But once you’re in, it’s no worries. I had booked for six nights there, in a great and friendly youth hostel with a roof top bar that was second only to the kitchen for meeting fellow travellers. We were taken out on the town by the hostel so got to meet everyone, and played an interesting game of ‘toss the boss’ – flipping a coin with the barman ensured my round was free – a welcome relief to any backpacker. The next day I hit the tourist trail, climbing the AMP Tower for great views of the harbour and the whole city, and also walked over the very impressive Sydney Harbour Bridge. From the harbour you can also get a ferry that will take you under the bridge and drop you off at the Aquarium, which is one of the best in the world. The waterfront is great as you might expect, with loads of places just to sit and relax and soak it all up.
Over the next few days I took in the beaches at a very slow and relaxed pace – with Bondi and Manly being on the forefront of the tourist trail, and definitely impressive and a good way to chill out while on a hectic 3 month round the world trip.
Alice Springs and Ayers Rock was the next stop –the flight from Sydney to Alice Springs was fantastic and felt like flying over the surface of Mars. It is very clear why the Outback is known as the Red Centre! The Outback is a great place, and our backpackers lodge was like a small oasis in the steamy heat. I had booked a camping trip as well to camp under the stars and next to the Rock itself (the world’s largest monolith, for the more scientific of you). On the way there, we drove through the desert a bit, even stopping to watch the world famous singing dingo that also plays the piano! It’s true, he even appeared on a travel TV programme I watched! It takes forever to walk around the rock, but sipping champagne sundowners in the desert while you watch the sky turn pink is a sight I will never forget. Getting back to the campsite and lying under the stars also comes highly recommended, and on arrival back at the lodge, I had a welcome few hours to lie in the pool before my flight to Cairns.
If you want to see contrasting landscapes – that is the flight to see it on – bright red desert turning to lush green forests as you land. Cairns is a lovely little town and the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. There are many people doing dive courses there, and a great way to spend a week there is to do a five day course and get to go on three different reefs at the end – you are then qualified to dive all over the world. Cairns also has the longest cable car ride in the world and also the legendary nightclubs, full of young travellers making the most of their first time away from home! If you are shy about getting naked in public, I would advise not getting involved in any of the games that the nightclubs organize! All in all, a great country, with these three destinations only just skimming the surface of the Land Down Under