Friday, March 14

Number 1. The Arts Factory Jungle

and the number 1. spot goes to...

The jungle!!!

This is going to be the toughest one to explain. I simply cannot put into words exactly how I feel about this magical place, but I will try my best to persuade you to go.

So what is the jungle?!

The jungle is a small campsite which is part of the Arts Factory hostel in Byron Bay.

Where is the jungle?!

The jungle is located in the The Arts Factory (the best hostel) in Byron Bay, which is approximately 4/5 hours south of Brisbane, and 10 hours north of Sydney.

Byron bay itself is another blogpost of goodness altogether so I won't try to squeeze too much into one.

Simply, it is a seaside town inhabited by primarily hippies, musicians, and every kind of artist you can imagine. 
It is a hub for surfers because it is host to several beautiful beaches. The town itself is pretty small with one main street and tons of cafes and restaurants. 
The lighthouse, located a bit of a trek up a mountain, is also an attraction because you're pretty much gauranteed to spot pods of dolphins below, and it is the most easterly point of the australian mainland.

I had, like all the best hostels, been recommended to stay at the arts factory, located a ten minute walk from town. 

My first week there, I stayed at the hostel itself in dorm rooms, but I was soon to discover the campsite adjoining the hostel.

After a week of forking out a whopping $32 a night in the dorms, I decided I needed to avail of tent-living. A small $100 per week fee. 
A guy I had become friends with, gave me a tiny two man tent, which I pitched easily in the first free space I could find.

But within a couple of days I had myself a massive 8/10 man tent all to myself, including a proper mattress on milk crates and a giant tarp to protect my tent form the rain. 

Buying and selling tents with their allotted plot and whatevers in them seemed to be pretty commonplace, so I just pretty lucky to come across somebody selling a nice big tent in a prime location because the jungle hut and kitchen/amenities.

Jungle hut.

My tent.


In my time in Byron Bay to be honest I really didn't do much. Everyday pretty much consisted of going to the beach, chilling in the jungle hut, playing with hula-hoops, playing table tennis, volleyball, going to the supermarket, chasing bush turkeys, hanging out in someones tent, getting goon for the evening, playing drinking games, and going out.

But what made it so special was being with friends all day long.
Whether we were doing something mundane or exciting, even a bad day in Byron Bay was a good day!
 I met such a diverse and cool group of people that it didn't matter what we got up to, it was always fun! I love these people so so much and I miss each and every one of them.

Between the beautiful weather, the relaxed hostel, the lively town and whatever musical activities were going on in the jungle hut, Byron is my favourite place ever.
It is so hard to some it all up but this video does a pretty good job of showcasing just how wonderful a place Byron is. 

You have to go there.

Wednesday, March 12

Number 2. Fraser Island

So number two on my favourites list of the East Coast is Fraser Island!

If you're a backpacker seriously low on funds, this is the one ultimate trip that you absolutely, under no circumstances can miss.

After weeks of moving from hostel to hostel, eating your meals 3 times daily from the local Woolworths, and generally floating about, it is wonderful to pay a one-off all inclusive fee that sets you up for a couple of days on a brilliant adventure.

There are a couple of options you've got when heading to Fraser Island, you can hire a 4by4 with a bunch of friends and head over yourselves, or you can book in with one of the tours that leaves from either Hervey Bay or Rainbow beach.

On my trip I went from Rainbow beach with the company Rainbows on Fraser, which is, if you're familiar, mixed with the Dingo's groups.

The basic idea is that you arrive and spend a night or two at Rainbow beach in the hostels getting organised for the trip. A group consists of around 8 4by4 jeeps which have 8-10 people in each.

Furthermore the groups of jeeps are then split in two, so you will be going around the island in your car, following 3 other cars.

But at nighttime all the groups mix together in one campsite.

Because of the size of Fraser island there is a lot of ground to cover so its important to get in a good group for your car.

I was with my friends Laura and Gemma, but we made the great decision to split into different jeeps, and therefore in the evening we could meet up and introduce all our new friends!
Sounds kind of cheesy but it was brilliant!

I may be slightly bias... but I do believe I had the best group in my car.. such a mixture of personalities and we all loved having a good singalong and jokes. needless to say there was never a dull moment in all the hours of driving..

A highlight was definitely the drive to lake McKensie, a pretty famous lake for being so beautiful.
But it does take over an hour to get there on an extremely bumpy off-road track.

In my jeep, the seats faced one another along both sides of the car and we just had a seatbelt which went across the waist, which as it turns out didn't do too much because for the entire over an hour there and back, we were all falling around the place and grabbing each other and parts of the car, its was pretty hilarious and definitely one of my favourite memories.

Lake McKensie.

Fraser island is host to a number of different beautiful spots but one of the best is Eli creek which is a freezing cold creek that is so powerful it brings you right downstream to the beach.

So if you can bare the cold, you just have to jump in and lie straight on your back like on a lazy river, and let the creek do its thing.

Eli creek.

Lake Wabby.

In the evenings on the island we would all make dinner taking turns cooking or cleaning between the 10 of us from our car. Then the drinking would comense.. there was a big campfire and plenty of goon, and one of the nights we discovered a brilliant german drinking game called flonkeyball, which is very like snatch the bacon except with alcohol.

I had the best time on Fraser island and with the group afterwards on Rainbow beach, before we all headed our separate ways.

If I was to go back to the East Coast this is a trip that I would do time and time again, and gets a big A+ and 5 stars from me.

Monday, March 10

Number 3. Koala Village Sanctuary

My next favourite was a brilliant 2 hour tour in a spot that some backpackers on the East Coast choose to bypass due to budget or time restrictions is Magnetic Island.

Magnetic Island is located a ferry-ride off of Townsville which is a couple hours below Cairns.
The island houses 2 hostels on either side and a shop or two by the ferry terminal.

I've heard mixed reviews about the island, with some people claiming it is boring. I presume they are referring to nightlife-wise due to the lack of bars.
But if you are planning to stop here, try to organise it so that it falls on a full moon. One of the hostels called Base hosts a full moon party every month and when I was there it was crazy and the island was hopping!

Moreover, Base hostel is absolutely stunning, and in a perfect setting... I don't think I could get bored here..

Anyway back to the direction of this post which is.. The koala sanctuary! 
The other hostel on the island is a YHA hostel called Koala Village.
It is equally as beautiful as Base, but very different because instead of sunning yourself by the pool with incredible views, you really feel like you are living in the aussie bush in small teepee huts, with possums and kangaroos hopping around the place.

We stayed in both hostels for two nights each and while in the Koala Village we decided to avail of the sanctuary tour which costs $19 (very cheap in relation to other wildlife tours on the East Coast.)

Our tour guide was a young girl who knew her stuff and was very comfortable with the animals. She brought us around each of the enclosures and talked us through the lifestyle and habitats of the animals and then proceeded to take them out. We each had a chance to hold the animals and take pictures.
In many of the zoos in Australia you have to pay big bucks to hold crocodiles and snakes etc.. but here in this small, intimate sanctuary, we were able to hold all the creatures we wanted!
It was great! We had brilliant fun snapping pictures of each other...

All in all, Magnetic Island is a must-see in my opinion.. especially with this koala sanctuary tour offering a pretty unique Australian experience for next to nothing!

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