Personal style and fashion blog

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Travelling Australia's East Coast: Sydney to Cape Tribulation (and back again) in Five Weeks


Byron Bay
When we first came out to Australia the first thing we wanted to do was a bit of travelling before we got stuck into work, paying rent and, well, all the fun things that come with being in your late 20s. So, after our first week in Sydney we picked up a campervan (nothing fancy, it was essentially a van with a mattress in the back) and set off for five weeks on the road.

I'll be honest, there were times when I hated the travelling. Australia is huge and there were days when we drove on a seemingly endless stretch of road for hours on end, with nothing to entertain us but views of fields outside and a carefully curated playlist. Our campervan was basic and had definitely seen better days (word to the wise: if you're considering a road trip in Aus and want to get a camper, hire one well in advance. We booked ours a couple of weeks in advance and it was slim, slim pickings), and in that summer heat it wasn't the most comfortable of places to get a good night's sleep (we soon affectionately renamed our camper 'the sweatbox'. Another word to the wise: buy a battery-operated fan before you start your trip to keep those unbearably sweaty nights at bay).

For someone who has always lived in British cities, Australia is also very buggy - especially in the more rural places - and midges on the east coast are rife. Then there's the camping itself. You have to get used to sharing bathrooms, kitchens and living with just the bare necessities. You'll also have to get used to wearing the same clothes for days on end, purely because you can't bring yourself to rummage through the van to try and find something clean/not creased beyond repair.

Byron Bay
But then, all that was a small price to pay for what was an incredible experience. There's nothing like finally arriving at your destination and camping right next to the beach, in the middle of a forest or at the foot of a mountain for a mere $30 a night, spending your days exploring some of the best of nature and your nights barbecuing under the stars with a few cold beers and a kangaroo hopping past. Plus, I'm a firm believer that spending a few weeks in not much more than your favourite bikini, no makeup and no cares in the world is extremely good for the soul.

I'll delve into my favourite places we visited in separate blog posts over the next few weeks but for now, this was our route:

Sydney - This is where we flew into and spent a week before embarking on the road trip. We didn't camp so I don't know what it's like if you have a camper but it goes without saying that this is a must-visit. Read my travel guide to Sydney for more on this wonderful city.

Yamba. Swimsuit: ASOS
Yamba - We found that there weren't a lot of places between Sydney and Byron Bay worth vising, but Yamba was a pleasant surprise. People say it's like Byron Bay 20 years ago and while I can't vouch for that, it definitely had a nice vibe. It's quite small and quiet, with a slow pace of life and not much to do but spend your days on one of the many beaches nearby that hug the coast. A couple of days here is probably enough - make sure you have time for a sundowner at the Pacific Hotel for some of the most dramatic views you'll get with a glass of Sauv, and breakfast at Leche Cafe.

Byron Bay
Byron Bay - One of my favourite places on the trip, so it'll be getting a dedicated blog post all of its own. I thought it was a bit strange at first. Being full of hippies and backpackers, it almost felt like a step back in time but a couple of days in and I was hooked. It's hard to put a finger on what I loved so much about it but to use a phrase that I hate (but can't think of a better alternative), it had a great vibe. The food offering is also second to none, the coastline unbelievably beautiful, the shops tempting, and there's no shortage of things to do. We stayed four days but could have stayed for four weeks.

Coffee Iconic, Brisbane
Brisbane - We only had a couple of days in Brisbane but I was pleasantly surprised by the city and definitely could have stayed a few more. I didn't really have many preconceptions about Brisbane but loved its riverfront location (visit Southbank for the man made beach on hotter days) and variety of coffee shops and bars - head to Contessa on Roma Street for casual lunch and coffee or try one of the many spots on George Street. West End is great for food and bars too, we didn't have much time to sample them but I can vouch for Catchment Brewing Co on Boundary Street if you're a fan of the old craft beer (the brewery is also on site).

Fairy Pool, Noosa. Swimsuit: & Other Stories
Noosa - Noosa is a bit more resort-y than the other places we visited (and as a result, more expensive) but worth stopping at for a couple of days. There are some great beaches and the coastal walk through the national park is something else - keep an eye out for koalas in the eucalyptus trees and make sure you stop off for a swim at the fairy pool. Eumundi, a short drive from Noosa, is worth a day trip too for the iconic markets (a lot of tat but a few gems) and shops along Memorial Drive (stop into Humdrum Espresso for great coffee).

Fraser Island
Fraser Island - A must stop on any east coast road trip. The largest sand island in the world, Fraser Island (or K'Gari, to give it its traditional name) is wild Australia at its best and is home to perched lakes, the purest strain of dingo and the starriest skies you'll probably ever see. You can get to the island on your own via ferry but you'll need a 4WD to navigate yourself around (there are no 'roads', just tracks). We went on a tour with Drop Bear Adventures which I'd highly recommend if you're a first timer on the island - they showed us how to drive 4WDs along the beach and through the forested areas, took us to all the best places and kept us fed and entertained the whole time, as well as giving us the history of the island and the indigenous people that once inhabited it.

1770. Bikini: Solid and Striped
Seventeen Seventy - A funny little place with not a lot going on, but Seventeen Seventy's got a charm all of its own. It's tiny (essentially just one street), with just one restaurant/pub and a beach but it's the kind of place that really forces you to slow down. We spent our time here paddle boarding, surfing in nearby Agnes Water and taking advantage of our beachfront location with a few sundowners.

Whitehaven Beach
Whitsundays - It was quite a drive from Seventeen Seventy to Airlie Beach so we stopped at a campsite at Capricorn Caves (a forested area with baby kangaroos making a few appearances) just north of Rockhampton along the way. Rockhampton was a bit of a ghost town when we were there mid-week but it's worth stopping off for a couple of hours to take a look at the Victorian-era architecture (particularly along Quay Street) and pop into the Criterion for a drink. From there it was up to Airlie Beach which we used as a base to visit the Whitsundays. It was beautiful and Whitehaven Beach is just as white-sanded and crystal clear-watered as you will have seen on the pictures but if I'm really honest, I found it a lot more commercial than I thought it would be. Airlie Beach itself is a bit tacky and full of backpackers but you can stay on one of the resorts on the islands for a heftier price. Having said that, it's definitely worth visiting because you don't come across those kinds of beaches very often - we went on a boat trip which is probably the best way to do it, just check the itinerary carefully before you book as some companies say you'll 'see' Whitehaven Beach which actually means you'll see it from a distance but not actually set foot on it.

Palm Cove. Dress: Ganni
Palm Cove - Palm Cove was a bit of an impromptu stop on our trip after it was recommended by a friend. It's just north of Cairns (I wouldn't bother stopping in the city itself) and is made up of just a few streets but it's wonderful. Leaning palm trees dramatically line the beach and cafes, bars and restaurants fill Williams Esplanade behind it - we drank at Chill Cafe (they do a great happy hour for that post-beach wind down), ate at Il Forno and breakfasted at Espresso & Co, and they were all wonderful.

Cape Tribulation - By the fourth week on our road trip we'd reached Cape Tribulation in Tropical North Queensland. A remote place, it's where the rainforest meets the beach and development has (thankfully) been kept to a minimum, so there isn't much to do but hike and soak up the incredible surroundings. We spent a night there which was probably enough for us but you could easily spend a few days if you want to truly switch off (phone reception is practically non-existent). From there we turned back around and made our way south again, stopping off at Mossman Gorge in the Daintree Rainforest for a couple of hours first (a must, I've never seen anything like it - a bit like a real-life version of FernGully for any fellow fans of that early '90s classic).

Lake Maraboon, Emerald
Emerald - After leaving Cape Trib we were a bit short on time to make it back to Sydney so opted to go inland for a shorter drive rather than back down the coast. I'm glad we did because we got to drive through the Outback and see parts of Australia that we would probably never step foot in otherwise. Towns-wise, there isn't a lot I would necessarily recommend but interesting to stop in to see a completely different side to the country. We had a night in Charters Towers (perhaps the strangest place I've ever been) and an equally strange night in St George (make a trip to Nindigully if you're in the area - it has a population of 6 and is also home to the oldest pub in Queensland), but Emerald was a pleasant surprise. We stayed on the edge of Lake Maraboon, where the sunset was like no other and the place completely peaceful. We also had another night in Lake Keepit, a state park where you can camp in the bush and will more than likely be having breakfast next to a group of kangaroos. 

Somewhere in the Outback. Vest: Rick Owens. Jeans: COS
Hunter Valley - From there it was on to Hunter Valley for a couple of days of wine tasting. There are loads of wineries and great restaurants in the area and you could spend days sampling it all but we went for a winery tour (mainly so neither of us had to drive and take it easy on the wine...). We went with Two Fat Blokes (weekend tours get booked up so book in advance) and were definitely given our fill of wines (I also developed a new-found appreciation for Cabernet Sauvignon after being a die-hard Blanc fans for year), and ended with cheese and wine pairing session (the best kind of pairing, in my opinion). 

Three Sisters, Blue Mountains
Blue Mountains - Our last stop before heading back to Sydney was the Blue Mountains, about an hour or so out of the city. We weren't prepared for how cold it was going to be, especially after spending weeks in the high 30s, so pack a few jumpers and jackets as well as warm weather gear. We stayed in Katoomba which was the perfect base for hiking as well as having plenty of pubs, restaurants and coffee shops (Cassiopeia on Lurline Street served up the best, as well as a few cakes/pastries). We also ate at Station Bar (great if you like craft beer and pizzas) and drank at The Lookout in Echo Point where although the prices were definitely geared towards the tourists, the view and setting couldn't get any better.





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Sunday, 22 April 2018

On Taking a Break from Blogging



Jumper: Uniqlo U
Trousers: Uniqlo
Sandals: St Agni 

It's been pretty quiet here on the blog over the last couple of months. You may remember from a post I published back in January that my boyfriend and I decided to up sticks and leave the UK for a new adventure in Australia. We arrived mid-February so we've just reached the two month mark, five weeks of which were spent travelling up and down the east coast in a campervan.

So it will come as no surprise that while I've been a prolific Instagrammer, my blog has taken a bit of a backseat to beaches, coffee, wine in the sun and exploring the country I'll call home for the next two years (yup, we love it that much we're currently doing our regional work to extend our visas by another year).

To be honest, I've been glad of the break. Before I left the UK I worked in content marketing for a luxury fashion ecommerce business and while it was great and I got to do what I'm passionate about every day (and get paid for it), I was ready to live a life away from a computer screen and a keyboard for a while. I had also kind of fallen out of love with blogging, felt uninspired by what seemed like the same imagery pop up again and again on Instagram, and was lacking direction with where I wanted my small space on the web to go.

Then I reminded myself that one of the main reasons for moving out here in the first place was to enjoy life a bit more, stop sweating the small stuff and stop just going through the motions. Taking a break from something that wasn't bringing me any joy and not worrying so much about how many likes I'd got on my recent post was all part of that.

I wanted to get back to why I started blogging in the first place, which was to share what I'm interested in (fashion, travel, interiors) and be able to create content that was purely for me - not for anyone else, not to make money for somebody else, and with no restrictions over what I produced. When I first started out I didn't think anyone would even read my posts, never mind that I would work with brands that I'd loved for years or have experiences that I'd only dreamt about, purely because of this blog.

It's taken this step back to remind myself of all of this, to stop comparing myself to others and to remember that this is a creative outlet, not something that should be dragging me down. So, that's the plan going forward. No pressures to grow, make money or question what I'm creating. Just me, what interests me and what I'm wearing. I'll be writing about my time in Australia too - starting with our five week road trip once I get round to sorting out my thousands of pictures - so if there's anything you'd like to know about moving out here or what life is like, feel free to send me an email, comment below or message me on Twitter/Instagram.

Oh and here's an unrelated snap of an outfit I've loved wearing recently (we're currently in Victoria in the south of Australia and we're fully in Autumn, so the heavier pieces have started to come out).





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