toe – GROSS. Even though it wasn’t contagious, as a nurse I found myself unable to go to work for 8 weeks! For someone who is used to working full time eight weeks off work is a hell of a long time to sit around waiting for these spots to disappear.
We were due to land in Australia just two months later so I threw myself into my research and of course found myself reading blog after blog after blog. I began to wonder, again, if I could ever start something like that? I’m about to move to Australia so I’ll definitely have something to talk about and I would love to inspire and educate other people to travel the world. So with all the time in the world on my hands, I thought to sod it, I am starting a travel blog!
And so Alicia Overseas was born!
It wasn’t that simple though. Even deciding on a name took me what felt like FOREVER. I had thought of so many other names before I settled on Alicia Overseas. Postcards from Oz, Us Around the World and Letters from Down Under were all big contenders. But none of these options felt personal and I soon as I wrote Alicia Overseas I knew that was what I was calling my blog. It’s simple and speaks for itself. I’m Alicia and my blog is about travel, therefore, me being overseas, just in case you needed it breaking down 😉
Since that day that I decided to embark on my travel blogging journey, it has been a rollercoaster. I thought starting and running a blog would be easy! Write about places I’ve been or would like to go and readers will come flocking right? Wrong. Oh, I have never been SO wrong about something before.
So first here’s what one year of blogging has taught me about the ‘science of blogging if you like’
What I’ve Learnt about Blogging after One Year
Blogging Isn’t Easy
Running a blog is bloody hard work. In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that having my blog is like having a second full-time job. Before I started I thought that it would be easy. Write, put it out there and people would just look at it. I had no idea the amount of work that number one goes into building a blog and two what goes into promoting a blog. I mean I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. If you don’t advertise something then how is somebody going to know about it? It’s the same for blogging, you have to build an audience and promote your blog so that people actually know it exists!
The amount of work that goes into every single post is insane. From the writing, the editing, choosing the photographs, editing the photographs, optimising SEO, promoting the post and then starting on the next one! If anybody ever tells you that starting a blog is easy then they are not being truthful. That said I wouldn’t have it any other way. This blog is my baby and something that I’ve created and built myself. Every ounce of hard work that I put into this blog I do with an endless amount of love because I love the joy it brings me.
Financial Investment is Necessary
I know a lot of people struggle with this one. When I first started Alicia Overseas a year ago I was saving all the money I had to go to Australia. Putting any kind of money into my blog hadn’t crossed my mind. I had no idea that you had to pay for a domain, a blog theme, security for the blog, hosting! In all honesty, I didn’t really understand what these terms meant. Luckily, I had done a little research so I knew that buying my own domain was important and as was hosting – which is where I learnt one of my biggest blogging lessons!
Like most of us when starting something I was after the cheapest of everything. I opted to host my site with iPage because they were cheap. I’m not going to go into it but after months of a very slow site and other issues I opted to change to Site Ground – this was only recently and since my site speed has increased dramatically as have my page views!
If you’re looking to start a travel blog then my advice to you after one year of travel blogging is do your research. Find out which hosting platforms bloggers are recommending instead of just going for the cheapest. Always start off self-hosted. Self-hosted basically means that you own your domain and can have a .com or .co.uk handle after your blog name.
For example, aliciaoverseas.com opposed to aliciaoverseas.wordpress.com – it’s more professional in case you want to turn your blog into more of a hobby in the long run, which if you stick with it you probably will!
Starting a blog for free is possible. But be prepared to invest some money into your blog especially if you’re serious about blogging. Think of it this way. If you were starting a business then you would pour some investment into it so think if your blog like a business from the START. It took me a while to accept and get my head around treating my blog as a business. But once I worked on that mindset it paid off big time – More about this in next week’s post!
If you don’t have a blog or website then I can guarantee you won’t have ever heard of SEO. I certainly hadn’t. Search Engine Optimisation is what SEO stands for. When it comes to blogging you need to know all about it! Making your posts SEO friendly basically means getting your blog ready to show up on google. Organic traffic from Google is the best traffic for a blog. This is called organic traffic. Therefore there are aspects of each post like keywords, alt text, headings, linking that all contribute to SEO and making sure you have the best chance of showing up on that first page of Google.
When I first began writing my blog I found so much conflicting information out there about SEO. Some bloggers say you need it and some say you don’t. Eventually, after one year of travel blogging, I realised just how important SEO is. Now one year on, my blogs are slowly starting to appear on the first page of google! I now have three posts that come up on the first page which for me is an amazing achievement. If I’d have known how much technical jargon I needed to learn a year ago I probably would’ve run for the hills!
But that’s the thing about having a blog, you’re always learning.
Presence on Social Media is paramount (and yes your ‘real’ friends will find out)!
Deciding to start a blog was such a huge decision for me never mind having to tell my nearest and dearest about my new venture. Of course, my family loved the idea of being able to follow our travels online but I was terrified about how my friends would react. We live in a society full of judgement and envy.
As humans, we love to judge others. Who do these influencers think they are to be travelling the world, taking great photographs to post on Instagram and show off? Our lives are surrounded by people who think like this and I have many a friend with this mindset! Luckily, for me, most of my friends were supportive of the blog whether they understood it or not. Prior to telling my friends, I tried to hide my social media presence so my friends wouldn’t find out but ultimately it turned out impossible!
Being present on social media is paramount when having a blog. It’s a great way to connect with your audience, find your audience in the first place and let people into your life beyond your blog. I’m learning that people love people and things like authentic Instagram stories go a long way when creating lasting relationships with people online.
So, tell your friends what you’re up too. They will most likely support you and enjoy reading your blog! So many of my friends share my posts and tell others about my blog. It gives me so much more confidence to know my pals are supportive! And at the end of the day if they are true friends then they’ll support you. If they don’t then they aren’t worthy of your time or friendship.
What I’ve Learnt about Myself after One Year of Travel Blogging
I could go on about more aspects of blogging that I’ve learnt or had to learn this year like coding, building an audience, affiliate marketing, link building. The list goes on and never ends! BUT what I want to talk about now is what I’ve learnt about myself in after one year of travel blogging because I have learnt so much about myself that I never knew before!
I Really Can Stick with Something
Confession time! Ever since I was younger I’ve had a habit of starting things and never finishing them. Or deciding to explore a new hobby and not giving it enough time before deciding it wasn’t for me. So when I started Alicia Overseas I’m sure lots of people around me thought I wouldn’t stick at it, including myself. And believe me, over the last year there have been times when I’ve thought about giving up but I haven’t. I’ve stuck with my blog all year and I’m so proud that I didn’t give up after the realisation that blogging is hard work. I love the space that I’m creating and I can vision a big future for me and my blog.
The Fear of Not Knowing
After one year of travel blogging, I’ve learnt that one of my biggest fears in life is not knowing something. That can be anything from not knowing how to do something on my blog or in my nursing work not knowing a certain condition. I’ve learnt through my blog that the easiest way to fix this fear is to find out. I know it might sound simple but in the past, I often dwell on the fact that ‘I’m not good enough’ because I don’t know something. I would beat myself up about it rather than seeing it as a positive opportunity to learn about what it is I don’t know!
Recently I updated a plugin on my blog and lost two articles in the process. Luckily, I had saved these onto my computer but I still had links to the previous posts all over social media. So, instead of stressing out about not knowing how to fix it. I researched and learnt how to redirect my old links to the new ones! If you’d have asked me a year ago about link redirecting or plugins I wouldn’t have any idea what you were talking about. Though my technical knowledge is still extremely minimal I’m trying to learn new skills that are going to be positive for my blog and sometimes personal life too.
Before starting my blog I didn’t have a creative outlet. I’ve always loved to read but other than that I didn’t feel like I had any other creative outlets and I didn’t think I needed them. But when I started writing for my blog I felt a happiness and sense of self that I hadn’t really felt before.
I picked up a camera and felt sheer joy from being out in the world taking photos. I started to draw again, simple drawings like designing a logo for my blog and experimenting with little doodles of places we’ve been visiting. Since starting Alicia Overseas I’ve been more creative than I ever have before. As a result, my heart and life feel so much more whole for it. I find myself wanting to learn and perfect skills I already have. If it wasn’t for this blog then I don’t think I’d have found these creative outlets that are bringing so much light into my life.
Confidence is always something I’ve always struggled with, as I think everybody does. That said, I feel like I’ve taken a turn in the last year. My blog has thrown me out of my comfort zone so much and each time I’ve reached an obstacle I’ve got through it. I’m slowly learning that in life you have to believe in yourself otherwise who is going to? As a new blogger, I thought nobody would read my stuff, nobody would care about my travels and I always thought people would think my blog was rubbish.
If I thought these things about myself then, of course, other people would! If I didn’t even believe in myself or my blog then why would anybody else? Since I’ve started believing that I am worthy of a great blog and that my content is bloody good, great things have happened.
When I Started Believing in Myself…
My traffic has increased, my audience has grown and my personal dreams for Alicia Overseas are getting bigger by the day. I wholeheartedly believe that this is down to me and only me. The moment I started believing in myself is the moment I saw a shift in my blog. The way I blog changed and what my blog was bringing me also changed. Sounds a little spiritual I know but it’s true. I still have a long way to go in terms of self-belief but this year my blog has made me believe in myself more than I ever have before.
So I guess you could say I’ve learnt a lot after one year of travel blogging and I can’t wait to share the rest of this mini-blogging series with you.
One Final Note…
When you find something in life that you love, do more of it and make into something amazing. No matter what anyone else thinks! There are tonnes of people who think I’m sad for spending my days off writing this blog. But I love it, so does it really matter what they think? A year ago it would but now it doesn’t.
Alicia Overseas may only be tiny but I know the next year is going to be big. I have dreams and hopes to create my own little travel empire! Who knows maybe one day I’ll even run my own tours or write a book based on my travels – BIGGEST DREAMS EVER! But for now, I’ll be continuing to nourish my little space on the internet. Hopefully, continuing to inspire and educate people like you to travel the world!
Happy and Healthy Travels,
PS If you’d like to buy me a coffee to celebrate Alicia Overseas turning one then you can always pop $1 or two into the PayPal account [email protected] 🙂
If you enjoyed my post then please let me know in the comments and share it with your friends! If you know a new blogger who may be struggling with their new blog direct them to this post. It might just help them out!
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Hidden deep in the hinterland of the Atherton Tablelands lay some of the most beautiful waterfalls on the East Coast of Australia. There’s something about waterfalls that gets my adrenaline kicking and the sudden to jump in and feel the water is strong. If chasing waterfalls in Australia is on your bucket list then Far North Queensland has you covered. From natural water slides at Josephine falls to the picture perfect Millaa Millaa, the Atherton Tablelands is the place to catch your next waterfall fix!
With over ten incredible waterfalls to experience and only 48 hours in the tablelands, it’s no surprise we didn’t manage to jump in them all! We did, however, create our own little self-drive waterfall tour that I’ll be sharing with you today! We managed to spend a fair length of time in each of these waterfalls in just one day! So this guide is perfect for those who don’t have a lot of time to spend in this gorgeous part of Australia.
Top Tip: Pencil in as much time up here as you can. The Atherton Tablelands scream’s natural beauty and peace, it’s a far cry away from the backpacking hustle over in Cairns and actually one of my favourite places we explored on our East Coast Road Trip! If true nature is what you’re looking for then look no further.
I like to call the Tablelands my hidden Queensland gem. Of course, it isn’t hidden at all and is popular with visitors to Far North Queensland. Despite my in-depth research into the Australian East Coast, I mean one-year planning and reading every blog post on Australia kind of research! I just didn’t seem to come across the Atherton Tablelands very much and I guess I completely forgot about it!
It wasn’t until one of my work colleagues in Brisbane was raving on about how much we have to go visit. As in ‘this place will literally change your life’ that I started looking into the Tablelands a little more. All I have to say is thank you, Vanessa, because we loved it! I can’t wait to share my ultimate guide on the Atherton Tablelands with you guys soon!
No time? Save this article for later!
But first back to stunning waterfalls! We visited three breathtaking waterfalls on our Atherton Tablelands self-drive waterfall Trail. It may not sound like much but if you’ve ever driven in Australia you’ll know how far apart everything is! Any more than three waterfalls on this day and we’d be rushing around, spending more time looking at the road in front of us rather than these natural splendours.
Atherton Tablelands Self-Drive Waterfall Trail
Before we get started if there’s one tip I can give it’s if you have a car or camper van then visits the waterfalls yourself! There are plenty of tours that offer waterfall tours from Cairns up to the Tablelands but there’s nothing like going at your own pace! We saw a couple of tours come in and out of the waterfalls and honestly? They really didn’t get much time to splash around and enjoy the water at all! They were in, took a few snaps, a quick dip and were off to the next place! I’m sure there are some brilliant tours out there but for us driving it ourselves gave us way more freedom and time to explore!
Atherton Tablelands Self-Drive Waterfall – Driving From Cairns
The Atherton Tables sits about an hour and a half inland from Cairns and about 50 miles or 80 kilometres. But obviously, you’re going to be taking a lot of detours to the falls. This round trip from Cairns to the waterfalls and back again will set you back almost 300 Kilometres so staying overnight after you finish the trail is by far your best option! Especially If you don’t want to be driving at night – which trust me in Australia you don’t! Besides, the Atherton Tablelands is home to some astounding lakeside camping that you’re going to want to check out!
First Stop, Josephine Falls
I remember this day and the feeling I got when we approached Josephine Falls like it was yesterday. The excitement that flowed through my veins was unimaginable. I had never seen anything like it. Both Dave and I were completely speechless, eyes wide opened staring at the beauty in front of us! Josephine falls is made of up three pure freshwater pools, the water is amazingly clear and I’ll warn you extremely cold! Located in Babinda it’s only around an hour from Cairns. See the map below for clear driving instructions!
Stop Off Point: As you drive out of the city and to the falls you will cross signs for ‘Babinda Boulders’ which is another great tourist spot that if you have time you should totally stop off at! We, unfortunately, didn’t have the time but when I got home and googled #babindaboulders on Instagram I was pretty gutted we didn’t get a glance!
Getting to Joesphine Falls
The walk up to Josephine Falls from the car park is a mere 700 metres which will take you through the rain forest. There is an easy path to follow which leads you up to the falls. The walk is actually lovely but watch out for those huge spider webs lurking in the trees! Once you arrive at the falls you’ll find three main lookout areas, for each stage of the waterfall! I recommend heading straight to the top, you get an overview of all the pools which are simply stunning. The best place to get your photographs is up here! Once you’re looking down from above you’ll probably be itching to join everyone else in the water! I literally couldn’t wait to get in!
Swimming in the Falls
Okay, so yes you are allowed to swim here at your own risk of course! There are no crocs so you’re not going to get eaten but I urge you to be very careful! Josephine Falls is made up of boulders which lay underneath the water surface. When these get wet they become very very slippery! You need to go extremely slowly when navigating around the falls! In the end, I found the best way to get around inside the falls was just to dunk right under and let the current take you!
Important: As much as I urge you to have fun in the falls you must read the warning signs! Josephine Falls is susceptible for flash flooding and when the waterfalls are flooded swimming is out of bounds. Over the years fourteen people have died because of going into the falls when they weren’t supposed to! So follow the signs and just be careful.
That said you’ll have an epic time swimming in these waters, I honestly had to pinch myself, I couldn’t how amazing this experience was! The top pool is extremely high and out of bounds for swimming but the bottom two are great to have a splash around in! There’s a small beach area where little ones can enjoy some shallow water! But the main attraction, drum roll, please…
Is the natural water slide! Granted this wasn’t built by nature intended to be an epic slide for us humans but that’s what it’s turned into. The last pool at the falls over the years has become famous for people taking to the small waterfall and you guessed it, sliding down! This was so much fun! You can see the video below for some hilarious video footage!
Don’t be fooled by how slow it looks on video – I was terrified!
Boring Bits! – Josephine Falls
Seen as the Atherton Tablelands is quite remote I thought it would be handy to let you know what facilities are at each of these waterfalls! Josephine Falls is really accessible with wheelchair access all the way to the viewing areas. It also has all the main facilities, toilets, water, picnic areas, and BBQ areas. Unfortunately, no camping is allowed in this National Park! See more on the facilities here!
Josephine Falls was 100% my favourite waterfall of the three that we visited! We spent almost three hours here, soaking up the sun and letting out our inner adventure! If you’ve been to Josephine Falls I would love to see your photos and if you’re going I would love to see them too! Make sure you subscribe to our mailing list in the footer and use the hashtag #aliciaoverseas on Instagram so I can see the fun you get up to here!
The next stop off on our waterfall chase was Millaa Millaa Falls, about an hour from Josephine Falls, 80 kilometres. You can find a map and clear driving instructions below. The walking route from the car park to the waterfall is easy but does involve stairs. If you are unable to negotiate stairs then follow the signs to the coach car park which takes you all the way down to the waterfall.
Now you may have heard of or in fact seen Millaa Millaa falls in a couple of places. On the television and all over Instagram. Millaa Millaa falls was where the famous Herbal Essences Advert came to life, you know the one where the drop gorgeous gals are flicking their hair in the waterfall like it’s the most natural thing to be doing! So yes, when you arrive you will be surrounded by Instagrammers trying to recreate the image! Lucky for you I don’t like to follow the world so I didn’t try my luck, instead, I went in the whole hog and swam right underneath the falls!
Swimming is also permitted at Millaa Millaa.
Again, a little like Josephine Falls the water is freezing and getting into the falls is quite difficult because of the slippery rocks at the surface! The water is also a lot less clear here and the place its self gives off a totally different vibe, think hidden in the tropical rainforest! In whole, Millaa Millaa was pretty beautiful.
Boring Bits! – Millaa Millaa Falls
Millaa Millaa has all the basic facilities that you would need. Including toilets, changing rooms, and picnic benches. Unfortunately, there is no fresh drinking water here so make sure you’re stocked up before arriving. Go here for more information on that!
Now the one thing that you simply cannot go without on this self-drive waterfall trail is an action camera! The big DSLR cameras are great for getting the ultimate nature shots here at the waterfalls but the real action happens in the water!
There is no other camera that I can suggest other than The GoPro! Waterproof and so compact it couldn’t be more perfect for adventure travel! We shoot all of our under and in water shots on our Go Pro Hero 5 Black! There are newer editions of the GoPro but why pay more when the 5 does everything you need and more? Click below to grab one for yourself!
I also highly recommend a selfie stick with a wrist strap! You do not want to lose this baby down the waterfalls!
Self-Drive Waterfall Trail Australia: The Crater and Dinner Falls
The final leg of our self-drive waterfalls trail took us over to Mount Hypipamee National Park, home to The Crater and Dinner Falls. This is your shortest journey as these landmarks sit only half an hour from Millaa Millaa, 30 kilometres or 19 miles. I guess this final stop is a little different to the others as you get to see the incredible Crater as well as Dinner Falls!
The waterfall at this gorgeous little spot is Dinner Falls which leads onto the Barron River. To get to Dinner Falls for the parking area it’s approx. a 1.2km walk where you can find a collection of three waterfalls. We didn’t spend too much time at Dinner falls because of the time we had and to be honest, the crater is way more impressive! We arrived near the end of our day and didn’t want to get all wet again, spoilsports I know, so we didn’t go swimming! You can do a loop walking circuit here on the Bitumen Path which will lead you to The Crater as well – go here and here for some more in-depth details on the walks!
The crater formed here at Mount Hypipamee National Park, which is a heritage listed wet tropics park, is like a volcanic pip way. The crate was created by heaps of pressure below the surface rocks which eventually exploded upwards sending volcanic bombs across the surrounding area. The crate is 61 metres wide and 82 metres deep, pretty impressive if you ask me! It’s one of the moments where what your looking at doesn’t even look real!
Again facilities are limited here with just toilets and picnic benches available!
After finishing exploring Mount Hypipamee National Park that was the end of our Atherton Tablelands Self-Drive Waterfall Trail! But don’t worry if you’ve got more time and want to smash out all of the waterfalls in the area then there are plenty more for you to choose from! It all depends on how long you want to spend at the falls! For us, we wanted to take it slow and just enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors. We spent a few hours at both Josephine and Millaa Millaa where if you wanted you could just take a quick photograph and move on – not our style!
If you want to drive back to Cairns then the drive from Mount Hypipamee National Park is about an hour and a half via the Gilles Highway see driving instructions below! A quick word of warning about the Gilles Highway, it is extremely windy! For me, I managed to drive it in a high top camper van and was fine! Don’t be put off by how windy it is as it’s manageable as long as you take your take and drive slowly!
Where to stay overnight after your Waterfall Tour
So if you’ve got some extra time to enjoy the beauty of the Tablelands then stay overnight! I recommend staying at Lake Tinaroo Holiday Park! Whether you’re in a camper van or are pitching up a tent this place is the perfect spot for the evening! This campsite offers lakeside camping with extraordinary views of Lake Tinaroo! One day we will 100% return for a couple of nights stay here! There are all sorts to get up to from hiring boats and kayaks to long walks around the lake! You can visit their website here for pricing and more details!
If you are heading to the East Coast of Australia soon then subscribe to our mailing list! Then you’ll be sure that you don’t miss any tips and tricks! You can also see my Cairns-Sydney post which goes through all the places we recommend visiting on the East Coast!
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As always, thank you so much for reading! I couldn’t keep blogging if it wasn’t for my readers old and new! If are new here then don’t forget to head over to ‘start here’ to learn more about my life as a nurse and travel blogger!
The Australian east coast has dominated the world of travelling and travel blogging for some years now. So has this place already been written about too many times?Is it really worth all the hype to do the stereotypical camper van hire from Cairns to Sydney? The answer? Well, of course, that will be different depending on who you are because all of our experiences are different. I love travelling, even to hyped up places that seem to be on everyone’s bucket list because I know that my experience is going to be totally different from anybody else’s on this planet. This is why travel as a whole is empowering and extraordinary. So in answer to my own question is the Australian east coast worth all the hype?
Absolutely. The Australian East Coast is home to some of the most beautiful beaches and cities that I’ve visited so far. And let me tell you, hiring a camper van and living in it for over a month is the best life experience I’ve had so far. As a gal who usually enjoys relaxing in a five-star hotel, I threw all that out of the pram for this road trip. I was a little apprehensive, to say the least, but I’ve come out of the other side a changed woman! I’ve been converted to van life 100%.
So for this blog post, I’ve compiled some of my favourite destinations from our Australia east coast road trip! As I’m writing this I can’t call this post a ‘top 10, top 5, top 15’ because until I finish as I have no idea how many destinations I’m going to include because I could include everywhere we went! BUT just for this post, I’m going to try and whittle it down to the places I couldn’t imagine this journey without!
Sydney Australia – Home of the Legendary Opera House
Sydney Harbour Bridge view from Circular Quay.
I’m kicking off this post 100% mainstream with Sydney and let me tell you why. As we got closer to Sydney I knew that it was going to be a love or hate type of relationship. Before we left for Australia I had pre-conceptions of Sydney being just like London. Busy, overcrowded, traffic stalled in the streets with nowhere to turn. Now, as much I love visiting the UK’s capital for a weekend that’s more than enough time for me. So I was a little apprehensive about how I would take to Sydney. That said, as soon as we arrived in this vibrant city I fell hook, line and sinker for the place.
Sydney is one incredible city. There’s a different beach around the corner, a new bar opening up on every street, gorgeous views from every bay and some of the best beer we’ve tasted here in Australia. Sydney offers the best of both worlds. A busy city with connections to the rest of the world and a laid back beach lifestyle for everyone to enjoy. Don’t get me wrong parts a very touristy like Bondi and obviously Circular Quay. But you can find secluded beaches and bays at your fingertips like Camp Cove at Waston’s Bay and Milk Beach.
The Opera House is pretty special too I even wrote about it on my phone after the first time I ever saw it…
‘We’ve arrived in Sydney to feel like we’ve transported back 10,000 miles to the UK because it’s chucking it down! None the less we pulled on our rain macs and headed to see Sydney’s most iconic landmarks, The Sydney Harbour Bridge and The Sydney Opera House. I didn’t think I’d be overly bothered about the Opera House I’m not a huge performance goer and I knew I was just seeing it because of how famous it is. I don’t know why but the moment I saw it in the distance my face lit up with the biggest smile and it just wouldn’t go away. As we got nearer I felt such excitement as I saw the building take form and I was filled with such awe standing before it. My heart is so happy at this moment’
The Sydney Opera House, just in case you didn’t know…
My favourite view of The Opera House is from Milson’s Point!
If you’re about to embark on an Australian east coast road trip then you’ll probably have Sydney as either your start or end point. It was our last destination and boy that moment above just finished off our Australian east coast roadie perfectly. My advice to you? Don’t let your pre-judgements about this city take over, go and visit and then decide.
Top Tip: If you are heading to Sydney make sure you book earlier rather than later! Hotels and hostels get booked up pretty fast! Booking.com offer all sorts of deals on last-minute hotels and hostels. Click below to secure your accommodation! ‘Wake Up’ Hostel on Pitts Street has one of Sydney’s best reputations and even has a cheese and wine night!
The Whitsundays, wow wow wow! Where to start? I can hands down say this is our favourite experience we had on our road trip! I haven’t met a person yet who hasn’t loved every minute of their time on the Whitsundays! Whether it’s a day trip or an overnight sailing tour just make sure it’s high up on your Australian east coast bucket list!
Now, this was the most expensive trip we paid out for but it was well worth it! As we arrived in Airlie Beach, the moment we saw the aqua coloured water we knew we were in for a real treat. We set sail on board an old wooden sailing boat for two nights with thirty-two others, some of which were about to become friends for life, and headed out to sea! Three days of, snorkelling, star gazing, sunsets and Whitehaven Beach made for an incredible experience (& plenty of Goon too!).
The highlight of The Whitsunday Islands has got to be the incredible Whitehaven beach! If you’ve read anything about Australia then you’ll have heard of it for sure! If you haven’t then you’ve been reading in all the wrong places! Whitehaven beach is home to the purest sand in Australia. The white sand here is 92% silica. To put that into perspective, 100% is glass! This beach is honestly incredible. It’s one of the most Instagrammed beaches in the world and it doesn’t need any kind if filter! The definition of true beauty lays on Whitehaven beach. But don’t just take my word for it! Nope, Whitehaven beach has been nominated the second best beach in the whole world!
Because of the current and the density of the sand, the swirls at Whitehaven Beach change all the time. No two photographs taken here will ever be the same!
The sunsets were incredible!
The World’s Biggest Sand Island – Fraser Island
Fraser Island, also known as K’Gari to the aboriginal people, is one that a lot of people miss out during their Australian east coast trip. I urge you to not be one of those people. Fraser Island is listed as a world heritage site and is the worlds largest sand Island. Made up of 98% sand and 2% rock it’s one of a kind! We had an incredible few days here exploring all it had to offer!
This place was like something I imagined to be in a movie, we set off from the mainland on a forty-five-minute ferry journey and turned up with our luggage on an island with no phone reception what so ever! It was truly liberating! The highlight of Fraser Island is, of course, driving along that coastal beach highway at 80km/hour! The main beach that runs from one end of Fraser to the other is classed as a national highway where normal driving rules apply, it’s actually INSANE!
Another great thing about Fraser Island? It’s incredibly peaceful!
Lake McKenzie on Fraser Island is pretty impressive…
As well as driving along beaches, Fraser Island is packed with stunning lakes. Lake McKenzie is the most beautiful lake I’ve ever seen with a water PH of 4.3-5.2. Once you wet your hair in this water you’ll never want to return to the mainland again! As well as Lake McKenzie, Eli Creek is up there with my favourite lake on Fraser! Those lazy rivers you get at water parks? Imagine those but natural! Eli Creek is a natural lazy river where your tour guide, if they are as good as ours, will bring the rubber rings and you can float down with a beer in one hand and of course the Go Pro in the other!
As well as lakes Fraser Island is bustling with amazing bush walks where you’ll walk through the rain forests and learn more about the Aboriginal Tribes that live on Fraser. I say live in the present tense because two Butchulla elders remain living on Fraser Island now in 2018.
The history that this island has is incredible and not the mention it’s wildlife! We were lucky enough to a dingoe on our trip to Fraser Island! I could go on all day about Fraser Island but I won’t because there are so many other places on the Australian East Coast worth a mention in this post! But I am planning on doing a Fraser Island Guide in the New Year so make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss it!
Byron Bay – A little haven of paradise
Byron Bay was easily the destination that surprised me the most on our Australian east coast trip! If you’ve read my post from when we were on the road, East Coast Roadie: Part 2, then you’ll already know that Byron exceeded all of my expectations! I expected hippies galore, people preaching on the streets about being free and spiritual, people walking with no shoes on (actually pretty standard in Australia) and to be honest I thought it was all going to be a little bit over the top for me.
What I was actually found was a luxurious beach town that I never wanted to leave! Byron was the only place on the Australian east coast where we stayed longer than we had planned, by full two days! Now a place really has to impress me to change my plans because I’m a little bit of a perfectionist and my itinerary timings were very precise!
Call me mainstream here but we spent the most relaxing week in Byron, we walked, we ate pastries, we strolled along the gorgeous beaches hand in hand (making some pretty big life decisions might I add) and enjoyed the most beautiful sunrise. Byron Bay will forever be the place I go to when I’m looking for an escape from a busy life where we are all in a rush. I would go as far as to say there’s definitely some kind of magic in the waters near Byron Bay. The smile on my face hasn’t budged since I started thinking about it again. Also, Byron is the ONLY place so far where we’ve seen a wild Koala!
My favourite shot I took in Byron
The Great Barrier Reef
The second world heritage listed reserve featured on this post is, of course, The Great Barrier Reef, I’m sorry but whoever can go to Australia and not go to The Great Barrier Reef baffles me! Not only is it one of the most famous places in this land down under it’s home to the very lovable fish NEMO! What an amazing day we had out here on the reef!
The feeling you get whilst you’re surrounded by the tropical marine life is magical! I’ve never been so speechless, and I don’t just mean because of the snorkel, in my life. I’ve never been up close with fish or turtles so this was an experience I will treasure forever. My favourite part of this trip was the snorkelling because the reef is so shallow the fish congregate near the surface so there really is no need to dive if you don’t want to!
Don’t forget you’re the waterproof camera!
The best advice I can give anybody who is about to visit The Great Reef is don’t expect the coral to be colourful because unfortunately, it isn’t as everyone pictures it. BUT do expect to see hundreds of schools of fish in a vast array of colours! After all, it’s the fish we all want to see right? And if your like us and lucky you might even get to see a sea turtle! To get to the Great Barrier Reef you have to go to Cairns which is a great city full of people ready to explore Australia’s waters. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the few places I struggle to write about because you really can’t put into words how amazing it is to be swimming alongside some of the most beautiful sea life.
These fellas we’re not afraid to get close!
Now I’ve just realised that I lied above. THE BEST ADVICE that I can give you is to make sure you’ve got a good underwater camera! I recommend a Go Pro because they are the best in the business and we had such a great time using ours down the coast! We use the Hero GoPro 5 Black which you can buy here! We also used the underwater filters which allowed us to capture some amazing footage! If you do opt for a camera like the Hero 5 even though it’s already waterproof, make sure you buy a waterproof case as well, if not you’ll get blur on the screen (see in the picture of us snorkelling above!)
Please note that if you do choose to buy any of these products I may receive a tiny commission at no extra cost to you! So here’s me giving you massive thank you in advance!
My Two Hidden Gems of the East Coast
Okay so, I’ll be honest until I was doing a shift at work with a girl who’s sister lives out in the Tablelands I hadn’t really heard of them! The Tablelands is home to some of the most stunning lakes that I’ve seen here in Australia and it oozes beauty everywhere you look.
I would say that the Atherton Tablelands is one of my most memorable destinations on the Australian East Coast for how stripped back and beautiful it was. The drive into the Tablelands is about an hour or so inland from Cairns. As you drive you’re surrounded by the rain forest and drop backs that you only dream of! The Tablelands is pretty famous for its freshwater waterfalls, which yes I’m guilty of knowing nothing about!
“Atherton Tablelands – The most underrated place in Far North Queensland!”
All I can say is that I’m thrilled I found out about this place before it was too late! Having spent two days up in the Tablelands it just wasn’t enough and both Dave and I will definitely be back before we leave Australia!
See what I mean? True Beauty!
The highlight of this paradise for us was swimming in Josephine Falls and staying at Lake Tinaroo. The falls are crystal clear and in good weather, you can swim in and around the boulders that form this hidden tranquillity. There’s also a natural water slide that everyone slides down which is epic!
Lake Tinaroo was probably the most peaceful campsite we stayed it. Since it was the low season the site was pretty empty and we literally had the entire lake to ourselves, we saw a glorious sunset and spent the next morning taking in the breathtaking views! I have no idea how big this lake is but you certainly can’t walk around it!
Not to be mistaken with Port Macquarie, we stumbled upon this little gem on our way to Sydney. After a month on the road I’ll be honest on this day we were tired, fed up and just ready get to Sydney!
Other than Byron Bay we had been quite disappointed with the other places we’d stopped off at in New South Wales until we ended up here by total accident! This place was bustling with wildlife, I’m talking pelicans and black swans swimming literally 50 yards in front of our camper van. This place was exactly what we needed! The weather wasn’t on our side but it brought out the beauty in little lakeside town. We didn’t really venture from the campsite but we didn’t need to not with these views.
The view from the back of our van!
& for now, that’s a wrap…
This has by no means been an exhaustive list of the places we visited on the Australian east coast but they are a collection of my favourite’s! What I mean by this is if you or someone you know is visiting Australia then you don’t want to miss any of these places! I wrote this blog post in November 2018 and I have a feeling I’ll be updating it at some point as I explore more wonderful places in Australia!
Of course nowhere really disappointed us but these were, for me the highest of the high’s! These towns, cities and national parks hold such special memories and what I love about them the most? They are all so different! From Whitehaven Beach to the Tablelands, The Australian East Coast has literally something for everyone!
I’d love to hear if you’ve visited any of these destinations and if your experience differs from mine, you can leave a comment below or just shoot me an email and I would LOVE to chat all things Australian east coast! Don’t forget to subscribe and keep up to date with all my latest adventures AND keep checking this post for updates where in the world I’m going next!