Exploring a deserted island, climbing a mountain and Koalas – what a week!

My brother Jake and his girlfriend were visiting the UK for a month which meant that me and Lucy had a car, which also meant we could explore on our own without taking the bus! (freedom!)
Monday – we kick started the week with a trip to Coochiemudlo Island . You can read my post all about the island here

Tuesday – I thought it would be a good idea to go to Surfers Paradise. I have been here a few times before on previous trips to Australia as it’s only about an hour from Jake’s house. I know people have mixed reviews about surfers, it’s very touristy and a bit tacky but as a tourist and someone who enjoys a bit of tack, I really like it! Plus the beach is gorgeous!
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Fun fact – two years ago Jake and I walked out of the top of this building, right out on the grid at the top. It’s called the Q1 Skypoint walk and it was amazing! This time me and Lucy just went up, had a drink and enjoyed the views from the top.
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We then headed to get some lunch, we stopped off at an amazing hotdog shop which sold vegan hotdogs, we each got one with all the trimmings! We then headed to the beach to catch the last bit of sun for the day.
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Wednesday – we were both up for doing something a bit different so we climbed a mountain! as you do! We climbed Mount Ngungun which is one of the Glass House Mountains, I have climbed it before and I knew Lucy would love it because the views from the top are incredible!

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After climbing the mountain we thought we better reward ourselves, you know for being healthy and all that, so we decided to go to a vegan dessert shop and stuff our faces with cake!
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Thursday – We decided to have a bit of a chilled day, we got up a little later, tidied the house, had coffee then headed to Daisy Hill Koala park which is about 20 minutes from Jakes house. This place is great, they have a few resident Koalas there but also rescue Koalas from surroundings areas that are injured or need relocating, this amazing place is also free!
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Friday – The weather was awful so we decided to have a cinema day. We both love going to the cinema and in Australia it’s so cheap, it’s amazing! We went and saw John wick 2 (which we both loved) we saw it the day of release, on a huge screen for under £4!
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As always we had a really good week, the great thing about being based in Brisbane is that there is so many different things you can do day to day which don’t break the bank or that you have to travel far to do! Week 2 post coming shortly…

Discovering Coochiemudlo Island…(yeah, I hadn’t heard of it either!)

Lucy and I were planning our week ahead when Lucy suggested going to Coochiemudlo Island…I had never heard of it. Turns out, not alot of people have heard of it, even people who live in Brisbane! We drove to Victoria Point and caught the ferry across to the island, the ferry trip took 5 minutes and only cost $9 for a return!
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When we arrived we could not believe that we were pretty much the only people there, there was the odd bloke fishing and we did see one dog walker but we were there the whole day and it felt like we had the island to ourselves!
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The island has a population of 700 and it was crazy to think that people actually lived on this island, it seemed so peaceful and tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city, which is only 30 mins away!
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We put out our towels and laid on the beach all day, we read, listened to music and just relaxed and listened to the sound of the sea. It felt bizarre that we were the only people there, like we’d discovered a little hidden gem!
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The sun began to set and the sky turned a beautiful pastel pink colour, it was amazing to see it change as the sun went down. We walked along the beach and back to the ferry at about 5pm, by this time the sky looked like it was on fire and we were treated to the most magnificent sunset!
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I filmed our trip on my Gopro – you can watch the video below…

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It was crazy getting the ferry back to Brisbane, it pulled up and lots of people got off, they all lived on the island and had returned from work, lots of schoolkids got off too – imagine having to catch the ferry to school because you live on a little island!
Coochiemudlo was a great little gem and I’m so happy that we visited it, I can’t believe more people don’t know of it, it’s beautiful and well worth a visit!

Exploring Brisbane – Walking Tour and Science Museum

After another glorious Greyhound bus journey, this time 16 hours (yay!) we arrived in Brisbane and although I’d been living there for a few months before I met up with Lucy, I thought it would be good to learn more about the city so we decided to take a free walking tour…
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Honestly I can’t recommend these walking tours enough, obviously every one is different but it’s a great way to learn about a new city and a good way to get your bearings! After that we also decided to go to the Queensland Museum and check out the dinosaurs…
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After checking out the dinosaurs we went upstairs where there was an exhibition full of native wildlife taxidermy, as a tourist it was good to see those animals but as an animal lover it made me sad to see them too, I had very mixed feelings about the exhibition.
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There was also a ‘Discovery Centre’ upstairs in the museum that had taxidermy of snakes, spiders and insects, the centre also had a few live critters that you could see up close.
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Now this is a warning for any arachnophobs out there – the next photo is of a spider BUT she is so cute! She is a Wolf Spider and she has the cutest face, she lives at the Science Museum and you can watch her being fed and making her nest, the staff there are so passionate about the animals there and I spoke to a woman for ages about this spider, they put a male in there for her to breed with but…she ate him! Never the less, I think she’s really cute!
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The Queensland Museum is a really great place to visit, there is loads to do there, they also have ever changing exhibitions on there all the time. Another great day spent in the city and everything we did was FREE! Only cost us our bus fare into the city – honestly when you’re arriving in a new city seek out as much free stuff as you can, there is loads of stuff out there!

Sydney: Cockatoo Island (…the accidental film set)

OK, so weird fact about Lucy and I – we both love anything to do with murders, prisons and anything a bit gruesome, so when we heard about Cockatoo Island we knew it was worth a visit. Cockatoo Island is a little island located in the harbour but when you’re there it feels like you’re a million miles away from the city and even from the current day, it really feels like an island that’s lost in time.
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Now I can’t remember all the facts that I learnt about the island (the $5 audio tour was actually really cool and interesting!) but I will say that between 1839 and 1869 Cockatoo Island was an island for convicts who had re-offended and was NOT a place you wanted to end up. In 1869 the convicts were relocated and the island became a reform school for girls and a very sad place to grow up,
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So weirdly enough you can actually camp on the island, as you start the tour around the old barracks you can see lots of little tents lined up amongst the old metal ruins. The views across the harbour of the city were pretty sweet from here too!
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Walking through the ruins was really interesting, we had the audio tour playing in our ears telling us stories of how the convicts would have lived and the conditions that they had to deal with.
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We then walked around the parts of the island that were used to house young girls who had committed petty crimes, it was really sad to walk around there and listen to the lives that these young girls would have lived. This place had a real eerie feel to it and a real sad atmosphere.
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We walked to another part of the island that is called the Industrial Centre, the insides looked like a factory and had old discarded machines inside, whilst I was walking taking photos Lucy gasped and starting freaking out “They filmed Wolverine here! They filmed Wolverine here!”…low and behold, they had filmed Wolverine there! We found this VERY exciting (the film Unbroken had also been filmed there too but c’mon guys it’s Wolverine!)
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The video below is the scene that was shot on the island, it also features Hugh Jackman naked so it’s worth a watch…just saying.

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We really enjoyed our trip around Cockatoo Island, finding out about the history and walking amongst it all was great. It was hard to believe we were only a 5 minute ferry ride from the city’s harbour, it’s definetly worth a visit, if just to geek out about the Wolverine set!

Sydney: Coogee to Bondi walk

We had been staying in Sydney for 3 days when we decided to do the coastal walk that runs from Bondi to Coogee (or Coogee to Bondi depending on which way round you do it!) We had spent alot of time in and round the city and fancied a change of scenery.

We were full of optimism and enthusiasm when we caught the bus to Coogee, the weather was lovely and it looked like the perfect day for a coastal stroll. When we actually arrived in Coogee however, this had all changed – it was windy and a storm was threatening to make an appearance on the horizon. Our choice of summer dresses and flip-flops were not a practical idea – although we did start out walk admiring this beautiful rainbow which was pretty great!
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We had heard mixed reports about how long the walk would take us, some people said 2 hours and one person said 6.5 hours so we didn’t really know what to expect! We walked along the coasts edge which was beautiful then, randomly, you walk through a grave yard!
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This place was incredible and I couldn’t belive my eyes. There were gravestones as far as the eye could see and to me, there was something really beautiful about it all. It was a very peaceful place.
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I could not believe that a huge graveyard would be so close to the coasts edge, it was unbelievable. I also found it very cute that all of the graves looked over the cliff and out onto the sea.
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The coastal walk was beautiful and the terrain would change with every corner that we took, sandy beach one minute, cliffs and rocks the next.
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It was an easy walk but we walked at quite a pace because we were scared the heavens would open at any minute!
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Luckily for us we didn’t get rained on and we made it to Bondi in 2 hours! It was great to see Bondi beach so empty because I’ve only ever been at the weekends before and you can’t move for people but this day the moody weather was putting everyone off! Below is a video that I shot on my GoPro of the walk…

I’ll end this post with the photos of this incredible pool at Bondi beach, look at it!! The pool is touching the edge of the sea, imagine starting your day off with a dip in there!
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I would definitely recommend this walk if you’re staying in Sydney, it’s nice to get out of the city and see some amazing sights, maybe even pack your cozzy and have a dip in the pool!

First few days in Sydney (on a budget)

After having a great time in Melbourne it was time for Greyhound bus journey to Sydney (yay!…NOT) We stocked up on snacks, had all our electricals charged, had podcasts and films at the ready and finally boarded the bus at 10pm, 12 hours later we were in Sydney (and feeling pretty gross after being cooped up on a bus all night) We checked into our hostel and decided to freshen up, put our tourists hats on and have a walk down to the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

We then walked back to the hostel, freshened up, made friends with one of the girls in our room, bought the cheapest bottle of wine we could find and then headed out to Darling Harbour to go for some drinks…que the one drunken photo we took from that night.

The next day we decided to check out The Rocks area of Sydney, I had never been there before and it was really great to discover this gem of the city. The Rocks is the oldest part of Sydney and is full of history. We walked along the cobbled streets and alleyways and visited The Rocks Discovery Centre.
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The next day was Anzac Day and a public holiday in Australia, we woke up and decided to go and do some exploring (if anywhere was open!) We got given a map from our hostel that had a free walking tour on it so we decided to give that a go and it was bloody brilliant!!
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There was a really nice atmosphere in the city on Anzac Day, we were out early and it was lovely to see so many people who were going to march in the parade later that afternoon.
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We continued on our tour and it was great to learn all about the history of the city. There were so many hidden treasures that we learnt about and our tour guide was brilliant, she was so enthusiastic and funny and the tour was so interesting. This is the website for the tours – it was all FREE and I would definitely recommend doing it if you’re in Sydney, they also do them in Melbourne too.
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I particularly loved this piece of street art that was in a little alley way. It’s called Forgotten Songs and it’s a memorial for all the species of birds that would once have lived within the city. “Forgotten Songs commemorates the songs of fifty birds once heard in central Sydney, before they were gradually forced out by European settlement. The calls, which filter down from the canopy of birdcages suspended above Angel Place, change as day shifts to night; the daytime birds’ songs disappearing with the sun, and those of the nocturnal birds, which inhabited the area, sounding into the evening” – quote from the citysydneyart.com website.
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We finished our tour at the Sydney Harbour Bridge, learning about how the bridge was made and how you can take a tour across the top of the bridge! After the tour was finished Lucy and I decided to take a walk across it, this was my third trip to Sydney but I’d only ever seen the bridge from across the river.
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We started our walk along the bridge, the views from the top were great and it was nice to see the Opera House from the other side.
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The walk along the bridge was fun, although we felt we were fighting the onset of a downpour so we walked at quite a quick pace just incase!
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Spending your time in a city can soon get expensive but there are so many free choices that you can make. With a little research you can see amazing sights within the city without breaking the bank. I’ve visited Sydney twice before but didn’t see half as much as I did in the first few days of this trip.
My advice for anyone visiting a new city is to take part in some kind of tour to get your bearings of the city you’ll be staying in. The tour guide is usually a local who can recommend great places for you to eat, drink and enjoy during your stay!

Our last week in Melbourne featuring Luna Park – the weirdest amusement park…

After spending our first week in Melbourne Lucy and I embarked on a magical roadtrip across the Great Ocean Road (which I will blog about in a future post because it’s going to take me a million years to write, plus they’ll be a video)
We spent 6 days on the road and then returned to Melbourne, we were a bit reluctant to return to a city after visiting sleepy seaside towns along the Great Ocean Road but I have to admit that returning to Melbourne was great!

We decided to chill out a little more in the city and not put so much pressure on ourselves to see EVERY tourist attraction and we decided to get out the city for a bit too. Our first stop was St Kilda…
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St Kilda isn’t your typical Australian beach, think more of an english seaside…BUT considering it’s only a 20 minute tram ride from the city center if was a nice place to spend the day. There were lots of skateboarders and cyclists along the boardwalk of the beach and luckily for us we picked a glorious day to visit!
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Apart from the beach itself, St Kilda’s other big tourist attraction is Luna Park – an old, creepy amusement park. When you walk through the doors (giant mouth) of Luna Park you’re instantly struck by how weird it is. The staff all wear ‘old timey’ uniforms and the rides are shocking, weird old machines that look like they should have been shut down years ago!
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The whole time I was walking around Luna Park I just kept thinking ‘do they get it?’ Like, do they know this is a thing?! If anyone has seen the film Adventureland, it reminded me of that!
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I hate rides, ALL rides. Even teacups but Lucy wanted to go on a few. Turns out, nope, not gonna happen. The park literally has like 10 rides but they put them on at scheduled times so you have to pick certain ones depending on what time you get there. Lucy had her heart set on the biggest, scariest rides but instead was pointed in the direction of the kids dodgems…we quickly left.
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We spent the rest of the day walking around St Kilda, we walked along the beach, went to the shops and had a lovely dinner in a great vegan restaurant. St Kilda is definitely worth a visit and I would say you can’t walk past Luna Park without having a peek inside!

The following days were spent in Fitzroy (you can read about my love for it in my previous post here) we also made friends and drank cider on the roof of our lovely hostel. Greenhouse Backpackers = 10/10!We explored the city a little more and checked out the state library which was really nice and such a peaceful place to visit. We also checked out more amazing street art around the city…
and went on a little tour of Captain Cook’s house which was good to see, if only for Lucy’s comment of  “it just looks like my Grandad’s house!”
Exploring a new city is always fun but it’s easy to get lost in the pressure of doing everything and ticking off every tourist attraction in your guide book, it’s nice to actually just find little treasures that are in and around the city and spend the day there. Returning to Melbourne was really nice and it made me appreciate the time we’d spent there but we both agreed we were happy to move on to somewhere new and that meant embarking on a 12 hour bus ride to Sydney… more on that later! (I’ll tell you now we weren’t as smiley as the creepy Luna Park guy!)
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Melbourne: being cultured but also a cheap skate.

Travelling and living in a city can get expensive, paying for your hostel, food, activities, coffees etc all adds up but luckily there are lots of free things to do in Melbourne (thank god). We’ve made a point of taken full advantage of the free things that are on offer in the city!

Melbourne is full of art and photography galleries and we decided to check out the NGV – National Gallery of Victoria. It’s located near Federation Square right in the heart of the city centre – you can’t miss it! Luckily for us there was a great exhibition on in the main hall. The exhibition was by Patrick Pound and was a collection of old photographs that the artist had put together over the years.
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The photographs were grouped together by similarity – dogs, people with cameras, shadows, selfies, sporting events etc. It was so good to see all these old photographs from all over the world and from different decades with the same subject matter. It was great to see how the fashion and trends changed throughout the years and also the changes in the cameras.
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We stayed at the exhibition for about an hour and it was great to look around. You can find out more info about the exhibition here www.ngv.vic.gov.au/exhibition/patrick-pound

After exploring the NGV we decided to take a little walk around the city, we’ve been walking most places rather than catching the trams, it saves money (yes!) but it’s also a great way to see the city, when the sun’s out it’s nice to have a stroll and discover new places.
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Another day we decided to check out the Shrine of Remembrance, the sun was shining and the shrine is set in a beautiful garden so it was the perfect day to pay a visit!
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The gardens were beautiful and when we went inside the shrine it was full of flags and memorabilia, a crypt and a medal gallery.
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There was also a great balcony that you could go out onto and the views from there were amazing! You could see out over the gardens and the city. Seeing the trees with huge skyscrapers behind them was really cool, I could have stayed up there for hours watching everything that was happening on the street below!
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It’s not until you’re on a tight budget that you realise that there’s actually so many free things to do in cities, we tend to head to the city’s info centre and the staff are so helpful, they give you leaflets and maps of all the things going on in the city and there are so many free things to choose from which is great!
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Melbourne really is a great city to visit and with so many free activities to do it’s a city that suites all budgets, plus if you go to a free museum or art gallery and it’s not for you, it doesn’t matter because you haven’t lost anything! Win, Win!

Melbourne: first few days and first impressions.

Two years ago my best friend and I were sitting in a coffee shop in London dreaming our lives away, I had just decided that I was going off travelling and was desperate for her to join me. We always talked about going on a big trip together (usually when we were drunk and loving life!) and last week it finally happened – we would finally be travelling Australia together! I was due to fly to Melbourne and meet Lucy, who had been travelling around Japan, on the 2nd of April but Cyclone Debbie had other ideas and left me flooded in Lismore (you can read about that here!).

After switching my flights around (thanks Jetstar!) it was finally time to meet Lucy in Melbourne, which was super exciting because I hadn’t visited Melbourne before and it was Lucy’s first time in Oz! Lucy came to meet me in the city and there were lots of tears and hugs and we couldn’t believe we were finally reunited after 7 months apart – the longest separation to date! Now the fun could begin, lets explore Melbourne!

Spoiler alert – we’re both pretty shit at organising stuff so neither of us had done any research into what to do in Melbourne but luckily, like any city, there is always something going on! Our first day was spent walking around in the sunshine checking out the street art around Hosier Lane.
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Visiting the lanes of street art in Melbourne is high up in all the guide books as something to see and I have to say I really enjoyed walking around and seeing it all. I’d heard mixed reviews about it but I really liked it, it’s colourful, you can take great photos there and best of all it’s free!
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The following day was freezing and wet so we decided to take the tram to Fitzroy – the hipster part of town. We looked around the shops, grabbed a coffee whilst planning the rest of our stay and had dinner at Smith and Daughter, a great vegan restaurant. Being a Sunday alot of places were shut…! (see told you we’re shit at organising!)
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Fitzroy is great and we both really liked it there, lots of trendy coffee shops and cafes, vintage shops, unique bars and now home to the biggest vegan shop in the WORLD! We were freezing cold and it was raining so we took shelter in a really nice bar where we drank cider and made friends with a huge dog that looked like a bear!
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We loved Fitzroy and were sad that so many places were shut because it was a Sunday so we got up the next day and went back there, this time the sun was shining and it was great to walk around. We looked around the op shops (charity shops to you english folk) had lunch in a vegan cafe and just enjoyed walking around without being freezing! (Seriously Melbourne, your weather is crazy!)
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One thing that I instantly love about Melbourne is the colour of the city, there is street art around every corner and it gives the city such character. Fitzroy has a real charm about it, lots of little quirky shops and it reminded us of the more hipster parts of London which we both think is a good thing!
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I’d heard mixed reviews about Melbourne, I know people who absolutely love it there and people who have visited and come away unimpressed. I for one really like this city, I will admit there isn’t loads to do and it doesn’t have huge ‘tourist attractions’ but it does have huge charm and character. I love the artsy feel of the city and the colour and vibrancy that is here.
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Any suggestions of where to visit in Melbourne? Any must have sights to see?!

Stuck in a Natural Disaster Zone… thanks Cyclone Debbie!

Debbie… sounds like a nice name right? How about when you add the word Cyclone to the front of it?!…I had 6 days to kill before I was planning on meeting my best friend in Melbourne, all flights and hostels were booked and I was super excited! I thought I could cram a quick farm visit in before I jetted off, so I went to stay at Sugarshine Farm Sanctuary in New South Wales (you can read about this amazing place here)

I had been at the sanctuary for 3 days when it started raining…and continued for 24 hours solid. After checking Facebook we soon realised that places around us were flooding, badly. Lismore, the local town was seriously under water and I must admit it was scary to see those images and know the rising water was in the next town! Luckily for us we were safe on the farm, we are high up so didn’t get flooded. The poor animals were grumpy because they had to chill in the barn all day but they were safe…thank god.

We took a drive into Lismore the day after the rain started and we were shocked to see the state it was in. Cars underwater, home flooded, boats driving through the town, helicopters flying overhead, I could not believe my eyes. We drove to a look out and you could see the full extent of the flooding, as far as you can see there was water, it was unbelievable and just reminded me of scenes in a movie. We drove back to the farm thankful that it was untouched, we were safe and so we’re the animals. Many homes had to evacuate and leave their pets behind with the water level rising, I can’t imagine how tough a decision that would have been for some families.

The following day we drove back into Lismore to help with the clean up, some of the water had subsided and people were starting to assess the damage done to their properties. Seeing families throw their ruined possessions onto a huge pile they’ve made on the street was heartbreaking. It was awful driving past house after house, all doing the same thing. We spent the whole day helping out that day and it was rewarding to see the difference a few helping hands can make.

The following day we headed back into Lismore to help out some more. This time we headed to the local pet shop which is owned by an elderly woman. It was overwhelming when we first pulled up, there was mess everywhere! A huge pile of damaged goods outside and a shop that was covered in mud and water. We spent all day moving damaged stock, taking fixtures and fittings off the wall, moving fridges and freezers, pressure washing the floor and removing the mud.  The lady had managed to get the cats and birds to safety but sadly the fish tanks overflowed and washed away, it was the saddest things seeing all the empty tanks. It was a huge job but thankfully there were many people helping out. This is what struck me the most – people are great and wanna help each other.I was taken back by people’s kindness and generosity, watching everyone come together to help each other out was great to see and be a part of. People were going around donating tools and new wellies to people who were helping in the clean up. Others were going round with cars full of food that they’d prepared and were handing it out. There was even a lady and her neighbour who had cooked a huge batch of curry and were dishing it up and giving it out to the volunteers, this was so incredible to see! (and it was really yummy!)3ECD669300000578-4367028-An_aerial_view_of_floodwaters_engulfing_central_Lismore_New_Sout-a-21_1490958114892.jpgBeing flooded near Lismore meant I couldn’t catch my flight to meet my best friend in Melbourne and meant that my flights and hostels would have to be cancelled and at first I was a bit bummed BUT after helping with the clean up I was happy that it had happened. I was happy to have seen Lismore, luckily I had lunch in the town one day so I got to see it before the flood took over. It was devastating to see the damage that had happened to this place but so heartwarming to see the community come together and lend a hand to get families and businesses back on their feet. I left Lismore 3 days ago and was sad to go, it’s hard knowing that it’ll be a long time before the town is back on its feet again but I know the community spirit will get them through and help the town rebuild. It’s funny how times like these really bring people together, it was an emotional week but one I wouldn’t change, I’m so glad I was there to meet the wonderful people of Lismore and lend a hand.