In May of 2015, Shelby and I went on the adventure of a lifetime. Just one day after we took our final exams, we hopped on a plane and flew a total of 24 hours from the East coast of the United States to Brisbane, Australia.
Brisbane is the farthest I have ever traveled from my home. Shelby and I arrived at the airport early– it was dark and we were tired. Once we cleared security, we sat down and got organized.
For such a long journey, we packed relatively light. We each had a backpack and a carry on bag. Shelby is not the stereotypical female traveler, many times she packs lighter than I do. However, she out packed me this time by bringing her large memory foam pillow.
We had a lot of traveling ahead of us. Our first leg brought us to Atlanta, our second to Las Angeles, then Sydney and finally Brisbane. Once we arrived in Brisbane we had to take a number of trains from the airport to South Bank and then we walked with our luggage from the station to the house where we stayed.
We received a lot of skepticism weeks before our trip. Our plan was limited to a simple five day trip — three adventure days sandwiched between two travel days. Many said that this just wouldn’t be enough time to enjoy another country. Aside from that, the friend that was going to house us was sick and dealing with final exams of her own.
In my mind, I didn’t see it as an option. The door had opened for us to travel to a place that we had always wanted to go. I chose to approach it as if we had only three days to live. And so we did — and we squeezed as much fun as we possibly could into those three days.
This trip was only possible because of our contact in Brisbane, Bre. She helped fill in the blanks of our travel plans and, most importantly, gave us a place to stay. Due to her busy schedule, we were only able to see her in the evenings. However, she did take one day off to tour us around South Bank and the Botanical Gardens.
My “Welcome to Brisbane” moment happened at Grill’d. This restaurant just happens to be home to the best burger I have ever tasted. What makes it so great? Perhaps it was the slightly toasted bun that lovingly hugged the plump grass fed cheese burger. Maybe it was the homemade pickles or the perfectly fried chips. Though it was great and it does stick out in my mind as the best burger I’ve ever had, its deliciousness more than likely had to do with the fact that it was my first real meal in over 24 hours.
This was a brief story that I wrote to help me remember embarking on our first international adventure together. I have written much more about each unique Australian adventure including Tamborine Mountain and the Irwin’s Zoo. To summarize our trip, I put together this video that really brings back the sights and sounds of our trip. Enjoy!
Justin and Shelby’s Australia Video
Looks like you had a great time checking out some of the best places in south east QLD. I grew up on Tamborine 🙂
We saw lots of kids while navigating the area. What a cool place to grow up! Lucy you.
What else could we have done while we were up there?
Heh well – there’s too many things to list, but one thing I find most helpful is trying to outline things with respect to distance and time from Brisbane (BNE).
It’s all really about what you’re interested in doing. If you hire a car and are prepared to drive anywhere within 3-4 hrs of Brisbane then you can explore virtually everything.
There’s more forest walks and hiking trails near Natural Bridge and O’Rielies (behind the gold coast) (1.5 hrs drive from Brisbane)… also the Gold Coast has all the theme parks, beaches, restaurants and cultural activities. My favourite place to hang out is at Kirra Beach, Coolangatta and Broadbeach (1.5 hrs sth BNE). Further south there’s Mt Warning (2-2.5 hrs an excellent hike), and Byron Bay (2.25 hrs) the most easterly point in Australia – and a stunning place with diving opportunities around Julian Rocks… If flying’s your thing there’s a few small airports around the south east that one can hire a plane and fly over moreton bay or the hinterland (Archerfield, Coolangatta, or Maroochydoore). If one has the time then maybe fly further west and checkout places like St George (not sure how long it takes in a plane but it’s ~6 hrs in a car!).
In Brisbane I think Mt Cootha (the brisbane observatory and botanical gardens are also here) and Mt Neebo are great vantage points. The University of Queensland and QUT gardens point are really nice places to walk around (though it looks like you’ve already been through QUT). Drive through Samford or out to Toowoomba for the day for markets. Toowoomba is in the middle of the Darling Downs, and it’s also nice place to check out the colonial era Australian history (it also has a small airbase).
North of BNE there’s the Sunshine Coast which is similar to the Gold coast…
Further north (+3.5 hrs drive) you can visit Rainbow Beach Hervey Bay – excellent camping destinations and full of more local activities. Whale watching is huge in Hervey Bay.
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Wow! You’re really making me want to go back. Oh well… we were already planning a return trip! I loved the botanical gardens and QUT boasts a beautifully modern campus. One think I look forward to doing next time is swimming! You mentioned some awesome swimming holes and cliffs. Thanks so much for the suggestions!