During the month of February, I spent a few weeks travelling down the east coast of Australia. For those of you unfamiliar with Australia, this includes places such as Cairns, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Byron Bay. The east coast is also home to the famous Great Barrier Reef.
Through planning and doing the trip, I have learnt what worked and what didn’t work along the way and so, in this blog I am hoping to share with you all the highlights (and possible low lights) of my trip!
Let’s rewind to February 3rd 2018…
My trip started with meeting my dad in Melbourne airport (he had flown from Northern Ireland to travel with me) before flying up to Cairns in Queensland. This was a great starting point as it is far enough up the east coast for an achievable 2 week trip.
We spent 5 nights in Cairns, giving us 4 full days plus a few hours on the travelling days. Initially, we thought this might not have been enough time, however, by the final day we were ready to move on from this tiny town. Cairns is a wonderful spot to take trips from…we choose to do a full day trip to Green Island (inner great barrier reef) and another to Daintree Rainforest. Both trips were fantastic, however, we later discovered that in order to see the real beauty of the reef you need to take a trip out the outer reef (I will talk more about this later in the blog). As for the Rainforest…well, they aren’t joking when they call it a rainforest! It lashed the whole day and although it did had to the atmosphere, some dryness would have been nice. If you are planning a trip to Cairns, it is worth being aware of their dry and wet seasons and if rain is something that really bothers you, you may be better off going during the dry season (AUS winter months).
Top Foodie Finds in Cairns
- Marinades Indian – we enjoyed this meal so much that we actually went back twice! Indian is a great choice for vegan food (for more ordering tips check out my “How To Order As A Vegan’ video)
- Zambrero – this is a fantastic Mexican ‘fast food’ style restaurant. They have lots of vegan options including burrito bowls, burritos, tacos, chips and dips etc.
- Little Loco Cafe – we came across this cafe completely accidentally but it was definitely a little gem. They have various vegan options including cocowhip sundaes, acai bowls and delicious whole foods bowls.
After a great few days in Cairns, we were off to Airlie Beach, not by plane but by bus! When I told dad that I had booked us an 11 hour bus journey he freaked…however, we both decided that it was one of the best things we could have done. The journey went really quick and it was a fantastic way to see the country. We loved seeing the change in vegetation from tropical to sub-tropical. The company I booked through was called Greyhound, who I would highly recommend; seats were comfy, free wifi was available at all times, there was charging points and an onboard toilet.
We only had 2 nights here as our main reason for stopping here was to do a trip. On our only full day, we took a boat trip out to the outer (hardy) reef. Going to the outer reef is a lot more expensive than the inner, however, it is well worth the money. Having experienced both on this trip, I can definitely say that the outer reef is what you expect when you think of the Great Barrier Reef. We booked our trip through CruiseWhitsundays, who proved to be very accommodating, even providing me with a GF vegan buffet lunch onboard.
When we arrived in Airlie beach, the beauty of the town made us wish that we had booked to stay longer, however, by midday of our final day we were glad to be moving on as it appeared there wasn’t much to the town other than a base for trips.
Top Foodie Finds in Airlie Beach
- La Marina – we came across the Italian restaurant on the first night and were so impressed that we went back the next night. It was situated right on the marina and the staff were beyond accommodating to my needs. I got the vegetarian pizza (no cheese) on a gluten free base and it was by far the best pizza I’ve ever had!
After a short stay in Airlie, we flew to Brisbane. Our flight landed around 8:30pm and I had booked us into the Ibis airport hotel for the night. This was extremely handy as we were taking another Greyhound bus to Gold Coast the next morning. I made the decision spend our final 6 days in Gold coast, opposed to splitting them between Brisbane and Goldie. I can’t say whether or not this was the best decision but both dad and I loved the Gold Coast and were very glad to be spending the remainder of our holiday there.
You maybe thinking ‘why did you not just fly to Gold Coast?’ well it worked out about $200 per person cheaper to fly to Brisbane, stay in the airport hotel AND get a short bus the next morning rather than flying straight to the Gold Coast, so the simple answer is saving money. These are the kinds of things that are so important to look into when booking trips as you can end up saving yourself 100’s of dollars by simply taking a slightly different route.
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We fell in love with Gold Coast from the day we arrived. We stayed in Broadbeach and absolutely loved the atmosphere and general environment…it was like the Florida of Australia! Dad had picked a lovely hotel/serviced apartments (Meriton) which made the stay that bit more comfortable; I could easily have stayed a lot longer in this location.
During our time in Gold Coast, we spent a day at Movie World which unfortunately was a bit disappointing. I’m sure to many it is a great day out but I was expecting DisneyWorld which it was definitely not. Despite it being a very small park, we enjoyed the day and the atmosphere. We also spent another of our days at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary which we thoroughly enjoyed. It was great to visit a place that gives the animals so much free space to roam around as they please. This is definitely a place worth visiting if you’re in the area.
Top Foodie Finds in Gold Coast
- Cardamom Pod – as I mentioned earlier, we were staying a 2 minute walk from this place which resulted in us visiting 4 times! The snickers acai bowl is a MUST but the savoury dishes are also absolutely delicious.
- Mandala and Co – pizza pizza pizzaaaaa…this cute little hippy restaurant is an absolute charmer and their creamy mushroom pizza is a winner. If you are here, the cassava chips are also a must (dad said they were the best chips he’s ever had!).
- Greenhouse Canteen – best meal of the holiday (according to dad and I). We went all out at Greenhouse with starter, main course, dessert and drinks but it was beyond worth it! For starter we got the chickpea fries, then we both ordered the Jackfruit enchilada for main and for dessert we shared the PB choc fudge cake. I got the blueberry pie kombuha to drink, while dad tried the homemade lemonade.
- Saffron Indian – yet another fantastic indian meal. They offered me the choice of about 4 or 5 vegan options and I went for the chana masala which was delicious. A great pick if you are travelling with non-vegans.
- Blend Love – this cute little cafe has the most amazing menu…with everything from avocado toast to burgers to loaded jackfruit fries! Everyone is sure to find something to satisfy their taste buds.
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After a fantastic 2 weeks, we flew home from the Gold Coast. Unfortunately, our flight home didn’t go as smoothly as the travelling but things happen when you’re travelling and it’s all about being able to adapt to new and changing situations.
I hope this blog has been useful (or interesting) for you all.