One of my favourite places I stayed on my backpacking trip Down Under was a quirky hostel in Australia called Alice’s Secret Travellers Inn. Run by a friendly man named Seb, Alice’s Secret is a small, quiet and relaxed hostel – just a 10 minute stroll to the town centre.
The hostel has a mixture of dorm rooms, basic rooms for those travelling in pairs or groups and then two unique rooms – The Alpine Hut and The Betty Boop Bus. Of course we stayed in the quirky rooms!
We stayed at the hostel for 4 nights in total – one night in the Alpine Hut and 3 nights in the Betty Boop Bus. The Betty Bus was my favourite – a renovated American style bus with Betty Boop bedding, air conditioning, a small fridge, funky LED lights and the scrawls of previous guests all over the ceiling and walls. The seats and steering wheel were still in there too!
The Alpine Hut was more of a shed themed like a Swiss ski chalet. It was fun and had a cute little terrace area but I was glad we spent most of our nights in the bus.
This quirky hostel in Australia has shared bathrooms, a kitchen, laundry facilities, a reading den, a tv lounge, bike hire, bbq area, wi-fi and best of all, a swimming pool – perfect for cooling off in the hot Alice Springs sunshine. We didn’t use all of the facilities but I sure enjoyed a dip in the pool and lazing in the garden hammocks!
The charming things about this hostel are its relaxed atmosphere and that the other travellers were so friendly, the two cats that live here, the short walk into town and the funny little decorative touches dotted about the place. I was also a little surprised and unnerved about the spider they had in a tank in the reception!
If you’re looking for a place to party, then go elsewhere. The only drunk here is the octopus that wants to fight!
If you liked this, then you’ll probably like the time I stayed in a jail in New Zealand. What’s the quirkiest place you’ve stayed at? Leave me a comment below 🙂
In celebration of it being Australia Day in Oz right now (26th January… well they are ahead of the rest of the world!), and because I have a massive travel crush on The Land Down Under, I have decided to dedicate this post to 26 things I love about Australia!
1. My Aussie Family
Of course number 1 has to be my rellies. I’m often told by my UK-based family how much like my Aussie Aunt I am. And my cousin and her family were awesome to let us stay with them when we visited Melbourne. How could they not be number one!
2. Kangaroos and Wallabies
True Aussie icons. I absolutely adored visiting Brolga’s Kangaroo Sanctuary after being an avid viewer of the show Kangaroo Dundee. We got to meet Brolga himself and cuddled a little joey! I also loved feeding the wallabies at the Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas – they were too cute!
How could I not include another icon on this list – the koala! They are so flippin’ cute! I was lucky enough to cuddle one first time round in Port Douglas. But I also enjoyed seeing them on Phillip Island and at Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo.
4. Tim Tams
The first time I tried a Tim Tam I dismissed it as a glorified McVitie’s Penguin biscuit (soz Australia but you know Tim Tams were based on Penguins right?). But then I discovered all the different flavours beyond just milk chocolate and I was hooked… peanut butter, dark chocolate raspberry, salted caramel – I could go on.
5. Thorny Devils
Thorny Devils are freaking cool! I think lizards are pretty cool anyway but the thorny devil is the most awesome of the bunch – they’re covered in spines and are able to drink through their skin! I got to see them when I was in Alice Springs.
6. Rottnest Island and the Quokkas
Google ‘the happiest animal in the world’ and you are sure to find pictures of quokkas – adorable smiley little mammals that can be found in the wild in just a couple of places in the world, one of which is Rottnest Island. Rotto (as it’s known by the locals) is a picture postcard island of white sand, turquoise sea and most importantly, no cars. The best way to get around is to cycle!
7. The Daintree Rainforest and the Cassowaries
And similarly if you google ‘worlds most dangerous bird’, the top answer will be the cassowary. I didn’t realise how significant this was at the time but we actually got within a few metres of a wild cassowary in the Daintree Rainforest!
I am British. We talk about the weather. And yes I know Australia isn’t always hot and sunny but when you’re writing this on a cold and rainy January night in England remembering that just 3 months ago you were basking in the warm and fuzzy glow of the Australian sunshine, then it would be rude not to mention it.
When people ask what soaps I watch and I say “Neighbours”, their usual response is something like “Oh I haven’t watched that since I was at school! Are Karl and Susan still in it?”. Well, yes. Yes they are. And I got to meet the legend that is Karl Kennedy aka Alan Fletcher at Neighbours Night in St Kilda. AND I did the Neighbours Tour stopping by Ramsay Street and it was awesome!
Sydney is the city with it all – business, shopping, harbours, beaches, parks – and the most iconic of all Australian landmarks, the Sydney Opera House! I would love to spend New Year there one day…
11. The Blue Mountains
Located around a 2 hour train journey from Sydney are the spectacular Blue Mountains. They are called the Blue Mountains because of the eucalyptus trees that populate the area that disperse oil droplets into the atmosphere which together with water vapour and dust particles scatter rays of light which are a hue of blue.
12. Laid-back Attitude
It’s true what they say, those Aussies are a pretty laid-back bunch with the whole “no worries” attitude. I absolutely love how informal everything is too and it’s not just the spoken word that gets abbreviated. For example, seeing the word ‘rego’ instead of ‘registration’ on something formal – that would never happen anywhere else! And not forgetting their liberal use of the word ‘bloody’. I bloody love it!
13. Aboriginal Culture
When I visited the Northern Territory I got see the magnificent Uluru and learn a little about Australia’s indigenous culture, their art, their way of life and spirituality. Did you know that boomerangs were traditionally used for hunting?
14. The Great Barrier Reef
When you are travelling, you always remember those ‘wow’ moments, and snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef truly was one of those moments. My anxiety about the big deep ocean was soon forgotten at my first site of a fish.
15. Port Douglas
A pretty little town in Queensland with a stunning four mile beach and the atmosphere like you’re in a movie set based in some tropical paradise. I’ve often joked about packing up and moving to Port Douglas to become a beach hippy.
16. Fairy Penguins
Aka Little Penguins. One of the best places to see these wild penguins is at the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island where you can watch the little guys come ashore to their burrows at dusk each night. Really something special!
17. Rainbow Lorikeets
Rainbow lorikeets are a species of parrot found in Australia and they are super duper pretty and colourful. I saw them at the Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas and Australia Zoo.
18. The Wildlife
Actually, although I’ve already mentioned the likes of kangaroos and thorny devils, I think I have a bit of a fascination with Australian animals in general – be it the sounds of the native birds singing, seeing the galahs in the trees, the bizarre-looking egg-laying mammal the duck billed platypus or big fat cuddly wombats (whose poop is square, FYI). I think I missed my calling in life to become an Australian zookeeper!
19. Chocolate Macadamias
Mmm so moreish! Of course you can eat the macadamia nuts on their own but everything is so much better when it’s covered in chocolate!
20. Aussie Legends
Some of the best celebrities have come straight outta the land down under, I love a bit of Hugh Jackman and Kylie Minogue. And how could we not include the late, great legendary crocodile hunter himself, Steve Irwin. Crikey!
21. Watching the sun rise and set over Aussie Landmarks
The first time I visited Australia I saw the sun rise and set over the famous Sydney Opera House and my husband even had my photos printed on canvas for me. The second time I was lucky enough to visit Australia (I’m like a boomerang – I just keep coming back!) I witnessed the sun rise and set over Uluru, although it was quite cloudy it was still pretty magnificent.
Specifically City Beach and Jay Jays. They got me out of a spot of bother when my bikini broke and all my shoes hurt my feet!
23. Limited Edition Mars Brownie and Snickers Rocky Nut Road
Hello! Why don’t we have these in the UK? They were soooo good. Mars Brownie was my favourite… oh I’m craving one right now!
24. This Song…
All because of this bit- “I said, “Do you speak-a my language?” He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich”
25. And This Advert… There’s nothing like Australiaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
26. And this amazing occurrence…
While we were having lunch at a pub in Alice Springs, I noticed that the froth in my husband’s pint of beer had taken the shape of Australia! How very appropriate!
Have you been to Australia? If so, what do you love about it? Leave me a comment below or tweet me @quirkylilplanet
And if you enjoyed this post, like it, share it and then check out my Australia board on Pinterest!
One of the biggest highlights of my trip to Oz was visiting the beauty that is Port Douglas – a small town in Queensland, around an hours drive from Cairns, and the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest.
The heart of Port Douglas is Macrossan Street, which is where you will find the majority of shops and restaurants, but the real treasure of this pretty little town is its beautiful Four Mile Beach, a quiet palm tree fringed beach with soft golden sand and just a 5 minute stroll from the main part of town.
It was while we were in Port Douglas that we got to mix with a bit of the native fauna in Australia, something I was quite eager to do. We took a day trip to The Rainforest Habitat (or The Wildlife Habitat as it’s now known), an eco tourism award winning centre committed to the conservation of native species via its Wildlife Rescue Program, situated in Port Douglas itself.
It has quite a free roaming environment, allowing you to get close to most of the animals. It was here that I photographed some beautiful birds, including the rainbow lorikeets and I also got to hand-feed wallabies and kangaroos, as well as cuddle a koala!
Luckily, not all of the animals were free roaming! There were some pretty scary looking crocs lazing about in their own separate section, I mean, look at the gnashers on that!
The Wildlife Habitat offers presentations so you can learn a little bit more about the animals in its care and as well as an up close encounter with a koala, you can also have your picture taken with a snake or a small crocodile.
I thoroughly enjoyed my day mingling with the marsupials and can’t wait to head back Down Under to meet more of Australia’s furry icons!
If you liked this #ThrowbackThursday post – leave me a comment below!
As I am counting down the weeks until I am back in The Land Down Under (and yes I must confess that I secretly love that song!) I thought I would offer up a #ThrowbackThursday post or two about my visit there before. It’s no secret that I love Australia, so I thought I would start with a brief round-up of my top Australia highlights from my previous visit…
1. Photographing Sydney Opera House at sunrise and sunset
It wasn’t easy tearing myself out of bed at 5am for but I am so glad I did. Our hotel was just a short walk from Circular Quay so we headed down there at dawn and photographed the iconic Opera House against the backdrop of burning orange fading out into a vibrant blue.
Photographing that famous silhouette at sunset was a much easier feat and I just love how photogenic this landmark is! Every angle offers something different. My favourite thing about this photo is the way I caught the sun glare through the shapes of the building.
2. Cuddling a koala
This was on my Australia bucket list and was something I got the chance to do in Queensland. The little guy was called Cobber (how very Australian!) and he smelt like eucalyptus, probably because that’s pretty much all koalas eat. This was a great day at a wildlife habitat in Port Douglas where I also got to hand feed birds, wallabies and kangaroos!
3. Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef
If you’re in Queensland then this is a must-do – one of the planet’s greatest natural wonders and the largest reef in the world, the Great Barrier Reef features on many a bucket list. Not gonna lie, being in the middle of that big vast ocean did panic me at first but as soon as you dip your face into the water for the first time, your anxieties drift away and you are mesmerised at the magic below.
4. Seeing the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island
Every night at dusk, after a day’s fishing, the Little Penguins come ashore to their burrows on Summerland Beach. This is one of the very few places in the world where you can see the Little Penguins in their natural habitat. Visitors are sat on viewing platforms and photography is prohibited, to allow for minimal disruption to the penguins activities. Another highlight of my day on Phillip Island was seeing my Australian family who took us there for the day.
5. Spotting a cassowary in the wild
When we were in Queensland we took a trip into the Daintree Rainforest. We weren’t going solely to spot a cassowary but seeing one was the icing on the cake. In all honesty, I didn’t quite realise how lucky we were until our guide got really excited about seeing one. Apparently they are quite rare and an endangered species so we were incredibly fortunate to spot one of these brilliant birds!
So there you have my top five recommendations from my first visit to Oz, if you would like to keep up with more of my Down Under adventures, then you can follow me on Bloglovin, Twitter or Instagram!
What’s your dream tourist destination — either a place you’ve been and loved, or a place you’d love to visit? What about it speaks to you?
We had a whirlwind romance a few years ago, I thought it would be a quick fling and I would get the wanderlust out of my system but I was wrong. I only got a taste of what Australia has to offer and have been longing to return since. I just can’t help but feel a pang of jealousy when I hear of others heading off on their own Australian adventure.
Our journey began in Sydney – a place I could easily imagine emigrating to, there was something oddly familiar and comforting about the place. And to watch the sun rise over the magnificent Opera House was a sight well-worth dragging myself out of bed at 5am for. When (not if, but when) I return Down Under I would love to watch the sun rise (or set) over Uluru – another Australian icon.
As well as stunning Sydney, we also visited magnificent Melbourne – our base from which we did all things Neighbours, took a day trip to Phillip Island and also met up with some of my Aussie family. Our final stop on our tour of The Land Down Under was Queensland, more specifically Port Douglas – the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. We snorkelled the reef, walked through the rainforest (and even saw a cassowary!), cuddled koalas and had the time of our lives!
For a country so vast and brilliant, it was incredibly naïve for me to believe I would get Australia “out of my system”. And adverts like this only fuel my wanderlust even further…