The Land Down Under

Truthfully, when I think of that particular colloquialism, my mind can’t help but trail to the gutter…  When I was in Las Vegas, I saw the advertisements for the adult revue show titled “Australia’s Thunder from Down Under” showing at the Excalibur.  Only in Vegas can one find a steamy male strip show at what appears to be a family-oriented, multi-colored, Disney-esque castle accommodation.

But clearly, I digress.  Back to the topic at hand- in February 2009, I traveled to Australia and New Zealand for a total of 5 weeks.   I was packing for my Egypt trip in late January when I realized it couldn’t let it end just there.  I had to continue my travels, even if I was alone.  I was unemployed, free from any obligations, and rarely would I ever have so much TIME to do whatever I desired.  And all I have ever wanted to do was travel.

I had heard of this travel company called Contiki from a friend.  It specializes in “youth” travel tours, 18 – 35 year olds specifically.  It has tours all over the world — the European tours are especially popular and hardcore; the bus hits up some 20 countries in 10 days.  From what I have heard, it’s basically a traveling frat party.  Why not?

I selected the Contiki’s Reefs & Rainforests tour, which is advertised as a 20 day trip, but that sneakily includes the 2 days of flight travel time to Australia…   This tour covered the entire East Coast of Australia, starting in Cairns and ending in Sydney.  It is a very busy trip where you are constantly on the go from city to city and activity to activity.  At each stop, you have plenty of options including scuba diving, bungee jumping, sailing, white water rafting, surfing, playing with koalas or just chillaxing on the beach.

It was one the best experiences of my life, full of crazy adventures and wild nights.  There were plenty of solo travelers like myself who wanted to travel but didn’t want to do it alone (which I feel is prudent especially for young women- no matter how safe a place may be).  On this trip, you instantly gain 49 travel companions who share the same passion for travel and partying it up.  I still keep in touch with the friends I made on this trip, and we all have made trips to see each other multiple times.  I highly recommend this trip!

Day 1: Arrival in Cairns
Chill around the resort, meet fellow tour mates

Day 2-3: Cape Tribulation
Port Douglas, Mossman Gorge, Cape Tribulation, Daintree National Park, Emmagen Creek

Day 4-6: Cairns, Great Barrier Reef, Tully River
Tkapukai Aboriginal Cultural Center, Cairns, white water rafting on the Tully River, scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef

Day 7-9: Whitsunday Islands
Sailing the Whitsunday Islands, chilling at the Daydream Island resort, playtime at Whitehaven Beach

Day 10: Country Homestead
Mackay sugar cane fields, crossing the Tropic of Capricorn, barn party at a working cattle station

Day 11-12: Fraser Island
Costume party, 4WD across the giant sand island of Fraser Island

Day 13-14: Surfer’s Paradise
Noosa Heads, Brisbane, Gold Coastsurfing, sea kayaking, Dracula’s show

Day 15: Coff’s Harbour
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Byron Bay, Surf camp at Coff’s Harbour

Day 16: Shoal Bay
Port Stephens, Aussie barbie time

Day 17-22: Sydney
Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House, Darling Harbour, Bondi Beach, Coogee Beach, Manly Beach

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