Ilha Grande – Brazil

Hello!

From Paraty, we caught the local bus for only $BR14 each (£3.50) two hours along the coast to Angra dos Reis. This is the port town where you can catch either a ferry, catamaran, tourist boat or private boat to Ilha Grande (big island). Ilha Grande has world famous beaches, jungle hiking trails and an abundance of wildlife. We got the tourist boat that leaves at 2.30pm from Caxa do Prau, for $BR25 (£6pp). If we hadn’t known the name of where to catch it, we would have been clueless as there are no signs, we just had to ask around. The tourist boat looked like a pirate ship and it mainly carried supplies to the island. Ilha Grande has only one main area of civilisation, Abraao, with the port, restaurants & accommodations. The entire island doesn’t have any motorised vehicles either so you see lots of people pushing carts on wheels with the cargo from the boats.

It was raining on our first day (again we seemed to be chasing bad weather) but we still wanted to make the most of it so we did a trail heading West of the town. It was very slippery and quite a steep incline so though it was only about a 12km walk, we probably spent about 3 and a half hours walking. Oh and even though it was cloudy and occasionally raining, we were both still dripping in sweat because walking through the jungle parts were so humid! On our trail, we first saw the Lazaretto Ruins, basically an abandoned farm house that was used to quarantine people with leprecy. Next on the walk was the aqueduct; apparently built with stones and whale’s oil in 1893 with the dam above it still supplying water to Abraao today. The main attraction for the walk is the waterfall, Cachoeira da Feiticeira. Though pleasant, and a nice place to stop to eat biscuits, it was nothing spectacular. On the way back, we met two Spanish girls who were struggling and asked what the waterfall was like. We showed them a photo and one of them instantly said, “right, we’re turning back” haha. We decided to carry on a bit further for our final stop Praia da Feiticeira, a very small beach with one vendor on it (bringing supplies by boat everyday). We bought a delicious pot of acai with granola; sort of like a berry ice cream though acai is meant to be a super food with less sugar than other fruits.  It’s really common in Brazil, especially on the island, making it the perfect boost to get you to walk all the way back to the Abraao town.

The next day, we set off fairly early again for another jungle hike headed East of Abraao to one of the world’s top beaches; Lopes Mendez. It’s about 8km up and down through the jungle. Unfortunately, we never even made it to the beach because I fell over and smacked my knee on a rock which swelled instantly and thus I couldn’t walk properly. It took us a whole hour to walk 1km with my limping which got us to the middle beach, about half way to Lopes Mendez. From there we were able to get a taxi boat back to the main town for $BR25 each. The highlight of the jungle walk however was finally catching sight of 2 Howler monkeys! We’d heard them the day before but still not seen them. The sound they make is absolutely insane, it sounds like an army of beating drums. This brief encounter was our only proper wildlife sighting on Ilha Grande which we were a little sad about. However it is rainy season and we don’t think we ventured far enough off the common jungle hikes to give ourselves the best chance of sightings. Apparently you can sometimes spot an armadillo on the island. We said perhaps one day we will return to Ilha Grande with a tent and camp as we walk round the entire island. It’s unfortunate that the hikes on Ilha Grande aren’t loops but rather you have to walk back on yourself to get back to the town where all the accommodation is, a tent however, would be a different experience.

Our final day on Ilha Grande took us only to the town’s closest beach, given my knee from the day before, Praia Preta. We had a nice day reading books in the sunshine though we had to constantly edge backwards given the tide was trying to devour the beach whole! In the evening, we went for dinner for a second time to Las Sorrentinas. A really reasonably priced, fresh pasta place which was up there with literally our best meals of all time!

We got an all inclusive transfer from Ilha Grande to Rio, our next destination for BR$95pp (£22). The company we booked with was right next to the pier and a boat picked us up from the port and then a van met us at Mangaratiba and we drove to Rio where they dropped us off at the door of the hotel in Rio!

Join us next time for our time in the capital!

Sophie & Dave

Ep.18 – South Island, New Zealand Pt.2

Hello!

This is our video from the rest of our time exploring the South Island of New Zealand. We admired beautiful Lake Tekapo, hiked to the Tasman Glacier in Mount Cook national park, climbed up to see spectacular views over Wanaka, went luging at Queenstown’s Skyline & saw the iconic boulders of Moeraki!

Thanks for watching (don’t forget to set it to 1080p)!

Sophie & Dave

 

Lake Tekapo, Mount Cook, Wanaka & Queenstown – New Zealand

Hello!

We continued our road trip in the South Island heading first to Lake Tekapo, a 3 hour drive from Christchurch. One of the main things to do in Lake Tekapo is stargazing. Unfortunately however, the weather was incredibly overcast; and given you could hardly see the moon, we decided against forking out for the very expensive tour. We settled for a short walk around the lake towards the town itself and warmed up in the cafes. We did have a crazy small-world-moment when we looked up in the kitchen of our hostel to see a guy that we had shared a dorm with in Agra, India 5 months ago!

Our next destination was Mount Cook national park which was a short 1 hour, scenic drive along Lake Pukaki. Mount Cook is well renowned for it’s unpredictable weather, and it certainly held true for us as it chucked it down the day we arrived. Given the weather, and the fact I had the flu, we decided to have a lazy day and managed to find The Hobbit on DVD. All hostels in New Zealand seem to have at least one of the Lord of the Rings or Hobbit films – no complaints! The following day the weather had cleared up and it was really sunny so we decided to attempt the Tasman glacier lake walk. Mount Cook national park is without a doubt, one of the most picturesque landscapes we’ve seen so far. The walk was a short, but steep, half hour ascent to the viewpoint overlooking the Tasman glacier lake. The blue glacial lake was partially frozen over and there were huge shards of ice cracked on the surface. You could also see the actual Tasman glacier at the other end of the lake. Unfortunately, due to cloudy conditions we still hadn’t seen Mount Cook. After lunch we decided to attempt the Hooker Valley walk and take advantage of the good weather. This was a longer, 10km return walk and shortly after setting off, the weather took a turn for the worse with high winds, rain and foggy conditions. After much deliberation we decided to turn back and perhaps attempt it the following morning.

The following day, sadly the weather conditions hadn’t dramatically improved, so we opted for the shorter Kea Point track where we hoped to get our first sighting of Mount Cook. This walk gently winds through subalpine grasslands until you reach the viewpoint overlooking the stunning Mueller Glacier lake and Mount Cook. We only have running shoes rather than hiking boots and there was a fair bit of snow and ice on the track so it we took it very slowly. Thankfully, the cloud had finally cleared when we got to the viewpoint and we were able to see Mount Cook, the tallest mountain in the park at 3,724 metres.

After lunch we set off 2.5 hours south for Wanaka, a small picturesque town situated next to the stunning Lake Wanaka popular with hikers. We decided to spend a cloudy morning at Puzzling World. It’s full of optical illusions and things to trick your mind, they even have an outdoor maze where we had fun competing against each other to find the 4 corner towers. There are two mountain ranges overlooking Wanaka and we decided to attempt the smaller of the two, Mount Iron. As we began to walk up, a dense fog began descending over the mountain but we were determined to head for the top and hope by then it had lifted. Unfortunately, it appeared the opposite happened and you could probably only see a short distance ahead, maybe 10 metres at best. Luckily, by the time we’d had a little sit down and break, the fog had partially disappeared and we got to see what all the hype was about, the view over Lake Wanaka with the snowy mountain tops surrounding it, was beautiful.

Dave was really set on attempting Roy’s Peak, a much longer and steeper 16km hike which is suppose to take between 6-7 hours. I was still poorly with the flu and thought it would be too much for me so Dave went on his own. He said the views at the top were stunning and provided a different angle to Mount Iron, overlooking Lake Hawea and the national park beyond and he would highly recommend this hike for anyone visiting, but make sure it is a clear day because its a long one!

From Lake Wanaka, we headed further south to the neighbouring town, Queenstown. Queenstown is the number one location in NZ to attempt adrenaline seeking activities like bungee jumping, para-gliding etc. As we had already blown our budget for New Zealand, and didn’t want to tempt fate before South America, we compromised on heading up to the Skyline and having a go at Luging. At the top of the Gondola you had amazing views across the valley and overlooking Lake Wakatipu. We opted for 5 luge rides as there wasn’t much difference in price between the packages. You have to go on the ‘scenic’ track first while you master the art of luging before they let you loose on the main track, so we were glad we had 5 goes. You also get a chairlift back up to the top of the track, so it was double the fun. We had a couple of near misses of hitting the barriers but overall, I beat Dave around the track and somehow managed to get some awesome GoPro footage despite only having it loosely resting in the inside of my jacket pocket. It was something very different to our usual travel exploits but great fun!

Our next stop was Dunedin, probably one of the larger towns we visited in New Zealand. Dunedin’s claim to fame is that it is home to the steepest residential road in the world. The first day we arrived, Dave finally plucked up the courage to get his haircut after 4 months of growth (which if you know Dave at all, is a very long time!). We also went to the arts museum, although the work on display wasn’t to either of our tastes so it was a rather brief visit. We were there over the weekend and decided to venture down to the local farmers market which is hosted every Saturday.

We then began making our way back along the coastline to Christchurch, where we were due to catch a flight back to Auckland before heading onwards for South America. We had a fleeting visit to Moeraki, a small fisherman village, famous for its unusually large, spherical boulders lying along the beach (see photo below). A couple we met in Fiji had also highly recommended a local seafood restaurant called Fleur’s Place, so we decided to stop there for lunch. We tried potted eels for starters and a trio of fish and mussels for main and it certainly didn’t disappoint. It was definitely one of the best meals we’ve had since we left, so be sure to visit if you are passing through!

Our final destination before Christchurch was Oamaru, a seaside town which is home to two species of Penguins. In order to see the Blue penguin’s, the smallest species of Penguins in the world, you have to pay a hefty admission fee of $30 or $45 for premium seats. We decided to head over the headland to Bushy beach where, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch sight of the endangered yellow eyed penguin for free. We were told they are incredibly weary of other mammals and won’t come onto the beach if they catch sight of you. As a result, the local council has constructed viewing huts high up on the cliff line and visiting the beach is prohibited after 3pm. After a short wait, one came waddling up the beach but it was so far away you were unable to see it with your naked eye. Thankfully, we managed to see him through the zoom of our video camera. By this point, the high winds and freezing temperature had got the better of us and we decided to call it a night, happy with the fact we had seen just one!

We had an evening flight before heading back to Auckland and were so impressed with Bacon Brothers, a restaurant in Christchurch, we decided to head back for round 2 (don’t judge). As we had already visited Auckland, we opted to stay close to the airport and rest ahead of our 11 hour flight to Santiago, Chile.

Catch us next time where we begin our South American adventure.

Thanks for reading,

Sophie and Dave

Blue Mountains – Australia

Hello!

We checked out early from our hostel in Sydney central, went to the station and headed for the Blue Mountains. There’s only one train an hour and by fluke we arrived in perfect time, 3 minutes before departure, winning! I’m still amazed how ridiculously easy and convenient it is to get right in to the heart of the blue mountains, in 2 hours, on a direct train from Sydney central!  We arrived in Katoomba, the main mountain town and were quite surprised by how big it was. There were quite a few coffee shops, 3 of the main big supermarkets and awesome street art. We weren’t able to check in till 1 so we just did a quick food shop and cooked lunch at the hostel, chilling in the lounge until we could put our stuff safely in the dorm. The hostel was honestly amazing, one of our favourites of all time I think. It was Blue Mountains YHA if you’re wondering, it was so relaxed and had a huge communal area with cosy sofas and real log fires which was so nice and homey in the cold mountain environment.

We went out in the afternoon for our first exploration of the Blue Mountains (apparently named because of the way we see them on the light spectrum, making them appear blue in the distance). We started by walking to Echo Point, the main viewing platform to get a good look at the area and specifically the Three Sisters (3 iconic rock structures). Legend has it that the three stones are actually 3 beautiful women who were turned to stone by the aboriginal village elder because they wanted to marry outside their tribe. Anyway, I digress, the view was absolutely spectacular. I mean really, put the Blue Mountains on your bucket list. It was already well into the afternoon so we didn’t want to risk getting caught in the dark on a hike so we just did a gentle one called the Prince Henry Cliff walk. This one goes from Echo point along the top of the cliffs towards a cable car that you can get up and down the valley. All along this path, you get to see the valley lined with what looks like a billion trees and the surrounding mountain landscape, one of the most scenic walks we’ve ever done.

The next day we got up and made a packed lunch for what would be the most intense hike either of us had ever done! Intense because it was marked as a “hard” level hike, there were a lot of parts where it was just a cliff drop edge, the walk was sandwiched by two waterfalls and though we only walked about 10 miles, it took us about 5 hours with all the ups and downs (and photo stops). We got the train down 2 stops to Wentworth falls where we started. We actually technically did two separate trails, the first was called the Charles Darwin walk (named because he visited in 1836). It was a beautiful walk following a stream that ran through a forest with little waterfalls dotted along the way. We also got to see some amazing wild Yellow-tailed black cockatoos. We could hear them squabbling well before we could spot any but we saw quite a few swooping over a steep hill covered in shrub land. Unfortunately, they were too far away for a good photo but they were beautiful! We came out of the forest at the picnic area for Wentworth falls. We followed the trail and came to the top of this huge 100 metre cascade. There’s a ridiculously steep stone staircase carved in to the side of the cliff to take you down to the bottom. Each stair was absolutely huge and both of our knees were so painful going down. Mine felt like they were going to pop or something! About 40% of the way down, I had a little panic and debated turning back because though the views of the valley and the mountains were spectacular, the steps were really terrifying! I mean there’s a flimsy railing and then you’re over a cliff. In the end, we persevered and got to the bottom. Wentworth falls looked a hundred times more impressive from the bottom up, rather than the top down. It was a spectacular site made even more impressive by the fact we could see the staircase we’d just come down on the side of the cliff.

We then began the proper hiking trail called the Scenic pass, established in 1908. This is basically a pathway cut out in the middle of the cliff for miles, you look down and you’re still hanging over a massive cliff, you look up and there are towering cliffs above and all around you. It was very surreal and a mountainous landscape neither of us had come close to seeing before. The trail itself varied quite a lot. Sometimes it was flat with railings, other times it was steep without any barriers, or we were ducking under rock paths and other times it was jumping across stepping stones under a waterfall! The entire walk was indisputably one of the most amazing things either of us had ever seen/done. We ended our walk at the Empress falls, another incredible site, but this time we had to walk up to get back to the top of the cliffs (less fun). I was absolutely shattered by the end of it and we still had to walk a few kilometres to the train station to get back. Overall, an amazing day that we will certainly remember forever! This is the route we did that day:

Scenic Pass Route

Sadly, we had to leave the Blue Mountains the next day but we decided to get up at 6am and walk to Echo Point again to watch the sunrise. It was bloody freezing and I ended up using my travel towel as a make shift scarf. When we got there, though it was still beautiful with a pale pink sky, we realised the sun probably wouldn’t rise directly over that specific view. So instead, we decided to squeeze in one more little trail called the Three Sisters walk that we hadn’t had the chance to do yet. You can actually walk onto one of the Three Sisters rocks I mentioned earlier. There were better sunrise viewing points along the way as the pathway curved us more towards the East, we could see all the trees starting to turn to life as the shade edged further away and the sunlight covered the valley. By the time we climbed down the staircase and crossed what’s called ‘The honeymoon bridge’ we were standing on one of the three sisters and we saw the sun just peek over the mountains. We sat down to watch and a little bird came and sat on my foot which completed the morning! So glad we did this at sunrise as we were the only ones on the rock and the walk at all really, I think it’s usually quite a squeeze with tourists. Not a bad accomplishment before breakfast!

Thanks for reading, join us next time for our last stop in Australia; Melbourne!

Sophie & Dave

Ep.12 – North Queensland

Hello!

The start of our Australian adventure! We had such an amazing time in Cairns and Magnetic Island, we hope you enjoy all the amazing wildlife as much as we did! I know our clips in Cairns are quite shaky, especially when we were on the river boat watching the wild crocs, but it levels out a bit once you get to Magnetic island!

Thanks for watching and don’t forget to watch in 1080p!

Sophie & Dave

East coast – Australia

Hello!

This post is going to have a little bit from quite a few of the places we’ve visited down the east coast; Airlee beach, Hervey bay, Rainbow beach, Noosa, Brisbane and Byron bay as we only stayed a couple of days in each.

We caught the return ferry from Magnetic Island back to Townsville on the mainland. We had a few hours to kill so we just had a coffee by the beach doing a bit of bird watching. I downloaded an Australian bird watching guide on my phone and I’ve been loving taking photos of all these birds and looking them up (don’t judge me). We hopped on the bus 3 and a half hours south to Airlee Beach. Airlee beach is the connecting town to go to the Whitsundays. Unfortunately, the weather was really shite, raining and windy, so we decided not to go. It’s really expensive even for a day tour, you’re looking at 200AUD, more if you stay over night. It just means we’ll have to come back to Australia in the summer time one day to do the tour. We were sat outside having breakfast at the hostel when 4 wild sulphur-crested cockatoos (bloody love the bird guide) joined us! They were amazing and I spent ages photographing them whilst they just chilled on the railings. Instead of the Whitsundays, we had a nice day pottering around Airlee beach and had a picnic lunch. We treated ourselves to fish and chips in the evening and watched the sun set as we were sat by the beach. Perhaps one of the most beautiful sunsets we’ve seen on our travels so far! We then had an over night bus to Hervey Bay, our first Aussie long distance bus, around 14 hours. It wasn’t too bad but you definitely have broken sleep on these Grey Hound buses because they stop off in a lot of different places and the drivers can only do 4 hours stints before having to take breaks.

But we made it to Hervey Bay! It’s quite a small town and we actually really enjoyed having a couple of chill out days swinging in hammocks and relaxing. Hervey Bay is popular for whale watching but unfortunately it wasn’t quite the season yet, we are hoping to go whale watching when we’re in New Zealand in July. It’s also a connecting town to the nearby Fraser Island (the largest sand island in the world). Again, the weather really wasn’t going to do it justice. Most tours revolve around outdoor activities on the island but with the winter rain, we decided to save our money. We also met a girl who was having the same debate as us and she went for a day tour and said it really wasn’t worth it given the weather. A lot of the tour companies also attract a very young crowd (18s) and because we’re OAPs, this didn’t really appeal to us too much. We heard stories from other youngsters who’d been saying they were just constantly drinking and then driving big 4 wheel drives through the sand, still drunk. Quite glad we didn’t do that to be honest. Instead, Dave went for a run along the beach and we went out to the shops for a bit, pretty uneventful other than a beautiful rainbow over the town!

Back on the bus, our next stop was Rainbow beach. Despite the crap weather, we preserved with the walk to the natural phenomenon of the Carlo Sand Blow taking shelter from the rain under trees as we went. When we finally got to the dunes, we were so lucky the weather finally cleared for a small window and we got to see an actual rainbow over Rainbow beach! I’m sure there are people/photographers who wait ages to try and see that and we saw it by fluke! We saw even more cockatoos lined on telephone wires around the area which I loved, more photos obviously. We’ve been doing quite well at avoiding party hostels but the Dingo hostel we stayed in was definitely the rowdiest and we felt very old! Fortunately though we were in a 6 bed dorm and we were the only 2! Instead of cooking in and having to socialise with drunk teens, we went out for a nice steak dinner.

Our next stop down the east coast was Noosa which turned out to be one of our favourite places. Noosa is infamous for its National park. On the first day, we decided to do a trail through the forest to the Laguna look out point. It was mostly a fairly steep uphill climb and in parts we were climbing over fallen trees. Thankfully with the app Maps.me we didn’t get lost and made it safely to the lookout point over the town. We didn’t see much wildlife at all in the National park other than an absolutely massive cockroach that looked like a beetle (see photo below) but it was still a beautiful walk in the dense forest. We went to the Eumundi markets on the outskirts of Noosa that are open bi-weekly. It’s about 22km and when we got on the bus, the driver very kindly waved us away and let us go without paying. Either he couldn’t be bothered to handle the change or was just feeling very generous, but that’s the second lovely Australian bus driver we’ve had! It would have cost us $11AUD too! The Eumundi markets were absolutely massive with all hand-crafted goods and food galore! We went a bit nuts when we saw all the food and got massive chicken and falafel wraps (best wrap I’ve ever had), passion fruit ice shakes and salted caramel fudge. Guilty. We both agreed it was definitely the best markets we’d ever been to. Probably the first time I really wished I could have bought some little bits and bobs, there was a stall selling antique maps which were fascinating, but sadly, the backpacks can’t take any more.

We had a really lovely sunny afternoon in Noosa so we decided to go to Sunshine beach. We did go with the intention of swimming but after dipping our feet in the water, we totally bailed. The beach was lovely and especially good in my books because of the hundreds of dogs out on their walks! We got to have a cuddle with two huge slobbery boxers who were more interested in being pet by strangers than fetching their ball. Leaving the beach however, was an absolute disaster. We cockily didn’t bring a map or GPS because how could we possibly get lost on the 10 minute walk back to the hostel?! Well, we decided to try to “cut” straight up because we were at the opposite end of the stretch of beach. We ended up doing a ridiculous 40 minute detour, predominantly uphill and on very residential roads. We had absolutely no idea where we were and then came out to a clearing leading to what we thought was a distant beach. Turns out, it was the same bloody beach we’d just left but we came out 200m further down. To combat our stupidity, we cooked ourselves lovely steaks in the hostel and just went out to the cinema in the evening.

Our next bus journey took us to Brisbane. This was our first “big city” of Australia and to be honest it was a bit disappointing and didn’t really feel like there was anything there. We still made the most out of it though and walked around Roma street Parkland which had a nice little pond where we saw lots of Ibis (bird guide). Our hostel was a converted town house in a really residential area so there was a very strict no alcohol, no noise policy which suited us just fine. We cooked dinner in and sat out on the hostel’s balcony with a lovely view of the valley. Probably the nicest view we saw in Brisbane! The next day we took a stroll across the bridge over the river and headed for the Gallery of Modern Arts (GOMA). The best exhibition in my opinion was artwork from Australian high school students, a total mix of incredible, moving work! The neighbouring building was the State Library and we stopped there because we saw a sign for a free Digital futures exhibition. It was actually quite interesting with a timeline of predictions of technological developments like when humans can visit outer space as a holiday etc. We also both tried virtual reality headsets for the first time which was so awesome and quite trippy the first time you try them!

The next day we headed to Byron Bay. Again, the weather was rubbish; quite windy and it frequently pissed it down. Perhaps stupidly we decided to preserve with the famous lighthouse walk in the hope of spotting either a whale or some bottlenose dolphins. Even as we set off, it rained so hard that we had to take refuge in a cafe. It turned out to have amazing local coffee called Natts and we ended up coming back again the next day. The first part of the walk was along Byron beach, I think it was the widest stretch of beach either of us had ever seen, though there weren’t any swimmers, there were loads of surfers in wet suits. Towards the end of the beach stretch, we got to see a few pods of dolphins! They were quite far out but still so awesome to see them on just a normal walk as opposed to a guided boat tour like we did in Bali. After that, we joined the path which hugs the coastline to the most easterly point of Australia! The Lighthouse wasn’t too much further at the top of the hill. Apparently it is the brightest light in Australia and can be seen by boats as far as 27 nautical miles (50km!). The view over Byron bay and along the other side of the headland was stunning and luckily the sun managed to break through the clouds temporarily to allow for a good photo at the top. By the time we came back down, the light was beginning to fade and it dropped very cold to wooly hat weather! On the plus side, we were lucky enough to see literally thousands of fruit bats leaving for their evening feed at dusk!

Join us next time in Sydney & the Blue Mountains, thanks for reading!

Sophie & Dave

Magnetic Island – Australia

Hello!

We left Cairns on our first Grey Hound Bus of the East Coast, a perfectly comfortable coach with a toilet and dodgy wifi on board. We headed 6 hours south to Townsville. By the time we arrived, it was quite late so we just checked in to our dorm and had an early night. Townsville was just our stop over town before we caught the ferry to Magnetic Island.

It’s a beautiful, scenic, 20 minute boat ride to get to the island at $33 return. You can get a hop on, hop off bus around the island for $7 a day which is quite reasonable too. We jumped on the bus and dropped our bags off at our accommodation C-stay. We chose this one because it was the same price as getting 2 beds in a dorm but instead we got a private room. It’s in Picnic bay which is one of the quieter areas of the island with practically no night life (perfect for us OAPs). We headed out to explore the island and for a day that would turn out to be one of my favourite days of my life! We had a potter around the beach at Picnic Bay before hopping on the bus to an area called Arcadia where we had a nice lunch in the sunshine. Then the wildlife spotting began; starting with the neighbouring Geoffrey Bay which is infamous for its wild rock wallabies. We brought some carrot sticks to feed them but we weren’t sure if we would see any as they are nocturnal. We were thrilled when we saw about 15! They sort of look like mini kangaroos and most of them were half asleep with eyes lulling closed. Even though they are wild, they are fairly tame because they are so accustomed to humans coming to visit them.

We then got the bus further up to the start of our afternoon hike. As we were waiting for the bus, we saw beautiful rainbow lorikeets in the trees which was a nice surprise as we didn’t know they were on the island. The afternoon hike we did is called The Forts Walk where you go up to see the lookout towers used in World War 2. What’s special about this walk however, is that you can sometimes see wild koalas in the eucalyptus and gum trees! It’s interesting to think how I’ve changed as I get older, when I was younger, my dream was to hold a koala, but now my dream is to see a koala in the wild. We tried not to get our hopes up as again, koalas are nocturnal and are only active at night, we’d been warned that they are quite hard to spot though other trekkers sometimes lay stones and branches when they see a koala in a tree. Anyway, we started our ascent and it wasn’t long before we saw our first little koala asleep in the tree. It was absolutely amazing! I’ve never seen an animal that resembles a cuddly toy version of itself so much, it’s fur and ear fluff doesn’t look real! We went on to see about 5 more along the trail. We also saw an echidna which is Australia’s mini anteater/porcupine-type creature. It sort of looked like a wobbling pinecone but managed to see his little face with a pointy nose. The lookout towers were really impressive too, we timed it to perfection and got to the top of the Forts circuit just as the sun was setting so we had a spectacular view of the bay and all the surrounding trees dipped in golden sunlight. We were a little bit on edge climbing up the last stone steps of the forts because there were signs saying that Death Adders (one of the most deadly snakes in Australia) are present in the area and can sometimes be seen lingering on the steps. We definitely heard one or two but didn’t see any, nor get bitten, so that was good. We did however see another little rock wallaby. We saw the koalas on the way back down again, this time it was dusk and some of them were awake and slowly munching on eucalyptus leaves. Once we got back down to the bus stop, the sun had nearly completely set so it was quite dark except for this incredibly vibrant full moon. It looked like a super moon, definitely the largest I’ve ever seen it! It was quite cool to turn one way to see the last of the fiery orange sun and then turn 180 degrees to see the white glow of the moon. The only bad thing about the most amazing wildlife afternoon walk was that we got bitten alive by evil mosquitos, but it was such a good day, I’ll let the bites slide.

We stopped off at Nelly’s bay which has the main super market and got supplies for the next few days. Though we’d only booked one night, pretty much as soon as we arrived, we knew we’d want to stay at least another. The buses only run every hour so we had a little bit of a wait and it had dropped really cold. When we finally got on the bus, we were the last ones on by the end and the bus driver asked us where we were staying and he very kindly dropped us off right outside our accommodation! Imagine that happening in England! We had a nice spaghetti bologanese that we cooked in the hostel’s shiny, amazingly well-equipped kitchen. To end the day with even more animals, we saw a wild possum on the stair case. I know they’re considered pests in Australia but it was so cute and really inquisitive coming right up to us. Best day ever!

The next day, we decided to do the 4 bays walk (technically 5 bays). This walk was around 8km of either steep descent or ascent, barely ever flat, though fortunately more downhill than up. We’d been told that you’d be lucky to spot a koala as this path allowed motorised vehicles whereas the Forts walk didn’t. We were thrilled to see not one, but two koalas and one of them was so low down in the eucalyptus tree, he was basically at eye level! I took my best wild koala photographs of that one (see below)! We also saw another wild echidna shuffling around the leaves.

The bays we visited were: Arthur bay, Florence bay, Radical bay, Balding bay and Horseshoe bay. We had a lovely day pottering between them, chilling on the beaches and having a picnic lunch. We didn’t bring our swim stuff because we thought it’d be too cold without a wetsuit and I wanted to bring my big camera in case we saw more koalas (so glad I did). Each bay was as picturesque as the other with gentle waves lapping the curves. Florence bay’s tide was extremely low and had formed beautiful branch-like tracks in the sand where the last of the water prevailed. On our final stop at Horseshoe bay which is the biggest with the most anchored boats, we saw the rainbow lorikeets again, some were mating!

We caught the bus back to the hotel where we ate in again but on the walk back, I was so excited to see a Kookaburra! Sadly I didn’t get the perfect photo (see below) but hopefully we’ll see others as we continue around Australia!

Thanks for reading!

Sophie & Dave