Solo Travel in Australia Part III: Cairns, Whitsunday Islands & Melbourne
After having been to Brisbane and Sydney and loving these cities, I headed north to see some nature and visit the Great Barrier Reef. Afterwards, I went south to Melbourne before ending my trip. This is where I had a lot of bad luck, but on the other hand, everything turned out great as well.
I took a flight from Sydney to Cairns, which is the most popular spot for starting a snorkelling trip in the Great Barrier Reef. I was really excited and very prepared for the adventure. I had booked my tour, received the snorkelling equipment and had my GoPro ready. When the trip started I was definitely ready for it. My GoPro was the Session, so the model which does not need a case to go underwater so I went straight into the water with it. After a few minutes, I realized the camera got hot and started blinking, which was when I came to realize that the slot for the memory chip was not closed completely, or at least it did not click as much as it needed to when closing. So the camera was completely broken. All that happened during my first dive into the water and I got so angry, but afterwards, I tried to make the best out of it. Also, the crew of the boat was super helpful and tried all they can do but when it's broken, it's broken. I'm still pretty sad as the colours of the reef were incredible. I know that it has suffered a lot due to climate change and human mass tourism, but parts of it are recovering and there are now regulations on where tourist groups are allowed to go and where it's forbidden and if this is what the reef looks like when in a bad condition I truly can't imagine it under good conditions.
After returning to Cairns, I had to make a decision. I knew I was going to the Whitsunday Islands next and I knew I was going to go snorkelling there as well. The Whitsundays are at the edge of the Great Barrier Reef and after I found out the prices were the same as in Europe, I decided to buy a new GoPro right away. Also, the salesman was very nice after I explained my case and he gave me a memory card for free, as he said the salty water could have damaged it as well. The next morning I flew from Cairns to Hamilton Island, which is part of the Whitsundays. From there I took a boat to Airlie Beach, which is not only the starting point for most tours through the Whitsundays but also the cheapest place to stay there.
I then enjoyed the rest of the day in Airlie Beach at the Lagoon and got a very heavy sunburn. The next day was my time for a cruise through the Whitsundays. Most people decide to sail there for a few days, but as I am not the biggest fan of boats I decided that a day tour would be enough. After a while, we arrived at Whitehaven Beach, where nowadays there is a daily limit of how many tourists are allowed to visit this place. I can't even describe how crystal clear this water was and after a short climb I got to a viewpoint from where you have that iconic view of the bay and all the colours the currents have given it. Then, I finally went snorkelling again and while the reef was not particularly beautiful – well it is, but if you have seen the reef in Cairns it's nothing – I met a sea turtle. These animals are so majestic and calm, I did not want to disturb it, so I kept a few metres of distance. This was definitely a highlight of this whole trip!
Afterwards, I decided to stay in the shadow as my sunburn was killing me, and so I was very happy that the next day I would leave the beaches behind and head to Melbourne. I only had one and a half days in Melbourne, so I did not see very much of it, but I still liked it. Maybe because it was a bit colder and so I had to wear clothes that covered my sunburn very well.
One of the best places I saw in Melbourne was surely the famous Hosier Lane, where you can find all the graffiti. They were incredibly beautiful and colourful as well. After being there, I took a walk along the Yarra River, which floats through the city before sleeping like a baby after all the exhausting tours of the weeks before. The other place to be I visited was St. Kilda. It's located in the outskirts of the city and is much quieter and relaxed than the city centre. The harbour was very pretty, but I had to cut my day short after receiving a message from my airline that most of the way to the airport were blocked.
As Melbourne was my final stop before heading home, I had to catch a flight from Melbourne to Sydney before then taking a 14-hour flight. I got very nervous and decided to start my journey to the airport right away. Luckily, the transfer worked pretty well, but when I arrived at the airport I realized why there was such a chaos. A little charter flight had started from Melbourne Airport and was on its way to Tasmania when it crashed into a shopping centre (which luckily was still closed at the time). The planes I took were all considerably big and I was aware of the fact that the smaller the plane the riskier it is, but still, being on the airport and looking at big screens where you can see a plane wreck that crashed into a building definitely gave me an anxious feeling.
Luckily, everything went well with my flight and I returned safe and sound to Sydney, and from there back home to Europe. I enjoyed Australia very much and I hope you enjoyed this little series. I think Australia is the perfect place to travel alone, as I never felt lonely and there are so many solo travellers, so you will easily make new friends.