Sunshine Coast to Cairns & Further North – Road Trip, Australia

After I finished my time as an AuPair on the Sunshine Coast, my plan was to travel up north once again so that I could leave Australia from Cairns to go to Bali.

Even though I’ve already travelled the East Coast with my family in a caravan from Cairns to Sydney, we only had a very short time for this long distance and therefore I didn’t felt like I had actually seen much of it.

Luckily a friend of mine, that I met right at the beginning of my travels in Melbourne about 8 months before wanted to join me for this trip and so we had a really great road trip together.

Before, we already did a little mini road trip in Wilsons Promontory, Victoria for a few days, to see if we would fit together travelling in a small camper and after travelling on my own for a long time, I was really happy to share this experience.

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Home on Wheels

We rented a camper at travellers-autobarn for little over a month in Brisbane and he picked me up on the Sunshine Coast, where we stayed for the first two days.

In the beginning, when you get your new car, everything feels weird, not homie and you might wonder how you are going to survive five weeks in this little space. But after everything has it’s place and you are into a routine, you can really imagine how people live in vans fulltime.

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On the Road

Because we had over 5 weeks for our trip, we could really stop wherever we wanted and only had to plan for a few days in advance, never rushed to get anywhere in time.

I know that is not the case for everyone, but I will just share out experience and the best places we visited and you can pick and choose what places you actually want to/have time to go to and I bet that there are still places that we haven’t visited ether – Australia just has so much to offer!

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Money Money Money

I tried to write down what we spend on this trip, but it is really hard to remember. Also, the costs really depend on season, if you try to find free camps as much as possible, if you eat out or do lots of activities and trips.

I’d say we spend around 700$ + 600$ for the costs of the van for those 5 weeks. So it was definitely not a cheap month on my travels. But on the other hand we went to soo many places, did so many amazing things, had the freedom of our own car to go places and that was definitely worth it.

When you first hear camping and van life, you think of a very cheap way of travelling. But actually renting a car, fuel & campgrounds are pretty pricey. It’s probably cheaper to travel by Greyhound Bus and sleep in cheap hostels but you don’t have the freedom of your own car to go places…

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FOOOOOD

As I said, the costs of your trip also really depend on what you eat, what you buy & cook and how much you eat out. And we definitely weren’t super thrifty.

Food is a really big passion of mine. I love eating out, trying restaurants and healthy eating and cooking is important for me and I would rather spend a bit more money on it – in my opinion, that’s worth it.

We did cook mainly vegan (meat and cheese is pretty expensive anyways). Lot’s of chickpea curries, wraps with egg or falafel, avo toasts, porridge, burgers & sandwiches…

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But we also loved a good Aussie brekkie in a nice café and with an epic view. Coffee is also pretty expensive, so I’d recommend not having coffee out all the time.

App Recommendations

There are some apps that have been really helpful to plan our trip, find free camps, find campgrounds, free toilets, water to refill our tank and to find cheap fuel.

  • Campermate
  • Fuel Map
  • Here we go
  • Wikicamper

As well as google maps obviously :D

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Our Trip

Our trip started on the Sunshine Coast, where I was living with my AuPair Family at that time. James picked me up and we spend one day in the Hinterlands of the Sunny Coast with another friend of mine.

We went to the Glasshouse Mountains, Maleny & Montville. A very beautiful landscape and drive and two very cute little mountain towns, that are pretty touristy (in a good way) and offer a lot for daytrippers.

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Then we continued to Rainbow Beach and had a night in Maryborough, before we went to Hervey Bay & Fraser Island.

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In the Bundaberg region we went to Coral Cove and Mon Repos Conservation Park. A very beautiful place where you can learn a lot about sea turtles and if you are lucky (and there at the right time) you can even see baby turtles hatch and make their way to the ocean.

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We further north to Rockhampton and Yeppel, where we stayed for two nights to have one full day on Great Keppel Island. A very small and beautiful tropical island where you can hike, explore, snorkel and enjoy – without many other tourists!

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In Mackay, we stayed at my friend’s families place and explored Eugella NP. I would really recommend going there as you can very likely see wild Platypus at Broken River
– which is really special, as they are super shy. And the Finch Hatton Gorge is very nice to have a cooling bath as well.

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Afterwards, we went to the famous Cape Hillsborough NP where you can experience a sunrise with Kangaroos at the Beach. Unfortunately, it was foggy in the morning, but nevertheless, this place is really beautiful.

Also, I can highly recommend doing the walk to the Turtle Lookout as we saw soo many turtles and the water has an epic colour.

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We spend a few nights in Airly Beach. Had breakfast at the Fat Frog with a beautiful view. Went to the Cedar Creek Falls, did a two-day sailing tour with Southern Cross to the Whitsundays and to snorkel & I also did my very first SkyDive which was such an epic experience and a really awesome view!

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Further north we stopped in Bowen for a night and went snorkelling at Horseshoe Bay – a really nice place to go to.

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I really fell in love with Townsville. The view from the Castle Hill for sunset is amazing and we also enjoyed an adventurous day on Magnetic Island.

Magnetic is really great for snorkeling, hiking, exploring and they also have some cute cafés, but it is definitely a more common and more touristy place than the Keppel Islands – very worth it though.

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Next up was exploring Little Cristal Creek, Jourama Falls and Wallaman Falls. A very beautiful area and we had so much fun exploring all day, swimming and wondering around.

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Mission Beach is probably a really beautiful place, but unfortunately, it was not the best weather, so we couldn’t really enjoy it to the fullest. We still did some rainforest walks and did a little Lookout drive around.

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Somewhere I really wanted to go was the Milla Milla waterfalls circuit. A bit off the Coastline but so worth going there in my opinion.

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In Cairns, we again stayed at my friends families place at Palm Cove / Clifton Beach and I can really recommend this area. Central Cairns isn’t really that special, but the northern Beaches are so beautiful!

The lagoon in Cairns is really nice as it is a free swimming pool area and the Art Gallery is really nice as well if you like to see some local and aboriginal art – it’s free to visit too!

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We went on a day-trip to Fitzroy Island, which I can really recommend, to snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef from the Island.

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Also went to the rainforest village Koranda for a day to explore the markets and go to the Butterfly Sanctuary.

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Obviously, we had to do another boat trip to the Great Barrier Reef for a day. They are so worth the money as it is so fun to snorkel and I also did my very first scuba dive trial which was a lot of fun as well.

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From Cairns, we went up further north: along the famous beach with stone architecture to Port Douglas, to then go even further to Daintree Village to do a Croc Tour on Daintree river.

We crossed the river with the ferry to go into Daintree rainforest. The ice cream at the Ice Cream Company is really amazing and so worth a stop as they have flavours of fruits you have never seen or heard of before – and they taste so epic and tropical!

That’s why I also decided to do a fruit tasting in Cape Tribulation to try all different kinds of tropical fruits and learn about them – so interesting, fun and delicious.

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We had such an epic time on our road trip and even though I would say I’ve seen a lot of Australia and had such a long time there – I still feel like I really need to come back to explore more and to go back to places I love.

Being in Australia for 10 months and really feeling like I belong there. I am already excited to come back!

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My last picture in Australia <3

Outback – Roadtrip through the Red Centre | Diary 006

After a few relaxed nights in Adelaide, I went on my second group tour that led us from Adelaide over Coober Pedy, the world famous Uluru to Alice Springs in 6 days. Like on the Great Ocean Road I did this tour with Groovy Grape* and it was once more an awesome experience.

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Saturday 13/10

Saturday started early with a pickup from the hostel and meeting our tour guide Bronny and my new travel mates. We were 13 people (a couple from Germany/the US, a mom and her daughter from the US, two Asian girls, a Dutch family of three and 3 solo travellers: Charlott from Amsterdam, Stephanie from Guatemala living in Canada and Harri from Wales). We were a great group and especially with the 3 other solo travellers I got along well.

The tour started with a long drive to our first stop and was only the start to very long upcoming drives. For lunch, we stopped at a super cute vinery run by an old couple who invited us to eat on their property and enjoy the idyllic scenery of their home. We had yummy buns and once again I was super happy to get great, fresh and mostly healthy food on tour.

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Afterwards, we drove to Alligator Gorge to hike through the canyon and enjoyed the nature and the silence in the gorge.

Arriving at our campsite for the night we got ready for our first night in a swag under the stars. We had a BBQ and delicious salad for dinner and crawled into our sleeping bags next to the campfire.

Swags are basically bigger sleeping bags with a thin mattress inside and made from thicker and denser material. In the inside, you have your real sleeping bag and that was our bed on the ground under the stars for 4 of 5 nights on tour.

 

The first night in nature immediately made me fall in love with sleeping outside and I enjoyed every single night. Even when it started to rain a little bit because it is such a cool feeling and you can easily put a cape over your head.

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Sunday 14/10

On tour, we either woke up early for a sunrise hike or to start driving to get to our next destination earlier. Sunday we finally made it to “the outback”. Red sand, less vegetation and less green outside the window.

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For lunch, we stopped at a super small “town” that consists of only one roadhouse with a refill station and about seven trailers. As there was basically nothing around, we had a very windy and sandy lunch: couscous salad, green salad and sandwiches.

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In the late afternoon, we arrived in Coober Pedy and got a very informative and interesting tour through old opal mines. Afterwards, we were able to shop some pretty jewellery and I bought something for my mom. As most things were made with silver, I didn’t buy anything for me as I usually were rose gold, but I already regret it as they had very pretty rings and necklaces…

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While watching the sunset from above the hill, we ate pizza and enjoyed the view.

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Afterwards, we went to one of my highlights of the tour: visiting a kangaroo sanctuary and being able to pet and watch disabled adult kangaroos that live there, and baby kangaroos, called Joey’s, that will be released back to wild when they are big enough. It was so cute to see this little animal with its big ears and eyes.

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This night we slept in another unusual place: under the rocks. Most houses in Coober Pedy have rooms under the earth as it gets super hot here and it was very nice to sleep in a cold and very dark dorm, so I had a great night sleep.

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Monday 15/10

On Monday we had to drive the most kilometres on tour (over 600km) so we got up at 5.30 am to see the sunrise over the opal minefields and fall asleep again afterwards on the bus.

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That day, we passed the border to the Northern Territory which was basically the highlight of the day.

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We arrived at the Kings Canyon Creek Campground, where one of my favourite picture from the tour was taken. It really sums up the vibe of our tour: many sunsets and sunrises, beautiful star skies, campfires and good company.

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Tuesday 16/10

Tuesday was finally the day of less driving and more adventures and we started right away with a hike around and through the Kings Canyon.

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We got up at 4 am, jumped in our comfy clothes, had a big breakfast and drove to the beginning of the trail called ‘heart attack hill’. It is named like that because the beginning of the hike super steep and exhausting, to get on top of the canyon. From there we watched a beautiful sunrise and then hiked around and into the canyon which wasn’t that difficult anymore. We had many wonderful views over the breathtaking nature and in that park, this first hike was my favourite.

When you wake up super early every day feels like two days because you do so much. It was only 11am when we finished the walk and drove to the Ayers Rock.

 

Arriving at the Uluru our guide told us about the history of the rock and some Aboriginal stories around it and we walked a bit around the Uluru/Ayers Rock.

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For sunset we drove to the best place with the best view on the rock and had yummy cheese and crackers while admiring how the red rock changes its colours while the sun sets.

For the next/last two nights we stayed at the Uluru Campground.

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Wednesday 17/10

Another day another hike. So we got up at 4am again and drove to the famous Olgas/ Kata Tjuta. The scenery was amazing once again and on top of the mountain ranges our guide had the idea to stay completely silent for 3 minutes and just be in the moment and I really enjoyed that quiet time and it was a beautiful experience.

On our way back, I got to know Stephanie the Guatemalan girl more and we had such a fun time together. We really got along so well and I was once more amazed by how easy it is to meet likeminded people while travelling – but that’s probably because you already have one similarity: the urge to travel and adventure.

Steph invited me to come to Guatemala one day when she is there too and she would be my travel guide and show me around her favourite places and I already know, that I’ll do that for sure!

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For our last dinner together we had an amazing veggie curry with coconut milk and rice noodles (called Laksa) – a special recipe from our guide Bronny.

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We had another wonderful sunset view in the evening. This time with a view over the Olgas and the Uluru from more far away and it was gorgeous once again!

And then it was already the last night under the stars. I am already considering getting one myself at home to be able to go to beautiful places in summer and sleep outside wherever I want to…

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Sleeping under the stars was an awesome experience every night. I really enjoyed sleeping with fresh air, light wind and snuggled up into my warm sleeping bag. The matrass in the swag was comfy and it is the best feeling to fall asleep looking at the beautiful dark sky full of light stars and when you wake up at night (to go to the toilet or turn to the other side) you are amazed every single time by the beauty of nature and I could never resist smiling. Furthermore, waking up at 4 am is much easier when the first thing you see is the endless sky.

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Thursday 18/10

This day, we got up early for the last time again to see sunrise over the Uluru. Another special morning and wonderful view. We enjoyed pancakes for breakfast while watching the sun rise and it was another favourite moment on this tour for me.

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Afterwards we did the base walk around the Uluru (around 8km) which was a great and easy trail and I had time to talk and get to know my travel buddies even more.

As Alice Springs is another 5-hour drive north from the Uluru, we had a last very hot and exhausting drive, but arrived full of new memories at our final destination.

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In the evening our tour group met again at Uncle’s for burgers and waffle fries (so yummy!), beer or cider for me and playing pool, which was so much fun. Afterwards, we went to another pub and had a great night, but didn’t go home that late because we were all super tired from the eventful last days.


My days in Alice Springs

…consisted of going food shopping with my friends from the tour, writing the blog, saving pictures and editing and cooking a yummy dinner together at night. We had sweet potato spinach bowls topped with salted cashews (so so amazing!) and watched Karate Kid and talked.

Saturday and Sunday I basically did the same: went for a run, bringing postcards to the post, working and cooking dinner.

On Monday I flew to Sydney and left the red outback with hundreds of new memories, experiences and new friends.

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*Disclaimer! Just to clarify that: I got a discount for my tour with groovygrapetours, but I am obviously still 100% honest with all my reviews and thoughts!

What I Eat in a Day in Melbourne as a Backpacker on a Budget #1

Now that I am travelling I want to show you what I eat as a (mostly) healthy, (mostly) vegan Backpacker on a budget in Australia!

I hope you are excited for some super easy, cheap and quick recipes and meals as I don’t want to spend too much time or money cooking (and I also don’t have the nicest kitchens in the hostels). But I still try to mostly eat homemade food as eating out is crazily expensive. If I do eat out, I like to go to cute little healthy cafés that offer vegan food and I’m okay spending more money there, rather than finding the cheapest takeaway pizza in town :D

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The prices

The first hostel I stayed in offered free tea, coffee, rice and pasta as well as free pancakes in the morning, so I tried to use that to save money.

Besides what I was thinking, the food in the supermarket isn’t that much more expensive than in Germany. Some things obviously are, especially produce that have to get shipped from far away. I tried to mostly shop my produce at the market (for example the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne) as they offer cheaper products that aren’t as fresh anymore or at the end of the day.

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Here is a list of the food I bought and how much I spend on them:
  • 12 tomatoes                                2 $         1,30 €                 market
  • 2 red bell peppers                     2 $         1,30 €                 market
  • 5 bananas                                   1 $         0,70 €                 market
  • Hummus                                     3 $         1,80€                  market
  • Salt                                               2 $         1,50 €                 Coles
  • Olive ciabatta                             4 $         2,50 €                Coles
  • Olive Hummus                          5 $          3 €                     Coles
  • Canned Kidney Beans           0,75$        0,50 €                Coles
  • Soy sauce                                    4 $         2,50 €                 Coles

Next time I definitely should buy my soy sauce as well as tofu for example at an Asian supermarket. They are very popular here (because there are also a lot of Asian people living in Australia) and it’s a lot cheaper there.

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Some prices look crazy at first, but 12$ are actually 7,50€ which is the same price as in Germany for the vegan B&J… but I’m for sure going to try all the flavours when my parents visit me :P

Day 1

This wasn’t actually my first day in Melbourne, but the first day that I took pictures of my food – just to clarify that!

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As I already said, my first hostel offered free pancakes with maple syrup every morning. I wasn’t really happy about that on one hand, because I planned on trying to eat completely vegan, but on the other hand, they were yummy, free and quick to eat before leaving the hostel to explore…

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At the market, I bought this amazing self-made hummus and 4 little loaves of bread (there is no English name for „Brötchen“! :D ) and I dipped two into the hummus for lunch.

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The first meal that I cooked at the hostel was this easy rice & veggie dish. I cooked rice with some salt, mixed the veggies under after the rice was nearly finished and added some veggie broth. That’s it! Not super great, but cheap, healthy and easy.

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Day 2

Another day I slept in until 10:30am and there were no more pancakes. I cooked rice with more water than usual and „overcooked“ it to make it very creamy and sticky rice/porridge texture. Then I added lots of cinnamon, mashed banana, apple, raisins and some nuts.

It might seem weird to try to save money on something inexpensive like oats, but as cheaper you eat on most days, as more often you can spend more money on going out! :D

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Because I had a late breakfast, I just had two oranges as a snack and ate dinner early.

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A combination I just recently discovered is pasta with a hummus sauce and veggies. That’s what happens when you are a backpacker: you can’t buy a large variety of food otherwise it will go bad and you have to use it up before you leave a place – so you have to get creative and buy food that works in many meals.

So I just cooked some free pasta from the hostel, mashed some kidney beans, chopped tomatoes, olive hummus, fresh baby spinach and veggie broth and heated it up.

Throwing different ingredients together and making it a delicious meal!

 

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Day 3

I was very lucky, that my AuPair family that I’m going to stay with in May came to visit Melbourne and we were able to meet each other.

And I was even more lucky, that we went to a café to have breakfast that probably has the best ever Avo smash toast in whole Australia! Only ate this one until now, but I can’t imagine that it can get any better (and my AuPair mom agrees in that and she has already eaten many Avo toasts!)

Sadly I forgot to ask for a vegan version as I was a bit nervous that morning, but it was so yummy and so much variety in one dish – lots of mashed avo, good bread, tomatoes, cucumber, balsamic vinegar, mozzarella cheese & poached egg.

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That day I got gifted Kombucha on the streets as a sample. It wasn’t really a great flavour, but in general, I really like Kombucha.

 

The amazing breakfast kept me full for long, so I had another early and big dinner. Leftover rice with veggies where I only added some pak choi and soy sauce as well as fresh capsicum on the side. As a dessert, I had some sweet rice with applesauce and raisins.


You can also always follow me on Instagram to see what I am up to, where I am, what I’m doing or what I eat! 


Another part of what I eat in Melbourne will follow soon! Including another great breakfast with my AuPair mom and way to much eating out as there are so many awesome vegan places here in Melbourne! :D