Categories
Oceania Reviews

How much would it cost to go to Australia for two months?

People often ask me how much I spend during my travels. Each person has their own way of traveling, therefore the travel cost will always be relative. However, two months should be enough to make a few assumptions, and during the whole trip I kept record of all my spendings. But, how much does it really cost to travel in Australia for two months?

Categories
Journal Oceania

How I fell in love with Brisbane while having no expectations

Brisbane is the capital city of Queensland state, and not surprisingly, also the city with more population in the state. It is also the third city with more population in Australia, after Sydney and Melbourne (where I was before). The trip to Brisbane was the shortest I had in Australia, only about one hour away from the Gold Coast, and I was fortunate to have the company of the Canadian guy I met at the hostel a few days before. I’ve been told before that it would be nearly impossible to travel always alone along the East Coast of Australia. We might start alone, but we will end up being part of a group, and this was the point when I started to feel that wave of backpackers following the same route…

A bit of my experience in Brisbane

Water Dragon
Water Dragon

I must confess that my expectations regarding Brisbane were close to null. I only decided to stop there because I had tours booked for the next stop, and I didn’t want to spend way too much time in a town waiting for the adventure. And why not Brisbane? Almost each time I mentioned I would spend three days in Brisbane, the feedback was always the same kind. It doesn’t worth the time. At certain point I even considered changing my plans and not even wasting my time with Brisbane, but I had also a voucher for a tour to visit the Australia Zoo, so I kept my plans as they were.

Going to Brisbane for a Zoo???

Yeah, it doesn’t sound like an amazing idea, right? But it is a special Zoo, founded by the famous Steve Irwin, the crocodile hunter. Unfortunately, my plans got canceled again, and this time because they didn’t have enough people for the excursion… Yes, I could have done that on my own, but I decided to stay by Brisbane. This cancellation was quite a stress, again, but it ended up as a good thing.

But how? Didn’t you say Brisbane doesn’t worth the trouble?

Well, but it does! I loved the city, and I left glad to stay those three days! The city reminds me a bit of Sydney, maybe only because of the bridge and the architectonic style, but somehow it reminded me a lot of Sydney.

The first day I explored part of the city center with Ben, and a bit of the night, but it was in the second day that I decided to go a bit deeper. First thing in the morning, and I headed towards to the city center and to the City Botanic Gardens, where I saw several water dragons, a kind of iguana (I guess). Really relaxed buddies, and certainly more than used to people, considering how close they let me take photos of them. I love being in the Nature, I think I spent the whole morning in such a small garden, but at some point I head to go back to the hostel, passing again through the city center.

The following day I met a Korean guy that had just arrived in my dorm, and together we went to Roma Park. At this stage I already had a really good opinion about Brisbane, but in this park I absolutely fell in love with the city! The park is really nice, with several theme areas resembling parts of Australia, with a tropical forest zone kept with a lot of humidity. One detail about Brisbane, and probably more in this park, is that there are a lot of spiders! Until my visit to Australia, I had a stupid and irrational fear of spiders…, in Brisbane I still had that fear, but this trip helped me to control my arachnophobia.

Getting to know Brisbane by bus

I love to get to know a city by foot, but when time is a constraint, one needs to be open to other options. I think this was the first I got myself inside a hop on hop off touristic bus, and it happens that the experience was really positive. Brisbane has two touristic bus routes, one through the center and the other one that will take you to Mount Coot-tha. Since I still had some time, I ended up doing both, to get a feeling how the whole city is. And like I said before, it resembles Sydney a lot, but instead of a bay and a natural port, it has a river. And maybe a bit more sharks…, yeah…, Brisbane has a few river beaches, but with several warnings to be aware of sharks…, nope, I was not into swimming anyway…

While driving, the driver will explain details and curiosities about Brisbane, the architecture, the local fauna and flora, etc. Due to the introduction of foreign species, Australia is now struggling to eradicate or even control them. Even though it’s said that everything tries to kill you in Australia, it seems that everything actually loves Australia. Often you’ll hear or see information awareness on how to protect the native species. And those efforts also pass by garden planning and encouraging locals to use native plants. Regarding the architecture, a bit further from the city center you’ll see several houses a few centimeters above the ground , but these are suburban houses. The first thing I thought was that those houses could be subject to be damaged by floods, but then, they are on the top of hills… It didn’t take long until the driver explained the reason behind that, that gap between the floor and the house works as a ventilation system, because during summer months the heat is so high that one can’t even be inside the house…

Conhecer Brisbane de Autocarro
Getting to visit Brisbane by bus

One of the biggest advantages of these 24 hour tickets, is that you can get in and out of the bus as many times as you want, and therefore, you can explore parts of the city that are a bit further away. One of the stops I decided to get out was China Town, I walked a bit around the area to see the bridge and the neighborhood. After that bus, I just jumped into the next one and I changed to the next route, but that story I’ll save for another article.

NOTE: According to the website, these buses don’t run anymore… Though there are other alternatives to explore the city, unfortunately a bit more expensive as well.

Where is Brisbane?

Brisbane is the city capital of the state of Queensland, also known as the Sunshine State, and it is located close to the border with the state of New South Wales. Being the state’s city capital, obviously it is really well-connected, and it is also one of the main hubs for more routes of the Greyhound bus company, which I used during most of my Australia Adventure.


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How I fell in love with Brisbane while having no expectations

Categories
Journal Oceania

How I had three relaxing days in Gold Coast, the party city

Gold Coast

Gold Coast is one of Australia’s cities with more population, and the second one in Queensland. It was also my first stop in this state. The Gold Coast is known by its massive beach, the parties and the man-made canals. The area with more population is centered in one area by the beach, a strip of land bordered by the canals and the ocean, while the rest is very well-connected by the canals and with a more suburban look.

In almost all guides, the city’s name appears as Surfers Paradise, though this is just one of the districts, but the most interesting one for younger people. Everything happens there, parties, pubs, cafés and restaurants. According to the locals, the city isn’t really a paradise for surfers , mostly because of the mass tourism that happens all year round, which then instead of heavenly waves, surfers find overcrowded ones. Though, there is much more than surfing at the Gold Coast, you can also enjoy yourself at one of the many amusement parts, which unfortunately I ended up not visiting any…, I still regret that decision…

Playing games at the hostel 🙂 #LifeInParadise #SurfersParadise #GoldCoast

Uma foto publicada por Gil Sousa (@gfpsousa) a

Regarding the nightlife activities, considering that the city is well-known by backpackers, I guess it is quite easy to imagine how crazy those nights can be. And for those staying at hostels, the fun can be even better. While I was there, they organized a pub crawl for all backpackers staying in hostels, a way to gather young people in the same places. Another way to put this, a night to go wild…

Hostel life

I am not crazy about nightlife, I like to spend time with friends and drink a few drinks, but I am not much a fan of getting absolutely drunk to the point of forgetting what I did the night before. And when I travel, I am even more boring (for some), I just want to enjoy where I am, and I have the opinion that if I want to get drunk, I can do that back home. Before I arrived in Surfers Paradise I was already a bit regretful, the stop was merely strategical to relax a few days and enjoy some sun, but when I found out the main reason why that city attracts so many backpackers, I got a bit uneasy…

How I had three relaxing days in Gold Coast, the party city
How I had three relaxing days in Gold Coast, the party city

I was uneasy even regarding the hostel, I purchased a multi-night hostel pass for a hostel network, Nomads/BaseX, and I wanted to take advantage of all those (already paid) nights. Considering that network is really popular, I was really afraid about how crazy the parties at the hostel could become, and that definitely it wasn’t what I was looking for.., however I ended up loving the place where I stayed, Buds in Surfers backpackers. Though, the first impact wasn’t the best, it is really a budget hostel, but the hostel life was one of the best I found in Australia!

Old bedrooms, without indoors corridor. You open the room’s door and you’re outside…, to shower you need to go outside. The kitchen is tiny, and to eat you have to sit outside, but if it is raining you can sit under the cover they have. The bar is joint with the reception, but it has to close at 10 PM because they can’t work as a pub, and when the reception is closed, if you arrive late you need to use the side gate. If it is raining, better to go to the first floor’s toilet, because most likely the one on the ground floor is already flooded. And yes, this sounds like a horror movie, but despite all of this I loved the hostel-life I found in that place. Sometimes, we have the best experiences at the least likable places.

One of the biggest advantages to stay in such a small hostel, it is the almost mandatory socialization, sooner or later you’ll meet the other guests. I noticed a bit of an age barrier, but it was there where I found it easier to mingle with other people. We played cards a lot of times, and I was introduced to a game that until then I have had never heard of, One Night Ultimate Werewolf, which I ended up buying as soon as I returned to Ireland. I think that it was also after the Gold Coast when I start noticing the pattern of nationalities I was stumbling into, chances were that most likely I would find an English person, and a very good chance to also meet a Canadian.

Besides playing One Night Werewolf for several hours, we also took part in some other activities organized by the hostel. I stayed there for three nights, and the first night we had pizza party and then we all went to a pub. And a BBQ the second night, which was also the hostels’ night and supposedly also the best night to go out. The hangover from the previous night had a heavy part on my decision not to go out two nights in a row…, one night to purely relax, in the party city.

Another detail about the hostel is the salt water pool, I noticed that this is actually quite common in Australia, considering the heat…, it is an excellent way to attract more backpackers. The first thing I did right after waking up was diving into the pool to wake up, only after I went to the shower. Oh, good times…

Since I was visiting, I avoided spending too much time at the hostel, leaving in the morning and coming back by the end of the afternoon. At times I also went back at lunch time to save some money, but I would go out again right after eating. The evenings were spent with the other guests, and as expected I met really interesting people. One of those I met is a New Zealander man who lives in and out in Australia for many years, he doesn’t even have a residency permit! For the past 40 years he has to leave Australia one or two times a year so that he can go back as a tourist. His sons born in Australia, so they have a house, but he insists in being a permanent tourist. That gentleman’s story amazed me, he was staying there just because he got bored and he wanted to go to the beach for a few days, he went on his own and he stayed in a youth hostel.

How does the house numbering system works in Australia rural areas?

One of the curiosities that gentleman shared with us is how the house numbering system works in Australia rural areas. Since some properties and houses can be apart for several kilometers, some even tenths of kilometers, so the house numbering system is based on those distances. The number isn’t sequential, but by “tenth of meters” since the beginning of the road. For example, a house that is at the kilometer 5,340 will have the number 530 🙂

One of the other senior guests was a lady who only spent one night with us, but what made everything different was her unique way to introduce herself. Apparently, she sleep-talks (and swears)…, and she warned us only so that we wouldn’t get scared if we woke up with her shouting swearing words during the night…, ok…, shall I be concerned about anything? Of course not, we even got eager to see that happening, I am sure it would be a great story to share…, though that didn’t happen 🙁

And it was time to get to know a bit of the Gold Coast

Surfers Paradise district isn’t that big, and considering that my hostel was just two or three blocks away from the beach, I didn’t even have to make a big effort… The center is packed with stores and pedestrian streets, with a tram line crossing the whole neighborhood always parallel to the beach. I lost the count of how many times I passed in that street, a really pleasant area and always with that feeling of holiday, even if the skies were a bit too grey… Of course I had to go to the beach, sun bathing in between the rain showers…, and even though I was with a stupid fear of facing sharks, I also went for a swim. And truth be said, the biggest issue at sea are the venomous jellyfish that can induce severe injures to humans, even death.

Being in Surfers Paradise, of course I had to check that cliché item from my Bucket List, I paid for a two hours surfing class with guaranty that I would stand at least once. Since I surfed before in Ireland, I honestly expected I would learn a few things, but the class was for absolute beginners. It was still fun though, even if not just because of the Korean guy that went with me and who barely could speak any English, but really almost nothing, however he was really good at surfing! We were only two plus the instructor, it was almost like a private class in a beach further away from the urban center. I took my GoPro with me, I also made a few videos that one of these days I’ll edit and upload to share here with you.

After the surf class, I went back to the hostel, my last afternoon in that city and still so much to do and see…, I couldn’t decide what to do next, so I ended up going to the canal that was one block at the back of the hostel to see the sunset, a few solo moments to enjoy those magical couple of minutes. After a few quite intense days, it felt like heaven to be there, doing absolutely nothing, only appreciating the sky colors reflected on the canal waters. The canals have a few tiny beaches, and one of them is right where I went to see the sunset, and while I was walking along the beach I saw a few crabs that were there, hermit crabs, the first time I saw them in Nature! I spent so much time only looking at them being dragged up and down by the waves.

Life in Paradise 🙂 #SurfersParadise #GoldCoast #Queensland #Australia #GilAroundOz

Uma foto publicada por Gil Sousa (@gfpsousa) a

And my days at Surfers Paradise were over…, back to the hostel to pack and get ready for another trip…

Where is Surfers Paradise, and how to get there?

Surfers Paradise is a district in Gold Coast, a city that is in Queensland very close to the border with New South Wales, about one hour by bus from Brisbane. Besides buses, you can also get there by plane and by train. You can find really good flight deals to Brisbane, and don’t forget that Australia is one massive country, the fastest way to travel between cities is really by air.

For those, like myself, that arrive coming from south, you should be aware that the timezone might be one hour less. Unlike New South Wales, Queensland doesn’t have follow a Daylight Saving Time timezone, so the time change really depends on when you cross the border. Since I went there during summer, I had to adjust my clock. Therefore, you must take that into consideration when you make bookings, one hour can make a big difference…

I guess it also rains in #australia? #GilAroundOz

Um vídeo publicado por Gil Sousa (@gfpsousa) a

My trip from Byron Bay to the Gold Coast was quite wet, tropical rains during most of the time…, and I think I was really lucky, considering that during my stay there I only got a few drops 🙂 Despite the reputation that Australia has as a hot country, it should be taken into account that part of the country is in between the tropics, and that they have a few rainforests, which means, a lot of rain 🙂

Find accommodation at the Gold Coast



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Categories
Journal Oceania

The Nimbin and Secret Lakes Tour

A trip becomes immensely more exciting when plans change…, well, I bet not all of you would agree with this though…, and to be honest, when this happens I don’t get that amazed either, but then I always end up loving it. So I guess I am going to Nimbin after all.

Categories
Oceania Tips and Mistakes

What did I pack for Australia?

Now that I am back, it’s time to review how well I packed for Australia. Did I overpacked? Or did I packed a bit way too light? After all, it was two months in Australia, always jumping from hostel to hostel, camping, sailing and a few more adventures. Before boarding to such an aventure, of course I had to think how to pack, in a way that I wouldn’t carry my house on my back, but also not having to buy clothes while there just because I overlooked some detail. It’s all part of the big plan!

 

Gadgets

Well, this list is simply massive. Looking at the following list, it gets clear how I prioritize my packing for this trip… And the thing is, from the list above, I used every single thing! The only thing I didn’t use that often and I kinda of regret to pack was the chest mount for the GoPro. I only used it once, and I didn’t find it that practical, and oddly the selfie stick was the accessory I used the most (even though, I still think it is a stupid accessory, when used solely for selfies…).

Regarding memory cards, I ended up using them all, and the external hard drive was as a safety mesure, to have always a backup of all my photos. Thankfully I didn’t get robbed, but I had quite some peace of mind knowing I had three copies of everything, on my mac, on the external hard drive and the memory cards. (I’ll write an article about this later).

The mobile phones…, I bet some will find this odd, why having two phones? Since I went on a longer trip, I decided to take three debit/credit cards with me of two different bank accounts, and I was quite afraid of having one of my cards cloned, hence the two phones, one with my Irish number always on, and the other one with the new Australian number, that I used for local calls.

And the Pebble…, well…, at some point it stopped to work…, but that’s a totally different story…

Clothing and hygiene (and extras)

From this list, there are only two things that I never used. The wool jumper, that I took with me thinking that I could need to use it in case I wanted to go out at night, however, something I didn’t know, the bars and pubs in Australia are quite easy going, as long as one isn’t bare chest, and not using flip flops nor bare foot, it’s all fine. And the scarf, I knew that I would get the Autumn time in Melbourne before I came back to Europe, though the temperatures were never that low (and I’m glad for that!).

A mala que levei para a Austrália
The backpack I used in Australia

And the pillow case? Well, it might seem strange, but I gave it in a totally different use that it would be expected. In previous trips I used plastic bags for dirty laundry, the problem with this is that the dirty clothes start to smell a lot, and if mixed with humid clothes, then it’s a disaster! The reason for this is that plastic bags don’t let any air out, nor in. However, with the pillow case, the dirty clothes don’t stink, the wet clothes don’t get a rotten moldy smell…, and the best part is that you can wash the pillow case with the rest of your laundry, which means, you’ll reuse your “dirty laundry bag” and have it clean again! In two months traveling around I doubt one plastic bag would suffice, so this option besides being cheaper and more hygienic, it’s also environmentally friendly 🙂

During two months I met and crossed with a lot of people, and obviously, I also saw a lot of luggage bags. I am proud to say that I never encountered with anyone with less luggage than I! I felt really proud for this, I never felt overpacked, and I never had to use the same clothes twice without having them washed first. However, of course, I had to wash it every 6 days and I had to plan the “washing” according to my adventures too.

What did I buy along the way

Why did I buy some of these things instead of taking them with me? Nail clipper and hygiene products, since I didn’t dispatch any luggage to Australia, only carry-in luggage, I had to leave a few things behind, like liquids and the nail clipper (which we can’t take in the carry-in luggage). And yes, my luggage was that light that I managed to take everything with me!

Regarding the beach towel, that was simply because someone stole my travel towel (or took it by mistake) and I had to buy another one. The sun glasses, I lost the ones I had, and I had to buy new ones…

And the memory cards, I had a few problems with my GoPro, and the technical support told me that the issue was due compatibility between the card and the GoPro. Nope, that wasn’t the problem. The problem was with the cable, I was using a 3rd party cable…, and well, I ended up spending unnecessary money that could be avoided if they knew how to help me properly…

The travel pillows. Well, this was simply an opportunity I got, I found that modular pillow and since it was on sale I decided to take it. It was a great idea, since the other travel pillow was a bit too uncomfortable, I actually slept worse with it than without any pillow…

The bags…, the thermic bag, I guess the reason is obvious, I was jumping from place to place, and trying to save money by cooking meals, so it was handy to have something to keep my food fresh between cities. The other bag? To go on a sailing boat we can’t take any zips! Nothing at all! The reason is that the bed bugs love to hide inside the zips, I have no idea how, and in boats that’s a big problem, so they simply decided to forbid any bags with zips.

So basically I managed to organize myself really well for a long trip, packing really light, and still, I even listed two things that I never used! What can we learn from this? There is always something we can take from our bags, there is always something we won’t need.

For short trips, this isn’t a problem, for a few days if we don’t use everything it also doesn’t hurt to carry the bags. But for 1+ months trip, the weight becomes a problem, and it gets really annoying to pack between cities, and it also gets easier to lose things. The travel luggage is that thing where we have what we need without being a burden, and after a few weeks, trust me, you’ll hate your bag if you have to carry and pack too much…


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