University of Wisconsin–Madison

And the Road Trip Continues…

In my last post, I began sharing the amazing two-week road trip I went on recently up the east coast of Australia, from Sydney to Cairns. The first three stops were Byron Bay, Surfers Paradise, and Brisbane/Noosa. After staying in Noosa for a couple nights, we continued heading up the coast to Rockhampton, Airlie Beach/Whitsunday Islands, and finally Cairns!

Stop 4: Rockhampton

To be honest, I really don’t have much to say about this place. It was mainly a place for us to crash at night, as the drive from Noosa to Airlie Beach is almost 12 hours long. All I have to say is the town was absolutely barren. On the drive in, it looked like a well-developed quaint little town, much like Noosa. However, once we actually started walking around we realized the entire population of the town probably consisted of the five people we passed during our walk. There was even a square dancing center…enough said.

Stop 5: Airlie Beach and Whitsunday Islands

We finally reached the start of the Great Barrier Reef!!! After being in quiet Noosa and dead Rockhampton, it was nice to be in a beach town that seemed to be full of young backpackers and travelers like us! The town was always buzzing, full of shops, restaurants, and pubs. During our second day in Airlie we decided to tour the Whitsunday Islands, a cluster of 75 islands (I think) near Airlie Beach. Of course we didn’t see all 75. We visited Whitehaven Beach and Mantaray Bay. Whitehaven Beach is probably, after the Great Barrier Reef, the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen in my life. The water is pristine and crystal clear, and the entire beach consists of pure white silica sand. The pictures below definitely don’t do it any justice, but it was just breathtaking. It’s one of those places that just can’t be captured on film. You just have to see it in person! Next, we went to Mantaray Bay for some snorkeling. Our first stop in the bay wasn’t all that great for snorkeling, as the water was full of algae (which the crew members thought it’d be funny to tell us was whale feces…NOT FUNNY). The second stop was much more clear. We even got to see a turtle! The reef was definitely a sight to see, as much as Whitehaven Beach if not more. However, the reef in Mantaray Bay was nothing, I repeat NOTHING, compared to what I saw in Cairns. Stay tuned…

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Stop 5: Last stop, CAIRNS!!!! (pronounced “cans”…because Australians just love silent Rs)

Cairns is the main “touristy” area for people wanting to visit the Great Barrier Reef. While Airlie Beach was a buzzing beach town full of young adults, Cairns was more of a city. Let me tell you, we welcomed it with open arms since we had been away from Sydney for so long! Due to a little bit of poor planning on our part, we ended up spending a bit too much time in Airlie Beach, leaving us only one full day in Cairns. We arrived there Thursday afternoon, spent the entire next day on a reef tour, and flew back to Sydney Saturday morning. The reef tour was INCREDIBLE. We got to go snorkeling twice and scuba diving once. There’s literally nothing in the world like exploring the Great Barrier Reef, and it’s something I would highly recommend everyone to do once in their lifetimes. It’s full of life and color, and only makes me more curious as to what else there is in even deeper waters. It also makes me incredibly jealous of the scuba diving instructors who get to explore the reef on a daily basis. I’d like to think it loses it’s magic after a while (to lessen my jealousy), but I highly doubt that’s the case. Because I’m at a complete loss of words to describe how amazing it was to snorkel and scuba dive in the reef, you’ll just have to check out my pictures instead! Seriously, I could probably write an entire post just of adjectives to describe the experience and even that wouldn’t begin to cover it.

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So that was it. That was my epic spring break trip! We flew back Saturday morning and classes started back up on Monday. It was the trip of a lifetime, but I couldn’t be happier to be back in Sydney after living in hostels out of my tiny duffel bag for 15 days straight. Also, traveling with 6 other girls can get to be a bit much after a while. The traveling doesn’t end though. In two days, I’m off to Melbourne for a few days, and I already can’t wait to tell you all about it when I return! Back to studying for now though…

Hoo roo, mates!