Over the past two weeks, I have encountered some of the prettiest sights I believe I will ever see. The travels to them were not always delightful, but definitely worth all of the unknowns and difficulties. In this blog post, I will tell you of my travels to Royal National Park and Whitsunday Islands. They are nearly 1,300 miles away from each other, but my friends and I were lucky enough to see both of them within the short period of time we had on our break week at UNSW.
Let’s begin. It was a Saturday morning when my friend and I went to a small cafe before we went to board our train. Suddenly, we got a panicked phone call explaining our train was leaving in five minutes. We were 10 minutes away from the train station at this time, so we started sprinting with our espressos and croissants in hand. As we were running through the station in a group of seven, about every single person there was staring at our frantic group. As if it couldn’t get more humiliating, my croissant went flying out of my bag about seven feet behind me. Once we finally got to where our train would depart, we realized we missed it by one minute. Now, we were down a train and a croissant. We waited 30 minutes for another train to come and then we traveled nearly an hour to our destination, thinking we were going to go to the Figure Eight Pools. Once we left the station, we realized we were in a ghost town. There were no Ubers, no taxis, and we were miles away from our destination. We asked the local fire station what we should do, and they said our best option would be to hitchhike. This took us all by surprise, but we were determined to conquer this adventure. Standing on the side of the road, with our thumbs held high in the air, eventually we met a man who had just dropped off his son at the train station. He offered to take all seven of us to the park. However, once we began talking to him, he told us the tides were too high to go to the Figure Eight Pools and that it would be dangerous. He then offered to take us to Royal National Park, where there was a lagoon on the ocean, and cliff jumping. We immediately were interested, and we agreed to go there. He told us we could get home as long as we kept the shoreline to the right of us for about a two hour hike and then we would run into a small town where we could take a ferry to a bigger city. Having no other way to get home, no cell service, and no other option, we took his word for it.
Wattamolla Beach & National Park
Once we made it to Wattamolla Beach, we sat by the lagoon for a few hours and went cliff jumping off a thirty foot tall waterfall a couple times. It was a breathtaking experience to say the least. We all ate our PB&Js to gear up for our hike home and as it hit four o’clock, we started our journey with the shoreline to our right of us. Throughout the trail, we ran into only a dozen other travelers. If I was going to try to explain this hike to you, the best description I have is that I thought I had fallen off one of the cliffs, and that I was walking through Heaven. The views felt like nothing else in the world mattered, the only thing I could feel was freedom. My friends and I were not able to take the smiles off our faces, the only thing we could do was look at each other and ask “Is this real?”. At one point we even saw whales jumping in and out of the water; I don’t even need to pay for whale watching anymore! Overall, the hike did not take two hours, it took a little over three and we walked 11 miles. It was worth it however. I think the saying “Life’s best moments happen unplanned” is the truest statement I’ve ever heard.
Unplanned Adventures Part 2
Once we made it off of the trail, we were in the small town of Bundeena, where there were only two restaurants and a convenience store. We walked to the harbor where the ferry was supposed to be, just to find out we missed the last ferry by 12 minutes. At this point, we were tired, starving, and clueless as to how we were going to get home. There were no Ubers or taxis in this small town either, so we started asking locals what we should do. The man who owned the pizza restaurant we ate at said that there was a local man who works as the “neighborhood Uber”. So, here we are, in the predicament of being stranded again, but saved by the locals. He took two trips to bring my friends and I to the train station, and we finally made our way back to Sydney an hour and a half later after leaving Bundeena.
On October 16, my friends and I boarded our flight at the Sydney Airport to Hamilton Island. As soon as we got off the plane, a wave of humid hot air hit us. The sky was as blue as the ocean and the palm trees were the greenest I have ever seen. We then boarded our ferry to Airlie Beach. We were on the ferry for about an hour looking at the islands pass us by. Once we got off, we went to our Airbnb we were to stay at for the next five days. The views overlooked the entire town and the harbor where dozens of sailboats and yachts were anchored. Watching the sun set across the harbor each night is something I hope I will never forget. We spent most days either by the lagoon or the beach. The lagoon was very refreshing as it was a salt water pool 10 feet away from the ocean. Both tourists and locals spent a lot of their time spread across the waters edge reading and eating acai bowls. It was a very relaxing vacation destination with an exquisite environment. We met a lot of people visiting from the Gold Coast which we will be going to in the next upcoming weeks, and we are hoping to meet up with them again. We took an excursion to Whitehaven Beach which is in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. It’s been voted the world’s top eco-friendly beach and Queensland’s cleanest beach. Our excursion consisted of an all-inclusive catamaran ride and we got to go snorkeling! To my surprise, we had to wear jellyfish suits because it’s stinger season. Thank goodness we did though, we saw dozens of jelly fish while snorkeling. The suits also gave my friends and I a good laugh; we looked absolutely ridiculous. On the way back, it was downpouring. That did not stop us from having a good time though. We sat on the trampoline of the catamaran with our jellyfish suits on and took in the views of the islands and the turquoise water. It truly was euphoric – I think the rain made it even more memorable. Overall, going to Airlie Beach was the perfect vacation I could have asked for and it just showed me how much more of Australia I want to see.
A Month and a Half Left
Time really does fly when you’re having fun. I can’t believe I’m two thirds of the way done with this studying abroad experience. In the upcoming weeks, I have a lot of school work to finish up and it will be very demanding. However, I have some fun trips planned and am hoping to add one or two more. Next week, I will be going to Jervis Bay which is said to posses the whitest sand in the world. Then, I will be going to the Gold Coast for a few days to visit my friends at Bond University.
Stay tuned :),