In April 2008 as part of my Gap Year we decided to travel south down the East coast of Australia with OZ Experience.
Traveling down the East Coast of Australia I was very excited about visiting the Gold Coast as this was a region I was particularly interested in visiting. I had heard many great things from other OZ Experience travelers moving their way to the north.
Brisbane was a really cool city, although it was MASSIVE! It took most of the day to get from one side of the city! Cairns, another major city in Australia is not even an 8th of the size Brisbane is! We managed to stay in a really cool hostel called Bunk where many of our friends that we met further up the coast caught up with us! Whilst in Brisbane we explored the city, headed down to the city lagoon on the sunny days, restocked on clean clothes and experienced a day out with a major rugby league game!
We stayed in the very central hostel "Bunk" looking back this was definitely my favorite hostel in the whole of Australia. Great room, a pool, a hot tub, its own club attached, awesome people annd a free food fridge which we lived out of! You can check out their website if you Click Here
In this hostel we met some awesome people and everyone on the OZ Experience bus pretty much stopped off here so we kept bumping into people that we had met further up the coast. One memorable night we had involved a group of 12 of us (who we had known since Fraser Island) all chipping in to make a authentic indian (british) curry for everyone! We were a big travelling family! :)
Brisbane as far as I know doesn't have an accessible beach (which for me isn't ideal, as the beaches are the places to be!) but in Southbank theres an artificial beach lagoon that was pretty awesome! Going out in Brisbane was soo much fun, I can;t really remember the names of any of the clubs but if you head into the "Valley" you'll be in the right place.
Rugby League - Brisbane Broncos vs Queensland Cowboys at Suncorp Stadium
During our stay in Brisbane we heard alot of hype about Rugby League (i didn't realise it was much bigger than union here, but its massive) with this in light we decided that we must go and see a game!! We managed to get tickets at the huuge Suncorp staduim (right next to the Castlemain beer brewery :P) it was one of the biggest rugby matches this season (Brisbane Broncos vs. North Queensland Cowboys) and apparently it was very close to selling out. The tickets only cost $19 for students.
Surfers Paradise and Burleigh Heads
On our way to Surfers Paradise from Brisbane OZ experience offered us the opportunity to go Zorbing. It looked absolutely awesome but we decided to save our money as it was $25 for about a 10 second ride. More money for surf lessons :)
Surfers Paradise, it is exactly how you imagine it! Long, golden beaches, tall buildings, good night life, good surf, what more could you want! During my stay here I was lucky enough to stay with some friends Viki and Jack for around a week in Burleigh (less than 30mins south from surfers). Here I took this opportunity to get myself a surf lesson! Until that point id always been keen to learn how to surf, and what better place to do it than Surfers Paradise itself! The lesson involved taking us through wave saftey, what to do if we were caught in a rip current (swim sideways, not fighting the current), the technique of popping on the surfboard and catching a wave. After 20mins of techniques on the beach I was extremely keen to get into the water and managed to catch my first ever wave! I would suggest a surf lesson to anyone! Catching a wave for the first time is one of the most exciting and unique feelings you will experience. As a result of this day I am now in the committee for my university surf club, we manage to still surf in various places around the uk a number of times each month!
My First Wave.
Staying in Surfers Paradise for a substantial amount of time let us get to know the area quite well, we found a couple of clubs that we really enjoyed including one called "The Bedroom", this club was awesome the dance floor was pretty much everywhere and where there were wasn't dance floor there were 4 poster beds scattered around the room. It was different and really cool.
One of my favourite places we visited in this region included Wet n' Wild water-park just outside of surfers paradise, we went here with a couple of friends we had made along the way and had an awesome day out, I strongly suggest going, some of the rides are such a good laugh, our favourite by far was the "tornado", a big funnel shape, that was on its side, and the raft slides from side to side, until you lose speed, which is when you slide down to the pool. click here to take a look!!
I don't know where to start when talking about Byron Bay, but this is probably one of my favorite places we have been too. We visited in March and unfortunately the weather was very wet, despite the rain we have managed to go out on bike rides up to the lighthouse which was the most easterly point in Australia and watch dolphins below in the sea which was unreal!
We were in Byron Bay during a major news story click here to view. I'm not sure if the news got to the UK but there was a Shark attack on a 16 year old boy in Ballina [15mins south, a couple of headlands away]. This happened the day we set to head out for a surf but the beaches were closed to surfers and swimmers which was quite terrifying. Although we plucked up the courage to go surfing the following day which was awesome.
Byron Bay is such a chilled little town, the locals are friendly and it just has such a homely atmosphere. Every evening at sunset we headed down to the beach to play ultimate frisbee which was accompanied by a bongo player [check out the picture]. The town is very uncommercial, mainly made up of local shops and a subway. Opposite the Backpackers Village we were staying at was a bar called "Cheeky Monkeys", this was a really cool backpacker bar, cheap food, free alcohol to win and we could dance on the tables all night!
I heard a major feature of going to byron bay is taking a tour inland to Nimbin, known as the Amsterdam of Australia (for good reason so I hear), unfortunately we didn't have time to discover this and took a bus south to Sydney :)
Cheeky Monkey's Bar - Backpackers Bar in Town
Cheeky Monkeys do games to win free drink every night, we usually did :)
On our way down to Sydney our Oz Experience bus stops at Mojo Surf Camp as part of the trip! This was such a great experience as we got to stay with a surf camp seconds away from the beach with the rest of the people from the bus. We made really good friends with everyone on the bus on this stop over, most people took their very first surf lesson and I was absolutely loving the perfectly clean waves, it was awesome! After the surf was over and the sun had gone down a meal was provided and the surf camp organized a massive campfire on the beach and we had a bit of a beach party and chilled under the stars. One amazing experience, I'd do anything to head back to this place again for a couple of weeks.
The Gold Coast was definitely one of my favourite parts of my trip, my only regret is not saving enough time for it!! One day I'd love to head back with my new love for Surfing and maybe work in Byron Bay for a while if possible!!