Paradise Lost, Paradise Found

Been a while! I have officially been traveling for one month now! We’ve done lots since I last did a post.

I’ll try and pick up where I left off. After Barrington Tops we stayed at Spot X Surf Camp for one night in little teepee right by the ocean. The views there were pretty incredible. The highlight of that trip for me was waking up early and going for a run alongside the beach outside my teepee. It was also the first spot since coming to Australia that it was warm and nice enough to lay by the beach and have what felt like a regular beach day so that was really good.

Lewis and I cooling off in the sea after our beach run.
Beautiful view from the teepee at Spot X

From Spot X we kayaked to their River Retreat camping spot. This was super rustic and I was pretttty scared of seeing the brown snakes and murderous spiders Marcus had warned us about. We didn’t see any of those but we did have a Huntsman Spider on our tent.

Those don’t kill you but they certainly look like they could! The best bit of that night was they cooked us the most incredible fire grilled dinner. Garlic-y white fish grilled in tin foil in the fire, potatoes cooked in the fire, loads of tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and a pesto pasta salad. Omg it was so good. That and the roast dinner at Wake Up were tied as best dinners had in Australia so far. In the morning they made fried eggs over the fire and that was nice as well.

From River Retreat we took the bus to Byron Bay which I feel like is every backpackers like “don’t miss Spot” when they are planning their trip to Australia. It’s in a lot of movies and stuff– namely one of my favorite ever movies, The Inbetweeners!!!! We even stayed at Arts Factory which is where they stayed in the movie when they went there! It’s pretty much the stereotype of what you think Australia is going to be before you come out. Very hippy…surfy… lots of caravans, lots of tie dye; that kind of thing. I really liked it though. I wasn’t expecting the actual scenery there to be nearly as beautiful as it was.

Exploring the Arts Factory hostel.
Having some champagne at Ladie’s Night at Cheeky Monkey bar in Byron

Included in our tour packages was a kayaking with dolphins session in the morning. That’s where we went to this beautiful beach where you could see this gorgeous mountainous area in the horizon. We didn’t see any whales unfortunately but we did get a nice little pod of dolphins to cruise right past our kayaks. This was notttt Lewis’s favorite thing and he spent most of the three hours trying not to puke off the side of the kayak. Promptly after the kayaking we made a trip to the pharmacy and got him some anti sea sickness tablets haha.

From Byron we went to the Gold Coast–first three nights in Surfers Paradise and then two nights in Brisbane. I did not enjoy the Gold Coast. At all.

Surfers Paradise I really hated. We took one look at the hostel that we had been prebooked into and immediately got on Expedia and made reservations at a hotel. We ended up staying at this hotel called Mantra Legends that had a pool and a gym and then we were in the real Paradise. It was pretty annoying to have to pay for the hotel at that moment but honestly there is NOTHING to do in Surfers Paradise except I guess Surf and sit by the beach but the weather wasn’t nice enough for either of those activities and the beach was probably the least nice of any of the many beaches we’d already seen in Australia so in my opinion the place really had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Food was expensive, clubs and bars looked tacky. Can you tell I didn’t like it?

Surfers Paradise beach.
Hanging by the pool at our hotel in Surfers.

The best things about our time in Surfers was the hotel was lovely and the perfect place to relax without the temptation of doing anything else (because there was literally nothing else to do). We also had a surfing lesson included in our tour which really was fun. Lewis and I both managed to stand up on our boards which was cool! I mostly just “surfed” on my hands and knees and looked ridiculous but I was having a good time haha.

From Surfers we went to Brisbane. I think I’m gonna have to give Brisbane another chance another time because my expletive in Nomads Brisbane Central was so horrendous that it pretty much ruined Brisbane for me. Ugh it’s such a long story so keep reading if you want it and if you don’t want it skip the next paragraph and just have this as your takeaway: NEVER EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES STAY AT NOMADS BRISBANE CENTRAL. EVER. JUST DON’T. 

I hate not feeling safe. Doesn’t everyone? Probably. But I think everyone has different standards as to what it takes to make them feel safe. For me, I like to be individually responsible for the safety of myself and my belongings. I do not like to have to be forced to leave my personal safety and the safety of my belongings in the hands of others. Whether I know them or not, trust them or don’t trust them I don’t like to do it. This was something that I really struggled with in college when I had to have roommates. There’s always a chance someone will leave the front door unlocked and there’s nothing you can do about that. Gives me some serious anxiety, ya feel me? So given that, my first room at this establishment was with all men. Only girl in a room of 8 men I didn’t know (other than Lewis and one other guy on our tour). That didn’t fly with me. Second room I had I didn’t have a locker or anywhere secure to put my things. Not into that. Third room I had a locker and it was an all girls room. That was my best bet. But I was still super uncomfortable in this dirty, broken down, ugly, scary awful hostel. Somehow I managed to drift off to sleep but I definitely was up for most of the night. At four AM I I was up for sure when all of a sudden this girl starts shouting at the top of her lungs for a strange man to “GET THE FUCK OUT” of the (all girls) dorm. She was screaming and screaming trying to get him out and he was on some sort of drugs so he wasn’t responding and basically she ends up just beating the crap out of him. They were definitely both on something. It was unreal. Literally so scary and weird. That was the last straw and There was absolutely no way I was staying in the same room as this insane girl and her drama in a place where strange men off the street can wander into a girls room any longer. Worse yet this girl who had been staying in Nomads Brisbane for a while told us that wasn’t even the weirdest incident she’d seen so far. She went on to say a man from the street had managed to get into the girls bathrooms and sit in the shower stall with the curtain closed and peep on girls showering and whatever for an entire day before he was kicked out. Like what the actual fuck. No. not happening for me.

After a very frustrating and emotional ordeal me, Lewis and five other friends ended up booking an Airbnb for the next night. The Airbnb was the best decision I’ve made traveling so far. It was in this amazing apartment complex with a pool, gym, sauna, free wifi, free laundry, BBQ, giant balcony and we each had our own bed. Ah it was so good and we were soooo sad to leave it this morning. Also it only cost each of us $15 (USD). So so so good. We all nearly burst into happy tears when we first walked in (I definitely actually did cry happy tears, no shame). We did all our washing (about 20 loads haha), chilled by the pool and jacuzzi, I went for a run in the gym which was great, and we bought chicken skewers and vegetables to have a big group barbecue for dinner. After dinner we watched The Inbetweeners movie and hung out. Everyone was so much happier and it was such a massive difference to the terrible day and night we had had the day before.

A few of us with smiles back on our faces in the Airbnb jacuzzi.

Like my friend Ash said “you can’t have rainbows without some rain,” and it’s true. Traveling is awesome but it can have some low lows to go with the crazy high highs that get posted on Facebook and Instagram. I guess it’s all keeping things in perspective. My social media feeds are loaded up with the stunning beaches and incredible activities we’ve been lucky enough to do so far, not a photo of the crack house hostel Brisbane hostel and me sweating trying to carry all my bags haha.

We are currently on the bus en route to Noosa and I am praying that we love it and everything goes smoothly because Noosa is supposed to be our last stop on this tour (for now) and where we will be looking for an apartment and jobs. At the moment we have two nights in a Noosa Nomads hostel (please for the love of god let it be a better experience than the Brisbane one) and then a 2 night 3 day tour of Fraser Island which I am REALLY looking forward to. You can check out our itinerary for that here. After Fraser we have two more nights booked into Noosa Nomads and then I seriously have no clue what will happen after that!! Pray for me!!!


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Hi! I'm Katie. I’m happiest when I’m exploring new places, lying on the beach or eating fresh foods (and if that were all to happen at once, I’d be set!).

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