I recently took a break and went on a holiday up to Queensland. My initial plan was to go to Vietnam, but the weather was poor and I needed some much needed sunshine. I decided to do a Contiki tour, where I could explore Tropical Northern Queensland in depth and meet some life long friends.
This was the first time I'd ever travelled alone, and didn't get off to a great start. Landing in Cairns, I caught a taxi to my motel, which was a cheaper motel where I literally just wanted a bed for the night. My taxi driver dropped me to my destination, or so I thought... I got out and went to reception and thought to myself 'this place isn't too bad.' Until the lady couldn't find my booking. I showed her the email and little did I know I'd been dropped at the wrong destination. I walked down the street to where I was meant to be staying and it was what I'd expected. At least I had a bed for the night is all I can say. We had a kickstart meeting that night, where we got some more information about our trip, which was starting the next morning and got to meet a few people. A couple of us then went out for dinner, where we got to meet each other a bit more and have a much deserved drink.
And so the trip begins. We met at our mini bus, headed to Cape Tribulation, which is located in the Daintree Rainforest. This is the only place where two of the biggest landmarks, the rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef, meet each other. At this stage, we had a small group of 17. Many being from England, with a few from Germany, America and New Zealand, and of course me from Australia. We stopped in Mossman for some lunch and continued our journey through the rainforest. We tried some natural ice cream made from fresh fruits from the region, so delicious! We later arrived, where we were assigned cabins right in the heart of the rainforest. Quickly got changed and it was time to zip line through the rainforest. This was something I didn't plan on doing but am so glad I did! We all met for tea that night in the camp restaurant and had a fire on the beach. It was a fun night and was great to meet everyone and share stories and experiences.
Our second day was our journey back to Cairns. We had an average continental breakfast followed by a walk along the beach where we thought we saw a crocodile (some will say it was a log but we're going with the story that we saw a croc!) We then jumped on our bus where we drove to another rainforest walk, followed by a lookout of the Great Barrier Reef. There's something about an ocean view that I simply adore. We stopped in Port Douglas for three hours, where we enjoyed prawn salads and swam in the ocean. This place is pure bliss and is one of my favourite destinations. We the arrived back to Cairns and met with another 20 people who were joining our group.
Today was the day I finally got to visit the Great Barrier Reef! One and a half hour boat ride later and we made it to the pontoon. We pulled up and parked our boat for the afternoon. Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef is something I'll never forget. You're out in the middle of no where, you duck your head under and it's a whole other world and what a sight to see. We did a glass bottom boat cruise, where we saw a reef shark and some more of the coral. The colours are amazing and the fish are of a different kind. We had a buffet lunch with fresh salads, sushi, prawns and meat. That night we did a party bus around Cairns to all the different bars. This was a fun night!
Day four was a day where I did no activities, which was a great decision by me! I got to sunbake by the lagoon at Cairns, catching some rays and going for a swim when I got too hot. I then enjoyed a long lunch with a new friend from America. We went to a seafood restaurant, where we enjoyed the freshest seafood and a glass of Champagne. That night was quiet as we had to be up at 5.30am the next morning to head to Airlie Beach.
We made our way to Airlie Beach on our Contiki coach. The first two hours we all slept as it was an early morning. We had a stop at a small town and were back on the bus. We then played a speed dating game, where we went around the bus and had to talk to everyone. As our group was large, it was a great way to talk to some people we hand't got the chance to meet yet. We stopped in Townsville for lunch for an hour and were back on the bus. We passed time by watching Finding Nemo and after three hours we had made it to Airlie. Half our group went on a two day sail, and the rest of us got to stay at a resort (I think we picked the better option). We all went for a swim at the resort pool and had some cocktails, before having dinner at the on hotel restaurant. A night shared with a few drinks and it was time for bed in our rooms, which were a luxury from where we'd been in cairns.
This was my favourite day of the trip! We got up early and met at a catamaran sail boat where we were venturing to the Whitsundays for the day. I love boats and being on the ocean so this day suited me perfectly. We docked at a small cliff face and on the other side of the cliff was Whitehaven Beach. We hiked up to the lookout and I was in awe, I'd never seen something so beautiful in my life. The colour of the water against the whitest sand was absolutely stunning. The photos don't even do it justice. Like I said before, I love a view of the ocean and this one was something else. We walked down to the beach where we got to swim in the warmest water. The sand was so soft and the water so clear, definitely a highlight of my trip. We ventured back to our boat where we headed to a different part of the reef and did some more snorkelling. Once that was done the bar was open and the BBQ was ready to eat! We then sailed around the Whitsundays for the afternoon, enjoying a few drinks, games and the best company. With a few of us a little pinker than we were this morning, we headed out for dinner where we danced the night away. This was my last night of the Contiki so it was one to remember.
It was time for me to say goodbye. A sad moment but I made some beautiful friends from all around the world that I can now go a visit! The others kept on the journey of their tour and said goodbye to me.
All in all my trip was an amazing experience where I learnt a lot about myself and got to meet some gorgeous friends. I enjoyed travelling alone as it got me out of my comfort zone. Bring on the next adventure!