Arriving Airlie Beach at seven in the morning I had only an hour before the boat left, so I jumped into a taxi from the train station and made it just in time for my sailing trip.
I had booked the British Defender, a boat accommodating as much as 30 people, but still being quite a fast and steady sailer. Steadier meant having a deeper keel, so we could not go into the more shallow and turquise waters like the catamarans, but we still got to see the beautiful waters from a distance.
Our first stop was a part of the Great Barrier Reef where everyone got an hour of snorkeling and some lunch. Visibility was poor and the coral were mostly dead which was dissapointment, but it was all made up for when we got to our next stop at Whitehaven Beach.
Whitehaven is known for having the purest silica sand in the World, making it crystal white, always cold even on the sunniest days and as turquise as the waters in the Maldives.
The city where the Whitsundays boats are departing from, Airlie Beach, was pretty small so I jumped on a train continuing up north the same night.
A lot of the experience of Australian East Coast is to visit beaches, go out and go surfing, but by doing only that you would miss out the most important part about traveling, which is to experience the culture of the country you are traveling to. I had booked an overnight trip to a cattle station hoping to also get to see what life on the countryside of Australia was like.
When arriving at the cattle station in Yeppoon we were served some beef stew, and had some late night conversations around the bonfire before getting into our swags (a mix of a tent and a sleeping bag) for the night. The sunrise woke us all up early the next morning and we got to join the farmers feeding the animals in the morning and then went on a walk around the big land owned by the farmers. In the evening the owner of Emu Park resort where we were staying celebrated his 51 year birthday and invited us over for some food and drinks in the early evening and at night we went out on a rodeo show in Rockhampton. It was the first time I had ever been to a a city that seemed to have been taken out of a movie from Texas. Almost everyone were wearing jeans and flannel shirts and lots og guys were also walking around in their cowboy hats and spurry cowboy boots. The rodeo show that night was just crazy. People were riding wild horses and bulls throwing them up in the air or down in the sand, usually within the first few seconds. I had been looking forward to the rodeo show a lot as I was told that you could try to ride a proper beast of a bull yourself for just 15 dollars, but since it was a Friday night meaning there was a competition with a money price, that would not be possible. The show was great anyway, but I really wish I would have been there on a Wednesday night when they have training sessions and it would have been possible for amateurs to ride.
For anyone looking for something to do on the East Coast of Australia other than parting, beachlife or surfing I would highly recommend getting on a tour to fully experience the farm life.
Byron Bay and Noosa is usually the places people say they like the most from backpacking the East Coast of Australia. Maybe it is because of the laid back athmosphere, the great hostels or the fact that they both are cities with nice beaches and good conditions for surfing. For me it was a bit of everything. The city itself is much smaller than Byron, but the hostel Nomads was just the perfect size so that everyone were talking to everyone. If it is one place I would have liked to stay longer in Australia it would have been Noosa in order to go surfing, do a trip to the worlds biggest sand island Fraser and to see the Everglades, which only exist here and in Florida.
After a few days in Byron Bay it was once again time to hit the road to go to Noosa. The first part of the drive went through the beginning of Queensland and the area called the Gold Coast, which has a bit of California feel to it; the streets were really broad and clean, it seemed like people had enough money and there was also a bit more short skirts and plastic surgery going on..
Brisbane was a lot more different and had more a New York feel to it where streets were more narrow and the buildings taller. As the fastest growing city in Australia it was also much more bus and a city I did not feel like staying in for long, but it was worth a couple of hours stop just to have a look.
Byron Bay is a very laid back city on the border between New South Wales and Queensland quite popular among backpackers. The city itself is quite small with one main street where you find mostly clothing stores, souvenir shops and restaurants, but the beach there stretches as far as eyes can see. At the end of the main beach in the north there is a lighthouse on a hill where the South Beach starts, so where it is best to surf depends if the winds are coming from north or south, but conditions will always be good on one of them and courses and board rentals run all year long.
Our hostel, called the Arts Factory Lodge was also a good one, situated right next to the city brewery where they had some of the evening events while there were free yoga, survival skills and didgeridoo classes there in the day time.
There are a lot of alternative people also in Byron Bay, just like the people who made art in the sand