So! After spending seven months in Australia, I think it’s about time I transfer the written words of my journal onto this screen!
On the 29th June 2015, it was time to say goodbye to my Sydney family after spending a few weeks with them in the beautiful Northern Suburbs.
I can’t deny that the home comforts were wonderful, and it helped me get over the jetlag and settle in nicely… BUT – I knew it was time to get out of that comfort zone – as I didn’t come here to have the same lifestyle as the UK!
I was more than ready to live the hostel life. I wanted to meet fellow travellers in the same position as me, and look forward to a very busy, nerve-racking, exciting week!
So after many months of waiting and shitting myself (not literally), I was packed and prepared for the craziest, most awesome introduction to the land Down Under!
Oh, and prepared to drink lots of Goon…
*My definition of Goon.* – Cheap sweet fruity boxed ‘wine’, where the bag can be blown up to be a pillow once empty. Better drank cold but backpackers hide it in their rooms and drink it luke-warm.
There are even rumours that the popular Golden Oak Fruity Lexir contains traces of fish products, milk, nut and egg. Optimists may say ‘well at least that’s a whole meal!’
Goon – The ultimate backpackers drink, around $10 a box, and can get you fucked in one hour.
Anyway I’m not here to talk about goon because it’s vile…
OZINTRO: 29th June – 6th July 2015 ♥
OzIntro is a company that organises all the essential stuff you need whilst backpacking in Australia. It allows you to feel reassured whilst you have an amazing week of new experiences with a bunch of new friends!
Day 1: Arrival, walk through Botanical Gardens, Opera House, Jet Boating at Sydney Harbour.
So there I was, at the front of Base Backpackers Hostel in the heart of Sydney, ready to meet the crew! Luckily I was stuck with a lovely bunch that I knew I would instantly get along with! We were all from different parts of the UK, so we all began taking the piss out of each others’ accents, which is always a good ice breaker…
David Coggin was our tour rep, and he met us all at reception after we checked into our rooms which were bunk beds galore! By midday we were all ready to set off towards Circular Quay!
He gave us a lovely city orientation whilst we walked towards the harbour. We took some selfies on the steps of the Opera House, and we made sure to take group photos with the Oz flag. We also walked around Botanical Gardens and briefly sat in a circle (cheesy but effective), so we could get to know each other by sharing a couple of random facts/embarrassing stories.
We made our way to the docks to hop onto a jet boat, and we started to put our ponchos on, – but then Dave informed us that the OzIntro law is to NOT wear the ponchos. Great. We were going to get soaked.
And yes, not one inch of me was dry after that crazy ride. It wasn’t exactly warm either as it was Winter time in Oz!
You can just tell by my face that the make up was ruined.
It was still HILARIOUS! The boat was so fast and the driver rapidly turned corners so we could get as soaked as possible! It also played pumping music so the whole trip was full of adrenaline!
We looked like a bunch of drowned rats once we got off that boat, and we did the wet walk of shame on our way back to the hostel…
Once we got back, we showered, settled in a bit more and made our way to the backpackers bar next door – The Scary Canary. This was so we could have a cheap and cheerful steak meal with a free drink, and to sort some boring yet important travel forms out.
That was when the true socialising began – the drinks were flowing, everyone was mingling and soon enough there was dancing! What an amazing start to the week in the heart of Sydney.
Day 2: A ferry trip to Taronga Zoo
We all met up and made our way to the docks along Circular Quay. This is so we could get the ferry to Taronga Zoo!
It was such a beautiful 15 minute trip, as we could see the whole view of the city skyline behind us whilst we were cruising towards the zoo.
When we arrived, we got onto a cable car which took us through the park towards the main entrance.
The zoo was just like any other zoo, but with kangaroos, wallabies, kookaburras and koalas! I definitely felt like I was in Australia by then…The Kookaburra is my favourite animal here, as I love their cute laugh and could listen to them all day in the trees!
Dave obviously wanted us to continue looking silly, so he brought over a load of kiddy frog hats for us to wear…We were not a discreet crew.
We spent most of the day here, and I must say, the giraffes definitely had the BEST view of Sydney from their enclosure! Not that they realise this of course…There were a few scary looking spiders, including a bird eating one. No thanks.
After a wonderful day of animals, it was time to head out again to a few bars.
We obviously had some goon pre drinks and some music blaring from our room. However, the Goon was starting to kick in quite early for me… I soon started to realise that the rumours about goon were real. It gets you drunk very very quick.
Anyway, obviously I ignored this and joined every one else to have some drinks at Side Bar up the road, followed by Three Monkeys. These were both two bars in Central – popular for backpackers.
I vaguely remember getting very merry at Side Bar and having an amazing time, and then dancing quite a lot on the top floor of Three Monkeys, and it’s all one big blur from then on…
Day 3: Aquarium and Darling Harbour, with an extreme hangover…
Well… I never felt anything like it. I was so hungover I actually cried into Dave’s arms in the middle of the street when we were making our way to OzIntro headquarters for a big travel talk. I bet he’s had to deal with stuff like that before…I felt pathetic, but it was hilarious.
I managed to grab a $1 latte from the 7/11 newsagents (these shops are everywhere and are a lifesaver when you’re a backpacker) and tried to battle on.
It was tough. I sat there at headquarters whilst the reps were giving a talk about potential deals on travelling along the East Coast, which was something I really wanted to do! I was just too busy dying at the time to concentrate properly, and some of my friends looked rather concerned yet amused. It wasn’t funny at the time for me..
We then had to get some of the less exciting stuff sorted including our Bank Accounts, Tax File Numbers and Medicare Cards. This seemed to drag on a bit, but we knew it was necessary.
We made our way to Darling Harbour (I zombie walked), and stopped off for lunch at Pontoon Bar. I didn’t want anything at first but managed to steal a slice of pizza and 100 pints of water.
We hung around the harbour for a while before heading to the Aquarium, and Dave kindly bought us all over an ice cream each from McDonalds! This tasted even better with a hangover, so I dangled my legs over the boardwalk and took in the scenery, as well as avoiding the seagulls…
The Aquarium was just like taking a trip to London Aquarium, but it was still a lovely day seeing more animals and exploring! There’s not much I can say about it apart from the fact there were funky looking fish, and a tunnel to walk through to see the close up of sharks etc, and I managed to touch some stingrays, even though you aren’t supposed to but come on – everyone does it.
And of course, we were made to wear more hats again…Dugong ones this time. I said ‘Dewgong’ at first – but I’ve just realised that Dewgong is indeed a Pokemon.
Anyway, once that was over, it was time for me to go back to the hostel and die. I soon got back up to watch some live Wimbledon at Three Monkeys with a few vodkas…I just didn’t want to stop socialising!
Day 4: Bondi beach, Coastal walk, Volleyball and BBQ
Next on the agenda was a trip to Bondi Beach! Unfortunately it was a bit too windy and nippy to get in the sea, but it was still a beautiful sunny day!
Some of the group started playing a little football match on the sand, whilst the rest of us chilled out, listened to music, took plenty of photos and enjoyed being on the iconic beach!
We soon got up and did a long, yet enjoyable coastal walk to a more secluded beach.
This took an hour or so, and once we arrived at the smaller yet stunning beach, another rep called Rich set up a wonderful BBQ for us! Along with cold beers and ciders in an esky -(Australian for cooler box.)
A game of beach volleyball was set up for us, followed by a game of rounders! We won volleyball by miles, (I got really into it with my high competitiveness), but we were then annihilated at rounders..
Once we were feeling a bit worn out, we were informed it was time to make human pyramids! This was the interesting part, figuring out who was going where. This was a first for most of us, so we all just went for it! Collapsing after the photos was the fun part! What better way to bond with new friends than to have a huge bundle…!
Day 5: Blue Mountains and Kangaroo selfies!
I was looking forward to the Blue Mountains more than anything! This was when we got to see the true beauty of Australian nature.
There was this strange, politically incorrect tour guide called Smokey who drove us there, and he was hilarious! He was going to be our guide throughout the whole day, so we knew we were in for a treat!
As soon as we got there we made our way to Featherdale Wildlife Park. This was more of an interactive zoo where we could feed and take selfies with koalas and kangaroos! By the way, koalas STINK! We fed the kangaroos and wallabies some dried grass from an ice cream cone?!? Weird but they enjoyed it!
I was happy when I played a Kookaburra laugh on Youtube really loud, and all the kookaburras in the sanctuary copied it and it caused a chain reaction! That made my day.
Smokey took us on a huge journey right into the Blue Mountains – where he took us to all the best viewpoints and stunning waterfalls, and told us some really interesting aboriginal stories.
There were even some natural tea tree leaves, which he stuck up his nose because he had a cold… I also rubbed some on my face as tea tree is a product I use for my skincare routine! I really did take in as much as I could, as there were around a thousand different species of plants and trees and it really did feel like a true rainforest.
He also showed us how the aboriginals painted their faces – they used the natural chalk from all the different coloured rocks! I never knew this, and he got some water and mixed up all the different colours the rocks made! I soon got involved painting my face of course!
He told us the legend of the Three Sisters, and said that the weather was perfect for us to see the blue haze coming up from the eucalyptus trees – which is why it’s called the Blue Mountains! We went on so many walks, up stairs and down, and I really did feel like a true hiker. I was knackered afterwards!
Day 6: Organising East Coast, Party Bus, Night Out in Sydney – Noah’s Ark Fancy Dress…
On Saturday we went into the OZ Intro office in the morning to get all of our East Coast trips booked up. This was incredibly exciting as the majority of us were doing it together! We decided to travel down the coast, starting at Cairns and making our way back to Sydney.
This would take around 35 days and it cost us nearly $3,000, but we knew it would be worth every cent. Especially when all the accommodation, travel fairs and activities were included! We couldn’t WAIT to do this after OzIntro!
Once all this was organised, we were on a mission to Market City to find our fancy dress costumes for our huge night out! We decided on the theme Noah’s Ark, where Dave was Noah, Rich was The Ark, and the rest of us picked names from a hat to decide who was going in pairs. (The whole ‘animals went in two by two malarky.)’
The chosen animals to dress up as were: Penguins, Monkeys, Sharks, Leopards, Cows, and Mickey and Minnie Mouse. I was a penguin, and I planned to wear a penguin tuxedo like the ones from Mary Poppins!
The night we went out was on the 4th July! So there were American flags everywhere at our first stop – Side Bar of course. We then hopped onto a party bus through the city which consisted of more dancing and getting pumped!
After a few more cocktails, we ended up at Home Nightclub along Darling harbour, which was a crazy colourful place with many different floors and dancing rooms! It also had an incredible view of the harbour at night when I went outside for fresh air.
It was a crazy night from start to finish, and I made sure I danced the night away until I felt utterly content, and rather tipsy!
It was an AMAZING night, and after seven months here I haven’t been on a night out quite like that one! I think it’s overdue…
Day 7: Recovery, Shopping Day and 360 Rotating Restaurant!
This was our first chill out day after a hectic and awesome week! It was time for some exploring, retail therapy and spending the evening pigging out on posh buffet food at the top of Sydney Tower.
I walked around George Street to a lot of the high street shops. I wanted to get a nice dress for the evening farewell meal. Even though it wasn’t really a farewell as most of us decided to do the East Coast together!
I soon went off on my own to enjoy the city centre, and then most of us spent the afternoon back in the hostel, packing and getting ready to check out in the morning. As expected, our room was a complete shit hole!
Once we got to the top of Sydney Tower, there was a formal rotating restaurant! the whole dining room moved very slowly apart from the buffet in the centre. So every time you went up to get more food, you were at a different section!
You had to be careful not to leave your handbags on the windowsill however, as it would end up on the other side of the restaurant!
We really took advantage of this amazing food, including emu and crocodile sausages… we didn’t know the next time we would be eating gourmet food once we started the East Coast – so we really did pig out!
The 360 view of Sydney at night time was breathtaking, and we were trying to find the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge every time we rotated. It really was magical and I finally felt settled in and ready for more adventures after this week!
I also want to mention that starting my journey with OzIntro was the best decision I ever made.
For those not familiar with hostel life, when you’re placed in a room with a load of strangers for a week – you become pretty close, pretty quickly! I couldn’t have asked for a better group full of awesome individuals, so a massive shout out to you lot – It was now time to prepare for the East Coast!
Farewell cold, Sydney Winter. Next stop – sunny Cairns!
Also, a massive thank you to Dave for giving us a great introduction to our journey! As well as the cute gifts, photos and OzIntro wristbands after our Sunday meal. See you in Bali Intro dude! (Just recently found out he’s my rep for Bali on the 4th feb 2016!)
Did YOU start your Australia experience with OzIntro or a similar tour? Feel free to share your experience so I can read about yours!