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Surfers stand on the beach at sunset with surfboards in hand

Sophie's Aussie Bests

By Gap 360

Last updated: 16th May 2013

Gap 360's Sophie has been travelling around Australia and sharing her experiences and advice. Read on for her advice on Australia's 'bests'...

Now my posts on the good old Aus are coming to a close, I thought I'd recap on where, and what I think is best in Australia!

Best City: Melbourne

This really is the most liveable but most jaw dropping city I have ever had the pleasure to experience. Everything works so well here. Despite being voted the 4th most expensive city in the world (it has leapfrogged 5th place Sydney) there are always things to do to keep you entertained! Alright, the city might not have the beaches of Sydney but right on your doorstep is the beautiful Great Ocean Road, which is about an hours drive away. There are also incredible festivals every other weekend, where the whole city piles out on to the street in order to celebrate the hive of culture which the city exuberates, as well as being one of the sporting capitals of the world; hosting the Australian Open, the AFL (Aussie Rules to you and me) final and the infamous Melbourne Cup. Everything in Melbourne is done with such an 'I don't care' attitude but in reality, every single detailed has been sweated out to artistic precision. From the ice cubes in your artisan cocktail, to your coffee that comes from a barista of minimum of three years experience, Melbourne is a city that works tirelessly at being effortlessly cool!

The thing you must do while in Australia: Surf

You can't come to Australia and not learn how to surf. It is illegal. Infact, any visa should be revoked to those with no intention of not trying it! Although you could rent a board and head off down to Bondi, you could be risking serious injury to yourself by not having proper guidance and respect for the surf. Get yourself down to a surf school, where they will teach you the basics, the advanced and the rules of the waves. I can't recommend Surf Camp Australia highly enough; it was definitely one of my favourite things I have ever done. They look after you, both on the sand and in the camp, feeding you with incredible meals and ensuring you have an amazing time. They hold the hands of those who are nervous but encourage the confident surfers to chase down the big waves. The camp is so good that it has a habit of bringing those who have already attended back to its shores to fine tune their skills. 

Things you must see in Australia: Great Barrier Reef

Obviously, we need to include the iconic landmarks of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge here, but while in Aus, make sure that you experience the Great Barrier Reef. Each form you can do it in brings a different experience and hence a different memory. Like on our glass bottomed boat, we saw turtles feeding, but diving to the bottom of the reef, we could reef and touch the turtles with broken coral that was laying on the ocean floor. But, while snorkeling I swan in to the path of a shark, so there really is no one 'good' option as they're all amazing. Experience everything you can in this wonderful underwater world, as with the increase in tourism and some stupid actions in the past, it won't be around forever!

Best Way to Travel: Greyhound

Going down the coast? Your best option is a Greyhound pass, which is affordable, practical and alot more comfortable than you would expect it to be. You can book as a little in advance as the day before and all of your bookings are easily managed on an online account, meaning you always know exactly what is going on! Depending on where you are travelling, there are usually multiple services per day, meaning you can plan your travel around your activities (and if you are strapped for cash, you can always take an overnight bus and kip on that!). All the stress, planning and petrol money taken away from you, while you doze on a seat and wake up in your destination: perfect!

Best Place to Celebrate New Years: Sydney

Sydney is the King at all New Years celebrations, ringing it first and always proving an impossible act for the worlds other major cities to follow. Given that it is not everyday you are in Australia for this celebration, we decided to go hard or go home. We ended up on one of the Captain Cook cruises, sailing around the river, accompanied by a DJ, a free bar and a buffet dinner. We got the best view for New Year, and although the initial cost was expensive ($400) we didn't pay any club fees (which are about $70+ on NYE) or drinks (could go from $50-$200 for a bottle of wine). The result? We didn't need to bring our purses, we danced til dawn on one of the most beautiful harbours in the world, met some interesting new people from around the globe and saw the fireworks from the best position possible. A night I'll never be able to replicate!

Best Place for Flashpackers: Noosa

I was originally recommended Noosa by the lads down at Surf Camp, saying it was a great surfing town. So when I got there, I expected a similar attitude to Byron Bay; a laid back, chilled out hippy vibe. Infact this could not be further from the truth, as we encountered a posh sailing village, with beautiful restaurants and plush scenery. This is a place where you want to eschew your backpack for a more glamorous lifestyle. But there are still ways around being a backpacker and enjoying the glamorous lifestyle. We found the beautiful La Vida restaurant which had an early bird special (3 courses for $50) and it was BYOB for a small corkage charge. All of a sudden, the flashpackers lifestyle was available on the backpackers budget! Brilliant!


Stay tuned for a post on the best hostels and my experience on Greyhound!

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