This journal was written as a physical diary by me during my gap year. I am typing this up to share my gap year experience. At the beginning of travels I was 22. I travelled with a friend (Kieren) and anybody else involved will be introduced during the journal. For more details, check here.

To spend a year in Australia, we got working holiday visas. These allow up to 1 year of travel and work in Australia. Find more information here.

Check out the previous instalment here.

21st March 2018

We did a food shop and although Aus is expensive, it is so much cheaper than NZ! Kieren and I wandered around the city, did a bit of shopping then went for a hot chocolate at the Guylian chocolate café in The Rocks.

The hostel was doing a free cheese and wine night so we had some wine and played some flip cup. Side Bar (the bar at the hostel) had a $1000 bar tab so we had a couple of free drinks there.

22nd March 2018

We were supposed to be doing a Blue Mountains trip but it was canclled because the weather was so bad. Tomorrow we’re leaving Sydney so we can’t repeat the trip either.

Instead, we went to Max Brenner Chocolate Café for a hot chocolate. We then walked to the Opera House. This evening, Kieren joined the open mic night at Harbour View Hotel, which is sort of under the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

(a) Hot chocolate at Max Brenner. (b)+(c) Sydney Opera House.

23rd March 2018

We got up early to check out and get on our Loka bus at 8am. It was a mini bus and only had 9 people – so nice and small. We’re travelling up the East Coast using Loka (now Stray Australia) because we got a great deal on the bus tickets. Most people use Greyhound, but we mainly chose Loka because there are some added activities in.

First stop was the Hunter Valley where we did some wine tasting at Hope Estate. This place is a vineyard but also puts on big concerts. In the past they’ve had Dolly Parton and Whitney Houston!

The next stop was Barrington Tops National Park. We checked into Twistops. There is a cute dog here called Oakie. We were supposed to be doing river tubing this afternoon but unfortunately the river is flooded. Instead we got to know everyone from our bus at the pool.

As the accommodation is part of a farm, we went to see the cows. There was one called Bambi who was the most beautiful cow ever. Oakie scared the cows and we almost got trampled by them then had to walk the long way back to avoid them. At least we got a nice walk in!

(a) Wine tasting at Hunter Valley. (b) Bambi the Cow, Barrington Tops National Park.

This evening, we all went in the hot tub, had a few drinks then played some drinking games. The stars were amazing!

24th March 2018

Got up early to get the bus at 8am. The bus headed to Port Macquarie, and we went to the koala hospital The koalas were cute and the hospital does great work. It was sad though because many were blind or only had one eye. Another only had one leg.

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital

The next stop was Emerald Beach, also known as Kangaroo Beach. There were so many kangaroos! I feel like the combination of kangaroos and the beach is classic Australian.

Emerald Beach

The bus then drove on to Arrawarra Beach, or Spot X, where Kieren and I have opted to do a 5-day surf-and-stay with Mojo Surf. This is the same company that we did a surf lesson with in Bali. It includes 5 nights stay, 5 morning surf lessons and all meals. It’s a really cool place – right on a huge and almost secluded beach!

We arrived at 5.30pm so no surfing today. We had dinner with some drinks then played some games (our team was terrible).

25th March 2018

Surf lesson No.1 was at 10am today. First, we went through quite a lot of theory.

4 steps to standing on a surf board:

  1. Hands (at ribcage)
  2. Back foot (up to knee)
  3. Front foot (to front)
  4. Twist

Then UP! And ‘shackers’.

(a) Page from the journal showing Spot X wristband and 4 steps to standing on a surfboard. (b) Learning to surf. (c) ‘Shackers’.

I managed to stand up a few times and stay up twice. Not the best but not too bad for the first session. Kieren and I spent the afternoon on the beach sunbathing. After dinner we walked along the beach then joined movie night (which wasn’t successful because none of the movies were playing properly).

Check out the next instalment here (available 9am GMT 3rd May).