The Blue Mountains was recommended by a friend and the guidebook as "de-rigour for frazzled travellers and Sydneysiders alike". We were frazzled, but also on a relative high after a good run through Tasmania, Melbourne and Canberra. We had seen a different side to Australia than the East Coast, and liked it.
Blog - Tag: Australia
Our penultimate stop in Australia was the capital city of Canberra. Unsure what to expect here we kept an open mind upon arrival. I’m glad we did because it turned out that Canberra, although not the social party hub of the country, had a lot to offer us including a warm welcome with friendly locals and a relaxed unhurried feel about town – the opposite of the rollercoaster East Coast you could say.
I thought anything that followed our fantastic week on Tasmania was going to be hard work, but not Melbourne! After a week of natural beauty and walking in remote areas, this city break was welcome, and it was served up well. Thriving with cultural intelligence, ethnic diversity, tourism, festivals, arts & crafts as well as big business, Melbourne is without question the most impressive city we've visited in Australia. Tourists and travellers seem to blend into the mix much more here than in that other over-hyped, gregarious city which people love so much.
After travelling from St Helens, via the Bay of Fires and St Columba Falls, we arrived into Launceston in the evening. We checked into Launceston Backpackers, and after being offered a significant discount on a double room we extended our stay to two nights.
We drove to St. Helens with the YHA in mind for our overnight stay. We had to drive around the block a couple of times to find it and we soon found out why we had missed it – it was boarded up. Luckily I had seen a sign on the high street advertising backpacker accommodation so we just drove around the corner in search of a bed. St Helens Backpackers turned out to be one of those little gems of a hostel that make travelling interesting and stress-free, just like the one in Hobart. It was run by Paul, originally from Liverpool, who had lived in Tasmania for many years.
Having stopped for tea & scones with fantastic views over Great Oyster Bay to break up a really nice drive, we were a little disappointed to check into the YHA in Coles Bay. A somewhat drab holiday park had converted a nearby shed into a hostel, of which even the normally over-enthusiastic Lonely Planet dared to say 'lacked charm'. We were the only guests and still charged a premium rate for a double shoebox. It was clean, but that's all that can be said.
Stopping at 'The Blowhole', where the sea is hurled out the back of a collapsed cave in the eroding cliffs, and noting that there were wild penguins in the area as we passed Pirates Bay, we arrived at the 'Port Arthur Historical Site' a couple of hours after leaving Hobart. Tasmania held a fearsome reputation as one of the last places a convict should wish to be transported, and Governor Arthur obviously ruled with an iron fist. The historical site at Port Arthur is geographically located in the far south east of Tasmania, and only accessible across a narrow spit of land.
Oh wonderful Tasmania, where for art thou Tasmania? After only two days in the Australian state of Tasmania I was thinking ‘I love Tasmania’. It felt a million miles away from the East Coast of Australia, and I think because we flew there it did feel like we were arriving in another country altogether. I have not yet been to New Zealand, but for most of the week we were in Tasmania, it felt like what I imagine New Zealand to be like. Tasmania oozed with laid-backness, homeliness, calmness, order and friendliness.
Cairns was our last stop along the East Coast, and marked the end of what had been for us a bumpy rollercoaster ride since arriving in Sydney nearly six weeks ago.
With brochures advertising Mission Beach as ‘…where the rainforest meets the sea’ and ‘low-key’, we felt that this place may have something to offer us and so decided to spend 2 nights there on our way to Cairns. Again, we stayed in the YHA which is located outside of town with the nearest shop being 2km away. The hostel is set in the treetops of the rainforest itself and is very aptly named ‘Tree House’. After enjoying Magnetic Island so much, we expected it to be fairly similar.