THE GREAT (AND COLD) OCEAN ROAD

It’s safe to say that we were all rather unprepared for the weather that awaited us along the south coast of Australia. It was unseasonably cold due to a series of storms which had put parts of Victoria on a ‘severe’ weather warning. Our plan of camping our way along the Great Ocean Road before heading up the east coast now seemed laughable. 

ALTERNATIVE MELBOURNE WALKING TOUR

Melbourne is renowned for its street art. Even our hostel had jumped on the bandwagon and hired graffiti artists to plaster the walls with colourful designs. We had heard that there was a great self-guided walking tour you could do through the city centre to see some of the best graffiti Melbourne offered, so, after a bit of research we headed to Flinders Street station to see for ourselves. I’ll reproduce the route here so if you ever happen to be in Melbourne you can go have a look too. I’d highly recommend it and it won’t take you more than an hour with ample stopping time. 

FIELD OF LIGHT

During our time in Uluru we were lucky enough to experience Bruce Munro’s Field of Light exhibition. This illuminated field of solar powered light stems was a once in a lifetime experience so I thought I’d share some of the photographs that my very talented boyfriend, Oliver, managed to take during our visit.

THE RED CENTRE

After a final few days in Bali, in which I quite possibly managed to consume my own weight in mie goreng (fried noodles) and avocado juice, we packed our backpacks and hopped on a flight to Melbourne, Australia. Here, after an overnight pitstop in a rather chilly Melbourne hostel, we headed straight back to Melbourne Airport to board a flight to Uluru, more commonly known as Ayers Rock. 

BALI'S MOST HAUNTED

This was an unexpected post, but definitely the kind of experience I wanted to get down in my blog, so I felt like it deserved its own little corner of the internet. When looking up things to do near Sanur, Tom (one of the friends we're travelling with) discovered an abandoned theme park, called Taman Festival, which we decided we had to go and explore. 

MESSING ABOUT ON BOATS

From Ubud we headed for Sanur, a beach resort hotspot on the eastern side of the country and a scuba diver’s paradise. We had heard that there was a specific dive spot at Nusa Penida where manta rays were frequently sighted - it’s even named ‘Manta Point’ for this reason - so of course we had to go and check it out. 

BALI STYLE

After a three-month hiatus from travelling spent at home, working my ass off to try to save money, I was well and truly ready to hit the road again. 

EARL GREY LEMON DRIZZLE LOAF

It’s that time of year again. The first episode of the new Great British Bake Off series airs on Wednesday night, which, of course, means it’s the perfect time to whack out your rarely utilised, mad baking skills! This cake is guaranteed to impress all your friends and family (if you decide you’re kind enough to share it with them, that is).

THE 5 BEST BOOKS I READ WHILE TRAVELLING

One of the things I did while I was in Australia was get back into reading for pleasure. As an English Literature student at university, I was required to read at least one novel per week, as well as one play, and a number of literary reviews and research papers as background reading. By the time I left Exeter with my degree in hand, I felt well and truly tired of literature.

ANOTHER TRAVEL UPDATE

Just a quick post to let you know where I am in the world at the moment! After getting back to England from my wonderful week in Mallorca I had planned to fly straight back out to Australia. However, I had by this point started to worry about how likely it was that I could immediately find myself a full-time job on my return to Oz (which I needed to have guaranteed in order to fund the second half of my trip).

UNA BODA DE MALLORCA

After the initial shock of my grand entrance had worn off, I settled into what was my second ever holiday with Oliver and his family. It was so exciting to see Oli, especially after such a positive reaction from him to my surprise. We kicked the celebrations off in style with a gorgeous meal at Tahini, a sushi restaurant in Puerto Portals, with Oliver’s parents that evening.

THE ONE WITH THE SURPRISE


When my mother and I decided that it would be quite a nice idea to surprise my boyfriend, Oliver, by turning up in Mallorca for his sister’s wedding, halfway through our time apart, we definitely failed to recognise quite how much deception this surprise was going to involve.

SOMEWHERE IN SYDNEY

After my time on the Gold Coast I headed back down to Sydney for my flight home. I arrived at 8am on yet another overnight bus, one month after I first entered Australia. I had booked a cheap hostel on Hostel World because it claimed to have an early check-in option, from 9am.

THE GOLD COAST

After a week exploring Sydney I felt ready to move on. So I booked a ticket up the East Coast to Byron bay and set off from Sydney that evening, on an overnight greyhound bus. Thankfully there was free wifi on the bus and I managed to get two seats to myself with plenty of room to snooze. I set off feeling quietly optimistic that once I arrived in Byron I could relax for a few days, before being handed a work-for-accommodation job at one of Byron’s many hostels. This was where I was wrong.

THE BLUE MOUNTAINS

First of all, I’m sorry it’s been ages since I last updated here. I know I left you all hanging and you must be dying to pick up where we left off on my little adventure… Or not, but either way: I’m back to fill you all in. I mentioned in my last post that before I headed out of Sydney up the east coast of Australia, I went on a day trip to see the Blue Mountains. So here we go!

G'DAY SYDNEY

My journey to Australia marked the end of my plans for a while. I knew I was going to arrive in Sydney and leave almost exactly 7 months later (probably from Cairns) for the second half of my trip. Now all that remained was how to fill that time. 

DOLPHIN ENCOUNTER KAIKOURA

Here we are: the final instalment of the New Zealand diaries. Kaikoura. I wish we had had some more time here because, for me, it was a definite trip highlight. I can't even begin to express how much I love the ocean. Swimming was always just something I took to naturally and as soon as I discovered scuba diving on my trip around Thailand three years ago I was hooked. I'm pretty confident that I was a mermaid in a past life! 

OTAGO CENTRAL RAIL TRAIL

At this point we're nearing the end of the New Zealand section of my travel blog. We travelled north from Fiordlands to Wedderburn. Population? Probably about 10. We definitely weren't in Wedderburn for the raging nightlife. We were there to cycle the very popular Otago Central Rail Trail.

DOUBTFUL SOUND


Ah, Doubtful Sound, sand fly Mecca of New Zealand! Here, we spent a very rainy evening in a school-camp style hostel in the middle of the rainforest. After we got over the initial misery of the place - We have to put our own sheets on the bed? Why won't it stop raining? - we settled in to a really nice night eating birthday cake and watching What We Do in the Shadows, wearing some very stylish matching PJ sets provided by the staff.

WHEN IN QUEENSTOWN

After a stop in Franz Josef and a 13,000ft skydive over the stunning Franz Josef glacier (named the 2nd best place to skydive in the world after Mt Everest because you're jumping over an area of rainforest, mountain, glacier and sea) we headed down to Queenstown. 

ON THE ROAD AGAIN



From Tongariro we travelled south, crossing over onto the south island of New Zealand on the Cook Strait ferry from Wellington. Here we spent another night on live aboard boat accommodation in Abel Tasman national park, where we were introduced to the joys of the New Zealand sand fly. I kid you not, I am the human equivalent of a blue light to all mosquitos and sand flies. 


TONGARIRO ALPINE CROSSING

In the time between the Bay of Islands and this post, quite a few days elapsed which I have chosen not to document. This is simply because recounting every day of this trip would take me another week of writing, and I've only got a few days of blogging left before I have to leave for Sydney. To quickly summarise, the highlights of these missing days were: surfing in Raglan (a very cool surf town you should really check out if you're in the North Island) and caving at Waitomo caves (glowworms galore).

BAY OF ISLANDS


I left the luxury of Pat and Peter's place to start my 24 day tour of New Zealand at Nomads hostel, Auckland. Definitely a bit of a downgrade in terms of accommodation standards so far, but I was quite happy to be there after an evening with the group drinking $5 beers. The next morning we set off for the Bay of Islands, about a three and a half hour drive north from Auckland, which was split up with a few stops.

THERE AND BACK AGAIN

Since booking my tour of New Zealand I'd been feeling quite disappointed that I wouldn't get the chance to visit the Hobbiton film set, so I was delighted, to say the least, when my friends suggested we take a day trip from Auckland to see it. I'm a big Lord of the Rings fan. I spent a night with my best friend, Kirsten, at an overnight IMAX movie-marathon a few years ago, and more recently some of my first dates with my boyfriend, Oliver, were spent happily watching the trilogy together at each other's houses.

SAILING AUCKLAND


There is nothing more welcome and appreciated than arriving from a long-haul flight to a familiar face at the airport, a warm shower, and a beautifully made-up double bed. After a few days of settling in and waiting for the stormy weather to pass, my friends and I packed up our overnight bags and headed off on a maritime adventure. 

EXPLORING KUALA LUMPUR

Kuala Lumpur is the perfect stop-over destination. I'd particularly recommend a few days in KL towards the end of your trip, or on your way back home because the opportunities for shopping are plentiful. It's not the most architecturally beautiful city but it does offer enough for a few days of sightseeing and street food that are particularly easy to access as a stop-over if you're flying from Europe to Australasia (or vice versa).

AND I'M OFF

I've just arrived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, after a very exhausting couple of days. The weeks before my departure were so jam-packed with bon voyage activities - not to mention a week skiing in the Alps with my boyfriend's family - that I barely had time to cram all the clothes and travel accessories I'd been hoarding into a backpack, the day before my flight.

GREENFROG BOTANIC REVIEW

As I’ve grown older I’ve started to place a lot more significance on the ethos of the brands I choose to purchase. I didn’t understand as a young child why my mother would refuse to buy any Nestlé products for ethical reasons – at the time it was just incredibly annoying that I wasn’t allowed to eat Cookie Crisp cereal for breakfast – but now I can completely see where she was coming from.

PRINCESSES IN PARIS

Since publishing my bucket list a few months ago, I’ve managed to cross two things off my list. The first of these activities took the form of a winter trip to Disneyland Paris with my three best girlfriends to see the Disney magic reach its sparkling peak during the Christmas period.

THAI HOT AND SOUR SOUP WITH #FITFOODBMF

I recently teamed up with British Military Fitness as a blogger for their #FitFoodBMF recipe book. I was asked to contribute one of my favourite healthy recipes to be published and I immediately thought of this one.

TRAVEL UPDATE

Just a quick post to let everyone who follows me know what’s happening at the moment with my upcoming travel plans. Essentially, everything I’ve planned is still going ahead, but I’ve pushed the trip back to leave on March 17th. Big thanks to STA and G Adventures for helping with the changes.

'TIS THE SEASON

A few days ago, I returned home from work to see the hacked-off branches of our Christmas tree lying despondently in the driveway and felt the familiar pang of post-Christmas gloom. I guess it’s officially time to face facts: Christmas is over for yet another year. While my January diet may have started, I’m not quite ready to give up my Christmas spirit, so I thought I’d put up a rather photo-heavy post on my 2015 holiday highlights to keep the magic alive.

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