Tag archive for "australia"

Jackson Apartments for working holiday makers

Australia, Australia, Destinations, Moving Abroad

Jackson Apartments for working holiday makers

8 Comments 20 June 2013

Moving to Australia with a working holiday visa puts people in a somewhat weird position. You’re visiting places for longer than most travelers, often working and living, so you don’t really want to spend that amount of time in a hostel and it be a senseless waste of money to spend it on a hotel. Yet, most will only spend between six months to a year living a destination, making it hard to find a company that will lease you a private place for that short a contract.

This was the predicament Ric and I found ourselves in when we reached Melbourne in November 2010. I only had about three months left on my visa, so there were few real estate companies that wanted to work with us, but we were a new couple at that point and wanted our privacy, which wouldn’t happen in a hostel.

It was actually the day I arrived, a few weeks after Ric, that we actually found out about Jackson Apartments. The Melbourne rental agency focuses on short-term apartment seekers. In fact, they prefer them. I saw their ad in a backpacker magazine, but through internet searches for similar terms I couldn’t find them anywhere. The company ended up being perfect for our situation and you might find they are for you as well. Here is a round-up of our experience with the company.

The Hunt

As with most cities Ric and I arrive in, we had to act pretty fast in finding a place in Melbourne as our money was very low and we knew any place we wanted to rent would require a deposit. With a bit of pressure on us and a pretty wide range of choices, we literally moved into our new place the same day we went searching for apartments with the agency.

I have to say I was a little bit worried about the introduction process as we had to pay our deposit in cash $AUD500 as well as a week’s rent $AUD360, but we really didn’t have a choice. Luckily, it ended up working out. They were really good with paperwork and moved us in our new pad on the same day. They showed us at least four different properties during our hunt, taking us to them by car and were really friendly.

Location

We stayed in two different apartments during our two and a half months with Jackson. The first was in St. Kilda and it didn’t quite work out as we were a bit too noisy for our neighbors. It was somewhat of an retiree complex. But the company didn’t blame us or hassle us, just recommended a new location and even came to pick up us and all our things on moving day. The second place we stayed was a million times better. Our three-bedroom apartment was fully-furnished and located right on Chapel Street in Windsor, which is full of bars, cafes and shopping. We had a deck, parking and we were right next door to this really cool Scandinavian clothing store that made their own beach in the back alley way.

Jackson Apartments

These were our neighbors… Only in Melbourne. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Price

Between Ric and I, it costs $AUD360 per week for a fully-furnished room in a three-bedroom apartment. Now I’ll be honest and say that you can find cheaper if you’re willing to sign at least a six-month contact for a place in Melbourne, but we didn’t have that luxury. I’d say for our own private room in a really good location, we paid the same as it costs in Melbourne for two bunk beds per week in a six or eight person dorm. For this reason, I thought the apartment was worth it.

Customer Service

Everyone we talked to or worked with during our stay was really laid back and genuine. We didn’t have any problems. In fact, I felt like they really tried to make sure we were in the right place. A true testament to them being good people is that I needed information recently, three years later, for partner visas for Ric and I and they went above and beyond in providing it, asking for nothing in return.

Comfort

It’s hit or miss with the apartments and rooms you’ll find. Don’t expect anything glamorous and some of the places are older and a bit shabby as there are a lot of older places in Melbourne. But the apartments are clean and if you have any complaints about things they’ll work on helping with it. We got very lucky with our second place. It had been refurbished not too long before we arrived.

Jackson Apartments

Christmas 2010 on the deck with our roommates. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Overall

I stayed in a million different places in Australia: hostels, trailers, bus stations, tents, friend’s couches and rooms that just happened to open somewhere by chance. Ric and I had only been seeing each other for about two months when we arrived in Melbourne and I didn’t want to go through that time with him in a hostel, but we had very little other choice. We tried to find a room with people on Gumtree, but even there they wanted people who were going to stay in the city longer. We had to move fast, so Jackson Apartments was actually the best possible solution for us. Not to add sentiment, but we had our first apartment together with them and I feel very lucky that they made it a good experience.

I highly recommend them to couples or even just friends traveling in pairs who are only staying in Melbourne for a short period, but want somethings a bit more private.

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Tips for Driving in Australia

Other

Tips for Driving in Australia

No Comments 01 November 2012

This is a guest post brought to you by carsales.com.au.

Driving in Australia is pretty similar to driving in many other countries – they drive on the left, the rules of the road are very similar and the makes and models of the cars will be familiar to visitors from anywhere in the world.

Whether you’re looking for a Land Rover or an Opel Meriva, the go-to website for car deals in this country is carsales.com.au: it can take you as little as a day to find the car you need and be ready to go.

But before setting out on your trip, you should be aware of a few unfamiliar situations that can arise on Aussie roads: let’s have a look at a few of them now.

Distance

Outside of the main towns and cities, it can be very easy to misjudge just how far away places can be – the distances can be vast and petrol stations are often few and far between. For instance, relatively close cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, both in the south-eastern corner of the island, are 963 kilometres apart, a distance that will take you about 9 hours to cover.

But if only you decide to cross the country from one coast to the other, distances can get huge. Perth (the West Coast’s main city) and Sydney are 4110 kilometres apart – that’s more than 44 hours on the road! All through such long trips, it is essential to stop regularly, keep an eye on your fuel, and top up whenever you can. Finally, don’t forget to drink enough coffee to keep you going!

Animals

If you are driving in the country at night, be on the lookout for animals as they are attracted to the car headlights. A collision with a large animal such as a kangaroo, mostly active during the night, could cause major impact damage to your car. A sensible solution is to limit your driving to daylight hours – however, if you really need to go through those country roads at night, use your headlights with high beam, drive slowly and very carefully.

Off road driving

Carefully select your vehicle for off-road adventures: a 4WD is essential for such excursions. You don’t want to drive your hatchback on challenging sandy and muddy tracks!

If you decide to go ‘off road’ and leave the sealed road, also make sure you seek advice on your route to make sure it is passable. Always ensure someone knows your plans and if for any reason you run into problems, stay with your car and do not attempt to walk to safety.

Road Trains

A familiar sight for Australians, road trains are multi trailer trucks that can be up to 50 metres long. Always give them plenty of room while passing in the opposite direction as there can be severe buffeting to your vehicle from the displaced air around theirs.

This is a guest post brought to you by carsales.com.au.

Capture the Colour: Australia and New Zealand

Australia, Blog, Destinations, New Zealand, Online Goodies, Other

Capture the Colour: Australia and New Zealand

22 Comments 08 August 2012

Red and blue powder thrown at Holi in India, vibrant green forest of the Amazon in Brazil and even those purple mountain majesties in the USA; the colors of a land really stand out when traveling.

That’s why, I’m very excited to not be nominated once, but three times to enter Travel Supermarket’s Capture the Colour competition. Thanks to Pack Your Passport, A Pair of Boots and a Backpack and The World is Waiting for nominating me.

A contest started by fellow travel bloggers, to enter, bloggers must write a post including photos that show off the colours red, blue, yellow, green and white. The winner of each individual colour will receive a 32GB iPad and the overall winner will receive £2,000 towards their travels.

Though it kills my American self and spell check to have to spell “color” with a “u” for an entire post, here’s a look back on my colourful travels in Australia and New Zealand.

Red

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

This is my most recent colourful shot. It was taken during a boat ride around Tauranga Harbour on the North Island in New Zealand. New Zealand is well-known for it’s interesting skies. After all, the Maoris named it Aotearoa, “land of the long white cloud”. I’ve seen a lot of colourful sunsets in this country, but the sky was especially on fire this night. The fact that we were in a boat reminded me of the old saying “Red sky at night; sailors delight, Red sky at morning; sailors take warning.”.

We were lucky it wasn’t morning.

Yellow

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

From taking photos of the sky, to taking photos while in the sky, my yellow submission was taken during a hot air balloon ride over the Atherton Tablelands in Australia. This was one of many many firsts for me on that trip. We arrived at the launch site at about 6 a.m. and were in the air for sunrise. This photo was taken looking up at our yellow balloon from inside the basket. I can still feel the fire from the torch warming my face and rising sun warming my back.

Blue

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

I’m sure with this photo you’re thinking, “How is the water that colour?” A mixture of fine glacial rock flour, clear glacier water and sun’s reflection produces the baby blue colour that fills waterways in this region of New Zealand. This photo was taken on the way from Queenstown to Lake Tekapo at a road-side lookout point for Mt. Cook (centered), which is New Zealand’s tallest mountain, on Lake Pukaki. Blue just absorbs everything it this shot: the water, sky and mountains.

While the photo may give you chills, it was actually taken in Summer. The weather was warm. The water was not.

Green

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

I had a slight obsession with fan palms in Australia. I had never seen them like they are in the rain forest of Cape Tribulation, massive green palms towering meters above. Something about the way they lit up as the sun shone through affected me deeply. These trees stand tall in an already large forest, almost protecting everything below from the outside world, which an ancient forest like this needs. By the end of the day, my neck was actually aching from looking up for so long. I tried so many times to capture this shot and this is my favorite attempt.

White

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Maybe it’s cliche to use snow for my white image, but this snow is somewhat special to me. We have snowy winters in New Jersey, but for the two years prior to arriving in New Zealand last July (Winter), I had been chasing Summer in Australia, SE Asia and the USA. So to see what is a common Christmas symbol for the first time in two years was meaningful for me.

Plus it was the first real snow for Queenstown that year and it happened the day after I arrived in the country for the very first time. We spent the day driving half the island, taking in its beauty. We even had to rent tire chains, just in case. It was also my first time photographing with a GoPro. I love the South Island in the Summer, but it’s really breathtaking to see the way the mountains light up in the Winter.

Now that you’ve read about my colourful adventures-it’s your turn. Here are my nominations for Capture the Colour:

Sweet Dea’s Adventures

The Mellyboo Project

Canuckiwi Kate

Jandal Road

Today, I’m Bobbi

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What I’m thinking Friday, 20 April

Blog, What I'm thinking

What I’m thinking Friday, 20 April

5 Comments 20 April 2012

It’s April 20 and the weather is starting to get chilly in parts of the southern hemisphere. I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to the switch in seasons down here, but the weather where I’m living at the moment really feels like Autumn in northeast USA.

I walked out of work this week to hoodie-weather and the smell of log fire. This is the first time I’ve felt Fall in over two years. It’s my favorite season, but I’m not looking forward to what follows. Hopefully Mount Maunganui stays somewhat warm in the winter.

Starway.org

Two “100” events seemed to dominate my feeds all this past week, the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking and the 100 day countdown to the London Olympics. I never realized there were so many travel opportunities having to do with the Titanic, but I’m keen to visit some in the future.

For now, these are some things I’ve been thinking about this past week.

What I’m reading

On the subject of the Titanic, Mariellen at Breathe Dream Go wrote my favorite post having to do with the famous ship. The Titanic is linked with several of her personal memories. I never thought of the ship that way, but I have about other things. Thanks for opening up.

Aaron from Aaron’s Worldwide Adventures also opened up about a personal experience in his guest post for Globe Trotter Girls, “Jumping into the “Travel Closet” in Egypt”.

In the post he talks about traveling an an “out gay man” through Egypt where “people are commonly arrested for being gay”. He wrote about a personal encounter there with someone who questioned him on the matter and asks the readers what they would have done in that situation.

Wandering Earl opened up about a much lighter subject. In his post “There’s nothing wrong with a 40-hour workweek”, he asks “What’s wrong with work?” Like him, I love work. I usually get a bit restless after a few months of travel without work. Plus I love working abroad because it gives me a chance to get to know people and live as a local.

What I’m watching

While we may have “unlimited internet” where we are living at the moment, like buffets in New Zealand, that doesn’t really mean unlimited. The internet slows down tremendously after we reach a certain number of MBs. So basically, I haven’t been able to watch anything this past week.

Not even Mad Men!

But I did just learn how to play snake on YouTube videos while waiting for them to load. As soon as the dotted-circle appears, hit one of the four arrow keys on your keyboard and the circle will turn into a snake. Continue using the arrow keys to direct the snake to eat circles that appear on the screen.

Qysh.me

What I’m Googling

I watched an episode of David Attenborough’s Nature’s Great Events this week, so I was Googling a lot, especially about phytoplankton.

Did you know that phytoplankton is responsible for half of the earth’s oxygen? The one-celled organism does so during photosynthesis when oxygen is released into water.

What I’m seeing

Ghost of travels past. I’ve written a lot about Port Douglas this past week. It’s been nice to look back and reflect on my time there, but sad to remember how many great things there are to do there and not be able to actually be there right now.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

What I’m planning

Some unexpected travel ideas popped up this week. It started while reading Christine in Spain’s post about how to live in the Spain. Ric and I always talk about spending some time in Spain. It’s easy for him because he has an EU passport, but as an American, it’s going to be a bit trickier for me.

Christine’s post was so helpful on the matter. I’m going to follow up on one of her work suggestions in the next year, so hopefully I’ll get to live in Spain in the future.

But the planning didn’t stop there. We would be going to Spain right after New Zealand. I thought, maybe it be fun to try and reach the European country by going completely overland after flying from New Zealand to Thailand.

Has anyone ever done something similar?

It would be a pretty epic trip traveling through central Asia, the Middle East and Europe. We’re both pretty excited about the possibility of it.

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I still believe in paradise

Australia, Australia, Blog, Destinations, Dispatches from Down Under, Moving Abroad

I still believe in paradise

7 Comments 19 April 2012

If you haven’t noticed, the theme on Heels and Wheels this week is Port Douglas. It’s been almost two years since I first stepped foot in the this tiny piece of paradise in Far North Queensland, Australia.

I still can’t stop thinking about it.

I didn’t write a lot about Port Douglas while I was there. In fact, I didn’t write much about anything. I was so immersed in the lifestyle there that all I did pretty much was…live. I didn’t waste loads of time catching up on places I wasn’t living or researching places I wanted to visit in the future. Instead I spent my time living like I belonged, as if no other life existed outside the town.

I’m a contradiction in many ways. I like pickles, hate cucumbers. I embrace city life, but long for seclusion. One of my biggest contradictions is that I love travel, but I have a slight obsession with small-town life.

I grew up in the suburbs of southern New Jersey. Sure I was close to small towns, beaches and big cities, but the suburbs where I am actually from was kind of like a limbo to all those things. Where I’m from there are a lot of people, open spaces, strip malls and schools. It’s not the city, but it’s definitely not a small town. Sure you might bump into someone at Wawa, but you don’t see the same barista every day at a one-of-a-kind cafe.

I don’t know if it was shows like Gilmore Girls or towns like New Hope, PA, but something long ago gave me this longing for small town life. A place where everybody knows my name. A place where I can walk into the town center from my house and bump into friends along the way. A place where there is a small enough number of people to feel like you’re part of a community, but more than enough people to keep things lively.

Yet, I also love visiting places where no one knows me, meeting new people and trying new things. I know I’m weird, but I found a place that brought these two contradictions together and it was Port Douglas.

The town is not very big. In fact its center is pretty much just one street. But it’s beautiful. God is Port Douglas beautiful. Plus it’s so relaxing. A visit there almost feels like one to the islands. Port is mainly a destination town, but a small number of people call it their home. So living there, you get a mixture of locals who you’ve known for years and visitors who arrive in bulk every few days.

How small town does this street look? Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

It was a job that led me to move there while living in Australia. At first, my time there was not going very well. I wanted to use my time in Port to work on my blog and get in shape. It all started out well enough. I was working, blogging and running. Plus I was meeting loads of people from my hostel, but the fact that I had set up a lifestyle for the town and not the opposite, led me to frustration.

Within a month of living in Port, I was hating the job that brought me there and didn’t feel like I was really getting to know people because I wasn’t going out so I could wake up early and run. Finally, I let go and though I lost that job that brought me to Port as well as my workout routine, I gained something spectacular.

Between the people at the hostel and the people at my new job, I almost felt like I was part of a big family. Every day I’d go to work and come home to find out what mischief “the guys” were getting into. We slept together (by that I mean six bedroom dorms), ate together and played together.

The guys.

After a few weeks the people I recognized from town started to recognize me. I had a coffee shop I visited every day and the guys there knew my drink, my name and a bit about me. I had a friend who I went for regular Sunday breakfasts with. Eventually I also found a partner here. This is where I met Ric, which adds to the town’s meaning to me.

When I was living in Port, that was all I was doing. It was the good life.

It’s been almost two years since I left and I still get choked up thinking about it, because the thing about Port Douglas is, I can never go back.

I said this to a friend as we boarded a bus to finally leave the Port Douglas.

She looked at me funny and replied, “Of course you can. You can always go back.”

But the truth is, I can’t. None of us can. Sure we can visit the town and I’m sure I will visit many times in the future, but the summer that I had there, the feeling, I can never go back to that. It’s sad, but I think it’s just a part of life. Sure Port is special to me, but I’m sure everyone has a place that’s special to them the same way. Everyone has a Port and while we may never be able to go back that place will stay with us forever.

“And me, I still believe in paradise. But now at least I know it’s not some place you can look for, ’cause it’s not where you go. It’s how you feel for a moment in your life when you’re a part of something, and if you find that moment… it lasts forever…” – Richard “The Beach”

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Hump day photo: The Sugar Wharf

Australia, Destinations, Other, Photography

Hump day photo: The Sugar Wharf

No Comments 18 April 2012

This view is one of the biggest things that made me return to Port Douglas and stay for the season. I originally arrived planning to only spend a few days then move on. During those few days I stumbled upon Anzac Park, the Sugar Wharf, St. Mary’s by the Sea and a tiny, secluded beach bringing all these things together.

I remember sitting on a bench in the park looking at the sight. It had been cloudy all day until that point. The clouds separated and the sun peaked through. I thought to myself, “I’ll be spending more than a just few days here.”

And I did.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

After visiting Cape Tribulation I came back to Port Douglas for Carnival. I left again for Cairns to return the campervan a friend and I traveled the east coast with. After losing our wheels, we waited around Cairns for a few days wondering what to do next.

I’m really into signs and was waiting for one in Cairns. On the way to a yoga class one morning, I bumped into the owner of the hostel I stayed at in Port Douglas. He offered me a job at his hostel in Port Douglas.

If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is.

I returned to Port the next day.

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Live and work in paradise

Australia, Australia, Destinations, Moving Abroad

Live and work in paradise

2 Comments 17 April 2012

The working holidaymakers guide to Port Douglas, Australia

Known for its luxury resorts, high-end restaurants and lavish tours, Port Douglas, Australia may not sound like the ideal backpacker destination.

But someone needs to cook for, serve, guide and clean up after the town’s many visitors. This makes Port Douglas a wonderful choice for twenty-something, working holidaymakers to find a job and much, much more during their year in Australia.

Located in Far North Queensland, most backpackers end up in Port Douglas desperately needing work after a few weeks or months of traveling the country’s east coast, a fun, but expensive trip. The mixture of beautiful beaches, a tent city and hundreds of party-loving travelers make the tropical village a haven for working holidaymakers.

Above all, make sure you have a work holiday visa or proper work permits to work in Australia. The country welcomes foreigners, but can be pretty harsh on people who work illegally in the country.

Those interested in making a home out of Port Douglas during their stay in Oz should arrive at the end of May and stay until about October, this is when the town is busiest and the weather is best. People arriving at this time of year need only to show up and book a room, the rest will fall into place.

To make the transition easier, here are five tips I can offer from my work holiday experience in Port Douglas.

Where to live

Whether you like hostels or not, it’s best to stay at one for the first few weeks of your stay in Port Douglas. Yes, it’s much cheaper than the area’s pricey hotels, but it’s also the best way to make friends and find out about work opportunities in town.

Dougie’s tent city is affordable and fun. Photo by Richard John Hackey

Out of the four or five hostels operating in Port Douglas, Dougies is by far the favorite for for affordability, scenery and community. The large hostel and campground is about a twenty-minute walk away from the town center. Situated across the street from Four Mile Beach, the massive hostel has a pool, bar, kitchen and common area.

What makes this hostel so special? 

Tent City. Located behind the dormitories, the camp area is packed with tents amongst jungle scenery. Filled with backpackers, tent city is a sort of travel commune. To top it all off, the resort only charges campers $75 per person, per week and your tent can be as large and lavish as you want. In fact, some of the tents here have refrigerators, televisions, mattresses and decor inside. It’s perfect for people who value their privacy, but enjoy the hostel life.

But camping in the tropics or hostel life in general isn’t for everyone, especially not for long periods of time. If you are planning to stay in Port Douglas for six months or longer, it might be a good idea to lease an apartment. With a few roommates this can be as cheap as $80 a week.

Those that don’t want to be tied down to an apartment can always rent a room somewhere. The best way to find one is by asking the locals at work or in town. They might have space or know a friend that does. Also, check for postings on bulletin boards at hostels or around town, read the town’s weekly newspaper, Port Douglas and Mossman Gazette. Gum Tree isn’t a good source in Port Douglas, but it’s always worth a try.

Where to work

It’s good to arrive in Port Douglas early to get first pick of the job market. That said, the start of the season can be pretty slow, so you might not receive a lot of hours until about a month in.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Most of the jobs offered here are in hospitality and tourism. Chef is probably the most readily-availble position in town. People can also find work as a divemaster/instructor, tour guide, waiter or waitress, housekeeper or bartender. That said, it is possible to find other jobs here. A newspaper, medical center and other businesses operate out the town.

The best way to find work in Port Douglas is to prepare a great CV and walk around town handing it out. People interested in work as a chef or server can pretty much visit all over town, but the bulk of the restaurants are located on Macrossan Street. Those interested in working on a dive boat should visit Marina Mirage.

Hotels lining Port Douglas Road require large staffs for positions in housekeeping, concierge or in their restaurants. For boutique hotels, it would be best to just visit and speak with a manager. This can also be said for larger hotels and resorts, but look out for when they’ll be hosting open interviews or job fairs. Large hotel companies will usually post ads about this in the local paper.

People should also look out for postings at hostels. To be honest, I just wouldn’t bother searching for work online, it’s more effective to search in person here.

Also keep hostel work in mind. A lot of hostels trade free accommodation in return for few hours work there a week. You can also find paid work at hostels. If you are staying at the hostel in which you receive paid work, they might offer you discounted room rates. Living where you work has its ups and downs.

Where to party

After all the basics are covered, money and shelter, it’s time to have a bit of fun. Port Douglas is by no means a party town, but party-loving backpackers always find a way to make this place exciting at night and throughout the day.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

While the best place to party changes each year, Iron Bar is always a great place to start. The centrally located bar has karaoke every Tuesday, live bands every week and usually stays open the latest on Macrossan Street.

Other great bars to check out, include Court House Hotel, Rattle n’ Hum, Central Hotel and Paddy’s Irish Pub. The town has heaps more bars and restaurants that will host parties throughout the season, so be on the look out.

Outside of the town center, Dougies hosts themed parties throughout the year. You’ll also hear about house and beach parties if you’re living here for the season.

What to do in town

The area has loads of activities and attractions, but if your making Port Douglas your home, you’ll probably be more likely to try low-key things. Of course Four Mile Beach is a great place to spend your days off swimming and playing in the sun. You might also want to try weekly activities like film nights at Central, $5 fish and chips at Lure and dinner deals at the Tin Shed. Basically, the more time you spend here, the more you’ll hear about things to do.

The view of Port Douglas’s Four Mile Beach from Flagstaff Hill lookout point. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

How to get there

Port Douglas is located just off Captain Cook Highway, about an hour north of Cairns. It’s easy to reach by car. Those traveling around Australia using public transportation must arrive in Cairns first.

The Queensland city has an airport and is easily reached by bus. From Cairns, use Sun Palm to get to Port Douglas. The local transit service charges $35 for a one way trip from Cairns city or airport to wherever your destination is in Port Douglas. They also offer transit around town and its surrounding areas.

Also, if you book your accommodation before arrival, check to see if the hostel or hotel offers free pick ups from Cairns.

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Top ten things to do in Port Douglas, Australia

Australia, Destinations

Top ten things to do in Port Douglas, Australia

10 Comments 15 April 2012

Miles of beach at your finger tips, a laid-back town life and one of the world’s oldest rainforests only a short drive away, Port Douglas is the epitome of tropical paradise. Located in Far North Queensland, Australia, about an hour north of Cairns, this tiny village may have originally been settled during the gold trade, but its the town’s natural beauty that’s proven to be its most valuable asset over time.

The getaway begins when you turn off Captain Cook Highway onto Port Douglas Road. Palm trees line the straight road, as mountains and farmland disappear behind you. This long road is filled with some of Australia’s most impressive resorts, including the massive but somehow still hidden Sea Temple and Spa Resort, which also has a golf course, and the Sheraton Mirage, which sits on what they claim to be the largest pool/lagoon in the southern hemisphere.

And this is all before even reaching the town center.

The small town center is packed with restaurants that have been dined by the likes of former president Bill Clinton and bars that have been partied at by actor Matthew McConaughey, as well as delicious eateries and everything from high street to import shopping experiences. Not to mention that on both sides of the town center are two very different sea scenes. On one end sits the long and sandy Four Mile Beach, on the other the Sugar Wharf and Meridien Marina.

The resort town stretches out quite a bit and offers an array of natural attractions, activities and more.

Waiting for a free ride on a wednesday at the Port Douglas Yacht Club. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

10. Free sailing at Port Douglas Yacht Club

Every Wednesday, Yacht Club members welcome visitors to go for a sail on their boats, free of charge. Those interested should arrive at about 4 p.m. While this activity is free, preference is given to people who buy a dinner ticket for that night at the club. Show up and sign in, then wait for the call to hop on someone’s boat and sail into the sunset.


9. Cane Toad Racing at Iron Bar 

While these small amphibians usually tend to hide out in sugar cane fields or swamps, they take the stage at Iron Bar at 8 p.m. every few nights a week. This show gets pretty busy some nights, so arrive about an hour ahead to find a good spot to watch and buy a ticket. The show is about an hour, but you can make a whole night out of it. The restaurant serves deliciously greasy foods and it’s a great place to party as they feature live bands, karaoke and drink specials every night.

Map of Port Douglas from www.tourismportdouglas.com.au

8. Shop and cafe-hop around Macrossan Street

The main street in the town center is lined with art galleries, clothing stores and cafes. Find one-of-a-kind, beach pieces at Moonshine Bay or stop in some Aussie favorites like Witchery and Jay Jays. After a long day of shopping, have a coffee at one of the many cafes or restaurants on and around Macrossan Street. Origin Espresso offers a Melbourne-caliber of coffee in a cozy spot just off Macrossan, on the corner of Grant and Warner Streets.

7. Fish in town or out to sea

Judging by the size of the town’s mascot groper George (don’t worry we’ll get to that later), the waterways surrounding Port Douglas must have some good catches. All you need is a rod and some bait to fish off the Sugar Wharf. Those interested in a more adventurous fishing experience can go out to sea with Fishing Port Douglas or rent their own pontoon and fish around the area’s mangroves where an array of wildlife lives, including crocs.

Party at the Sugar Wharf during Port Douglas’s annual Carnival celebration. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

6. Have a drink or two

The destination town is packed with great restaurants and bars for every budget. Sip on bubbles at Zinc, try a cocktail at Bistro 3 or just have a good ol’ schooner at the Central Hotel or the Court House Hotel. The town is by no means known for its nightlife, if that’s what your after then head to Cairns, but you can have some amazing nights out or entire days taking a few back in the hot, Australian sun here. The Court House, or the “Courty” is definitely the town’s most iconic spot to dine and an ideal place to soak up the sun, but Iron Bar, which has karaoke, live bands and more, usually stays open and busy much later.

A lot places around town offer happy hour, but only On the Inlet, located near the Marina, offers happy hour with a 250 kg groper. Every night at 5 p.m., a staff member feeds George, the massive groper, as guests watch. It’s quite a sight to see. These days a lot of George’s buddies join in on the fun too. Get their early, as its hard to find a good viewing spot closer to feeding time.

Purchase fresh and locally grown produce at the market. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

5. Browse through local produce and goods at the Port Douglas Sunday Markets

Every Sunday between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m., farmers, bakers and artists alike set up stalls around Anzac Park. Located right on the sea, you can’t find a better location for a Sunday market. Try produce from all over the area, sip on sugar cane or pineapple juice, maybe even try some of the area’s coconuts.

You can browse through import clothing, admire photography and paintings by local artists, purchase hand-crafted leather and wood goods, even get a massage at the markets. While visiting Anzac Park, make sure to check out St. Mary’s by the Sea, a tiny chapel right on the water.

Taken from Low Island, you can’t get much closer to paradise. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

4. Snorkel or dive the Great Barrier Reef and Low Isles

Everyone knows Cairns as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, but boats operating out of Port Douglas reach the Outer Great Barrier Reef as well. Several Port Douglas boats offer daily trips to the major dive and snorkel destination.

Another great trip to sea offered from Port Douglas is the Low Isles. Spend the day prancing around Low Island, a tiny island with a red-topped lighthouse and snorkeling around the island searching for clown fish, sea turtles, reef sharks and more.

All boats depart from Marina Mirage, which doesn’t get mentioned enough in this post. The Marina is another great section of the town which offers dining, shopping and more. Visitors can book nautical trips from here.

A crocodile sits on the banks of the Daintree River. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

3. Spot a croc

Australian crocodiles are not hard to find in the Port Douglas area. Though you don’t really have to worry about crocs hanging out at Four Mile Beach, I would be careful around mangroves in the area, especially in the Daintree, the tropical rainforest in this area.

There are a number of crocodile-sighting tours operating around the Daintree. Crocodile sightings are quite normal in Cape Tribulation and another good way to see crocs is by renting a pontoon boat, which was mentioned under the fishing section of this post.

Crocodile sightings shouldn’t stop people from visiting the area. If anything, they should make people want to visit it more. Crocodiles are one of the oldest and least changed species still around today. A sighting is pretty special. Areas that are unsafe to swim in are usually marked. Just follow the country’s guidance and be smart about where you swim.

Fan palms shade the Daintree. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

2. Visit Cape Tribulation and Mossman Gorge

The scenery in Port Douglas town is spectacular, but drive only twenty minutes away and it keeps getting better. The 16,965-hectare Cape Tribulation National Park is filled with lush rainforests, unusual plant life, unique animals and long beaches.

To reach Cape Tribulation, visitors must pay $12 ($21 return) for the vehicle ferry crossing the Daintree River to the National Park. From there, just one street goes through the area. Along the way signs mark scenic lookouts, beaches, walks and businesses. Some things to check out include Cape Tribulation beach, Daintree Ice Cream Company and the Blue Hole, if you can find it. (Some things are meant to be kept off the beaten track.)

It’s hard to miss the park’s ferns and fan palms as they shade the whole area, but a more unique find in this area is the endangered cassowary. You’ll see plenty of road signs warning drivers to slow down for these big birds, one of those signs is even quite famous now. While you are more dangerous to this dwindling species of bird than they are to you, they are dangerous when threatened, so don’t come too close if you’re lucky enough to spot one.

A lot of companies offer tours of this area, which include pick-up services from Port Douglas. While one day is a decent amount of time to explore the area, it has a few options for accommodation, so it’s possible to spend a few nights here.

A great day trip or stop along the way is Mossman Gorge. Spend the day hopping from rock to rock and swimming at the gorge. The cool, clear waters are quite a treat in the sweltering hot tropics.

The view of Port Douglas’s Four Mile Beach from Flagstaff Hill. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

1. Spend the whole day at Four Mile Beach

Purple mountains ahead, green forests to one side, calm seas to the other and miles of golden sand ahead, this is easily the best attraction in Port Douglas. Visitors will most likely spend most of their time at the beach, doing more than just sunbathing.

Start the day here with some exercise. The sand on the beach is compact enough to run on without strain. Yoga and boot camp classes are also offered here.

Next, spend the bulk of the day tanning and swimming in the beach’s bath-like waters. Maybe climb on the rocks or walk up to the Flagstaff Hill for a better view.

Just because the sun goes down, doesn’t mean Four Mile Beach is closes. When the moon is full, this might be one of the most romantic places on earth. You might even find a bonfire, music and backpackers here some nights. Join in, friendly travelers and locals welcome the company.

These are just a few things to do in Port Douglas, the great thing about this village is how it unfolds. It may look small, but just when you think you’ve seen everything, you’ll find an artist in residence’s home and gallery or a new walk not far away. Come for a week, stay for a life time. That’s usually the way it goes in Port Douglas.

Port Douglas is one of Australia’s many gorgeous destinations. The country has something to offer everyone, from secluded beaches to lively party towns. Taste the wine, sample the surf and soak the sun. Are you ready for your Australian holiday? Check here for great deals on flights to Australia.

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My travel inspirations

Online Goodies, Other

My travel inspirations

6 Comments 11 April 2012

So many people, moments and places shape our travels. Travel is a huge part of my life, but a part that wouldn’t be possible if it hadn’t been for a few key travel inspirations over the years.

I love this meme by Easy Jet Holiday. It’s just a fun post that gave me a time to look back of the things that shaped who I am and where I am today. Thanks to Jade from Our Oyster for nominating me. I hope writing this post made you smile while dealing with Fijian floods. It made me smile from New Zealand!

Who 

To this day, my Uncle Paul and I are in a race to see who can visit every country in the world first. Unfortunately, I have a lot of catching up to do.

Really my dad’s best friend, I found out when my nephew was born that Uncle Paul had been encouraging my travels since I was born. This past summer I saw him with my nephew, only three days old, whispering, “First, go to Rome. Then how about Greece?” Just 25 years ago he was doing the same to me.

As I got older he always encouraged me to travel as much as possible. I remember hearing about his own son’s year in Germany as a foreign exchange student. Along with my dad, Paul hasn’t just inspired and encouraged my travel opportunities, he’s created a lot of them.

My dad, me and Uncle Paul, these guys are the two biggest reasons I ever started traveling.

What 

This may be the most absurd inspiration ever, but University of Dundee.

Not sure exactly how old I was, but I’m gonna go for 14. I remember messaging a friend on aim while researching universities abroad. I’m not sure why I was looking into uni at that age, but I was. My friend and I were dead set on Dundee.

For some reason I recall the university being in Australia, but I must be mistaken because the only one I can find now is in Scotland.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter which university or where it was, the idea just gave me a feeling of endless possibility. I realized I could go anywhere in the world. I could live in Australia one day. I was actually so excited at the idea of living in Australia one day, that I applied for a job at Outback Steakhouse.

Can I take your order mate? Photo from wikipedia.org

When

The first chance I had to travel abroad, I grabbed it. I was 15 years old when I learned about People to People. It’s a youth ambassador program. Basically 40 or so high school students travel abroad for a little over a month.

On my trip, we visited six countries in Europe. It was such an amazing experience. After that I just became obsessed with learning how the rest of the world lived. I vowed to travel as much and as often as I could from that trip on.

Where 

I was never nervous about traveling Europe or Australia, but I was nervous about a lot of other places in the world. Before arriving somewhere, you tend to build a perception of it that is never really completely true. One of my big worries is safety, especially when traveling as a solo female.

Australia broke that barrier for me. First of all, Australians are some of the best travelers I’ve ever met. I met loads in Europe and all of them had been to places I wouldn’t have dared to visit at the time. Second, a lot of travelers visit Australia.

Being surrounded by the two made me feel comfortable enough to travel anywhere. Before visiting Australia I was nervous about visiting SE Asia, but after hearing how amazing it was from people in Australia, I was eager to visit.

I guess Australia was my gateway drug. Now I can’t get enough of the world. I’ll try anywhere.

I would never have ended up doing this in Vang Vieng if I hadn’t visited Australia first.

Nominations

Since this post is all about inspiration, I’m nominating a few ladies who inspire me. 

D from D Travels Round for inspiring me to not just travel, but travel ethically.

Bobbi from Today I’m Bobbi for inspiring me to be strong and create something spectacular out of ideas.

Megan at Bohemian Trails for inspiring me to stop and take note of all of life’s beauty.

Christine from Christine in Spain for inspiring me to move to Spain, some day.

Heather from There’s No Place Like Oz for inspiring me to write about trips from before I started this blog.

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Koalas, beaches and buckets, it must be Easter Sunday

Blog, What I'm thinking

Koalas, beaches and buckets, it must be Easter Sunday

1 Comment 08 April 2012

Out of all the holidays I’ve celebrated while traveling, Easter has always turned out to be the best.

It might be because I don’t expect as much out of Easter as say Christmas or Thanksgiving. It could also be because I’ve spent most of my Easters abroad on a beach, in a cool city or somewhere else amazing interacting with cuddly animals.

I’ll go back to my furthest memory of traveling Easter Sundays past all the way to London in 2007. I got dressed up in my Easter Sunday best, only not quite on Easter Sunday. A friend I met studying there and I decided to spend Easter eve celebrating our three month anniversary playing around London town.

Sunday Best in London Town.

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