"After a smooth flight from Auckland we arrived in Cairns around 9am in 40 degree blistering heat. Dear Jesus it was hot! So we hopped in a taxi and headed to our party hostel Gilligan’s. We were fairly wrecked having slept very little the night before so spent the day making our travel plan for the coming month, which was working out about the same price of a small mortgage. After an early night we booked all our transport and trips the next morning having secured the loan from AIB. This was followed by a mid-afternoon jog along the beach which must go down as one of the most horrendous calls in this short life as we looked like tomatoes after 20 minutes. We cooled off by the lagoon and that evening we were introduced to the world famous Goon, which is dirt cheap wine in a bag. 4 litres costs about €8. God bless the Goon. Once you can get over the initial horrible taste and the fact that it contains traces of fish and eggs, it actually goes down quite smoothly!
We were up at 6am the next day and headed down the port and hopped on the boat to Green Island which is the closest island to Cairns in the Great Barrier Reef. We arrived around 9am, collected our snorkelling gear and headed down the beach to have a swim around. We spotted many fish and coral, but visibility greatly improved during the afternoon, so that we also saw a shark and turtle. We were a bit confused for a while as every person on the island was Asian, so we weren’t sure if we got on the wrong boat or something. We got the boat back to Cairns around 4pm and quickly applied the after sun before retiring to our sleeping quarters.
We were up at the 6am the following morning to get the bus to Airlie Beach, but by God was the walk to the bus stop excruciating in the heat!
We arrived at Airlie Beach early in the morning, which has its bus station bizarrely located a long walk outside the town and made our way to the hostel. We checked in and had a little dip in the pool before heading for some dinner and a few beers in the evening. Nothing too strenuous! The next day was much the same, but we headed down the lagoon for the day adding to our already beautiful tans. We took it easy for the night as the following day we were off on our boat trip to the Whitsunday Islands.
We were up very early again the next day after sleeping on deck as the sauna was just too much and went out for a slightly tipsy snorkel seeing a few more fish. This was followed by some much needed relaxation on the sail back to Airlie beach which brought to an end 3 days of the best days of our Oz trip so far meeting some awesome people on the way. We went straight back to the ranch and had an early night as we were off the next afternoon to Rainbow Beach.
After a 14 hour overnight bus ride with the narkiest bus driver ever we arrived in Rainbow Beach at 7am after a night of torrential rain. We dropped our bags off at the hostel and had a walk around the town…which last 17 minutes. Losing no time we booked our trip to Fraser Island for the following day and chillaxed for the day as there is feck all to do in the town! However there is a cool sand blow hidden about 20 minutes’ walk away which is pretty spectacular at sunset. That evening there was karaoke in the bar with the prize of a jug of beer for each contestant. As we were up the following day at 6am we had to restrain ourselves which was one of the hardest things I have undertaken in my short life. But we made it.
Arising at 6am, the Boys in Green grabbed a quick breakfast and then hoped on the 4 wheel drive tour bus with about 10 other travellers and the crazy driver Micko. After a quick ferry across to Fraser, we floored it down 75 Mile Beach, seeing snakes, dingos and eagles on the way. After an hour driving we reached Eli Creek for some morning tea and floated down the river of tubes in the freezing cold water. By now Micko was giving us lots of insight into the island he has been living on since the age of 3 and even told us about his old mate Steve Irwin with whom he used to go surfing.
We were up early the next morning to catch our bus to Brisbane and arrived around 1pm after a nice 5 hour trip with another moany fecker of a bus driver. After walking for a while we stumbled upon the hostel right beside the Irish Club of Australia…session! Once the bags were dropped off we headed off on a walking tour of the city, which is extremely modern and surprisingly quite cool. A lot of people had said they didn’t rate Brisbane much but it made a good impression on us. We checked out the CBD, the lagoon and the botanical gardens before roaming back to the hostel to cook up a feast. A night of rehab was on the cards so we got into our Oscar nominated movies and chillaxed. I swear it’s the only year I’ve seen the entire Oscar nominated movies before they are even released!
We were up around 7am the next day and once we checked out, grabbed a bus to a Koala sanctuary just outside the city. We arrived just as it was opening so there were zero queues. The sanctuary itself was quite interesting as it had a wide variety of animals. But who were we kidding; we were only there to see some koalas and kangaroos. We slipped into the Koala queue just ahead of a group of American tourists, thank god, and got our snaps with the lads. Afterwards, we got some kangaroo food and headed into the feeding area for some lunch with Skippy and the boys. All out of cash, we legged it back to the hostel just in time to get our bag sand make the 1pm bus to Surfers Paradise.
We arrived in SP in no time and walked about 15 mins towards the hostel only to find out that they had no room for us due to a processing error, but they had another hostel down the road for the same price, which would be a 3 bed private. What they failed to mention we could barely fit our bags inside it and had no air con in the 40 degree heat. No the May West! After a quick run along the beach we got some pizzas (Dominos $4.95 Tuesday is unreal) and goon in and went to the table quiz back in the hostel. We arrived an hour late but still managed to romp home as the competition weren’t exactly Harvard graduates. We then went on to a few bars which were good craic before hitting the hay.
The following day we were informed that we had in fact gone to a karaoke bar and performed Backstreet Boys admirably…oh right. So we then just chilled on the beach amongst the skyscrapers, played a bit of rugby before heading back to the hostel for a spag bol and to join the infamous Surfers Paradise bar crawl, which was comprised of about 300 travellers (not that kind) all on the goon. Some night! With seriously groggy heads we awoke at 8am to make our 5 hour trip to Byron Bay.
We rolled into Byron Bay in the afternoon and made the short walk to the hostel to check in. Once all settled, it was down to the beach, which is huge, for a bit of sunbathing before a walk around the town. Some amount of hippies in the place! As we were still feeling the effects of the previous night we just had a beer with some Irish lads we met at the hostel in the evening. After a sleep coma, we changed hostels early the next morning as ours was booked out. Once the bags were dumped we went back down the beach to play a bit of rugby for the afternoon. Oh the tans are just glorious! We headed out that night but with no goon allowed in Byron it was back on the standard wine and off we went to the infamous Cheeky Monkeys bar, with people dancing on anything they could find. The town itself is quite chilled out, with lots of stoners and a constant smell of weed.
The next day we had planned going to the old hippy town of Nimbin but managed to sleep it in, which was probably a good thing as the doobey is not really up our alley and they town itself is meant to be a bit shite. So instead we did what we do best, got our tan on by the beach and played some tag rugby too. After a bit of dinner we managed to stomach watching some cricket, which is the direst sport on the planet. After a few beers we headed down the beach for a bonfire with people from the hostel, brought Dave along with us and played a few tunes watching the stars. Kev even managed to stay there until sunrise! So we checked out the next morning and had a last wander around the town before catching the overnight bus to Sydney. Must say though, Byron is up there though as one of the most chilled places in Australia.
We arrived in Sydney at 7am pretty tired as the driver made numerous announcements during the night and made a stop-off at 3am making everyone get off the bus which wasn’t ideal! We walked to the hostel and killed a few hours before we could check. In the afternoon we headed on a walking tour of the city visiting the ANZAC Memorial and down by the Opera House with stunning views of the harbour in the blistering heat. We decided to dedicate the next few days to rehab as the weekend promised to be a big one with Australia Day and also so that we could actually do some tourism! The rehab didn’t exactly go to plan as we had a weird Scottish lad in our room that would turn up drunk at 3am and try to start conversation with everyone in the room. God I hope we are never like that when drinking!
Early the next day I headed down the Irish Consulate as my passport had a slight crack and wanted to get their advice. Well it wasn’t good, as they said I needed a new passport and it would be 3 weeks before it arrived, which kind of messed up the flight in only 10 days’ time. So with all the paperwork handed in, my passport fate was placed in the hands of the Irish Passport Gods. In the afternoon we decided to check out a bit of north Sydney and got the ferry to Manly which was pretty good as we got a great view of the city and got to spend the evening strolling around Manly which has a really cool beach, with everyone either surfing or playing volleyball.
We awoke on Australia Day not in the greatest of conditions. We were invited by another buddy to a beach party out by Bronte so we hoped on the metro and made our way over. With a few beers in tow, we had an awesome afternoon playing a bit of football and making human pyramids in the scorching sun, but with one big casualty…my shorts. Cue my arse on show all day. After a few hours we decided to head to a hotel bar along the coast and walked for about 30 minutes along the Bondi-Coogee walk with is pretty incredible. The bar was jammers and we stayed until the early hours!
The next day we packed up our stuff and headed out to a hostel in Bondi for a couple of nights. The hostel itself was a bit of a dive but had a great location near the beach. The first day we just chilled on the beach and compared our hairy Irish bodies to that of the chizzled Australians. We win hands down! The following day we were back on the beach and rented some surfboards so that we could tick surfing at Bondi off the list. By God it was by far the toughest place I’ve ever surfed with serious undercurrents making it quite hard. But some of the surfers there were unreal. After an hour we could take no more. After a chilled night in Bondi, we moved back into the city where I received the devastating new that my passport wouldn’t be ready on time and that I would have to postpone my flight out of Australia. Ah well! A nice game of football in the botanical gardens quickly stemmed my murderous rage.
The lads arrived early morning in Melbourne and headed straight for St.Kildas which is located beside the beach in Melbourne. There they did what we do best and soaked up some sun and had a couple of nights on the scoops with a few friends we had met travelling.
We’ve spent more time in Australia than any other country on our journey so far but it’s been amazing, maybe not so much for our bank accounts, but a whole lot of fun nonetheless. A big thank you to all the people we met travelling, friends old and new, who made our time in Australia so memorable. A special shout out also to the people who gave me shelter during my time of need too!