G’Bye Australia.

My time in the great land of Aus is over and it couldn’t have ended in a nicer way.

My final week here has been an absolute dream, I joined Sophie and Tom down in Mornington and we had a really fun night out on Saturday and then spent Sunday and Monday doing a little bit of exploring. We went to the Pilars, a stunning little piece of rocky coast and just basked in the sun there for a while, we had a good old fish and chip dinner and on Sunday we went to YOMGs for Lunch, to a playground, geocashing and big cuddles with Tom’s doggos of course.

I have been really lucky and had gorgeous weather for my last week, so I spent the next days heading into the city to find sweet parks and gardens where I could just sit, read and enjoy the final feelings of Aussie sun. It might sound a bit sad that that’s what I did with my last days, but I had done all the exploring I could for now and just appreciating everything around me with a few cups of Melbourne coffee, was just what the doctor ordered.

Then, before I knew it, it was Thursday, my last night. I got all packed up, Sophie, Savannah (Sophie’s friend from Philli) and Tom picked me up to go to our Airbnb in St Kilda and we did one of my favourite things in the world, we went to the Ballet! It was Les Ballets De Monte-Carlo’s semi-contemporary take on Swan Lake, and although we all said we kinda wished it was the classical version with the big tutus and fouettés, it was a really stunning performance. Honestly, I could not have dreamed of a more perfect final night, and you can bet I got hella emotional.

Friday morning, the perfection continued – I know I’m making everything sound airy-fairy wonderful, but that really is how its felt, I’ve been so blessed with this time. We went to a really cool café for breakfast and got to say hello to a couple of beautifully behaved doggos. Afterwards, regardless of how full we were, we did not hesitate to nip into a cute little cake shop and grab a couple of treats to enjoy on the beach. And that’s it. That was my time up. We drove to the airport, said our final goodbyes, shed our fair share of tears and I was off. It didn’t feel real, I shouldn’t be leaving, it’s not right.

I am currently sat on the first leg of my flight home writing this and I have never felt such a greater feeling of confliction in my life. Its hard because genuinely, in my heart, Melbourne feels like home, and the people I have met there are my family. Don’t get me wrong, I am looking forward to running into my mum’s arms and seeing my dear, dear friends, but that doesn’t stop me feeling slightly heartbroken. So much has happened over the last 5 months, I have changed and learnt so much that I’m almost a little scared of going back to normal, I also don’t think that the fact some of the best friends I have made are now scattered across the US makes this any easier. Not that that means I’m not going to see them again, you bet that there are going to be many crossings of the pond in the future, I’ve just been spoilt with being used to being with them every day. One thing that is bringing me one level of comfort is the things I have planned for when I’m home, from little things I want to learn, to going to visit my dearest Dush. I still think the reverse culture shock is going to hit pretty hard, I guess we will just have to wait and see.

On a final note, as my Aussie adventure is complete (for now), nothing could have prepared me to say goodbye or for the feelings that would accompany that, I am just immensely grateful for this opportunity and I can’t wait to see where we go from here.

All the Love, Goodbye for Now x


The Age of Adelaide

I have spent the past few days in Adelaide, and well, first impressions were rather – meh. It is a very un-seeming, small city that to me, didn’t seem to have much going on, but I guess that is because I have been spoilt with variety of Melbourne. However, I came to learn that it is very much a ‘locals’ place and you only know if you know (if that makes any sense), it also was a really good cleansing experience for me and I think it was good for me to spend some time away from Melbourne at this point.

Monday, I arrived around lunch time, checked into my hostel (which turned out to be one of the best things about this trip) and headed to the National Museum of South Australia – very underwhelming but that might just be due to my lack of interest in any museum that does not have some sort of whale exhibit. Then walked up to the national wine centre and then back through the botanical gardens, one of nice things about such a small city is that you don’t have to faf around with public transport, everything’s in walking distance. I then took a lovely evening stroll along the Torrens river that runs between North and Central Adelaide. I had made big lists of this I wanted to do each day whilst in Adelaide and thought I was going to struggle to fit it all in but nope, surprisingly within the 3 days of being there I managed to tick off pretty much everything on every ‘must see’ site.

I headed back to the hostel – Tequila sunrise Hostel for reference – highly recommend, great location, free dinners on certain days and free pancakes every morning – what more could you want? Luckily my trip had fallen on one of the free dinner nights, so I didn’t have to worry about food my first night and this is where by chance I met a group of lovely French people who I got talking to and on my second (and last) night they invited me to join them for wine and cheese and hummus. Of course, I said yes, and we stayed up to the early hours of the morning telling stories about their travels and having a good laugh. But rewinding a little bit, Tuesday was my only full day in Adelaide so I went down to the Markets (until I realised I left my camera SIM card in my computer so had to treck back to the hostel), the Art Gallery that was actually quite interesting and then I got the tram, which is advertised to be free but only on the weekends it turns out, to the near-by coastal town Glenelg. Honestly, I didn’t even really bother looking around the town, I went straight for the beach.

I hadn’t realised quite how much I was missing a beach, obviously it was too cold to swim or sunbathe, but I have not felt as content as I was walking bare-foot along that beach for a long time. I keep thinking I am turning into a city girl, but I can’t do it, I am a coast girl 100%, I need the wind whipping the salt air around, I need the peace and quiet to reflect on everything, and that is exactly what I got at Glenelg. I walked for a couple of hours down to Brighton and really just gave myself space to think back on my time in Australia. The past few weeks have had me feeling very restless, between exams and people leaving and the looming date of my departure coming up, but just being by the sea put me right at ease. I am sure everyone is sick of hearing how lucky I feel to have had such an incredible time out here, but I’m not done writing about it sooooo…

Obviously studying in Australia was going to be cool whatever right? But for me, it has been so much more than that, more than seeing a sea turtle and going surfing (not saying that either weren’t incredible), but I have had the most beautiful community of people around me who have really pushed me out of my comfort zone and have pulled me out of myself and I will forever be grateful for that, they will always hold a very special place in ,my heart. The level of independence I have reached out here has truly surprised me because I thought I was pretty damn independent before this, but now I realise how much I relied on other people to do stuff, yunno, for example, we I had a day off work I would ask my friends to meet up but if they were busy that day, that’s my plans done, over, and I would probably not do much that day. Obviously its more fun to do things with other people but why would I not take myself to a café or on a walk or just anything? I have found so much comfort in myself and I feel ridiculous that the words ‘no I’m not going, no one will come with me’ ever came out of my mouth. I think establishing a better connection with the world around us and being present is so incredibly important and is something we don’t tune into enough.

Again I’m not saying that I would have wanted to have done any of this without the friends I have made out here, but could you have imagined how much I would have missed out on if I hadn’t just done a big ‘fuck it’ (pardon my French) and signed up to the exchange. Someone asked me before I came out here why I was doing it, its it all just a lot of effort?  But isn’t that life? Its all a big effort? But if you don’t do the things that take you outside of the everyday, what on earth would be the point?

Sorry that all got a little bit philosophical, but I think its interesting to think about.

Anyway, I then went down to Hallett Cove which was really stunning, and I had a wander round their conservation park and lunch in a really sweet café. I think this trip was another classical example of the places that aren’t talked about are the most beautiful and the ‘main attractions’ are kinda average. Since I have already talked about Tuesday evening, I will skip to Wednesday, where after I said my final good-byes to the French, I went down to the market, bought a fresh orange and went and sat in the botanical gardens to take in my last morning.

I then headed to Glenelg again, this time to meet with a childhood friend who I haven’t seen properly since she moved out here in 2012! We went to a lovely spot for lunch called the Anex Café, and as you can guess, with 7 years of life to catch up on, we sat and talked for hours, we then went for a bit of a walk along the coast and she pointed out to me all the places she goes with her friends, as I said, a very locals place. It was really nice to see her after all this time, talking about Australia and home with her, I remember when here family first moved people thought it was crazy, like how could they just go like that, but MY GOD I get it now haha. And then it was time for me to head back to the airport and come back to Melbourne.

So yeah, Adelaide as a place didn’t do much for me in all honesty, but the space and clarity I found n there did absolute wonders. It was an unexpected surprise.

The Study in Study Abroad

As the title suggests, these past couple weeks have been less of exiting trip planning and more of significantly less exciting essay planning.

I guess these weeks have been the ‘Living like a standard Uni student’ experience, actually doing work, revising and not just buggering off here there and everywhere. Its not been all that bad, to be fair I only had one exam and for once in my life had been on the ball with my assignments and had them all submitted super early. So once that exam came and went it was serious celebration time, and on top of exams being over, we have had the excuse that it is coming very close to everyone’s times here so OBVIOUSLY we had to go hard and cram in as many nights outs before people start leaving. It would be rude not to experience liver damage as a cohesive, no?

We haven’t been complete animals though, since people are leaving we have had a nice list of things people wanted to tick off before they go, so we have had some really lovely city trips recently. I think we almost got a bit carried with visiting other places that we hadn’t fully explored the city on our doorstep, this is one thing I am grateful about with arriving early and having those first couple weeks to really immerse myself and enjoy the city. Its safe to say we have completed every gallery and night club we possibly could.

Talking about people leaving, today we said goodbye to Keegan and Becky is leaving this weekend, I think we are all a bit shocked as to how quickly the end has snuck up on us, I could not tell you where the last month has gone. I am not ready to leave, I’m not ready for other people to leave,I don’t think I ever could be – and I have another couple weeks left! I cannot being to imagine what it is like to go so soon. Its starting to bring to reality how insanely close I have become with the incredible people I have met here and how bizarre it is going to be to suddenly have then live on the other side of the world to me when they have been across the road this whole time. At least it will give me a good excuse to do more travelling right?

So yeah, sorry this post is a bit dry but we have just been living ‘normal’ student lives recently and honestly its been nice (my bank account agrees), discovering cafes that have been under our noses the whole time – Sophie and I found this gorgeous french cafe where we had the most delicious little cakes and discussed all our future plans and how we are going to live in Paris together etc etc (its going to happen, mark my words) and just trying to spend as much time with eachother. But yes, very low key, and almost bitter sweet couple of weeks.

For me, my ‘before I leave bucket list’ includes; one final trip booked to Adelaide, Goodbye meals with work, properly exploring Mornington since I was severely hungover last time I went down and I guess just maximising every day I have left in this beautiful country with the beautiful people that are left.

Kiwi Land

This week me and 5 friends made a little trip over to Kiwi land, basing ourselves in Queenstown and what a week it was! Full of incredible views, spontaneous decisions, adrenaline and Fergburger. I didn’t really have many ideas what Queenstown would be like but it was definitely not what I expected, it’s got such a cool ski-town vibe to it and I thought we were going to have to drive a while before we hit any mountains but nope, they are right there on your doorstep which made for views more beautiful than I could have ever imagined, you know its going to be good when you fall in love from the plane flying through the mountains!

We arrived on Saturday morning and while us girls headed for lunch, Keegan went and hit up the Nevis bungee jump and if you give it a google you will understand why he was the only one you did it… We moved into are cute little Airbnb which we loved and had a really beautiful view of the Remarkables, at this point everyone was exhausted from travelling and passed out until Sophie and I went to pick Keegan up and went and got hot chocolate from a chocolatier right on the lake, where we watched the sunset, it was a perfect first evening. Becky and I cooked our first family dinner and had a really sweet first night.

Day 2 came along, and we had a bit of a disaster. About 30 minutes after waking, Becky mentioned that ‘the water on the stove was being funny’ (without questioning why there was water on the stove lol) and next thing you know water is coming from everywhere the whole house is flooding. Perfect. This resulted in chaos, trying to figure out how to turn the main water off (we presumed it was a burst pipe), trying to get hold of the owner and moving all our stuff out of the way of the water. Luckily the owner told us she was going to send a plumber in and we could carry on with our day as planned so we headed off to start our first hike of the holiday. We trekked up the Tiki Trail of Queenstown Hill and although it was short, it was hella steep, I have never felt so unfit in my life, not helped by the fact that Keegan practically ran up the thing! When we got to the top (which was the beginning of the Ben Lomond hike that we decided there was no chance we were doing) and we had views of all of Queenstown and watched some bungee jumpers and the extreme swing. It was a really nice morning to ease us into the week. When it was time to go home, we were greeted with a lovely message that we had been moved to a different Airbnb and damn, it was one helllll of an upgrade! 4 story ski cabin style with a log fire, massive bath tub and even more incredible views than the first place!

Monday was such a gorgeous day, so we headed to Wanaka to do Roy’s Peak hike (my favourite hike of the week minus the mini episode I had when my chest collapsed #banter). It was a pretty long hike of 16km reaching 1,578m elevation but my God it was worth it, the views at the top were amazing, honestly the surrounding lakes and mountains looked fake, like a movie set they were that picture perfect. I was sooooo glad for the bath after that hike.

On Tuesday we woke up to it absolutely throwing it down, grey and windy (just like home lol), so we took a little car ride over to Glenorchy where I actually think the weather made it cooler. The lake was really eerily, and the mist was laying so heavily over the mountains opposite, we then tried our hands at stone skipping, turns out I’m not too shabby. Unfortunately, the weather was so bad there wasn’t much more we could do that day, so we headed back the house, got the fire going and had a cosy afternoon eating alllll the snacks and getting last minute work done.

The next day we were booked in for Skydiving, but the weather hadn’t cleared up enough, so we had it pushed back until Friday and instead took Sophie to do the Kawarau Bridge Bungy, which was actually a really beautiful location to do it, with the river running underneath. This then persuaded Alyssa, Alexa and Keegan to also do this bungy (me and Becky were quite content with just Skydiving). The bathroom signs at this place, especially for the disabled toilets, were absolute class. This was the first day we had Fergburger, which every time we had walked past had a queue wayyy out of the door so had dodged, and damn we messed up by doing that, BEST BURGER I HAVE EVER TASTED. Insane. (Never thought I would say that about a burger but there you go).

Thursday, we made the 4 hour drive over to Milford Sound, and no it didn’t make one (if you know, you know). We had booked a 2pm cruise but missed it because we decided (and when I say we I mean Keegan) that trying to squeeze a 3-hour hike into the 2.5 hours we had, in the rain too, was a good idea. Luckily the people were super lovely and booked us onto the next cruise instead and it actually turned out for the better because we got to see the sun setting in between the mountains and it really was a stunning cruise especially since the rain had let up. We saw albatrosses – they are HUGE! And a little seal up on the rocks posing for us. In all fairness the hike was pretty awesome, it took us up to a glacial lake, which all had to mother Keegan to persuade him not to go jump in an get pneumonia…

Friday was skydiving day! We were so glad that they had pushed it back because we couldn’t have got better weather on Friday if we tried, completely blue skies, no rain to be seen. Since we were the only ones in the group going up to 15,000ft (the mountain peaks were 9,000ft for reference), we went last, giving plenty of time for nerves to kick in but they never did, I think we were all too hyped up at 8am to be nervous. It was honestly one of the greatest things I have ever experienced, I really thought I was going to freak out at some point, but i didn’t, they make you feel so safe and the plane ride up is so scenic you get too excited to be worried. When you get up to height they slide the side of the plane open, you slide out onto the edge of plane and basically just roll out and there you are! We got to free fall for 60 seconds and it was the most freeing feeling I have ever experienced, my video is actually comical because I’m having the best time, the adrenaline was real! And then they pull the parachute and you have a bit of zero-gravity sensation where you are just suspended and that’s when you really get to appreciate the stunning location we were at, the snow on top of the mountains, the lake and the bright blue sky, there is nowhere else I would have rather experienced my first skydive. We all landed and immediately said we wanted to go again, it was just so amazing – I highly recommend everyone to go skydiving, even Alyssa who is sacred of flying loved it! Only thing, I wish we didn’t have to wear little caps that gave us all serious egg heads lol. To finish our day we went to Lake Wanaka, hoping to go Kayaking but we were too late for that so we just went for a lovely walk along the lake and got ice cream! Friday was probably my favourite day of the trip.

We flew home on Saturday but not before I had a serious ‘sorry mum’ moment and went and got a tattoo. (it wasn’t completely spontaneous, I had booked the appointment earlier on in the week and was getting something I have wanted for years now). We went to this super cool studio in Queenstown called Zealand Tattoos, everyone was so lovely, my artist @Skadi.ink was the coolest and nicest person I have met and SUPER talented, I never thought in a million years I would be able to get the tattoo the way I imagined it but she made it even better and I nearly cried with happiness when I saw it at the end. Don’t worry my parents do know. The perfect end to a perfect trip.

Love you NZ.

Culture Vultures

Easter came around so my family and I set off to Sydney for the week, and what a busy week it was.

We flew out on Saturday, it was a nice change to not have to wake up at 4am for a flight this time (although I cannot say completely stress free, not having checking in luggage makes for a much easier airport experience). We arrived at our accommodation and although we were all pretty tired we were determined not to let our first day go to waist, so we freshened up, got dressed up and headed out to the docks. This is where Lauren and I got our first look at the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, I am actually really glad that we first saw them at night as they are much more dramatic with all the lights, less tourists and buzz of the night. We ate in a lovely terrace in an Italian restaurant and sufficient rewarded ourselves from a tiring day with alllllll the carbs. One thing I must add though – turns out if you want to eat out on a public holiday in Australia you are going to pay extra in service charge for the privilege.

Easter Sunday was a very exciting day for mother and I, we went and did the Harbour Bridge Climb, and we couldn’t have had a better day for it! Completely clear skies and beautiful views back onto the city and all the surrounding towns, ports and bays. It was a really awesome experience (one that would not pass UK health and safety restrictions even with the hour long pre-climb preparation), we learnt a lot about how the bridge was built and the architect, and whilst we were doing this dad and Lauren were off doing a tour of the Opera House, so it is safe to say that day we were being MASSIVE typical tourists. Then we headed to the botanical gardens next to the Opera House and made the nice long walk back to our accommodation.

Monday was our trip to the Blue Mountains! Which was very apt since that was World Earth Day and we were going to see this wonderful national park. However before we got there we stopped off at the Featherdale Wildlife Park where we all turned into children at the prospect of being able to feed (extremely domesticated) little kangaroos – their fur is actually surprisingly soft. There were also lots of super cute Koalas, emus, smelly wombats and a croc. We got back on the tour on headed to our final destination of Scenic World, which is essentially a few different sky rails and trains which allow you to getting brilliant views of the 3 sisters and some of the beautiful waterfalls in the national park and it was truly stunning. The ‘Blue’ of the blue mountains is actually the hue of the Eucalyptus oil coming of the trees in the forest. Also if you want to buy Placenta cream – they sell it in their gift shop. We then headed home via a river cruise stopping in both the Rocks dock and Darling Harbour, which was a really lovely sight to see at night.

On Tuesday we went over to the ever famous Bondi beach, which my parents hated last time they came to Aus but have said it looks much better now that the massive block of concrete covered in graffiti (not street art) has been removed. But still, the couple of beaches down from Bondi such as Bronte and Tamarama Beaches are much more pretty and deserve far more recognition. we saw these beaches on the 3.7 mile walk from Bondi to Coogee, along which seemed to be a very common ‘professional dog walker’ route – made me miss Rex at home, so I think we fully deserved our wine and pizza at the end. That evening we had tickets to go see Hozier in the Opera House – absolutely incredible. I had no idea the difference the acoustic set up would be and the difference it would make! They really don’t kid about it.

Lauren actually came in handy for once on this trip, due to her working for the father of a helicopter pilot in Sydney, we managed to get a flight in exchange for bringing a winter coat out (bargain I know). The trip took Lauren and I along the coast, following the Coogee walk up to Bondi and then along the harbours in the Sydney, it was a really fun and different experience to look back on the coast line and it being both mine and Lauren’s first time in a helicopter. I cant get over how clear the water is along that coast, even from so high up you could still see so deep down into the water at all the rocks – just stunning. We then headed back into the city to hit up the museums (whoop whoop), in all fairness the Australian Museum was actually really interesting and they had a whole exhibit on whales which I was all there for – a slight obsession with Humpbacks is forming I think. We then spent our final night together at drinking and dining in Darling Harbour and what a lovely end to a lovely trip it was.

We all flew our separate ways on Thursday, me back to Melbourne and the rest of the family back to the UK, but not before we completed the Maritime museum and had another harbour side beverage as a final farewell to this lovely city.

Someone asked me if I prefer Sydney to Melbourne, and as much as I enjoyed my time in Sydney, my heart belongs to Melbourne, its sad but just being in Melbourne city puts the biggest smile on my face (my mum thinks I’ve gone mad).

So yes its safe to say I have been thoroughly spoilt with experiences over the past couple of weeks and this beautiful country just continues to bless me with more and more beautiful things to see, I don’t think I will ever have enough of it.

The Williams’ take on the Great Ocean Road

This week has been a lot of fun, we had a great birthday celebration for Alyssa who will now be legally allowed to buy alcohol when she gets home! And most exciting, my family arrived in Melbourne!!

The excitement building up to them coming to visit me was just too much, I think I just couldn’t wait to show them what I was loving as I knew they would love it just as much as I do! I met them at the airport on Friday and we headed straight for Geelong where we started our Great Ocean Road trip on Saturday. Even though I had already done the GOR trip, as I said in one of my earlier posts, it is a completely different trip every time.

On Saturday we hit Torquay (where mother has decided she is going to move to), Bells Beach but we couldn’t actually get onto the beach this time because they were either setting up or closing down a huge surfing competition, we still got to see some pro surfers, which was awesome – what they can do seems impossible since I could barely stand up hahah. We then stopped off at Fairway beach which I hadn’t been to before and was really pretty, reminded me a bit of Anglesea. We got fish and chips at Lorne and took a bit of a break from driving there (just like being at home) after which we headed to Kennett River where we saw a Koala really low in the tree, and for the first time that I have seen, it was actually awake and eating! They were more energetic in their eating that I expected, if that’s a thing?

Unfortunately the weather turned in the afternoon from lovely sunshine to grey, misty and rainy, I mean it made it pretty cool for driving through the rainforest, but that meant the stops on the latter half of the Great Ocean Road such as the Twelve Apostles wouldn’t be such enjoyable experiences. So we decided to power through to our accommodation in Port Cambell (which was hella nicer than the accommodation we had second night of the first trip – if you know you know). We were about to settle down then I dragged everyone out to find the look out point I had found with my friends first time round to watch the sunset. Safe to say my parents had a rather different reaction to the idea of walking out onto a rather thin piece of rock with waves crashing around it than my friends had and mum and dad decided they were quite content with watching (the rather disappointing) sunset from half way. They seem to think im on a bit of a death wish out here, with drinking on thin pinnacles, wet rock climbing in rainforests and planning skydiving, who knows where they are getting that idea from.

The next day was another early rise especially when we noticed how glorious the morning was and we were eager to get to the stops that we missed the day before. We did London Bridge, Loc and Gorge, Twelve Apostles and then my favourite stop of the GOR, Castle Cove, which we got completely to our selves and my family had the exact same reaction that I did to the place, they love it! Ending the trip on a high note, we then started the long journey back into Melbourne city.

Monday, we took a ferry along the Yarra river to Williamstown, which in all honesty doesn’t have much going for it apart from the harbour, fancy colonial architecture, some eateries and a small beach, nether the less it was hot and the sun was shining so you can’t go wrong with a nice walk and paddle. Back in the city, we went up the Eureka Skydeck to the 88th floor for ‘the edge’ experience, where you are put in a glass box and moved out of the building to be suspended out the side of this skytower. Little did we know that they were going to try turn it into some sort of ride like the Tower of Terror and put all dramatic sound effects. It was pretty cool to see over Melbourne from that height and even dad with his fear of heights enjoyed it. We then wandered round the city, stopped for coffee and mum’s first Chai latte on Degraves Street, grabbed a couple bottles of wine and retired to the comfort of our swanky South bank apartment (if nothing else the parents have good taste in accommodation).

We have another week in Melbourne then we are heading to Sydney, I am really loving having the family here with me, I don’t want them to leave, I don’t want to leave, like ever.

LTD on the GBR

I feel like I say this an awful lot, but, BEST WEEK EVER. I have been so excited to write this entry just so I can re-live this trip, sad I know but God it was incredible.

This week me and 3 friends went on a trip up to Cairns where we spent 3 days and 2 nights out on a boat on the Great Barrier Reef, and I genuinely cannot get over how much the whole experience sky rocketed past any expectations I had.

Before I get ahead of myself I must mention the first day we had up in Cairns before getting on the boat, after a painful 4am start and me forgetting my passport so having to leg it back to my house and then all the way to the tram since we were cutting it tight anyway, Alexa then got a ticket on the tram, all for our flight to be delayed for 2 hours on the runway. When we finally touched down in cairns whilst trying to dodge the torrential downpours, picked up our car and headed into the Freshwater Creek State Forest. Although the rain was still coming down heavy it was sitting around 30 degrees all day so it was actually quite refreshing as we walked up to Crystal Cascades waterfalls and rapids. I would like to put out a disclaimer here that Keegan is definitely going to die young if he carries on precariously climbing up wet rocks with huge rapids flowing below…just saying.

After what felt like the longest day ever, we headed to our hostel, Bounce, which is the nicest hostel I have set foot in! Our room was more like a hotel, flat screen, fluffy pillows, the works! We has dinner at a place called Jimmy’s which served the most incredible burgers and milkshakes (alcoholic too).

Thursday was the first day on the boat, they take you on a transport boat out to the main anchored boat out on the Reef, unfortunately we had rather extreme conditions on the way out and poor Keegan reallyyyy got hit with the sea sickness – something that did not lay up through the whole trip bless him. First thing we did on the main boat was have lunch, and Oh My God, the quality of the food alone on this trip was worth the price of the trip (well maybe not but you getting the picture)!

We were anchored in a place called Fingers on the Norman Reef and this is where we went on our first snorkel and stayed for the day since the conditions were too rough to move. That first snorkel was so breath-taking, just from the pure realisation that we were swimming out on one of the great wonders of the world. Me, Sophie and Alexa were planning on snorkelling the whole time we were there, but we sat and listened to a diving brief and were told we could go down without being certified, we changed our mind and decided we would go diving on day 2! The reef is truly beautiful, the live coral and fish are stunning which almost makes seeing the graveyards of dead coral even worse. It really is a heart-breaking sight to see what we as stupid humans have done to such a natural phenonium. Once the sun had gone down we went to go watch the night dive, little did we know that we would end up watching two sharks circling the boat! Honestly, was kinda glad I wasn’t in the water at that point.

We woke up on Friday at the lovely time of 6am in time for the 6:30am water session, and the sunrise was really stunning out on the sea so me and Sophie sat in bed for a bit just to watch the sun come up out of our window, little did we know that the day to follow was going to be the most incredible day ever to happen. 6:30am snorkel was my first sighting of a sea turtle, unfortunately it was rather far off but still! We then moved along the Norman reef to a spot called playgrounds and the 8:30am session was when we went on our first dive! It was really nerve racking actually, especially when you are trying to get used to having so much gear on your back and the respirator, its super weird having your breath sounding so loud underwater. It was a really nice first dive, all we had to do was show we could equalise our ear pressure, clear our respirator and get water out of our goggles and then that was it, we went down with our guide – who was crazy cool, like let me be you pls. Although the visibility wasn’t perfect, it was amazing down there, it’s like a parallel universe, like nothing i have ever experienced before. We knew after that that we needed to do another dive while we were there! The sun decided to break through at this point so we headed to the top deck and did a bit of baking, maybe a bit too much since my face, Sophie’s butt and Keegan’s torso highly resembled tomatoes, to the point that one of the crew members walked past us at lunch and put down a jumbo tub of sunscreen on our table #banter. We had a few more snorkelling sessions that day and i’d just like to make it clear that this trip just kept topping itself each session! We came across another turtle grazing and playing with a clown fish which was cool as it was but we all absolutely lost our heads because it then started coming up right in front of us for air! Seeing these rare creatures arms-length away is so surreal! That night was a clear sky so we headed up to the top deck again, lay down and watched the stars, which as you can imagine being out in the middle of the sea, were pretty spectacular.

Saturday was our final day on the boat, it was a bigger struggle to get up so early again and we were very tempted to skip the 6:30 session, but my god I’m glad we didn’t! This time we did not just see a turtle but swam with it! They usually just come up to the surface to get air, but this poser let us chill and follow him around for a while, all of this sounds really lame but the reality of it is so unreal I can’t do it justice. Some of the footage we got from this was pretty sick, he swam right up to Alexa’s camera for his close up and everything. We thought this had to be it for the trip, surely it couldn’t get any better, but then we went on our second dive, and wow! The visibility was soooo good, the panic and stress of the first dive was all gone (me and Sophie managed not to puke on the way down this time) and we were all far too eager to get down. This time was at the Saxon Reef at Coral Gardens and the name isn’t lying, the sea life here was insane, from giant clams, to Nemos in their Anemones, more turtles and these weird blue plants that disappear into themselves when you snap your fingers by them. I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to stop talking about this trip, it was just another world.

When we left our boat to head back to shore, we were surprised with free wine and cheese on the trip back (which probably should have not been unlimited refills on an hour and a half ride but you’ve got to get your money’s worth right?). It turned out that quite a lot of the crew we swapping shifts that day so were leaving with us and we ended up going out partying with them when we got back to land (not that we were cool enough to hang with them), so it was a pretty sick ending to our trip, until the next day when me, Alexa and Sophie did actually get sick. Who knew they were being serious about land sickness? That didn’t stop us from being way too close to getting a spontaneous tattoo though (sorry mum, love you)!

Hope you all enjoyed reading my over excited ramblings, but if it wasn’t obvious I’m feeling pretty on top of the world right now. Also if anyone’s interested the company we went with was Reef Encounter and I would 100% recommend to anyone!

Wine and Dine

This week has been full of last-minute fun (along with a hefty amount of shifts) from nights out, concerts and wine tasting, I wonder when my body is going to start crashing from lack of sleep? It has also been a week where I have felt some real personal growth. I am so appreciative of the opportunity I have to be out here and I continue to be amazed at all the once-in-a-life-time things I get to do out here (mainly due to my extreme excitement for our trip up to the Great Barrier Reef next week!)

Is there anything better than coming home from a long shift at work and your friend messaging you for a last-minute night out? I think not, pass me the bottle! We went to a low key dance bar in Hawthorn, which was a nice change from all the massive sweaty clubs here! We only just about caught the last tram home (after frantically running after it), on which our Aussie friend Katie found a poor randomer to spill her life story to all the way home, RIP.

On Wednesday a group of us bought last minute tickets for the John Mayer concert (since Sophie wouldn’t stop banging on about him;)) and off we went that evening into the city and even though I don’t know that much of his music and our seats were off to the side of the stage, the vibe was so good and we all had a good boogie and a really great night! – Just as a side note, John Mayer’s guitar solos are insaneeee, check out his live albums.

So Thursday was meant to be a pretty chill night, I was just going over to Sophie’s to drink and catch up on Made in Chelsea, but the temptation of everyone else heading out was too much, so surprise, surprise we went out again! To be honest it ended up being a well needed girls night to let loose and have a lot of fun, just what the doctor ordered.

The final event of this week was wine tasting in the Yarra Valley Wineries. We got a pretty sweet deal too, we went to 4 wineries with at least 8 tasters at each place, along with a yummy cheese and pizza lunch and a final stop at a chocolatier! Our tour guides were pretty awesome too – Aussie Escapades, highly recommend. The weather kind of sucked and it rained most of the day which was a shame because it would have been so lush to be able sit outside and enjoy our drinks, but all the same it worked for good picture lighting haha and didn’t dampen our mood.

And then I spent Sunday stuck in the library because I have so many assessments due for when I’m away on trips coming up, wish me luck!

Working Gal

So that past two weeks have been a little bit more low key than usual, bit more of living normal student lives whilst we save up for the next trip. Not that I’m complaining, bit of down time and seeing the day to day differences between here and home has been chill. If nothing else, these past weeks have shown me I would have no problem living here, I mean how many places do you straight from class to the pool? It’s a hard life I know.

We went to the Summer Night Market in the city, this place is one hell of an experience for the senses, gift stalls, live music and rows upon rows of food trucks…the temptation to want to try everything from the ice cream filled donuts to Chinese or Korean style dishes, the struggles are real when it comes to choosing I promise you. The live music is always great there too, local artists and it’s impossible to just sit there when the atmosphere is so good, and I can always count on Becky and Sophie to join me.

This week also bought the end to the painstaking job hunt I’ve been on (there are too many trips I can’t afford to do but refuse to not do, so had to be done). So yes, I am now a Barista in Melbourne, could I be a bigger clique? I think not. I will tell you something else that the Aussies are better at, minimum wage, one shift and I could buy a flight to Sydney! Sorry to flex on y’all;)

Some more typical student incidences occurred too, St Patrick’s day celebrations…I may be scared from celebrating that day again. We went on a bar crawl and I may have had a bit too much fun and on the way up to my friend’s flat, classic Leonie went tumbling down their outdoor stairs and cracked my head – It was all good thouh, I had some great people looking after me, nothing major but maybe I’ll be leaving that night to the Irish in the future. Also, whoever said you can’t get blood out of silk is wrong, fairy liquid and a wash, good as new.

We’ve had a couple of storms this week, which were beautiful! Reminded me of weather back home, apart from the fact that when it storms here the suns still out and its still twenty odd degrees.

I’m falling more in love with this place the longer I am here, and my family are coming in a couple of weeks which is so exciting! I can’t wait for them to experience what I’ve been babbling on about.

Thanks for reading,

Love your regular Aussie girl.

Road Trippin’

This week has without doubt been the highlight of my visit so far, me and four friends booked a hire car and set off on a long weekend along the Great Ocean Road, and my god it was incredible. I’m not sure if I am going to be able to do the trip any justice by putting it into words as even the pictures don’t capture half the beauty but I will give it a go.

We met the Great Ocean Road at Torquay, where Becky had her first swim at Bell’s Beach (if there’s water, she’s in it), we are planning on going back there for the surfing competition later in the year. Next stop was the lighthouse at Aireys Inlet lighthouse where we saw our first Penguin down on the beach! The Animal theme carried onto Kennett River for the Koala’s but it turns out that once you’ve seen one Koala, you’ve seen them all, all they do is sleep. A sighting that was less planned however, was a family of Kangaroos along the side of the road, which was when Keegan thought it would be a brilliant idea to open the car door and try and get out before we had stopped, this was a habit we had to try stop throughout the whole trip. Friday night we stopped over in a brilliant hostel in Apollo Bay called Surfside Backpackers (Highly recommend and only $30 each) but I think it was the Saturday that was the highlight of everyone’s trip.

The biggest tip we learnt on this trip was that you should stop off at every ‘scenic view point’ because these are the secluded places not bursting with thousands tourists and actually are more beautiful than the main tourist spots along the GOR. One of our favourite stops was Castle Cove where we found a little trail down onto the beach, and I thought I had seen beautiful beaches but this was next level breath-taking! (It took some persuading but we managed to stop Becky trying to swim in the 6ft waves with insane currents.) The only other stop that compared to that was the final detour on Saturday night that Gus insisted on going to see and thank God he did! It was a thin section of cliff jutting out into the ocean with the most incredible view, without sounding mega cringe, we all said that being on that cliff edge was the freest we had ever felt.

At this point we were going to head towards our accommodation for the night but on the way back we bumped into a group of travelling New Zealanders who we had met at an earlier detour, they were setting up camp and invited us to join them in watching the sun set. Of course we were never going to decline such a brilliant offer so we went, bought beers, snacks and had the most surreal sunset experience of our lives.

Yes we visited the 12 Apostles, Loch ard Gorge and all the other ‘must sees’ but as much as they were gorgeous, being surrounded by groups of tourists diminished their impact somewhat. The appreciation you gain for the quiet, ‘unpopular’ places is unparalleled.

Our final day consisted of the Otway national park where we went on small hikes to stunning waterfalls which is not what you would expect from Australia in drought! The rain-forests were so lush but again we were lucky with our timing because for the most of it we had the waterfalls to ourselves and as we were leaving so many people were arriving. I think its safe to say we had a really special and lucky trip (apart from almost hitting a Kangaroo whilst driving in the dark, which actually made us stop so Sophie could cool off but we got to see the stars, so silver lining!).

I am truly grateful for this road-trip and the people I was with, it was an experience none of us wanted to end and its going to take a tough time beating it. The Great Ocean Road is different for every person who takes it but the only advise I would give is to not just go on a tour bus because you miss out on the true beauty of the coast.