Things I realised in my first Month of Travelling through Down Under

If you don’t want to, you are never alone.

It is so easy to meet people when you stay in hostels. Everyone told me so before I left, but I couldn’t imagine it that well – now I know what the mean because it is so easy. Even if you are a shy person and not confident enough to speak to someone yourself, you will meet people that are and eventually start talking to strangers yourself as well.

Which leads me to the next point…

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Travelling alone isn’t as scary as it sounds

Especially because you aren’t alone that often and even if you are its still not scary (after you get used to it a bit). And Australia is a very safe country as well (which makes it great for solo travellers, (solo) female travellers and people that are new to travelling) because the people here are so friendly and helpful!

I haven’t had a bad experience so far. Obviously a few that didn’t went as planned, but that’s totally normal and you grow and learn by working yourself through them (or asking for help).

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Calling and asking

When I first started being “grown up” and having to call people and organize things by myself I was always insecure and flustered when I had to do so. It bettered through time and practice but just now being here I learned that it is so much easier to call than to fight myself through websites or try to figure out things. I just call, quickly ask for what I am looking or explain my problem and they answer me or even book/do something for me. And afterwards you feel good and safe because you know that it worked out and you don’t need to be worried that something went wrong because you missed/misunderstood something.

But I have to say that this point can be different from person to person. As I feel mostly safe talking English or at least explaining what I want to say it’s not a big deal for me.

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Planning and Booking can be exhausting.

Even if you call to book. Planning, booking and figuring out where to stay the next night or what to do when, how and with which company can be very exhausting. It is also very time consuming (when you don’t just go to a travel agency and book the first thing they offer) because you need to know what you want (not easy when there are so many options! :D ) and you need to find good prices.

That’s why I am already looking forward to traveling with my parents for three weeks (where my mom is the one that planned most things in advance), stay at my AuPair family for a few weeks and have a job and a fixed place for a while in the future.

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Decisions don’t matter that much. You will have a great time anyways.

On the other hand, it doesn’t matter that much what you decide to do. You will have a great time anyways or make the best out of it.

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Hostel life is awesome.

Besides that, living in a hostel is wonderful. You get to meet people so easily, you cook together, most hostels have free activities you can join and overall, it’s a great vibe to stay with other travellers.

But it has downsides as well.

It can also be very tiring to be around people all the time and have no privacy at all. It’s rarely completely calm and peaceful, even when you have a small room and quiet people. You always need your room key when you just want to go to the toilet, shared kitchens can be disgusting and it’s annoying to live out of a backpack sometimes, even when you tried to pack the least that is possible.

But don’t get me wrong it is still great! Sometimes everything is just too much and you get annoyed by things that usually don’t bother you.

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After 8 people dorms, it doesn’t matter anymore.

12-bed-dorm? Basically, the same as 8- or 10- bed dorm. Trust me, it really doesn’t matter. It’s just a lot of people, but I personally don’t have a problem with it. I have my ear plugs and sleeping mask and I’m good.

Soon I am going to stay in a 16-bed dorm and I even would take bigger ones. It really doesn’t matter, it might even get better because the rooms get bigger.

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Doing dished before and after using them.

When you use the hostel kitchen you do the dishes before and after cooking – at least that’s how I did it in the beginning. Now, I just look if they are clean enough. Only sharp knives and trenchers get cleaned properly before because you never know who cut raw meat on there before…

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You can make crazily good friends in a very short time.

I never ever expected making so many friends in such a short time here. I already met so many awesome people and a few became really close. And the good thing about it is that you will eventually meet again here in Australia (as everyone is kinda going to the same spots) or anywhere in the world.

I already know that I’ll go to Milan, Amsterdam and Guatemala in the future to visit my friends and explore their home with them.

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Letting go and saying goodbye to people you only knew for a short time still hurts.

But you also need to say goodbye to a lot of people very quickly because your ways split. That’s just how it is and you can only hope to see each other again soon.

When you are alone you meet people more easily.

Especially when you travel solo you meet people super easy. Why? Because you would rather talk to a stranger when he is sitting there alone than to a group or two people. And when you see another solo traveller you are more likely to understand his situation and connect with them.

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Earplugs, Tupperware, camping fork-spoon are essentials.

I’ll for sure do an extra post on the best and most practical items every backpacker should have, but here are my top 3.

Tours are worth the money.

I know they sound expensive at first, but I decided for myself that they are worth the money. Especially when you travel alone and don’t have a car/travel mates with a car. You don’t need to worry about planning, organizing, driving long distances, food, what to do, where and how to do it best and you learn a lot from the tour guide. You meet people super easily and as you are together for a few days you can get to know each other easily.

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You can’t just live the cheapest possible, you also need to enjoy.

In the beginning, I really tried to spend as less as possible. And I still try to, but you can’t only take the cheapest possible. Especially with food I now spend way more that I could (and should :D ) but I enjoy going out with friends to eat or try all the good stuff they have here (Australia has so many awesome food options as their cuisine is so diverse from all around the world). And it makes me happy, so it’s worth it.

At least I don’t spend money on coffee or a lot of alcohol :D

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Speaking English will feel natural very quickly.

When I was in Melbourne, I only spoke English and I loved it! It felt so natural after a while and I really could feel the progress of being more confident and quicker.

I really tried to stay away from Germans, but it is hard.

Germans are everywhere.

Sometimes I wonder, if I am still in Australia as there are soo many Germans here. Little annoying even though they are nice and it’s fun to meet them – I really want to speak English! :P

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You will make mistakes and pay for them.

Oh yes. You (Umgehen) it, even if you try very hard. Sometimes things just go wrong or you just realise afterwards that you booked something stupid.

But… It’s only money, right?

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Tell me what you think! How did you like this kinda blog post?
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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!

The Great Ocean Road Tour | Diary 004

The three days on the Great Ocean Road where an amazing experience with the best views, picture spots, lovely people, good music on the road and delicious food!

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Friday 5/10

My Friday started the earliest I ever woke up in Australia as I had to check out, grab all my belongings and walk 2km to the pickup point where my Great Ocean Road Tour with groovygrapetours started. It was pretty hard to walk for half an hour with my big backpack and my small backpack in the front and I probably couldn’t have walked for much longer as my shoulders were itching, but I made it and it was beautiful to walk through the city that early.

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On our tour, there were only eight people, all girls and five of them from Germany, two from Great Britain and one American girl. We were a pretty cool group and some of the girls love photography as well which is awesome! The American girl is even a Freelance photographer and pretty known on Instagram (@lizaherlands_). She takes manly New York, interior and food pictures and I really like her and it was super interesting to talk to her and learn a few things.

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After getting out of Melbourne the famous Ocean Drive started and we had such a wonderful view over the sea. We were super lucky with the weather as well, only a few clouds, lots of sunshine and not that much wind.

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We enjoyed the beautiful coastal drive, stopped for many viewpoints and “Insta-time’ – stops as our guide called the photo stops :D

Followed by lunch with a view over the ocean and a beach walk afterwards. We had wraps with lots of fresh greens and veggies and I was completely impressed by how much fresh food we got over the whole tour. I never ever expected the food to be this good!

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In the afternoon we stopped by a rainforest and walked through it and I really felt like in another world. Huge trees, fronds, all green and beautiful silence and bird noises.

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On time for sunset we made it to the most famous stop on the GOR – the twelve apostles. And we had a blast watching the sun drowning in the ocean water and the stones, sky and water changing colours. It was truly one of the most beautiful spectacles I ever watched in my entire life… have a look yourself:

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After this adventurous day, we had lots of pizza for dinner and fell asleep immediately.

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Saturday 6/10

Day two started early which a big breakfast (tour breakfast consists of toast, jam, chocolate spread, peanut butter, muesli & cornflakes, yoghurt and milk – I asked for vegan milk in advance which is no problem at all) to be fit for more viewpoints and looksouts.

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The Ocean Road was complete, so we had a wonderful view over sheep and cow fields, little mountains and the hinterland.

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Our tour guide luckily knew the best spot to see kangaroos very close and it was so cute to watch them eating grass. Some even had babies that looked out of their mom’s pouch.

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Afterwards we visited the Aboriginal Cultural Centre of this area and drove further to a Tower Hill National Park where we saw our first koala sleeping in the tree.

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For lunch we had a burger BBQ at a public BBQ place (which is very common in Australia). I ate a burger salad which was delicious!

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Afterwards we hiked to the McKenzie Waterfall and ended our day with cooking together in our lovely cabin we stayed for the night. We had pasta with (veggie) Bolognese and roasted oven zucchini.

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Sunday 7/10

Sunday started with a very early but beautiful morning hike. I really enjoy that you go on hikes together on the tours because I love hiking and walking in nature and it is a welcome change to the sitting on the bus a lot.

The view over the mountain ranges was beautiful and it is great that you get up super early on the tours and be the first one at the lookouts, because travelling alone/privately it is very difficult to motivate yourself to get up so early.

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On day three we had a lot of driving to do and only two lookouts over the mountain ranges and at a pink lake. This was the first time for me seeing one and it is kinda funny.

For our last lunch, we had leftovers and took a long nap on our way to Adelaide.

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As a group, we decided to meet again in the afternoon at 48 flavours in Adelaide that our tour guide recommended. This Ice Cream place is worldwide known as it created the best ice cream flavour of 2017: Gorgonzola, Fig, Walnut. Sounds weird but tastes amazing. They also have lots of vegan flavours and I tested their peanut butter soy which was super creamy and delicious!

In my next Diary blog post I’ll tell you more about my time in Adelaide!

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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!