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Backpacking in Australia

Posted: 27th July 2015 08:42

Australia, with its stretching desert frontiers, exotic wildlife and scorched auburn trails, is the quintessential backpacking destination for people seeking freedom and adventure.  The enormous continent boasts golden sands, colossal mountains, rainforests rich in exotic wildlife and sparkling blue pools.  The locals are down to earth, with a distinct ‘no worries’ attitude like nowhere else on earth, and there is always a party to be had.  Australia’s limited railway network means that car rental is a wise choice, allowing for an intensely personal adventure as you explore its many dirt paths and isolated towns on the epic long distance road trip of a life time.

For many, their first point of contact in Australia is the famous party town of Cairns, a wild and wonderful combination of bars, adventure activities and beautiful tropical sunshine.  There is never a shortage of other travellers in Cairns, making it the perfect place to get the latest travel tips from the seasoned veterans – identifiable by their bronzed skin and sun bleached hair – on their way back home, and hook up with a group of fresh faced new arrivals with which to embark on the next stage of your journey with.  It is also in Cairns that you can take on your first real adventure; The Great Barrier Reef lies just off the shore, so hunt out one of the local dive schools and take to the waters for yourself.  After your first successful dive you will begin to realise what a gap year is truly about; learning just how much potential you have.  The only question that remains after is ‘where next?’

The Daintree Rainforest lies stretched out to the north, a living time capsule from over 100 million years ago, crisscrossed with rivers and waterfalls that bring nourishment to the ancient flowering plants.  Wander the deep chasms and towering mountains, all enclosed in the thick jungle canopy, and get up close to its rare, brightly plumed birds.  Anywhere else on earth this would be an unbeatable attraction, but in Australia it vies for attention with the enigmatic east coast, a seemingly endless string of golden beaches and glittering, highrise studded cities where Australia’s fabled surf scene finds its natural home.  Ahead lies Brisbane – Australia’s largest city – and Gold Coast with its unparalleled nightlife and long, hot beaches.  It might come as a relief then when you rock up at Byron Bay, unstrap your newly acquired board from the roof rack, and revel in its small town vibe.  The native Arakwal name for Byron Bay – Cavvanbah (meeting place) – sums up the town perfectly, as lifelong hippies, professional surfers and, of course, gap year explorers congregate to celebrate the laid back beach life that Byron Bay has become icon of.  Here you can browse the cool markets, hit the waves, and relax in the beachside bars – for as long as you can resist the lure of Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide that is.

Of course it is not just buzzing cities and iconic beaches – much of Australia is still unclaimed wilderness, and at any stage you can head inland to find the infamous outback.  Dusty trails spread as far as the eye can see, kangaroo, ostrich and camel appear and disappear as the mood takes them, and red mountains line the horizon.  Follow these peaks south and you might well find yourself in The Grampians, just one of the spectacular national parks in Victoria, amongst 380 million year old sandstone peaks overlooking what used to be the Southern Ocean Floor.  Wonderland is the perfect place to stretch your legs after a long few days on the road, and walking the Fyans Valley affords panoramic views of deserts, mountains and the occasional blue lake.  Of course more adventurous travellers will want to try their hand at rock climbing or paragliding; two things that The Grampians do very well.  Even after all of this you have only scratched the surface.  The raw wilderness of the Kimberly region, the rich golden sunsets of Australia’s west coast and of course Perth all await, or you can wish farewell Oz and continue your adventure in New Zealand; adventure capital of the world.

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