“I’m going to travel the world” five tiny insignificant words that meant nothing to anyone but me. When I touched down in Manchester airport the cold was bitter and the rain poured. I’m yet to arrive at Manchester airport without the heavens being open. I recall feeling the warmth of being back home but I also remember a heavy sense of realisation. My view of the world was now so very different from what it had been before I’d left for a USA adventure tour three weeks earlier.
My wanderlust was ignited back in 2015 when I took a solo trip to the USA with Trek America Tours. In this post, I’m reflecting on the very start of my relationship with travel and how I found my love for travel on a tour of the United States. This trip came packed with airport ‘disasters’, an overwhelming sense of fear and a huge bout of self-discovery.
How I ended up Finding My Love for Travel on a USA Adventure Tour
2015 was a year full of milestones. It was the year I graduated from university with a first class honours, in Paediatric nursing. I was about to be thrown into the adult world with a real pay-check and real-life responsibilities. It was the year I passed my driving test and it would also be the year that I’d take my first ever solo travel trip finding a love for travel that would stay forever. If you had asked me at the beginning of 2015 if I’d be going on a Trek America Tour then I’d have laughed in your face. I definitely did not see myself solo travelling or travelling with people I don’t know at any point, let alone just weeks after starting a new job. That’s right, in 2015 I started my first nursing job. I went to work for two weeks before taking my first bout of annual leave to travel the West Coast of America.
But I had travelled before 2015. I had always had a passion for travel or back then I’d refer to them as ‘holidays’ or ‘vacations’ to you Americans amongst us.
Travel Growing Up
I’ve been lucky enough to have international travel in my life ever since I was a little girl. My mother isn’t a camper and who can blame her? The English summer often graces us with unexpected days of rain and a cloud of uncertainty not knowing when or if the sun will shine. Since I was as young as I can remember we always took holidays to the Mediterranean, Europe, America and I was so so lucky to be able to visit Disneyland Florida twice. I honestly believe that being exposed to travel from such a young age planted the wanderlust seed early when it came to finding my own love for travel. As a family, we were always planning the next holiday in search of a week in the sun and a new adventure.
Side Note – Travel Sickness
The only bad memory of travel I have is getting motion sickness on the plane!! Which by the way, so many people say ‘it’s in your head’ but I remember puking violently on many a plane journey when I was as young as five. I have no idea how you can have it in your head at five years old. But anyway let’s not get off topic!
So as I grew up, left home and started to find my own place in the world I knew I wanted to travel. I’d been so used to going on all inclusive holidays relaxing in a villa or hotel with a pool. And as I started University I, of course, I then discovered the ‘party travel’ lifestyle. My girlfriends and I took holidays to the likes of Malia and Ibiza and we had a blast. But in 2015 as I came to the end of university life something hit me inside. I wanted to travel and discover new places and really explore. Not just jet off to a sunnier country and get a good tan. There was this huge feeling inside my heart to explore the world and culture. I don’t know if it was inspiration on the web that inspired the travel urge within or something else entirely.
All I knew was that I wanted to travel so I decided that was what I was going to do.
Booking My Trip to America
Sometimes I’ll admit when I get an idea in my head I’m like a dog with a bone, I won’t drop it. In my head and heart by March 2015, I’d already decided that I was going to go travelling somewhere that year. Travelling solo hadn’t even crossed my mind so I remember speaking to one of my closest friends about going on a trip somewhere. Of course, we were still at university at this point with no money and no real ‘plans’ for when we graduate. By that, I meant we hadn’t got jobs yet. I guess we were in no real position to be booking trips here there and everywhere. But something told me to keep going so I did. I booked myself on a USA adventure tour with Trek America to the West Coast of America for September 2015.
Little did I know that this would be the trip to ignite my true wanderlust and have me falling head over in heels in love with travelling.
Finding My Love for Travel on the Westerner 2 Trek America Tour didn’t take long. It was an experience so far from my comfort zone. Firstly, I’d never travelled anywhere alone in my life. Now I know what some people are thinking. You can’t class group tours as ‘solo travel’. Codswallop in opinion. As someone who hadn’t ever left the country alone let alone successful make a connecting flight, I truly think that going on a group travel tour classes as a solo trip. Especially when only you and one other girl on that USA adventure tour are by themselves.
From the moment I arrived at the airport, I was struck down by excitement and a whole lot of fear that left me it in total fluster until I touched down on American soil.
‘What Have You Done?’
So that was it. My USA adventure tour with Trek America was booked. As the departure day loomed I hadn’t given a second thought. I’d spent all my time googling the destinations covered on the tour and stalking other people online using the hashtag #trekamericatour. It wasn’t until I stood in the airport, by myself, that I realised this was really happening. The take-off from Manchester was sweet but I wasn’t ever worried about that part. The most daunting part about flying solo to me was the connection. I don’t think I’d ever experienced catching a connecting flight even with my parents. So this was going to be a whole new experience altogether and it certainly was.
Conquering the Flight
The first flight was incredible. If this was what it meant to travel then I was totally up for the travelling lifestyle. I flew with Delta and just remember the amount of food that I got fed! Being a total rookie on the flight I noticed people ordering drinks left right and centre, and not paying for them. I had no idea that these were included in the flight so after a while I plucked up the courage and asked. Well after that there was no stopping me – give me all the diet coke! I know it may seem boring to those who like a vino during the flight – not good for the sickness! And I still had to navigate my way through JFK to my connecting flight.
Conquering the Connection
My flight connected in JFK, New York. Anyone that’s done a connecting flight via NY (it may be like this all over the states) will know that you have to collect your bags and re-check in. I’d kind of got my head around that. Until I saw the queuing time of three hours above my head as I approached the security desk. Knowing that my connecting flight was in just over one. I went into sheer panic mode. My first thought was to call my mum and ask her what to do! Luckily I could hear other backpackers chatting about the same problem.
I was mesmerised by this group of backpackers, who had obviously travelled before, so confidently waltz to the front of the queue and simply show their ticket. It was very kind of them to take me along with them. I remember analysing each traveller in the group. Two boys and a girl. One boy with long blonde hair who looked like my stereotypical backpacker that I had conjured in my head. The other couldn’t have been more different,bad boy looking wearing a snapback and grey tracksuit bottoms. And the girl was so beautiful. Her long blonde hair flowed down her back, a perfect tan and a smile so wide when she told me the story of how they’d all met on a trip to Thailand the year before. I was amazed that people led these kinds of lives. And here I was taking, what I didn’t know, would be the first of many similar adventures.
It didn’t quite end there. I made it through security and saw my lone backpack thrown to the side of the luggage carousel. I threw it onto my back (I saw threw, more like a struggled to get it on my bag for good 30 seconds) and headed to check-in for my next flight. I must say I was a little flustered at this point. So flustered that when I checked the screen for my gate number I saw my flight and read ‘Boarding Now’. I have literally never run so fast in my life only to arrive at the gate to realise it wasn’t my flight at all. There was one digit different in the flight number. I think at this point I threw my head into my hands laughing realising that I probably should’ve checked the time before sprinting the length of JFK at the speed of light.
Conquering the Transfer
The turmoil in the airport wasn’t the only ‘what have I done’ moment at the start of my USA adventure tour with Trek America. Nope, as I landed in my final destination of Los Angeles, picked up my bag and read the instructions to get my transfer I felt a huge bout of overwhelm. I was in a foreign country and knew nobody. I was about to be thrusted in with a group of people I had never met to travel the West Coast of America for three weeks. What the hell happens if nobody gets along? If people are ‘boring’? If nobody wants to participate in activities blah blah blah.
It had been over 14 hours since I left the UK and my mind was in overdrive. Luckily I managed to find my transfer and arrive at the hotel pretty easily. I was definitely ready for a shower and bed.
And The Rest is History
The stress at the airport was the last bit of stress that I would feel during this whole trip to the USA.
Walk of Fame, California
I was suddenly surrounded by a group of people who amazed me. I’m from a small village and in that village, not all but a lot, go to school, get a job, get married, have kids etc and never explore the world. Don’t get me wrong here, there is nothing wrong with doing that if it’s what you want, but I knew there was a bigger world out there for me and I knew I wanted more than what that tiny village could offer. The people that I met on this tour were some that I would admire for years to come. Our USA adventure tour leader had travelled the whole of the states, been married in Japan and divorced all before thirty. We had people who were travelling with no idea where they’d be this time next year. I was honestly captivated by each and every person.
This tour found me capitulated out of my comfort zone and it was on this trip that I really found myself and purpose. Despite being the youngest on the tour I was definitely one of the most vocal (sorry not sorry) and tried to bring people together which is the kind of person I am and have always been. But over the years at university, I had somewhat lost my confidence. The need to feel wanted and loved defined me and my years at university. During this trip, I realised just how okay I was on my own. I didn’t need anyone but myself. I had travelled so far from home, with people I had never met in a country I had never been.
Some people cringe when they hear someone say I found myself through travel. Once upon a time, I would’ve too but I honestly felt like I found a new sense of self during my time in America. I found friendships, not just with people but destinations. I felt happiness in my bones as I hiked the Grand Canyon that I’d never felt before. I spent a night out on the Las Vegas strip, in a party bus feeling free, alive and like I could conquer the world. I sat and cheered at a baseball game that I didn’t understand like a hardcore fan. Ate corndogs in San Francisco, Hiked Yosemite and laughed until my face hurt.
Yosemite, I can’t wait to go back!
Side Note – Travel Sickness Update
I also conquered some of my motion sickness. Somehow I sat at the back of the van for most of the journey without feeling sick – I have no idea what the trick was, maybe true happiness or relaxation?
Exploring the West Coast of America with Trek America opened my heart to the world. I had merely scratched the surface of travel but I came home a totally different person. When I touched down at Manchester Airport I knew that I had to see the world. I didn’t know how I didn’t know when but I knew there was so much more out there to explore.
Lake Havasu where we camped underneath the stars!
And my urge to see the world hasn’t stopped since. It’s now almost 4 years since this adventure tour of the USA and my first real travelling experience. It’s one I will never forget and be eternally grateful for. In the past four years, I saved hard and found myself on the other side of the world in Australia and as I type this on the 21st of June 2019 I’m about to leave the land down under in exchange for New Zealand. I’m slowly feeding my wanderlust and I don’t think my relationship with travel will ever end.
What Ignited your Wanderlust?
If you’re still here at the end of this post then I want to know, what ignited your wanderlust? Was a certain trip? The need to be free? Knowing that the world is there to be explored? I would love to hear your own experiences of falling in love with travel and if you have a blog post about it leave me the link!
Never stop exploring
For there is no time to be bored
In a world so beautiful as this
These are all my own photographs (yes I was no photographer back in 2015) but I haven’t shared any of the group as not everyone gave permission to feature on the blog!
Visiting The Grampians National Park in Australia has been on both Dave and mines bucket list since arriving in Australia. Back in the UK, and in Australia though not as much as we hoped, we are both avid climbers! Rocking climbing is our go-to spot for fun and exercise so of course, The Grampians was always going to be a place we wanted to check out. As our year in Australia went on, the likelihood of us actually getting there was pretty slim! But we did what we always do in life and made it happen! I invite each and every one of you the visit this national park in Australia because it is mind-blowing! Having visited the Blue Mountains in Sydney just months before I had to say The Grampians truly blew us away! In this guide, I’ll be telling you how to spend a brilliant 3 days in The Grampians to have an epic time as we did! It doesn’t matter if you’re not a climber or walker, the landscape here is phenomenal just to look at.
Beautiful views of The Grampians are everywhere!
Where is The Grampians?
The Grampians National Park is in Victoria. If you take away one thing from this blog post and don’t read past this line just make sure that you understand this. The Grampians is not in Melbourne. So much information that we find on the internet can be misleading and this fact is very misleading. The Grampians by car is three days west of Melbourne. Of course, when in Melbourne it makes for a brilliant weekend away. What I’m saying is that, if you only have a weekend in Melbourne then you’re probably not going to want to take a day trip to The Grampians (Just one traveller’s opinion).
Driving From Melbourne
Driving to The Grampians from Melbourne will take approximately three hours including stop-offs. Don’t forget that traffic getting in and out of the city can be like hell on earth so plan wisely! The roads that lead up to The Grampians are windy and often narrow so make sure you’ve got your wits about you. Kangaroos are everywhere too especially once you nearer some of the villages located in The Grampians. See the driving route from Melbourne below that you can use as a guide. The end destination is Halls Gap, a popular town in The Grampians where we stayed and in my opinion where you should stay too!
Other ways of getting to The Grampians
The nearest large airport to The Grampians is Melbourne. The quickest to get to The Grampians is to drive but there are other options. You can find a train service that runs to Arat and then buses that take you further into The Grampians. There are numerous tours that you go on for days out in The Grampians as well usually on a mini-bus or coach.
When to Visit the Grampians – Time of Year/Weather
The weather in The Grampians varies all year round. The first thing to always remember is that Australian seasons are backwards. When the British are toasting their feet by a roaring fire, the Aussies are playing volleyball with the whole family on the beach in the blazing sunshine.
Summer in Australia is anytime from the end of December – February
Autumn in Australia is March – June
Winter in Australia is June – September
Spring September – December
It’s a little confusing to get your head around at first for nationals of the other side of the world. In the summer the temperatures in The Grampians can soar above 30 degrees Celsius and plummet below negative 6 in the winter. We visited in autumn, and though it was cold with some rain we still managed to have an epic time. Pack wisely when it comes to visiting The Grampians in the cooler months especially if you’ve become custom to the Australian heat like us.
The weather in The Grampians won’t stop you from enjoying it if you don’t let it. A fun little quote I love when it comes to rainy days:
The Grampians is bursting with gorgeous little towns and villages all offering unique places to stay. The Grampians, though rural, has every kind of accommodation you could need. Vast numbers of campsites, hostels including an Eco-Friendly YHA, motels, hotels and even resorts! Of course, we were in a trust camper van during our visit staying in at Halls Gap Caravan Park which was amazing, I cannot recommend this campsite more for its facilities and Grampians experience!
Dave’s new friends!
Halls Gap is one of the many small towns in The Grampians. Halls Gap is located in the heart of The Grampians hidden amongst the locals and the cutest town I’ve stayed in for such a long time! Being from the UK, I’m obsessed with cute villages and towns, so much of the UK screams cute and I just love it! So when we arrived at Halls Gap I could feel the outsides of my mouth turning upwards. Halls Gap has all you need during your stay in The Grampians. A shop, Petrol Station, Swimming Pool, Play Park, Restaurants x 4, Bars and an Ice Cream Parlour, for such a little town its full to the brim with amenities!
As the gateway to The Grampians, you also get easy access to all of the show-stopping lookouts, walks, hikes and wildlife in The Grampians. For the ultimate Grampians experience, I recommend camping one way or another!
Halls Gap Caravan Park
We made this campsite our home for a few nights in The Grampians and I can’t fault it. The campsite is one of the biggest in the national park and so convenient for getting into the national park. The tourist road to find numerous lookouts and walks starts in Halls Gap so you’ve got it all on your doorstep. The staff at the campsite were super friendly making sure you’ve got everything you need and giving you any tips that you need for your stay!
The campsite offers sites both powered and unpowered suitable for cars, tents, camper vans, caravans and more! If you’d rather stay inside then they multiple cabins available that you can book too! The price is reasonable for immense location costing us $40 per night for a powered site/20GBP. For an unpowered site, it’s a little cheaper at $32 per night/15GBP. These charges were correct when we visited in March 2019 and may change depending on the time of year/holidays.
Kangaroos in Halls Gap Caravan Park
The facilities at Halls Gap Caravan park were more than adequate. Toilets and showers were kept clean and tidy. Cooking facilities and BBQ’s were located throughout the park, pets are allowed and campfires are specific areas are also allowed. The highlights of staying at Halls Gap Caravan Park were definitely the close proximity to various walks and lookouts in The Grampians. And not to mention the wildlife!
Even though we’ve been in Australia for almost a year and in that time we’ve seen plenty of kangaroos, I still find it sensational seeing them in the wild! As we approached Halls Gap we were greeted by over 50 kangaroos grazing in the grass! These kangaroos literally camped with us all weekend hopping around at night and during the day to which made our stay extra special. You’ll also find Emus, Cockatoos and different breeds of Parakeets around the campsite and in The Grampians.
The Grampians National Park is the perfect getaway for nature lovers, avid walkers, keen photographers and pure wanderlust. Activities in The Grampians consist of getting out in the fresh open air and enjoying some of the worlds awe-inspiring landmarks here in Victoria. Our three days in The Grampians involved lots of hiking, wildlife watching, chasing incredible views and of course, a cheeky BBQ and beer to round off the days. If you’ve got kids then obviously your itinerary may be a little different to mine but you can check out this post on this blog for what to get up to alongside your little people. For us, our weekend was all about finding adventure and all the best lookouts over all of which I’ll be telling you about in detail in this guide. I’m going to split what to do in The Grampians into days of which things go better with others. Usually because if location because I’m all about making travel easier for everyone, it doesn’t have to be hard.
Day One in The Grampians
Upon arrival in The Grampians check in at the campsite. I always like to do this when I arrive at a particular destination because the campsite often has helpful tips for us! Like, the best places to see, eat or they give out maps and all that good stuff. We can research the internet until we go blue in the face but to me, the locals know it best!
Wildlife Watching in Halls Gap
Halls Gap is the place to be in the Grampians. It’s the only place we stayed but the experience we had was out of this world so we’d probably go straight there again if we were to return. The wildlife that hangs out in Halls Gap is pretty magical. The UK is filled with beautiful creatures from small songbirds, robins, foxes, deers, rabbits but Australia’s wildlife is one another level. Though the Australians have no love for the Kangaroo as a tourist it’s a once in a lifetime pleasure to watch a kangaroo hopping around in the wild, you just don’t get them anywhere else in the world. If you want to see multiple Kangaroos hanging out with their pals then you won’t be disappointed in Halls Gap. Over the course of the weekend, we saw over 50 different kangaroos (at a guess, I mean they do all look the same!). But the kangaroo wasn’t the only animal we found at Halls Gap.
You’ll be able to hear the native Aussie birds before you see them. Cockatoos and Parakeets fill the streets of Halls Gap searching for food and boy are these birds beautiful. Parakeets come in all different colours but my favourite has to be the red and blue feathered ones we saw here at Halls Gap. Emus also stroll around in the wild in The Grampians so keep your eyes peeled at all times and don’t get too close!
There are various signs around the town asking visitors not to feed the animals so please please pay attention. We saw so many people trying to feed the kangaroos human food which then makes them dependent on humans. Not to mention it can make them quite sick, same goes for the birds.
Mackenzie Falls at The Grampians
Chasing waterfalls in the best way to spend an afternoon at The Grampians or anywhere in Australia. Some of the most beautiful waterfalls I’ve seen were in the Atherton Tablelands, see more in this post. The Grampians has many a waterfall but the most impressive and a waterfall you must have in your itinerary is Mackenzie Falls. The Atherton Tablelands is home to some majestic waterfalls all of which are pretty and delicate. Mackenzie Falls in The Grampians is powerful, hungry, a little less majestic and a lot more wow. Mackenzie Falls holds the title for my favourite waterfall in Australia so far. It’s a haven for photographers.
Because what a great backdrop?!
Getting to Mackenzie Falls
Mackenzie Falls is 17 km from Halls Gap. The drive is straight forward. Follow the tourist road from Halls Gap and just continue. Note that the road is windy so plan for plenty of time, you can’t overtake and you’ll find a lot of campers on the road. You won’t be able to take a caravan so make sure you’ve dropped that off at the campsite first. Mackenzie Falls is on your right so just watch for the signs and wildlife! You can park for free at all the stop-offs in The Grampians but no camping overnight.
You look down on Mackenzie Falls from the lookouts or hike down to the bottom. I recommend doing both!
Lookouts at Mackenzie Falls
The lookout to see Mackenzie Falls is easily accessible with paths forming the way. The viewing platform opens out over Mackenzie Falls exposing all the cascades that make up the waterfall. The walk to the lookout starts at Mackenzie Falls carpark, 1.9 km return taking 20 minutes – 1 hour or more depending on your speeding and ability. The lookout is show stopping giving a full view of the magnificent falls you can hear from miles away.
Hiking Down to the bottom of Mackenzie Falls
To make the most out of Mackenzie falls you need to see it from below. Listening to the water crash into the pool at the foot of the waterfall is incredible. You’ll find stepping stones and a gorgeous river walk down there too. It’s well worth the 260 strenuous steps to get there! Yes, you heard me correctly 260 steps. Getting to the foot of Mackenzie Falls is easy, follow the path and steps all the way to the bottom. But remember what goes down must come up so make sure you are well prepared! Take plenty of water, sun cream, a hat and all the essentials to make sure you reach the top safely. The steps can be slippery is wet conditions so judge it sensibly.
Upon reach the bottom the views speak for themselves. Enjoy the waterfall, embrace the nature before your eyes and of course take plenty of photographs, We could’ve been there all day snapping shots of Mackenzie Falls.
If you fancy a bit more walking follow the river walk that zigzags in and out of the smaller pools. If you do the full river walk it’s 1.2 km. You can spend hours at Mackenzie Falls we spent at least three hours here on our first day. It was a perfect start to our weekend in The Grampians. No matter when you fit in Mackenzie Falls it will be awesome just make sure it’s a the top of your to see list!
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Day Two – Walks in The Grampians
Walking in The Grampians is no doubt the best way to see the vast landscapes and rocky formations. Find various walks/hikes throughout The Grampians National Park for varying abilities. As keen adventure seekers and very keen climbers, Dave and I aren’t scared of a little challenge when it comes to walking so we tacked a walk to The Pinnacle from Halls Gap, 10 km round trip.
The hike up to The Pinnacle lookout is one of the most popular walks in The Grampians. The views over the national park leave you breathless (quite literally after the walk). Unfortunately, there is no way to drive up the lookout due to its positioning. But some of you may be pleased to know that there are shorter versions, but we think the full 10 km is the most fun!
For the full 10 km walk from Halls Gap to The Pinnacle start at the Botanical Gardens in Halls Gap. You’ll find the gardens just before the primary school set back from the road that goes through the caravan park.
The hike up to The Pinnacle is beautiful winding in and out of rocky terrain, climbing over big rock formations and up high into The Grampians. The ascent to The Pinnacle is the hardest leg of the walk as it’s all uphill. Some paved areas, some scrambling over rocks and even grassy overgrown areas so this walk is definitely not for the faint-hearted or ‘unfit’.
Some of the beauties, thanks to mothers natures handy-work, you’ll explore on the way are:
The Venous Baths
Very narrow and impressive stairwells
The Grampians Grand Canyon
Bridal Veil Falls
The track can be difficult to follow at times so make sure you stay on route and follow the yellow arrows that are painted onto the rocks. The only part of the walk where we got lost was at Splitter Falls. In March 2019 Splitter Falls was dry and with no signs, we had no idea this was the actual waterfall! If you follow Alicia Overseas on Instagram then you may have seen our story where we clambered to the top of this waterfall, thinking that it was part of this track! Turns out we were very wrong and we subsequently had to climb back down. Luckily we did do unharmed – round of applause please, it was very slippery!
So, top tip, if you do divert to Splitter Falls then once you reach the falls turn around and head back towards the bridge you just passed, walk over it and continue onto the track!
But what if you really don’t want to hike 10 km?
Lucky for the less adventure hungry traveller there are two shorter walks you can take to The Pinnacle. The second most challenging walk up to The Pinnacle lookout is the hike from The Wonderland Carpark. This where you hop onto too
Even on a cloudy day the views from the Pinnacle is pretty great!
the same route as outlined above just a little higher!
Note to walking enthusiasts doing the 10 km round trip, when you see a sign for The Wonderland Carpark don’t follow it. There definitely isn’t anything wonderland about it and it really is just a place to park the car, indeed very boring.
The walk in The Grampians from wonderland carpark is 2.1 km, a lot shorter than the full hike but still difficult in areas. Expect this trek to require some climbing up and around steep rocks, slippery surfaces when wet and phenomenal views of The Grampians. You’ll experience The Grampians Grand Canyon, Bridal Veil Falls, the Cool Chamber (which you’ll be thankful for on a stifling hot day!) And of course those picture perfect views that make all the sweat and burning thighs worth it.
Still not feeling it?
The final option to get to The Pinnacle lookout point in The Grampians is to walk from Sundial Carpark. This is the easiest of them with a well-paved track to walk along with ease from the car to the point. Still 2.1 km in distance taking just 45 minutes to one hour. If hiking really isn’t your jam then go for this option so you can still see those epic views from above. Trust me, you really won’t be disappointed.
No matter which route you decide to take one thing is guaranteed. What goes up must come down. If you choose to tackle to 10 km round trip from Halls Gap then prepared for a rocky trip back down to the valley complete with a lot of stairs! Yes, my legs were shaking when we reached the bottom.
Essentials to note/bring for your hike to The Pinnacle
A few important things to note before you venture on any of these walks.
There are no toilets
There are no water filling stations
No food to buy
Little to zero phone reception
Don’t forget your suncream!
Bring plenty of supplies and empty those bladders (and whatever else) before you set off! As highlighted above, the terrain you’ll experience on this walk is rocky, slippery and challenging. Make sure you wear appropriate shoes, no converse or pumps if you’ve any sense and of course don’t forget the suncream! Even in March, on a wet rainy day, my nose burnt. Like any adventure that takes you off the beaten just be prepared and know your limits and of course, have fun!
I’ll admit Hiking to and from The Pinnacle in The Grampians left us feeling tired so we didn’t do too much more with the rest of the day. After the walk, I invite you to talk about the opportunity to explore Halls Gap or wherever you may be staying. We ventured into some of the small shops and a cafe. Afterwards, we headed back to our beloved home on wheels and cooked up a storm, spag bol, to revive our bodies after a great day of walking.
The final day in The Grampians, I couldn’t help but wish we had longer here. We left The Grampians in the late afternoon so spent the morning hopping from lookout to lookout to catch our final glimpses.
The Best Lookouts in The Grampians
Fire up the engine and head up the tourist drive from Halls Park. Find some spectacular lookout points to get your final Grampians fix before leaving.
After googling lookouts in The Grampians ‘The Balconies’ will have most definitely come up in your search. One of the most impressive views out over The Grampians National Park along with some pretty unique rock formations. The Balconies is named the Balconies as two rocks stick out above one another, take a little look below!
The Balconies in the lookout, read below how people attempt to sit on the edge!
Of course, once upon a time, these balconies made for epic travel photographs. If you Pinterest The Balconies or Instagram them, then, sure enough, you’ll be met by travellers sat on The Balconies. The drop beneath them is hundreds of feet and I’m guessing that’s exactly why a fence has been put in place. But of course, there are always people who are out to break the rules and to some, Instagram is more important than their lives. I got pretty pissed off when I saw a group of idiots climbing over the fence to try and get that ‘viral image’.
As a nurse, I understand how precious life is and how quickly tragedy can strike. I also know how bloody expensive a rescue helicopter to The Grampians would cost, all because you couldn’t play by the rules and be sensible. Imagine if a member of your family had innocently fallen over during a hike or taken ill unexpectedly. The only way into those trails is by helicopter and your loved one could be waiting a long time if the helicopter is already out because someone did something causing injury, or worse, that was preventable. I probably sound like a granny right now but as a nurse and human being, please please don’t climb the fence at The Balconies. Because if you lose your balance then you’ll be lucky to come out alive, no photograph is worth your life. Be Safe travellers!
See it is possible to get a great photograph without risking your life.
On that cheery note enjoy The Balconies and of course Reeds Lookout, found at the same car park as The Balconies. The walk to The Balconies is 1 km from the car park with a marked path the whole way. Get there early morning to try to miss the crowds.
The stunning views from Bokora Lookout
Personally my favourite lookout in The Grampians! Boroka Lookout is 5 km off the tourist road but well worth the short detour. Enjoy paranamic views over The Grampians and out towards LakeBellfield. You’ll find two lookout points both easily accessible a mere 200 metres from the carpark. Take your camera and prepared to be stunned.
The Grampians or The Blue Mountains?
The Grampians! I found these amazing landscapes to both be beautiful, similar and at the same time unique. Unexpectedly, I found myself comparing the two throughout the day and realised that for me The Grampians will always win. I think it’s because of how raw The Grampians still feels. The Blue Mountains is quite built up and most lookouts are literally on the edge of small towns. What I loved about The Grampians was how rural it still felt and the feeling of adventure during our short time there! & of course, there would be some epic climbing when we have the correct gear with us!
However, you choose to spend your three days in The Grampians I hope you take a few pointers from this guide or at least get a taste of how breathtaking this national park is. As always I would love to hear from you so hit the comments below! For any more advice on The Grampians feel free to email me at [email protected] and don’t forget to share this post if you enjoyed it – I couldn’t do this without you!
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Sydney, Australias most famous city without a doubt. Home to the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge landmarks that are well known all over the world. Travellers flock in every day to catch a glimpse of these sights for themselves. I can assure you that they don’t disappoint. After living in Sydney for six months I can tell you confidently that three days just won’t be enough to experience all this city has to offer. That said with a well planned out 3-day itinerary to Sydney you can explore a lot of this bright and wondrous city. To jump to any section of this guide just click through the links below!
Before I dive into this perfect 3-day itinerary to Sydney. Let me share some history into this city built on the harbour. We call those who live in Sydney a ‘Sydney Sider’ but the first real Sydney Siders were the Aboriginal people. The Aboriginal people who lived in Sydney were the Gadigal people who still lived and hunted in Sydney long after the Europeans came in 1788. There are still Aboriginal people living in Sydney today. Australia was put on the map by a British Explorer name James Cook the first European to explore Australia and it’s East Coast on one of his three Voyages. He also explored New Zealand mapping out his every move along the way. It is Captain who first came into contact with the Aboriginal people here in Australia in 1770.
It was James Cook who claimed the Eastern Coastline for Britain and then some years later in 1788 Sydney Captain Arthur Phillip led the first British Fleet to Port Jackson in Sydney. With 11 vessels they used Sydney as a prison settlement for British convicts. But over the years as more people learnt about Sydney the more they came. Settlers came and the British convicts stopped arriving in 1840. Over the years the population of the Sydney as did the popularity of the harbour, remaining one of the most famous in the world today. To learn more about the history of Sydney follow this link or make sure you visit one of the many museums on your visit!
3 Day Itinerary to Sydney – What’s Inside
This 3 Day Itinerary to Sydney is perfect for first timers visits to Sydney! When I visited Sydney on my first trip to Australia in 2018 I too was a first timer. After six months I can call myself a slight Sydney expert! Sydney is a city that keeps on giving to all that visit. If you’re a foodie on the hunt for culinary delights, a history buff or a tourist after a glimpse of the famous sights, you can do it all here in Sydney.
My mission is to make travel easy for first timers and share my advice so you can make the most out of the places you travel to! I’ve been disappointed by many a trip I’ve taken usually down to bad advice and untruthful tips! Hint: overly edited Instagram photographs that look nothing like the real deal!
Getting to Sydney from the Airport
Distance: 8 km, 8.4 miles
Time: 25 minutes
There are multiple options available when getting into the city from the Airport. With only 3 days in Sydney, you don’t want to be wasting time so no dilly-dallying in the airport! Get yourself straight to baggage collection and on your way into the city! The main transportation options to get into Sydney from the airport are, train, bus, taxi and shuttle. Each comes with a different price so it depends on your budget!
Bus – Getting the bus will be the cheapest option by far but equally the most difficult. There isn’t a public bus running straight from the city centre to the Airport. So you’ll need to research which buses you need to reach your accommodation. Use the New South Wales Travel Planner instead of Google Maps. It keeps all its times updated so you can see when your bus is running late.
Train: When getting into Sydney I would always opt for the train. It’s easy and goes straight to the city centre just follow the signs and most other people! It isn’t cheap but you’ll come to learn that not much in Sydney is (sorry to break it to you) a one way trip to the city and back to the Airport will cost you $17-20.
Be warned: the transport service in NSW will advertise that the train takes 15 minutes to the CBD, it doesn’t. It will take at least 25 minutes.
Taxi: Taxis are available from each terminal with a taxi rank located out the front. Taxi is the most expensive way to get into the city setting you back at least $40-60. It should only take 20 minutes but traffic is often against you here in Sydney so it will more often than not take a lot longer, especially as you get closer to the city.
Shuttle: The other option is to get to the city via shuttle bus. The two companies the airport use are Ready2Go and Mozio both have information desks in both terminals inside the airport. The cost of the shuttle bus varies depending on how what time you land and where your accommodation is based. Follow the links above which will take you to the websites required for a price estimation.
Opal Cards: To travel on public transport in Sydney you’ll need an Opal Card. Opal Cards are the equivalent of a GoCard in Brisbane or Oyster Card in London. Top them up via a pay station or via the Opal App and tap on and off on each journey. You’ll be able to use these cards on all transport in Sydney. You can still pay on some buses and trains but the expectation is that you have an Opal card – your fare will be cheaper with one too! You can purchase from the airport, newsagents, supermarkets so you won’t have trouble getting hold of one! It’s $10 to buy one which you can get back if you return it at the end of your trip!
Be Savy: Weigh your options up wisely when it comes to transport into the city. What is going to be the cheapest and fastest option? It’s more than likely going to be the train which is the mode of transport I always suggest and opt for myself! But if your travelling in a large group a shuttle or taxi split between you all may be cheaper so make sure you think outside the box! Do you have a friend, relative in Sydney with a car? Could they pick you up!
For more Information on public transport from the airport in Sydney go here!
Getting Around Sydney
Sydney is a big city and with only a 3-day itinerary there’s going to be some walking and public transport involved. Get your Opal Card as mentioned above, a robust pair of shoes and your phone fully charged, you will need Google Maps!
The easiest way to navigate the city circle is via walking or the trains.
The Ferry’s to the bay’s surrounding the city, basically, if you cross water you can catch a ferry there BUT they are expensive!
Buses are very regular and go to most places in Sydney.
Where to Stay in Sydney – 3-Day Itinerary to Sydney
In Sydney when it comes to finding some accommodation you’ll be overwhelmed with choice. From backpackers hostels to swanky hotels boasting spectacular views of the Harbour. It all really depends if you’re in town to save or splurge!
No matter where in the world I am I usually book my accommodation through either booking.com or Air BnB! We are budget travellers so always looking for the best offer! With booking.com you almost always have to the option to cancel up to 48 hours before. So top tip? Book through booking.com and keep searching if you find a cheaper deal you can always cancel and rebook other accommodation on booking.com or elsewhere. I did this for my trip to New York as the prices were constantly fluctuating and I stumbled on a corker of a deal giving me an upgraded room for a quarter of the price!
Location of Accommodation
Sydney is one huge place that can be overwhelming. There’s Air BnB’s and hostels everywhere you turn so it can be tricky to know where to base yourself. For the purpose of this 3-Day Itinerary to Sydney, I’m going to be sharing places to stay in the city centre. Over these 3-days you’ll be exploring the city, some beaches and some areas North of the Harbour Bridge so being in the city places you right in the middle. This means you’ll have easy transport links throughout your stay in Sydney.
If you do want to stay on the beach then I’d recommend staying in either Bondi or Manly.
To save money on your accommodation in Sydney then I would recommend either staying in a hostel or an Air BnB. With only a 3-day itinerary to Sydney, a hostel in a shared room or room in an Air BnB will be perfect. You’re not there for long and you’ll be saving a lot of dollars to spend elsewhere! Like the bar?
Hostels in Sydney
YHA Sydney Harbour: One of the most popular Hostels in Sydney make sure you book in advance. The Sydney Harbour Hostel is a great place to stay during your visit. It’s got all the facilities you need and gorgeous views of the harbour for cheap prices! Travel Blogger Mollie Bylett recently hosted one of her Where’s Mollie Global Travellers Tours here which you can check out on her blog here! Dorm rooms start from AUD 35 per night = GBP 16.80 Per Person Per Night.
The YHA even has a rooftop terrace!
The POD Pitt Street: The Pod Hostel on Pitt Street is another great city centre option. Hot with backpackers as one of the coolest hostels in Sydney you’ll be close to everything you need in the city. With multiple dorm options available its a great choice for those not bothered about sharing rooms. A night at The POD again starts at approx 40 AUD = 21 GBP
Air BnB Air BnB is by far my favourite way to find great places to stay for a great price! We’ve stayed in loads of rooms found on Air BnB since arriving in Australia and haven’t been disappointed with any of them! The hosts have all been great and often given us tips and tricks that go beyond the guidebook! I love being able to chat with the locals and get their take on the city!
If you’d like any recommendations on which suburbs to stay in on your trip to Sydney then please email me at [email protected], leave a comment below or send me a direct message over on Instagram and I would love to help you out!
Hotels in Sydney – Splurge!
Okay if you’ve got the cash to spare then I’m going to recommend a hotel that I’ve heard some really great things about. The Shang Ri La Hotel located on Circular Quay towers over the city offering some magnificent views of both, The Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. It’s an extremely popular choice with holidaymakers, businessmen/women and Instagrammers! The famous shot of people looking through the window out onto the harbour? You can find that here!
But all that luxury is going to cost and prices start at 200 AUD Per night = 100 GBP
Take a look at available accommodation in Sydney below using the interactive map!
For more information on how to book the best accommodation for your stay in Sydney then head over to this guide by AllTheRooms.com This guide travel guide to Australia goes into the best places to stay in the land down under. It also goes into the price/availability of accommodation over the year, which I know will be helpful to some of your budget travellers! Check it out here!
Now we’ve got all the logistics out of the way lets get onto the good stuff, how to spend 3 days in Sydney!
3 Day Itinerary to Sydney – Day one
Visit Circular Quay
Circular Quay is the Sydney tourism hub, you may love or hate that fact. But it’s true. Circular Quay is filled with busy tourists from all over the world all with one mission. To visit The Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s the busiest place in the city and probably the most extraordinary. Once stood before these famous landmarks you’ll have to pinch yourself that you’re really living that moment.
Spend some time taking in the views, enjoying the scenes of both the Bridge and Opera House. You can see both the famous sights for free. If you want to go inside the Opera House but don’t have time to watch a show, which with just 3 short days you won’t, you can take a tour inside for just 40 AUD/20 GBP. Tours run daily lasting around one hour. Always book in advance for an extra discount. The tours are available in English, French, German, Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese and Korean.
If the views enough for you then make sure you grab a drink at Opera Bar and enjoy it even more! A beer with views like this, who can complain? Alcohol starts off at AUD 10/6 GBP upwards per drink in Sydney. Beer is cheapest then wine and then cocktails. I wouldn’t order a cocktail at Opera Bar as they take an age to be made! – Just being honest.
Visit the Botanical Gardens
As you walk past the Sydney Opera House you’ll see the Royal Botanical Gardens. A scenic haven filled with lush green lawns, beautiful flowers and far cry from the madness of the city. Take a picnic and a stroll around the gardens. My favourite place to enjoy life in the gardens is at Busbys Bar, a little bar that sits in a shipping container. Grab a deck chair and watch the world go by. There’s also usually exhibits on in the gardens if sitting around isn’t your thing!
As you walk past Busbys at the far side of the Botanical Gardens keep walking to Mrs Maquiries Chair. Here you’ll find the epic postcard view of the harbour! This is also a brilliant place to watch the sunset over the city, I haven’t included it in this 3-day Itinerary to Sydney but if you’d prefer it over Darling Harbour then head back here! The gardens lock the gates at 8 pm November-February during the summer but it does vary at other times of the year. Keep updated here. But you can still access Mrs Maquiraires Chair via the road.
Visit The Art Gallery of New South Wales
The Art Gallery of New South Wales is located at the other side of the Botanical Gardens to Mrs Maquiraires chair and is completely free to enjoy. If you enjoy art then you’ll love the four levels of art located at the gallery with different exhibitions from all over the world! You can keep up to date on what’s going to be on when you visit through their website.
Sydney Tower Eye
For 360 degree views of the city beneath you, it’s time to head to the Sydney Tower Eye! The Sydney Tower Eye is located inside the famous sphere building you see in the photographs. It’s a view you don’t want to miss! Buy tickets online for the cheapest option starting at 23 AUD per person/12.50 GBP.
Dine at Darling Harbour
Check what time sunset is during your visit and head to Darling Harbour for an evening of great food, drinks and an amazing sunset. The weather is usually uncredible in Sydney so the chances of you getting a good sunset are high! Darling Harbour is filled with over 100 places to dine and drink making you spoilt for choice! If you are watching the cash then get there early as everywhere has an early bird option!
Top Tip: if you’re visiting on a Saturday then you can enjoy free fireworks every Saturday from 9 pm at Darling Harbour Sydney.
Day Two – 3 Day Itinerary to Sydney
Bondi – Coogee Coastal Walk
Coastal Walks are Sydney’s thing! I can think of six straight of the bat without even thinking about it. So trying to decide which one to include in this guide was so hard! I’ve gone for the Bondi-Coogee coastal walk because it’s one of the most famous and also one of the most beautiful. On my first trip to Sydney, we tackled this walk on one of our first days and it took my breath away. The views of the coast are epic along with great beaches and snorkelling spots throughout. You’re going to want your swimmers for this one!
The Bondi-Coogee walk stretches along beaches, cliff tops and amazing footpaths winding along the coast. The walk itself is 6 km, just over 3 miles. It takes around two hours but I’d spend the majority of the day exploring the walk, lounging on the beaches and swimming in the ocean and various free swimming pools Sydney has to offer! I’d say the walk is easy-medium in difficulty. There are a few steep hills and stairs to climb on the way. It isn’t really wheelchair friendly and taking a pram/stroller would be difficult.
For more in-depth information about the trail then head to this website!
Start at Bondi Beach
To get to Bondi Beach from the city you need to get the train to Bondi Junction and then the 333 bus to Bondi Beach. Don’t be alarmed if the bus doesn’t stop. The 333 is full to brim with eager beach goes every day and won’t stop when it’s full just be patient and wait for the next one. They run every 6 minutes so you’re never waiting for long.
Get off the bus where everybody else does or as soon as you see the beach. I have a feeling you’ll be surprised by how beautiful Bondi is. I expected it to be trashy and full of tourists, whilst the latter is true everybody is there to have a great time. Spend some time on the beach and taking in the cool street art that lines the broad walk just above the sand. Pick up some snacks from the shops and then walk towards the iconic Bondi Icebergs which is where the coastal walk begins. There are signs throughout on which way to go but if in doubt follow the crowds! You can swim at the Bondi Icebergs but you do have to pay and there’s a tonne of other swimming holes on this walk so I’d sit tight on that one!
Bondi – Tamarama
As walk past Australias most famous beach, past the Icebergs and onto the footpath that weaves around the coastline. The distance to Tamarama is 1.2km taking half an hour. There’s an aboriginal rock engraving on the way around and great spots to get that beautiful photo! The beach at Tamarama is one of the smallest on this walk and though not as popular as Bondi or Bronte it’s one my person favourites. We have plenty of memories here including Christmas Day 2018! The beach is good and surf even better!
Tamarama – Bronte
This is the shortest distance during the walk taking only minutes from one beach onto the next! Bronte is one of a kind. The beach is golden in colour and has some special swimming spots! Where the ocean meets the shore on the right-hand side of the beach is the Rock Pool where you can swim in if you don’t fancy taking a dip in the open water! A little further on you’ll find the Bogey hole which is a free public swimming pool and my favourite one in Sydney. Sydney is full of free swimming holes like this you’ll find at most of the beaches so make sure you have a little look around!
Bronte is a great place to grab some lunch if you didn’t pack a picnic. There’s a short strip of cafes and restaurants as you walk away from the beach on the left. We ate at Jenny’s Cafe the first time we took on this walk filling up with Eggs Benedict to get us around the rest of it!
Clovelly is a popular place to snorkel in Sydney so if you’ve got on then bring it along! The walk to Clovelly is fairly easy and takes 40 minutes to about an hour at 2.2 km or 1.3 miles, depending on how fast you walk. You’ll enjoy the scenic views of the ocean and can look back on Bondi Beach from a distance! Walk past the historic Waverley Cemetary and down onto Clovelly beach before embarking on the final leg of the walk.
Clovelly – Coogee
The final few miles! Again taking up to an hour at 1.8 km or 1.1 miles this stretch is the most difficult. Your walking on steep cliff tops, up some very steep slopes and up a lot of stairs! They save the best til last right? But that soft white sand and ocean waves crashing against the Coogee are well worth it! When you arrive in Coogee you can pull out your towel and head to the beach, giving yourself a well-deserved rest. There’s plenty of bars and ice cream stands nearby so treat yourself after all that walking! If you’re looking for more swimming then head to Wylie Baths, another free swimming pool!
You can see from these photographs how beautiful this walk really is and it’s better in person. Coastal walks are around every corner in Sydney but this is one of if not the best! The only one that I think comes in close is the Watsons Bay lighthouse walk because there you get amazing views of the city from afar, but only one beach! It’s definitely swings and roundabouts with most things in Sydney.
Dine at The Rocks
After all that walking it’s time to explore historic Sydney and chill out at The Rocks. The Rocks are what I like to call a slice of England in Sydney. It reminds of The Shambles in York, I think because of it’s cobbled streets! The Rocks are amazing to see at night because it’s all strung together by fairy lights looking all pretty and magical!
If your budget is tight then go back to your accommodation to cook a meal if you have the option but The Rocks have some fantastic options for food! For you pub lovers out there this is where you’ll find your traditional pubs in Sydney rather than bars. Visit Sydney’s oldest pub The Fortune of War in The Rocks! I’d also recommend visiting the Glenmore Hotel for an awesome view of the city with your drink in hand!
For a full list of other places to eat and drink take a look at what’s on at The Rocks here.
Final Day – 3 Day Itinerary to Sydney
Queen Victoria Building
With so much fun to be had in and amongst this city, it was hard trying to narrow it down for the final day but I managed it! The final day of this itinerary is all about taking in the heart and culture of the city. And of course, catching more views of that all impressive Sydney Harbour. On your last day make sure you’re up bright and early to start the day in the city. Head over to the Queen Victoria Building which is impressive from head to toe, inside and out.
The architecture of the outside is phenomenal and the detail inside is just as inspiring. You’ve got to visit the top floor and to experience The Royal Clock which you can see photographed below, it is really quite something! The QVB building is now a shopping centre where you can find more upmarket buys if you wish – personally I just love looking around the building.
Walk the Harbour Bridge
It’s not really possible to visit Sydney and not get close to the Harbour Bridge! There are few options when it comes to this grand piece of Sydney from climbing, walking and cycling. Hire a cycle and cycle over the Harbour Bridge taking in the views whilst having a laugh at the same time.
The second most popular option is to tackle the bridge climb! You’ll be guaranteed picture-perfect views of this majestic city when you reach the top but it isn’t for the faint-hearted! It’s also expensive around 200 AUD that’s around 100 GBP to climb the bridge! If your heart is set on conquering this climb then you can find out more here. For a cheaper option and one with less adrenaline, you can go up Pylon lookout for just 50 AUD or 25 GBP which might be more up your street.
But if you prefer to have two feet firmly on the ground at all times simply walk the bridge. You’ll get the same views just a little lower down. The bridge takes around 30-60 minutes to walk across depending on how fast you are and how many times you stop for photographs on the way!
The best views of Sydney are from Milsons point. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, I adore the views from Milsons point. You get the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and City Skyline all in one! There are lovely little walking tracks that go along the front of the water down here. It’s a wonderful spot for a picnic and home to Sydney Harbours Olympic swimming pool. If you’ve got little ones or are still a big kid yourself you’ll find the Luna Park here too even if just for a photograph. It’s free entry but you do have to pay to go on the rides.
Once you’ve finished exploring Milsons Point jump on the ferry back to Circular Quay. It does cost $7 but the views from the water are worth it, especially on the final day of this 3 day itinerary to Sydney.
I hope you enjoyed this 3 Day Itinerary to Sydney! If you want to print out this guide and take it on your travels you can download the PDF here! (It would make me so freaking happy so if you do be sure to take a picture with it and tag me!) This is definitely not the only way to spend 3 days in Sydney but for first-timers, it’s a great way to get all the major sights in. Of course, there are heaps more things to do like, going to Manly, Taronga Zoo, Manly to Spit Bridge Coastal Walk, Watsons Bay and not to mention all the suburbs there are to explore! I can’t wait to dive into some more guides and help make your travel time in Sydney easier!
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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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Heading to Byron Bay this year? Well if you are I’ve got a great bunch of Things to Do in Byron Bay in 2019 right here! PS. I’m extremely jealous and hate you a little at the moment.
As we crossed the border from Queensland to New South Wales we could hardly believe that we were heading into the last week of our road trip. We had spent the three weeks before this one exploring the beauty of the Australian East Coast. From golden beaches longer than you can imagine, 92% silica sand, floated in freshwater lakes and danced in breathtaking waterfalls. So as we approach our last leg or the trip, I had one question on my mind, can this possibly get any better?
From the moment that we joined the queue of rusty old camper vans, yes I was lusting over each one, Byron Bay captured my heart almost instantaneously. Famous for being one of Australia’s most sought after backpacking destinations I was a little dubious to how I’d like Byron Bay. I had imagined a town bursting with students and eighteen-year-old brits knocking back too much goon on the beach! Whilst, of course, there was some of that I was greeted completely by surprised as we drove through the town taking in the sights we were greeted with. From young families, students newlyweds to retirees, it appeared that nobody would be stuck for things to do in Byron Bay this year (or any year), no matter how candles you blew out on your last birthday.
In this post, I want to chat about all the remarkable things to do in Byron Bay in 2019. Because this surfer town, believe it or not, has so much more to do than surf! Whether you’re into lazing around on the picture-perfect beaches to hiking through the hinterland, Byron Bay has you covered. You even might be lucky enough to meet some of the locals (No I’m not talking about the local guitarist either!)
Things to Do in Byron Bay!
Cape Byron Light House Walk
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while (thank you) then you’ll know that as well as being a beach babe I love being active! Growing up in Sheffield in the UK hiking is a way of life for us in the Peak District so any chance for a good walk to keep the muscles going, I’m in! My favourite way to explore a new place is on foot, that way you don’t whizz past anything incredible by accident! So we knew immediately that we would tackle the Cape Byron Light House Walk! If you’re in good shape/active, I say this because there are a fair few steep hills on this trail, then you must do the lighthouse walk! You are seriously missing out on some of the best views that Byron has to offer if you don’t do it – It just isn’t an option right?
The Cape Byron Light House walk is a 3.7-kilometre walk and will take anything from 1-3 hours, but plan for the latter because you’ll be stopping a lot to take in the scenery. The walk starts from the bay but you can choose various starting points whether it’s from the beach or the real start of the trail! We started at the trail because we walked from the campsite (which took our walk up to about 5 kilometre’s, cue one very sweaty couple!). You can check out this website for the official trail route, maps and tonnes of information about the walk. As you make your way up to the lighthouse, an architectural wonder itself, you stroll along beaches, clifftops, bush walkways, rainforests and even a café/bar if you fancy a beer or wine to get you up those hills!
As if the natural beauty of the walk wasn’t enough you’ll also get to see some epic landmarks too! Like, did you know that Byron Bay is home to the most easterly point in Australia? Well you do now and you’re going to walk straight through it (and take an obligatory photograph of course!) And to top it all of you’ll get to meet some of the locals too.
I think that’s what made this walk so magical for me was the wild and sea life we were lucky enough to spot! As much as we enjoyed spending time at Australia Zoo it’s always a magical feeling when you see animals in their natural habitat, which is exactly where they should be. During our hike we got to see not one but TWO pods of dolphins, a lizard that totally freaked me out because it looked like a snake with feet (see photograph below!) and little did we know that Byron Bay would be the place that we spotted a Koala in the wild, which if you’ve been to Australia you’ll know they can be hard buggers to spot!
I may be a little biased because of the blissful weather we had and the wild and marine life we got to see but the Cape Byron Walk has to be on the top of your list of things to do in Byron Bay! But if you are unable to make the walk due to health reasons or you simply can’t be arsed then at least take a drive up to the lighthouse as the views really are breathtaking and this is where we spotted our pods of dolphins!
Close your eyes and imagine a rainbow coloured street, rainbow-painted houses, shops, public toilets you name it, everywhere is painted the colours of the rainbow. Imagine vintage shops lining the streets and shops so full that whatever they are selling is spilling out of every nook and cranny, there’s a certain smell in the air, not dirty but definitely not clean either. And if you’re really creative you might even imagine being asked if you’d like to try one of Nimbin’s speciality cookies on several occasions as you walk down the street mesmerised by what you’re witnessing before your eyes.
If you’ve already been to Nimbin then you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about! When you visit Byron Bay you have to take a drive up to see it, a tiny rainbow-infused town nestled in the hills of the hinterland.
About an hour or so inland from Byron Bay is the town where people sell you weed on the streets and offer you cookies, yep you guess it full of weed as well. For the locals, it’s their way of life and probably really normal but it’s something I haven’t experienced too much of – very hard to write this without sounding like a total snob (Which I really am not!). If I could explain Nimbin to you it’s the exact definition of free-spirited land hippy living. I guess Nimbin is what I expected Byron Bay to be like. Which if you’ve ever visited both places you’ll know how different they really are!
We arrived in Byron Bay late afternoon on our first day so we decided to head to the main beach and take a stroll and boy am I glad we did! What was meant to be a short walk for some fresh sea air and to get the sand between our toes again turned out to be major beach exploration! We ended up walking a good length of the beach from main, all the way down to The Pass. The Pass is one of the most famous places in Byron Bay to surf but the waves were tame so the beach luckily for us was tame too. If you are heading to Byron Bay in the summer be mindful that this section of the beach will be jam-packed! That said it’s still worth a visit just to see Fisherman’s Lookout.
You won’t be able to miss Fisherman’s Lookout, sometimes called staircase rock when you reach The Pass! The lookout is a rock formation that looks back on Byron Bay and out into the glittering ocean and is simply stunning. The lookout is a natural landmark made from rocks that have been formed over the years. Make your way up the rickety steps and take it all in!
Visit the Byron Bay Markets
One of the things I adore about Byron Bay is its vintage chic feel. From the shops to the people Byron is full of a hippie, free-spirited and relaxed vibe. It even comes through in some of the shops you visit and the markets in Byron Bay are incredible! Byron Bay has markets twice a week and extra ones dotted around the year, so you’ll no doubt stumble upon one or two no matter when you visit! We were lucky enough to be in town during the Twilight Markets which are held every Saturday from October to Easter.
These markets gave us everything from glorious food to some talented local artists, photographers, dressmakers and heaps more! Byron Bay also holds a large flea market full of everything you can think of every second Saturday! You can check out this website for a list of the local markets and what dates they are on, so you can be sure to be in town!
Take a Surf Lesson with Let’s Go Surfing
Okay, so I may be kind of cheating a little with this one but don’t give up on me just yet! The ultimate activity we longed to do in Byron Bay was to surf! I mean come on Byron Bay is the place to surf! It’s where every Aussie hit’s up for the holidays to get out on the waves! But we kind of had a freak out when we saw the price, yes surfing is expensive and decided to be sensible sausages and save it for another time! That said we have had now had three epic surfing lessons in Sydney with the same company that run the surf lessons in Byron Bay!
Let’s Go Surfing is the only surfing company on Bondi Beach down south and teach hundreds of amateurs to surf a week! The experience we’ve had with these guys has been world-class and I wouldn’t recommend any other surf company! We even managed to stand up on the boards on our first lesson! The surf is good in Sydney but I know it can be better in Byron and whilst you’re visiting the ultimate surf town it would be rude not to give it a go right? But if you’re like us and strapped for cash because you blew it all on the rest of your roadie, then fear not you can hop on aboard when you get to Sydney!
Sunrise at Tallow Beach
What is it about the sunrise that makes you raring to go for the day? I can remember the day we headed to watch the sunrise at Tallow beach like it was this morning. As the alarm rings in my ears at 5:30 am I’d already been lying awake for half an hour prior. You see, camper-vans aren’t very soundproof and those Australian birds are singing at the top of their beaks way before the sun is up! But I could think of a lot worse noises to wake up to, I loved listening to them as I lay in the back of our home on wheels.
When Dave is eventually ready to head to the beach we look like two ninjas in the dark stumbling out of the van! Without a care in the world, we walk 500 yards and we are on the beach, crazy I know, it was 5:30 am and I was stood on a beach in Australia, in my pyjamas waiting for the sun to rear its head. It honestly felt like it was a movie.
I vividly remember being shocked at how many people were out at that time in the morning walking their dogs, jogging or just having a stroll! But if I lived that close the beach then I reckon I’d be there most mornings (note to self, get to Bondi Beach in the mornings more often!). The sky was clear with just two strands of pink cloud, looking a lot like candy floss in the distance. The sunrise was simply spectacular and well worth getting up early for!
Now, Tallow Beach is about a 15-minute drive from Byron Bay in Suffolk and I highly recommend you get up there for sunrise if you can, you can see the lighthouse in the distance as well as the glistening ocean with your feet buried in the sand! Another popular option for the sunrise is actually heading up to the lighthouse – we are saving this one for our next trip!
After the sunrise make sure you head to Suffolk Bakery and grab a pastry and coffee – they honestly do the best of both in Byron! There wasn’t a day or time when this bakery wasn’t bustling with people, the smell of homemade baking goods lures you in from the street and honestly, it tastes just as good as it looks!
Soak up the sun on some of Australia’s most stunning beaches!
The Byron coastline is full of fantastic beaches! From the gorgeous Main beach to the more quiet and mellow Tallow Beach, you are spoilt for choice! They all ooze beauty with glorious waters to swim, paddle and splash around in! There is even a tonne of water sports activities you can get on board within Byron Bay! You can go here for some more details on those!
It can be difficult when choosing which beaches to explore especially when you’re on a time constraint – we had the same problem so I feel ya! That said we did manage to get around a few of them like a pair of beach hussies on the loose! So below are our favourites & the ones we think you should visit!
Stating the obvious I know, but it’s impressive how many people avoid the main beaches of coastal towns like Byron Bay because of the high volumes of tourism people expect to find! The Main beach in Byron Bay wasn’t like that at all and it has so much more to offer than just a beach. Begin on the grass near the car park and you’ll be invited in by acoustic music!
We listened to a fair few talented guitarists during our visit! You can bring a picnic up the grass and just listen and hang out on there if you like! Or you can drop down onto the beach which yes, will be busy but still beautiful. Main Beach importantly has lifeguards patrolling which is somewhat lacking on the other beaches! So if you’re up for a swim in the sea the best place to be is Main Beach so you can stay safe and swim between those flags!
I know I’ve already talked about how tranquil this beach is but that isn’t just at sunrise. Tallow Beach is stunning at all times of the day! The view of the lighthouse makes it extra special as does the lack of people! If you’re looking for a quieter strip of sand so that you can fall right into the pages of that holiday read then Tallow Beach is the place for you! You won’t find any facilities at Tallow beach so make sure you’ve plenty of food and an empty bladder!
We stumbled across this lovely little bay and beach area when we were hiking up to the lighthouse! A gorgeous little cove makes for an idyllic place for a sunbathe, swim and BBQ! There is a car park, a grassed area and plenty of facilities for your toileting needs! A perfect place for a group get together and family fun!
I briefly mentioned The Pass in an earlier section but I just want to touch on it a little more here. This can be one of the busiest spots in Byron due to the awesome waves that surfers love to ride when the conditions are right!
My advice would be to stay out of the water if you find yourself here on a day like this – best not to get wiped out by a surfboard, unless you’re a pro that is! But this beach is definitely worth a visit. I don’t know about you but I love watching surfers and it’s home to Fisherman’s Lookout, a perfect place to spot marine life and gaze onto the horizon. As well as that, like every spot in Byron, it’s perfect to sunbathe!
The great thing about Byron Bay is that it’s surrounded by trees, whether it’s pandanas, palm trees or pine trees you’re bound to find a spot of shade on any of the beaches! The most open of the four I’d say is tallow beach.
Eat Your Weight in Gelato
Okay, so I’m for sure not a foodie blogger but god do I love my food and Dave certainly loves his deserts! I had to give this place mention in this post because the Gelato we had from this counter was unreal! I have never tasted anything so light, like ever! Bella Rose has every flavour you can think of from coconut to Ferrero Rocher and it doesn’t make you feel all frumpy afterwards – it’s honestly THE BEST!
Bonus Tip: Where to Park Your Home on Wheels
Before you go I just thought I’d add one more piece of information to this post! Of course, the best way to travel the Aussie east coast is by camper van! So if you’re like us and jumped on the bandwagon, or van in this case! You’ll notice as you drive further south the pricing for the campsites slowly starts to increase! When in Byron Bay I recommend staying at Suffolk Beachfront Holiday Park! Though about a 10 – 15-minute drive from the centre it’s a lot cheaper than some of the sites nearer the city & a bonus is that it’s set back from Tallow Beach! You can have a look at their website here but I couldn’t recommend it more!
We had more than two during our five days here! There are, of course, countless ice cream counters throughout the town, you only have to turn your head sideways and another one will most certainly be in you’re view!
So, in case you didn’t quite get the message in this post-Byron Bay has a very large chunk of my heart. I would go as far as to say I could happily live in Byron Bay for a long period of time. The people, the culture, the lifestyle isn’t anything short of perfection! & some of those houses dotted around the bay – wow! I might want to live there but whether I could ever afford would be another story, I’ll let you know if I ever make it!
But honestly, I would happy in the back of pastel green VW camper van for the foreseeable future! There are so many things to do in Byron Bay and we only scratched the surface but I look forward to updating this post the more we get to go back and explore!
Why is Byron Bay Special to us?
Byron Bay is a magical place and honestly it was the most at peace with ourselves we felt the whole road trip. We even made a huge decision whilst strolling the beach.
When we first arrived in Australia we were adamant we going to undertake the 88 days of rural farm work you have to do to extend you’re working holiday visa (Check out my post about WHV’S here). But in reality, neither of us were really being honest with each other. I was secretly dreading the whole thing, so much so that it was stopping me enjoying Australia to the full! Dave, on the other hand, would be able to hack the farm work but was wondering how I’d handle it! Turns out I ’m just not cut out for it and that’s okay.
So it was as we walked hand in hand on Wategos beach that we decided, no farm work! I suddenly felt a weight lifted from my shoulders and a deeper love from Byron Bay! It might sound crazy but this place for sure has something special about it!
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Byron Bay was just one of the amazing spots we loved on the East Coast of Australia. I’m so excited to finally be writing about each and every place! You can take a look at all of the destinations we hit up on our road trip in part 1 (Queensland) and part 2 (New South Wales) – click on the states!
After living in Brisbane Australia for six months I wouldn’t call myself an expert on the city but I’d say I’m pretty close. After a lot of exploring we quickly learnt that there’s a lot of things to great things to do in this city despite its ‘unpopularity’ score with a lot of backpackers in Australia. Brisbane is definitely one of the less famous cities down under. The majority of people visiting Australia head to the likes of Sydney or Melbourne, just passing through Brisbane perhaps on an East Coast road trip. Brisbane lives in the shadows of the bigger cities but I hope that I can convince more people to give Brisbane more of a chance starting with sharing The Ten Best Things to Do in Brisbane City!
Granted the city of Brisbane is somewhat smaller than those of Melbourne and Sydney but its got a lot going for it. I like to describe Brisbane as a cultural haven. If you’re into brunch, coffee shops, getting up early for walks along the river, food markets and live music then Brisbane is the city for you! There are also heaps of free things to do in this city, I have a whole other post dedicated to the best free things to do in Brisbane here.
The Ten Best Things to do in Brisbane City
1. Visit Streets Beach on South Bank
“Everyone’s favourite, South Bank” the words of the sailors as the free city hopper anchors on the end of the jetty.
South Bank is the entertainment hub of Brisbane with a buzz about the air no matter come day or night. South Bank is one of my favourite places in Brisbane. Lined with cafes, restaurants, shops, and bars it’s the social capital of the city. Its also home to Streets Beach.
The one thing that drags Brisbane down in comparison to other Australian cities is that it isn’t on the coast. Brisbane is located over one hour inland from the East Coast. Whilst you can easily get to the coast on public transport or by car the city decided to take matters into its own hands and build a man-made beach. This little beach is definitely on the best things to do in Brisbane city and is loved by so many.
Locals, travellers you name it those living or staying in Brissy for a little bit of time are in that lagoon cooling down come summertime!
2. Indulge at Eat Street Markets
Do you love food? Then Brisbane is your city! The ultimate favourite foodie haven in the city is Eat Street Markets! I actually think I could write a whole blog post on how amazing this place is! The Eat Street Markets sit at the end of the ferry route in Northshore Hamilton and is easily accessible by the City Cat ferry. Imagine all your favourite food cuisines in one place and I mean hundreds of different cuisines, all sat on the edge of the river in huge shipping containers!
You’ve got everything from starter to dessert and curry to fish and chips, there is something for everyone! But Eat Street Markets is more than just a place to go and eat it’s an experience. The market is only open Friday – Sunday but there’s a live stage with different acts performing every week. It’s mostly music but the atmosphere is amazing. Kids get up and dance on the grass whilst adults watch on and by late Saturday everyone is up singing and dancing after knocking back a few beverages!
3. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
What animals do you think of when you think of Australia? Kangaroos? Crocodiles? Koalas? Me too! And you can see all of these at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane! It’s hands down one of the best things to do in Brisbane city even though it’s about an hour away but I’m still counting it!! The sanctuary first opened its doors way back in 1927 to sick and injured Koalas. Although Koalas aren’t yet an endangered species in Australia they are hunted for their fur a lot in the wild and their future definitely isn’t 100% certain.
You can get up close and personal with these Australian natives and even hold a Koala if you would like to. I don’t personally agree with this practice because Koalas are a wild animal and not supposed to interact with humans. The sanctuary do say that they put practices in place to protect the Koalas whilst being held but it’s something you should research first. There are also a variety of other Aussie natives at the sanctuary including injured joeys, kangaroos and dingoes.
4. Walk or Cycle The New Farm River Walk
This walk comes up in most of my posts about Brisbane probably because it’s one of the nicest walks in the city! This walks runs from the suburb of New Farm back into the city centre suspended on a bridge above the water. The New Farm River Walk was rebuilt after the previous walkway was destroyed in the disastrous 2011 Brisbane floods! It’s just over a mile long and super easy. You’ll walk around the winding river taking in views of Kangaroo Point and the Story Bridge.
If you want to mix up a little then grab a city cycle and cycle instead of walking! Cycling is a popular option in Brisbane and you can literally hire city cycle bikes for free around every corner! Brisbane is quite flat so it’s easy to cycle around which is why I think people would say that cycling is one of the best things to do in Brisbane city.
5. Kangaroo Point Cliffs Broadwalk/ River Activities
Kangaroo Point is home to some great cliff edges and along the top, you can follow a Broadwalk which will take you along the top of the cliffs and then down to the waterfront. This walk is host to some of the best views of the city so make sure you have your camera in tow! Sunrise is the best time to go and watch the city come alive from the cliff tops. The sun will rise behind the Story Bridge so you get a gorgeous warm reflecting over the city.
As well as being one of the best places to capture great shots of the city Kangaroo point is home to River Life Adventure Centre where you can hire kayaks, climb and abseil down the cliffs. Again sunrise kayak will give you an amazing view of the city.
6. Cruise Brisbane River
Seen as Brisbane is built upon the river it would rude not to appreciate the natural wonder and cruise along! Brisbane has so many options when it comes to exploring the river! The City Hopper and City Cat are Brisbane’s public transport ferries that go up and down the river. The city hopper is free and only covers the main stops around the CBD. The city cat, however, stops for miles along the river and you can hop on-off for two hours without having to buy another ticket!
Brisbane also offers tonnes of private boats that you can enjoy on the river. The two most popular are the Seadeck, seen as Brisbane’s river party boat and the Kookaburra Showboat a more relaxed dine and cruise experience!
The Best Things to Do in Brisbane City!
7. Visit or Hike Mount Coot Tha
A mere twenty-five minutes bus journey out of Brisbane and across the city towards the suburb and mountain of Mount Coot Tha. Mount Coot Tha is a great lookout for the whole city! You can see the whole of Brisbane river, the CBD and you can even see Moreton Island and North Stradbroke Island in the distance! North Stradbroke Island is a wonderful island for a day if you have extra time in Brisbane, I wrote a post on that here! Make sure you head up on a clear day, which isn’t hard to get in Brisbane! There are two restaurants at the summit of Mount Coot Tha so you can enjoy a spot of lunch with a fantastic view!
8. Ride The Brisbane Wheel
This is the only thing that we haven’t actually done! I was sceptical as to whether I even include this or not. But even though I don’t share the same opinion people seem to love big wheels! Other than the London eye I haven’t really embarked on any big wheel experiences and when I did take a ride on the London eye I was massively disappointed! The prices of these things are silly! Sure the views are good from the top but I bet you can find a great rooftop bar with the same view and you get to enjoy a lovely cocktail or two! What could be better?
That said people who visit love the Brisbane Big Wheel so if you’re a fan of seeing some great views then apparently this is the place to be! It costs $21 so it’s not going to break the bank! The architecture of the wheel itself is brilliant! Its located on South Bank so you won’t miss it!
9. Free Yoga under The Story Bridge!
This is a fairly new addition to Brisbane but if you happen to be in the city on a Monday night you have to take advantage of a free yoga session! This yoga class isn’t just any class but a yoga and beer class! Hosted by Felons Brewery underneath the Story Bridge it’s a great thing to enjoy. Take your travel partner or go it solo and stretch off. The views are wonderful and the bonus is of course that it’s free.
The botanical gardens in Brisbane are beautiful. With lush green lawns and gorgeous water features, the botanical gardens are a great place to relax. It’s the perfect spot in Brisbane for a picnic or just a walk around. I recommend walking all the way around the botanical gardens to reach South Bank on the other side.
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I hope you enjoyed this post on the ten best things to do in Brisbane city! Don’t forget if you have any questions or need any more advice on Brisbane then leave a comment below! Or if you’d prefer to drop us an email at [email protected]
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