Australia Journals

Sleeping on Strangers' Couches up and down the Gold Coast

A June 2010 trip to Australia by yourhydra

Drosera Spathulata Photo, Fraser Island, Australia More Photos
Quote: My boyfriend and I planned this trip. We decided to save money by staying at strangers' houses that we would locate through a networking site. I hope to give perspective on this type of travel and of course the beautiful locations and wildlife Australia has to offer.

First stop, coming up from Brisbane

Our masterpiece!  Photo, Australia, South Pacific
Having set off from Brisbane, our first stop was Hervey Bay. Its streets were lined with convenient shopping centers filled with decrepits. We stayed with a very nice man who we never met before. He was very helpful and welcoming, and he thought his odd cheese and banana sandwiches were "choice." We got him some red wine as a thank you present. This was a mistake as he got a bit rowdy, but worst of all, it made him force us to watch Rugby League. This is nothing like real rugby…it’s literally get ball, run for half a second, get held down, pass ball and repeat. The most we did here was visit a museum and the gorgeous beach where we build water canals and found funny washed up egg sacks and...Read More

Vic Hislop's Shark Museum

Attraction | "...Don't Judge a Museum by the Giant Papier-Mache Shark Outside"

 Vic Hislop’s  Photo, Queensland, Australia
Vic Hislop’s is very corny and dated. It’s like traveling back to the 70’s. Most of the museum is newspaper clippings of shark attacks and videos of Vic talking about shark behavior. Having said that, I actually really enjoyed my visit, and if you have a sense of humor and love getting different perspectives on the Green movement I highly recommend it. It was wonderful to hear a guy talk who has actually spent years in these animals’ environment as apposed to a sheltered marine biologist who sits in a lab with samples. It felt that he really knew these creatures in and out and was sincere about protecting many other species of shark, fish, marine mammals and reptiles.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 1, 2010

Biggest Sand Island on Earth

The Sharks of Fraser Island

Best Of IgoUgo


Insane Rainbow Photo, Fraser Island, Australia
Fraser Island is absolute heaven. It is the biggest sand island on earth, containing a large rain forest and four freshwater lakes. One of them is home to Tee Tree Trees, which pollute the lake with its leaves. This turns the whole body of water a deep burgundy color, and infuses it with oils. These lakes are the only places people swim as the ocean around Fraser is a breeding ground for Bull and Tiger Sharks. We had a crazy tour guide named Matt, who growing up, hunted kangaroo’s for lunch. He once shot a full-grown Roo and had to transport it on his motorcycle. He strapped it upright on the backseat; the cops pulled him over because the Kangaroo wasn’t wearing a helmet. Matt drove us aro...Read More


1770 beach Photo, Australia, South Pacific
1770 is the last location you can surf before the Barrier Reef begins to block off the waves. So that is exactly what we did. But that is not worth describing, as it’s pretty straightforward. Instead I’m going to tell you about our stay Rod, our random couch surfing host. He owned a bakery and was the first Australian we met who knew how to cook. He treated us to loads of cakes and pies, both sweet and savory. I paid him back by baking him my father’s delicious cheesy bread, which he took to at once and decided to implement in his shop! Rod is a world champion cow spitter. Rod has a Pug named Doug that has lost half the feeling in his back legs, and enjoys pooping on the go. Rod took us out to t...Read More


Sadly leaving Rod behind, we traveled to Arlie Beach. It was from here that we were making our way to the Whitsunday Islands. Airlie is a drunken backpacker heaven. Most hostels are attached to bars, and tons of tourist shops line the streets. I caught a bug and couldn’t eat for over a day as everything refused to stay down. I ate a tiny morsel of broccoli, then slothed in bed for half an hour, desperately straining to keep my piddley bit of nourishment down. My boyfriend Peter came up to me with some vitamin C and shoved it in my mouth. And there went my broccoli, into the trash, with the rest if it. Doctor Pete.
Our Friend Photo, Whitsundays, Australia
The Whitsundays are a group of islands situated off the Queensland coast – about halfway up the state. The first one we visited was South Molle (Captain Cook is responsible for most of the names). We were supposed to go to Hook Island but the southeasterly winds began that day (annual winter winds that blow over that region, lasting about a week) so the water was too rough to get out that far. This was very unfortunate as we hoped to snorkel during this camping trip, but the water became completely mucked by the stirred-up sand to see anything. So we sat around in our tent while it rained and went on mountain forest hikes when it didn’t. My boyfriend had a stare down with a snake. When the tide ...Read More

Mission Beach

Treehouse Hostel YHA

Hotel | "So Many Bugs and Reptiles! "

Treehouse Hostel YHA Photo, Mission Beach, Australia
This hostel made out trip to Mission beach extremely comfortable. It was called the Treehouse and was engulfed by jungle. I particularly enjoyed this location because of the flush of wildlife that we witnessed. When it rained, dozens of cane toads could be seen jumping amongst the bush. I caught a very large rhino beetle that hissed at me ferociously, a lurking lizard that didn’t, discovered a freshly hatched spider nest, and Peter was lucky enough to almost touch a cockroach that took residence in his bag for the night. The actual accommodations were all wooden and felt like you were staying at a friend’s cottage. The staff were very helpful. Although it's out of town, buses came straight...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 1, 2010

Treehouse Hostel YHA
Frizelle Road (off Bingil Bay Road) - Bingil Bay
Mission Beach
+61 (7) 4068 7137

I went Skydiving as Mission beach is rated to be the number one location to do it. As the plane took off, I had to sit beside the giant hole that was its door, feeling that I could quite easily fall out without my tandem, which would be fine if I had my own chute. As we reached the appropriate height I could see the sun still rising. It covered the thick blanket of cloud below in shimmering warmth, making everything glow. Next thing I know I’m tumbling through the air from 11,000 ft. The most extraordinary thing about this section of the fall was that I could see a complete rainbow. Standing on the ground you can only see half of a rainbow, but in the sky it’s a full circle. Even more incr...Read More

Don't stay with random people on a secluded sugar cane farm in Port Douglas

My leaf bug friend Photo, Port Douglas, Australia
Port Douglas was our only regretful and misjudged visit during our Gold Coast trip. It is a "chocolate box" town north of Cairns, a good place to buy postcards and get picked up for tours. We stayed here mostly because we had a couch surfing host. He was a cane harvester on a farm in a village around Port Douglas. His property was very open, with a large river running behind it, but to say the least, the scenery is the only thing we enjoyed about our stay. Our host was very friendly but he worked from 4am to 5pm and his location was ridiculously unproductive for us. None of the tours would pick up from that far out of town and his other guests who he promised would be able to give us a lift into town...Read More

Colorful coral, conspicuous creatures and the common cretins of Cairns

Potoroo Love! Photo, Australia, South Pacific
Trinity Beach is part of Cairns. Here we stayed with a nice but odd fellow. He was a bird trainer at the local zoo and he also liked to tell us about how he picks up girls, and all the places he has sex with girls and, well you get the drift. We went to his bird show and their Wedge Tailed Eagle flew off in the middle of it. His whole crew had to walk around the zoo trying to locate it for about 40 min. Meanwhile we watched a male Potoroo persistently trying to mate with a female Potaroo who was not having it. He did not give up. We watched this hunk trying to mount her for about 20 min, and he was still at it when we went back to check on them. By the way, a Potoroo is an endangered Australian ...Read More

Global Packpackers - Waterfront

Hotel | "If You Like Echoing Noise All Night..."

Cairns is one of the biggest tourist destinations in Australia. It is the top spot to go out to the Barrier Reef from and is saturated with hostels, bars, restaurants, casinos and naughty clubs. You can’t really swim in the ocean along the coast because of the box stingers and saltwater crocodiles, but most of the people here are much more interested in drinking wine out of a box anyway. Unfortunately for the tourists that have the willingness to actually see the country, these people seem to think screaming and singing at the top of their lungs is the appropriate thing to do at 3am. Our problem was inflated due to our hostel. First of all, this place is the poorest design I have ever come across for ...Read More

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on July 28, 2010

Global Packpackers - Waterfront
67 The Esplanade
+61 7 40 31 1545

Mangroves at Daintree Photo, Cairns, Australia
Before I get into the wondrous locations we visited, I'd like to warn future Cairns tourists about the Hostel accommodations. Some of this I've written about in my review of the specific hostel we stayed at, but I've elaborated on it here in case you're reading this as an isolated story. Cairns is one of the biggest tourist destinations in Australia. It is the top spot to go out to Daintree and the Barrier Reef from and is saturated with hostels, bars, restaurants, casinos and naughty clubs. You can’t really swim in the ocean along the coast because of the box stingers and saltwater crocodiles, but most of the people here are much more interested in drinking wine out of a box anyway. Unfor...Read More