jump to navigation

Time to go away January 10, 2011

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Advice, Life, Chatter & Politics, Travel.
Tags: , , , ,

Today is a day of excitement. And a little bit of terror. As of this morning my application for a sabbatical this summer has been granted, meaning that I now have three months in which to explore the world. Utterly exciting, yet terrifying, because I may well be doing this trip alone!

The aim is to spend a month in Australia, a month in New Zealand, and a month in the US. I have friends in each who I hope to meet up with (and abuse the use of their couch! Free accommodation is the name of the game, hehe), and if anyone wants to accompany me for legs of the trip they are more than welcome. If not, I shall head of alone, aiming to make friend along the way (and, knowing me,on travel dating-style sites before I leave!).

Firstly, Australia.



The symbol of Oz!

If things go according to plan, I will fly into the North of Australia (hopefully Cairns) at the beginning of August. I know this is technically winter, but by the sounds of it the temperatures up this part of the country will be fine, and at least it will be dry! I will then aim to make my way down to the south, with Melbourne and Sydney definite calling places.

Has anyone been to Oz? Where would you recommend as must see places?

Next, New Zealand.


New Zealand Sheep


I don’t quite know the plan of action for this leg of the trip yet, but I think I will be landing on one island and working my way up to the other. This will be in September, which I know isn’t the best time of year but hey, I’m British, I can cope with rain! This whole trip has to fit around my flat contract running out at the end of July, so I don’t have much choice in the matter! Still, I imagine the spectacular scenery, geysers and more will look good even with a bit of drizzle!

Any recommendations for the NZ part of this trip?

Finally, on to the US.


Bald Eagle

Soaring the heights

I hopefully will hit LA at the beginning of October, where the plan is to head across the country to catch my flight back to the UK from New York. There are people (and places) I desperately want to see, so the plan may well be to work my way up the west coast to Oregon, checking out the Rockies, and then somehow getting over to the east coast. I need suggestions for routes and travel arrangements for this section, so any help is appreciated!

If anyone has any secret insider tips, places to go, things to do or (OR!) just wants to meet up whilst I am on the road, all help and friendliness will be much appreciated!


1. Gemma - January 10, 2011

I did Oz in the opposite direction (Melbourne up to Cairns via Sydney and Brisbane). I’m back in Melbs in a few months for a wedding, too, so may have some more up to date recommendations then!

Definitely put some money aside to do a reef trip and dive in Cairns. Don’t think ‘oh, snorkelling will be enough’, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to dive in one of the most spectacular spots in the world, and once you’re there you won’t be able to say no, trust me!

If you get as far as Melbourne, go to Phillip Island to see the penguin parade. Oh, and if you’re a Neighbours fan, do the official Neighbours tour (to see Ramsay St) and go to the Neighbours night which is a quiz and gig (by Karl Kennedy’s band) in an Irish pub in St Kilda. Not only is the latter a great way to waste an evening, it’s also a really good opportunity to meet other brits cos it’s ALL Brits that go! Such a fantastic atmosphere and a cheap night out.

2. Jenni - January 10, 2011

Wow what an amazing trip! It sounds amazing. I don’t have any tips to share, I just hope you have a fabulous time!

3. Louise - January 10, 2011

How extremely exciting. You’re the second person I know to have done this this year. One of my friends went to NZ fairly recently, and went to this town that was all art deco, the architecture and everything. I’ll ask him about it and let you know.

4. Esz - January 11, 2011

Oh wow you’re coming to Australia!! I’d love to meet you and show you the sites of Melbourne!

Do you know how long you will be staying in each place? I guess it’s still pretty early days.

One piece of advice I can give is Australia is a lot bigger than most people think it is. How are you planning to get around? Going from North to South your best bet is to fly. Cairns is quite expensive to get to directly. If you’re flying to Australia first, your connecting flight will probably land you in Brisbane or Gold Coast first and it would be an expensive hop up to Cairns. It might be worthwhile starting in the south (if you haven’t booked your flights already).

As for weather…you will experience the full gamut while you’re here. QLD is tropical and driest and nicest in August (its kind of really flooded up there right now!). However, a Melbourne winter is pretty chilly. It won’t snow but you can pretty much expect anything from freezing rain for days on end or cold dry and crisp mornings. Oh and the occasional hailstorm!

Hmm..Melbourne is best for it’s art and urban lifestyle. If you like graffiti, hipsters, coffee, wine, fine art, ballet, awesome food and exploring then you’ll love it here. 😀 Oh and everyone is really into the Footy and Cricket (dont ask me about those hehee I dont like sport). IMHO Melbourne is best in winter because summer is oppressively hot and you can’t escape to a nice beach.

I’ve not spent much time in Sydney but you’re better off doing your beachy things there and QLD cos Victoria sucks for ocean swimming. Unless you like rugged and cold! The Great Ocean Road is amazing all year round.

No doubt you’ll want to see native wildlife. There’s Healesville Sanctuary here in Victoria where they’re all neatly caged but you’ll see plenty out in the wild. QLD is abundant with pretty coloured birds.
In Vic I know a spot where you can see koalas in the wild. 😀
And there’s always plenty of kangaroos around if you’re driving on a highway in the country anywhere.

Pheeewww I’m babbling heaps so I better wrap it up. Email me if you’ve got anymore questions!

Author - January 11, 2011

Babbling is more than encouraged!

I am hoping to find a flight into Cairns so I can do North to South, just for the weather really and the way I have it worked out in my head! I don’t know times etc yet, but will certainly keep you in the loop when I do. I would love to meet up, I have another friend in Melbourne too so it is definitely on the list. Plus, I really like street art, so that is the sort of thing I would really like to see.

Can’t wait for it! I will no doubt have lots more questions once I have pinned down my flights, and started planning my itinerary in detail. In which case, I will certainly be quizzing you!


Esz - January 11, 2011

Excellent! I’m sure you’ll love Aus 🙂 Do keep us posted on your arrangements 🙂

5. Anne - January 11, 2011

Hello Lauren,

I’ve read your blog for a bit but never commented before. Just thought I’d say… go for it! I got a six month secondment from my job in Manchester and went away with my boyfriend from July last year, we got back just over a week ago. It was one of the best experiences of my life. We went to Russia, Mongolia, China, Nepal, India, the Andaman Islands and Japan. A definite highlight was getting married in Hong Kong! A bit of a spur of the moment thing after eight years together.

You’ll have the time of your life and you’ll never forget it. The hard part is coming back!

Take care, Anne X

Author - January 11, 2011

Wow that sounds like an amazing once in a lifetime holiday! You’ve certainly inspired me to go for it, although I’d be very very surprised if I came back married! x

6. Jasmin - January 19, 2011

I did NZ this summer and apart from one day of rain the weather was amazing and pleasant.

A few pointers from my trip…

Definately definitely get an over night flight so you can sleep through the butt numbing hours and I heartily recommend you stop over somewhere like Malaysia. I did both these things and consequently didn’t suffer from jet lag at all. Not even a little bit. Plus a stop over in Asian will mean you’ll experience something completely different to the very modernised, westernised countries you’re planning on going to.

Auckland is the main airport hub so this is where you will fly into. Flights arriving elsewhere in the country will cost considerably more and not really worth it.

Nakedbus is the megabus of NZ and they have the equivalent of the £1 bus fares. I’d suggest you pre book some of your journeys as early as possible because there are some massive savings to be made, and if you decided to not use the journey you booked you’re only losing out on pennies. Plus coach is your only viable option for travel. NZ don’t do trains except for the amazing tranzscenic and tranzalpine trains. Try and do one of those journets, if not both. And again, there are massive savings to be made by booking early.

Kiwi experience are a great and cheap tour company. I went on their Milford Sound tour from queenstown. Another must.

I only had three weeks there and my route was – Auckland (if you’re into walking do the 10 mile coast to coast walk which gives you fantastic views of the city and takes you over and around a few extinct volcanoes), Rotorua (amazing guysers – te puia is well worth a visit and try and go explore round the lake yourself), from Rotorua we went on a day trip to Waitamo Caves (if you do this trip get a ticket or tour that combines a few caves in one day as it’s much better value), Wellington, flew to Nelson on a Cessna (it was cheaper than the bigger planes and much cooler – the co-piolet turned round in his seat and gave the safety brief), Christchurch, Queenstown (adventure baby!), a day trip from Queenstown to Milford Sound, Franz Josef (for a glacier walk – yet another absolute must), Greymouth to get the Tranzalpine back to Christchurch.

Go early in the morning if you’re going to see places like te puia by yourself. Come 11am the tour buses roll in and everywhere gets packed out with tourists.

Sent from my iPhone

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: