Australia

Hobart, Tasmania

Commonly known as Australia’s “South Island” one can find the little state of Tasmania. With its small but mighty population of only 500,000 – Tasmania has the potential to offer the traveller such a unique and fulfilling experience.

After an early Jetstar flight, I arrived into Tasmania’s largest and oldest city, Hobart. Hobart is located in the Southeast region of the state and has a total population of approximate 200,000 people (that’s 40% of the entire state!) I picked up an airport shuttle, which provided not only transportation, but also a guided tour through the city (huge bonus!) on the way to my hostel accommodation.

While in Hobart and prior to heading out on my Wayoutback Tasmania tour, I would be staying at The Pickled Frog backpackers. The Pickled Frog is centrally located in city and is a top-notch backpacker haven while travelling through Hobart.

pickled frog

Pickled Frog Backpackers in Hobart, Tasmania.

When I arrived at the frog, I was pleasantly greeted at reception with not only a smiling human face, but also a friendly hostel pup (Baloo). Within minutes of being at the frog I knew it was something special. Big comfy couches, beanbag chairs, a small bar, a fireplace and a communal dining area make this place very cozy to stay in. I found within minutes, it was extremely easy to socialize and meet other solo travellers in this environment. If you ever have the pleasure of travelling to Hobart, put Pickled Frog on the top of your list for places to stay; it’s affordable, has extremely friendly staff, very centrally located, extremely cozy atmosphere and has the most adorable dog in the world wandering around the hostel!

In the first day alone in Hobart I had two “small world” experiences; the first was when I headed down to the Hobart harbour to grab a bite to eat in Salamanca Place… Salamanca Place is Hobart’s eatery district – lined with restaurants, bars and cafes; there is something for everyone’s taste. While walking down the strip, I got enticed by one restaurants menu and as soon as I looked up to walk in… staring right back at me was one of my Peterpans customers from Bondi Junction! The second experience hit a lot closer to home… literally. While spending time at the Pickled Frog, I got caught up in conversation with a girl in my room. She mentioned that the guy sitting across the way was from Canada and lived in a small town just outside of Toronto. After swopping stories with him, we came to the conclusion we both went to university together, were in the same graduating class, had a couple classes together in first year and had over 20 mutual friends. Hobart was starting to feel more like home than anywhere else in Australia I had been in a while!

Another highlight of my time in Hobart was the chance to meet up with some of Tasmania’s top Instagrammers. Going by the names of @lovethywalrus, @jayedevil and @lifecatchme; these lovely individuals were kind enough to give me an insiders look at what makes Tasmania one of the most beautiful states. My first meet up was with @lovethywalrus for my first Hobart sunset over Constitution Dock.

20140416_170825

Sunset over Hobart.

I also had the chance to go up Mt Wellington, Mt Nelson and travel around Southern Hobart with @lovethywalrus, @jayedevil and @lifecatchme. Some of the highlights while travelling the coastline were Ninepin Point, the various spectacular views of Bruny Island and lastly the stop at the Cat’s Tongue Chocolatier.

20140418_113516

View from Mount Nelson, Tasmania. 

I can’t thank these lovely individuals enough for welcoming me into their instagram gang, giving me a home during Easter time and showing me a side of Tasmania I would never of had the chance to see. #ThanksSoMuch!

The Museum of Old and New Art, commonly referred to as the MONA Museum is a must see activity while travelling through Hobart. This museum is accessible through self-drive, public transportation, shuttle buses or (my personal suggestion) by the MONA ferry. The MONA Ferry departs from the Hobart Harbour, cruises along the Derwent River and takes about 30 minutes until it arrives at the museum. For the duration of the cruise you get spectacular views of the harbour, the various beaches and many of Hobart’s iconic buildings.

20140417_110208

MONA Ferry – Mount Wellington in the distance.

When you finally arrive to MONA, it feels as though you are approaching to a set from the James Bond movies – it’s located up on the hill, and has a very unique and mysterious appearance to it.

20140417_133134

View from MONA Museum of the Mona Ferry.

Upon arrival to MONA, you are given an iPod and headset to use while you are exploring the various floors of the museum. With no descriptions or names on the art, the visitor is able to personally create the story behind the piece, formulate the meaning of the piece as well as determine what the artist was trying to express without a previous bias. The art found at MONA is dark, mysterious, thought provoking and some may even call it creepy. From all the museums and art galleries that I have visited throughout the years, MONA’s has been one that was able to entice me into coming back very soon. Mona is truly a unique, interesting and worthy experience that everyone should put on his or her Hobart bucket list!

For such a small capital city within Australia, Hobart sure packs a punch. From the beautiful harbour to the beaches, to Mt Wellington, Bruny Island and everything in between; Hobart has it all.

Australia

Happy – Byron Bay

A good friend once told me something so simple, yet so powerful that it has managed to stick with me for many years. The mantra that she continues to live by and continues to pass on to those who have the pleasure of meeting her;

“Do what makes you happy until it doesn’t make you happy anymore, then change.”

At the end of the day I couldn’t agree more – you only have one life to live so why spend any time not living it to the absolute fullest.

Byron Bay

Since living in Australia, the majority of my time has been spent within Sydney and it’s surrounding areas (Bondi Beach). I was nearing close to 5 months when my travel itch started acting up again, and I knew it was time to seek out another adventure. With my “good friend” recently making the bold move to leave Bondi and head 10 hours north to Byron Bay alone – I knew this beautiful beach town would be the perfect spot for a mini holiday. Byron Bay can be best described as a small hippie beach town where shoes are not necessary. Dreadlocks, tie-dye and sarongs are the norm, and surfing is considered an everyday activity.

Bright and early in the morning I headed to the airport to catch a flight to Byron Bay’s gateway airport – Ballina Airport. A short transfer bus later compliments of Byron Easy Bus and I finally arrived in Byron. As soon as I arrived, I made my way to my straight to the Peterpans Travel shop! It seems to be a pattern that when I arrive in a new Australian city, I find myself instantly magnetized to the Peterpans shop.

While in Byron Bay, I stayed at the centrally located hostel called Nomads. It is close to all shops (grocery, clothing and bottle shops) and only a couple minutes walk from the beach – it is the perfect backpacker haven. Nomads have a great social atmosphere and within days of staying there you easily can feel a sense of hominess. When I first arrived at Nomads, a friend who had been living at Nomads for over two weeks pleasantly greeted me outside the front door. Following checking into my room, we spent the remainder of the day wandering the streets, grabbing lunch and heading out to the beach.

DSCN2431

Byron’s beach is absolutely stunning and stretched until it reached the Cape Byron Lighthouse. This lighthouse is an active lighthouse, which is the easternmost point of mainland Australia. A short distance from the centre of Byron Bay, you and some friends can experience this amazing lighthouse walk.

Alongside the countless hours of “chilling” that I partook in while in Byron, my craving for adventure ramped up and I chose to complete my first ever skydive. Early in the morning, I woke up feeling more excited than I have felt in a while. When we arrived at the jump site we were quickly checked in, measured for harnesses and then patiently waited our turn. After 3 failed attempts at completing a skydive in 2012 (2 cancelled for wind, 1 cancelled for a storm) I was ecstatic that today was going to be the lucky day! So much anticipation had gone into my 14,000ft jump, and I was more ready then I have ever been.

When it was finally my groups’ turn, we meet up with our tandem jumper and made our way on board the plane. Within minutes of being in the plane we were airbourne and there was only one-way down… no turning back now! As we got higher and higher, I noticed the 3 lights directly located in front of me on the plane. The first light lite up as soon as we were 1 mile away from 14,000ft, the second was ½ a mile and the third was when we reached the drop zone height. As soon as we reached the drop zone altitude of 14,000ft the solo divers had no hesitations in throwing open the doors and immediately exiting the plane. I was the third to jump in my group – as I watched my fellow skydivers be thrown out of the plane, I started to freak out (in a good way). Thankfully my tandem diver didn’t hesitate to push me forward and throw me out regardless. Within seconds of the free-fall, I knew this was going to be addicting. Amongst all the crazy adventures I have been on in my life, I can confidently say that skydiving tops them all. You really need to try it out – it’s only 14,000 ft!

DCIM103GOPRO

I felt invincible for the remainder of my day following my skydive. When I returned to Byron, I spent the rest of my day soaking up the sun on the beach, grabbing lunch and catching up with some new hostel friends. It was my last night in Byron before heading back to Sydney, and the evening was spent grabbing a cheap dinner at Cheeky Monkeys and later dancing the night away on the tables.

Within such a short period of time, Byron Bay managed to find itself in a special place in my heart. It gives me a huge sense of relief and excitement to know that in the next couple months I will be calling Byron Bay my home.

Australia

Openair Cinema Sydney

Celebrate the great outdoors and the “spirit of summer” with the Ben & Jerry’s Openair Cinema on Bondi Beach. During the day, music fills the venue air and as soon as the sun goes down, grab a friend and snuggle up on the lawn to enjoy a movie classic!

Last Friday evening, my roommate and I headed to the Openair Cinema to join in on the Grease Sing-along. We grabbed our blankets, popcorn and a bottle of wine and made ourselves cozy on the lawn.

From the start of the movie until the ending credits, Michaela and I had no reservations in belting out to our favourite tunes; Summer Lovin’, Grease Lightning and You’re the One that I Want … to only name a few. We may or may not of received a few strange looks from the various parents with children sitting around us.

1511159_10152277644796474_1392968450_n

The Openair Cinema was a nice change of scenery to our typical Friday night plan. With venues spreading across Australia in cities including Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne (already over), Sydney, Canberra and Perth (still running), I suggest that you check out the show times before they sell out!

Bondi-Openair-Cinemas

To find out about the films featured and showtimes go to the Openair Cinema website here.

Australia

Melbourne in Minutes

It’s been quite a while since I have had the chance to find time in my busy Sydney schedule to write a blog. It is something I had planned on doing regularly while travelling, yet had once again fallen off the horse. Though traditional “New Years Resolutions” have past about a month ago, I am making it my “New Years plus a month’s” Resolution to blog weekly about my “where-abouts” and “what-abouts.” Just over a couple weeks ago, I returned from a long weekend away in Melbourne with my Canadian roommate Maddie. Maddie and I met in first year at the University of Western Ontario and have been friends ever since.

Day 1: We began our journey to Melbourne with an early morning flight (655am) on Tiger Airways. A short catnap later we arrived in the Melbourne heat wave.  It was such a nice feeling to be back in Melbourne; the place I called home 2 years ago to date. With the feeling of excitement and a smile on my face not being able to be washed away no matter how hot it was, it was time to explore!

We made our way to Southern Cross, and caught a train directly to Flinders Station. Flinders Train Station is the busiest train station in the Southern Hemisphere and the oldest train station in Australia. Personally, this is one of my favourite landmarks I have seen all across Australia. There is something about walking into Flinders Train Station that will never get old; I can’t quite put my finger on what it is though.

20130624_163609

Flinders Train Station

Our first stop of the day was to grab breakfast in one of the many lanes and alleyways that cover the Melbourne city. We found ourselves on Degraves Street at a small café, which served Canadian pancakes with maple syrup – sold us right away!

20130625_155109

Degraves Street – Best Coffee in Town!

After breakfast, we headed towards the Melbourne City Peterpans Shop. After dropping our luggage we attempted to do some exploring but it didn’t take much to realize the heat (43degrees) was to much to handle; so we chose to prop ourselves onto a rooftop patio and have a few casual drinks. Since we had to wait for our hosts (Maddie’s friends she met on her East Coast road trip) to be finished work for the day, we had no problem relaxing in the sun with a few drinks in hand.

1897662_2502535816899_211610917_n

Lounge Lizards keeping cool in the 43 degree Celsius weather. 

The boys live in the suburb of Prahran, which is minutes from one of the best shopping street in Melbourne called Chapel Street. It didn’t take us long to for us to find our way there and scout out the best shops for the days to come. The remainder of the evening was spent having dinner, catching up with the boys, and calling it an early night.

Day 2: The next morning (Friday 17th Jan) was just as hot, if not hotter than the day before. We headed out down Chapel Street and checked out some of the cafes and shops along the street. As the afternoon rolled around, we made our way to Federation Square (directly across from Flinders Street) to meet up with a fellow Peterpanners, Darryl. The remainder of the early afternoon was spent cooling off in Transport bar with a few drinks.

DSCN0809

Federation Square, looking towards Flinders Train Station.

The Australian Open; annually held in Melbourne every January, was a must-see event on our bucket list. After a short train ride from Flinders Station, we arrived at Richmond station and entered the Australian Open grounds.

1524781_10152143976576142_515577508_n

DSCN0770

Where’s Nadal?

As a group we wandered the grounds; checked out the various event sponsor booths, the training courts and of course… the Beer Garden. After we finished up in the Beer Gardens we sauntered into the Hisense Arena and managed to catch the tail end of a males singles match.

Another day in the sun resulted in an early night in Melbourne – ready to go for the rest of the weekend!

Day 3: Bright and early we woke up and made our way into the city to check out the Aquarium and the Eureka 88 Skydeck. The Melbourne Aquarium has several exhibits to explore with various different species of animals including frogs, turtles, snakes, stingrays, sharks and more.

20140118_144145

Fish, Sharks and Turtles! Oh My!

The best and most enjoyable part of the aquarium was hands down the Penguin Playground. The penguins are absolutely hilarious – you can spend hours watching them play with each other, slide down the ice slides, and jumping in and out of the water.

20140118_151432

Following the Aquarium, we headed to the Eureka 88 Skydeck. The Eureka Skydeck is a 297.3-metre skyscraper located in the Southbank precinct of Melbourne. You can get from floor 1 all the way to floor 88, within 40 seconds flat. Don’t be surprised if your ears pop along the way! From the 88th floor, you have the chance of seeing a panoramic view of the Melbourne city. Everything from the Olympic Park (where the Australian Open was located), which includes the Rod Laver Arena, Hisense Arena and the various outdoor courts, Federation Square, Flinders Train Station, as well as the Parliament buildings, can be seen from above.

20140118_161923Melbourne’s Olympic Park

20140118_162359Federation Square and Flinders Train Station from the Eureka 88 Skydeck.

You can also choose to have “The Edge” experience and get into a glass cube that projects out of the building and suspends you 88 floors above the ground – it nearly put one of the British guys in tears!

After an afternoon of being real “tourists,” we headed back to Prahran to get ready for a night out on Chapel Street. The evening unravelled into a few drinks at the boys and then the night spent at the “Lucky Coq.”

Day 4: Our final day in Melbourne was spent in the St Kilda Beach area. When we eventually all woke up, we made our way to St Kilda to grab some lunch. Next, we wandered around Luna Park, which is a similar amusement park as the one you can see in North Sydney across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Amusement parks like Luna Park really remind me of the ones in the movies. The classic Ferris wheel in the middle of the park, the cotton candy vendors, and the clowns that wander the grounds – brings me back to being a kid!

Located directly outside the entrance to the park was Britz camper vans and 4WD car rentals doing some promotional work. Maddie had no reservations in going and seeing what all the fuss was about – it didn’t take her long to choose to line up and model her “snake” boa around her neck. It also didn’t take me long to see the snake, and run in the complete opposite direction as fast as I possibly could!

Later in the afternoon, Maddie and myself split from the group and decided to walk down the St Kilda boardwalk and head towards the fishing pier. We were set on walking along the pier until we were abruptly stopped and distracted by the bar… at least we can say we say the pier from afar!

DSCN0235St Kilda Pier from afar.

We ended up spending the rest of the evening having a few casual drinks in Republica and Captain Baxter’s looking out on the beach – enjoying the amazing weather in Melbourne before heading back to Sydney early the next morning.

1526528_10152148302026142_68384161_nCheers! Captain Baxter’s patio on St Kilda.

From the short amount of time that we spent in St Kilda, it didn’t take long to realize that it was a place I could see myself really enjoy living in at during my time in Australia. St Kilda is definitely a highlight when travelling through Melbourne! You don’t want to miss it 🙂

Since living in Sydney, I have found myself comparing Melbourne and Sydney on a daily basis. When people ask which city I prefer, I find it quite hard to give a concrete answer. While living in Melbourne (during exchange) I loved the hustle and bustle of the busy Melbourne CBD; I loved the historical and artsy feel that Melbourne gave off, and of course I loved the Starbucks directly across from Flinders’ Station. It was amazing to re-experience a lot of what made Melbourne special to me while visiting this weekend. Melbourne will always be a place that I hold close to my heart and I know I will never get bored of revisiting it time after time.

20140118_152739Thanks boys for the stellar hospitality!

Sam

Australia

Port Lincoln/Adventure Bay Charters

My mini vacation from Sydney, took a spontaneous turn when I ran into Matt Waller from Adventure Bay Charters in the Adelaide – Shakespeare’s International Hostel. As I was leaving the hostel; heading out to the Haigh’s Chocolate factory I recognized Matt. I previously had met Matt during the “Best Jobs in the World” in Port Lincoln, South Australia earlier this June. I think it’s safe to safe that both of us had to do a “double look” before we realized who each other was. Adventure Bay Charters is a family owned and operated business, which specializes in providing water based wildlife encounters unlike anything else imaginable. The two main encounters they offer are the Swim with the Great White Sharks and the Swim with the Sealions. After chatting with Matt for a couple minutes, he was easily able to convince me to extend my holiday and book a flight to Port Lincoln.

20131124_133046

After an amazing couple days exploring Kangaroo Island, I was ready to jet-off to Port Lincoln. Port Lincoln is a small city located in the lower Eyre Peninsula of South Australia.  Known to be the Seafood Capital of Australia, Port Lincoln is situated on the shore of Boston Bay about 650km West of Adelaide. The first time that I had visited Port Lincoln (during “Best Jobs” in June 2013) I remember instantly feeling that it reminded me of my hometown, Huntsville in Canada. Small locally run restaurants and cafes, a few bars, one night club, one Macca’s (McDonalds) and a couple schools – it is easy to get to know and fall in love with this seaside town.

Day 1: Swim with the Great White Sharks

sharksam

When I originally found out I was going to go swimming with the Great White Sharks, I couldn’t believe it. It had been something that I had put on my bucket list for a long while now, but never thought I would actually get up the courage to actually step foot in the tank. The trip out to the Neptune Islands took around 3 hours due to the extremely “wavy” conditions we had to battle.

sharkcagesam

When we finally arrived, I couldn’t wait to jump on into the cage! Right before I had a chance to jump in we spotted our first Great White of the day. While being in the cage, I had the chance to see a couple sharks swim by – they are quite the curious animals… they don’t seem to show they are bothered by your presence. This experience really changes your perspective on the characteristics of the Great White Shark. I definitely will be heading back down to Port Lincoln in the next year to do this again, and re-experience the cage dive with a few friends.

Day 2: Swim with the Sealions

20131124_110717

Swimming with the Sealions is a once in a lifetime opportunity. After leaving Port Lincoln in June, I never would of thought that 5 months later I would be back to Hopkins Island, Eyre Peninsula playing with these sea puppies again. It was exactly what I remembered from last time but better. After making my way to the Port Lincoln Marina, the Adventure Bay Charters crew, myself and the other passengers headed out 1.5 hours to Hopkins Island.

20131124_105857

As soon as we arrived, we all quickly suited up and wasted no time in getting into the water. Before even getting into the water you could see the Sealions basking in the sun and playing with each other! I have made a few attempts at trying to perfectly describe how incredible this morning was with the Sealions, but I truly felt that showing you in a video would give it the justice it deserves. A picture says a thousand words, but a video says a million more.

Sealion Circus – Swim with the Sealions

Adventure Bay Charters – Trip Photos

samlion

Being able to be so close and intimate with such an inquisitive wild animals is absolutely incredible. No visit to the local zoo, petting farm or wildlife park will even come close to the wildlife encounters available down in Port Lincoln, SA.

20131123_192255Cheers,

Sam Clarke;;

Australia

"Wandering" South Australia – Adelaide & Kangaroo Island

As a self-proclaimed “wanderer,” I tend to get very antsy when I am not on the road. During the last month of being in Australia, I’ve spent the majority of my time in Sydney working at Peterpans Adventure Travel. As a daily activity I have very much enjoyed creating individualized “trips of a lifetime” for travellers across Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. It has been nothing but an absolute blast and I finally have found a job that doesn’t feel like “work.” The only downside I have discovered in my time working at Pans is constantly sending travellers off on their vacations… and not being able to travel alongside them.

To help solve this temporarily, I spontaneously decided to book a trip down to South Australia where I would be meeting up with two of the “Best Jobs” winners (Allan Dixon & Greg Snell) in Adelaide and then further travel across Kangaroo Island. With booking my flights a couple days before takeoff, finding accommodation at Adelaide’s Shakespeare’s, and securing a spot on Sealink’s Kangaroo Island Adventure Tour – I was ready to go!

ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

An early morning flight from Sydney to Adelaide provided me with a full day of exploring the “city of churches.” After arriving to the Adelaide’s Shakespeare’s hostel, I made my way next door to the Peterpans to introduce myself to some fellow colleagues! They suggested that I rent a bike for the day and spend the day exploring the city. Within only a couple hours, I managed to bike through the various city streets, check out the Botanical Gardens, Central Market and lastly Rundle Street Shopping Mall.

20131119_121734

Adelaide Botanical Gardens

In a city where I thought nobody knew my name, I unexpectedly ran into a girl who I had met while in Sydney on Rundle Street. As I was biking along, I could help but recognize Giselle strolling along checking out the shops. It was definitely one of those freak coincidences you are still baffled over hours after them happening.

Following the bike ride, Greg, Allan (Best Jobs winners), Nellie (lovely German girl) and myself headed to the Haigh’s Chocolate Visitor’s Centre.  Originally started in 1915, Alfred E Haigh opened the doors of the very first Haigh’s Chocolates store at 34 King William Street, Adelaide. As interest started to expand in the chocolate, Haigh’s continued to grow and now Haigh’s is sold currently in 14 different shops across Australia (6 in Adelaide, 6 in Melbourne and 2 in Sydney). Just minutes outside of the Adelaide CBD, you can find the Haigh’s Chocolate Visitor’s Centre where they run FREE guided factory tours daily (except Sundays). As soon as you begin the tour you are offered various types of chocolate to try; you receive a thorough background history of Haigh’s and how it came to be – alongside getting to see first hand how the famous chocolate is made.  If this doesn’t sound amazing already – it’s FREE to do the tour! I can’t think of anything better in the world than free stuff… not to mention free chocolate!

Allan, Greg and Nellie had just spent two weeks road tripping from Darwin all the way through the Northern Territory, entering into Southern Australia and finally finishing in Adelaide. With Allan’s determination to touch the most Southern point/beach off Adelaide, we made our way down to Glenelg Beach for a quick dip. Glenelg Beach was quite spectacular; it has an awesome boardwalk with heaps of shops, restaurants and cafes. It is a great spot to kick back with a few friends, grab some food, or simply just enjoy the sun.

20131119_170333

Glenelg Beach, Adelaide.

After finishing up at the beach, we headed back into the city to grab some dinner and drinks with Marc from Tourism South Australia. It was so nice to have a chance to catch up with the lifelong friends I had made during the ”Best Jobs in the World” competition. It’s going to be an absolute blast when we all reunite in Sydney for this upcoming New Years!

KANGAROO ISLAND, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

The next morning came early as Allan, Nellie and I were headed to Kangaroo Island for a 2-day, 1 night Adventure Tour! We made our way to the Adelaide Bus Terminal where we picked up our bus transfer to the Cape Jervis Ferry Terminal. From Cape Jervis we boarded Sealink and cruised through the Backstairs Passage and ended up at Penneshaw, Kangaroo Island. The first stop on our tour was at Rob’s Sheep Shearing. When we arrived, Rob and his three sheepdogs pleasantly greeted us. The sheepdogs proceeded to round up the sheep and bring them into the barn where the sheering took place.

20131120_110019 20131120_111757

Sheering a sheep in less than 2 minutes!

Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery was our next stop, where we had lunch. In the backyard of the distillery was a friendly emu who we very much enjoyed sharing our leftovers with.

20131120_135125

Returning to the Seal Bay Conservation Park was the highlight of my return to Kangaroo Island. The Australian Fur Seals make themselves at home along the pathway to the beach, and on the beach itself. The way the fur seals interact with each other is similar to children in a playground. They feed of each other’s energy and find comfort within groups.

20131120_145118

Sunbathing Seals at Seal Bay. 20131120_150002

Little Sahara was the second last stop of the day – it was time for sand boarding! Little Sahara is a system of naturally occurring coastal blow out dunes. The sand dune system at Little Sahara covers approximately two square kilometers on the south coast of Kangaroo Island. After trekking up to the top of the dune, I jumped on my board and zoomed down!

20131120_163241_1

As the evening came around the last stop of the day was at our evening accommodation – Vivonne Bay Lodge.  Vivonne Bay Lodge offers dorm style and private room accommodation for overnight stays on Kangaroo Island. Free bike and kayak rentals are included in your stay, and there only a short distance away is Vivonne Bay Beach – voted one of the nicest beaches in Australia. When we arrived, we had some time to settle in, take advantage of all the free activities offer by the accommodation, grab a beverage for the bar or just hang out in the lounge area. A barbeque dinner was served shortly after which consisted of chicken, steak and sausages, as well as a variety of different salads. A lazy evening was in store for the group and we all chatted around the dinner table until we headed to bed.

Day two on Kangaroo Island was just as action-packed. Bright and early we grabbed breakfast and headed off to the Hanson Bay Koala Sanctuary. Up in the trees of the sanctuary you can spot koalas in their natural habitat – and if you are lucky (like us!) you can see a joey in one of the mom’s pouches.

20131121_095154

We continued on along the Southern coast of the island and entered the Flinders’ Chase National Park – home of the Remarkable Rocks and Admiral’s Arch. The Remarkable Rocks “are naturally sculptured formations precariously balanced atop a granite outcrop.” Some people may see them simply as a cool visual site to look at and photograph – however Allan, Nellie and I saw them as a perfect opportunity to whip out some acrobatic tricks and poses.

20131121_10514920131121_111056

Allan the Outback Adventurer exploring the Remarkable Rocks, KI.20131121_113447_2

Still got it 5 years later! Dancer at heart!

Following the Remarkable Rocks, we headed to Admiral’s Arch, which is home to the New Zealand Fur Seals. The NZ Fur Seals differ from the Australian Fur Seals as they are dark brown and they have a very pungent smell to them. As we made our way along the boardwalk towards the viewing platform we were able to witness what thousands of years of weathering and erosion did to sculpt Admiral’s Arch.

20131121_121856

Through special interest of our guide Jen, we took a short detour and headed to Hanson Bay Beach. She raved about how it was her favourite beach and it didn’t take long to realize why. It came out of nowhere – we arrived to Hanson Bay and were instantly blown away by the view. See for yourself and you’ll know exactly what I am talking about.

20131121_150235

20131121_150608

Hanson Bay Beach, Kangaroo Island.

Hanson Bay was the perfect lasting image of Kangaroo Island left with me as we headed back to the Penneshaw Ferry Terminal. It was amazing to have a chance to revisit Kangaroo Island, and re-experience the beauty this island has to offer. Kangaroo Island offers everything from wildlife to beautiful beaches, to vast and spectacular landscapes. Adventure is also something that can be found and created while staying on KI – everything from excellent surf to sand boarding, kayaking and helicopter rides. There is something for everyone on KI and if you ever head to South Australia, it’s something not to be missed.

Australia

Life on the other side of the pond…

As mentioned in my previous post, before I arrived in Sydney, Australia I had the opportunity to stopover in Los Angeles, CA to visit a life long friend and relive my childhood at Universal Studios Hollywood. Predicted hours before even seeing Scott, I knew the evening would be an absolute riot. After he picked me up from the Tourism Australia “The Americas” head office downtown LA, we ventured further into the city. With a ZipCar as our form of transportation we covered a lot of ground. Later in the evening we made our way back to my resort at Universal Studios, The Beverly Garland Holiday Inn to grab a bite, relax and prepare for a fun-filled-action-packed-childhood-reliving day at the park.

The morning came early, as I wanted I took full advantage of my day pass at Universal Studios Hollywood. When I arrived at the Studios, I was instantly amazed. I didn’t waste a minute in entering the park and beginning to explore.

20131016_040852I felt as though I was 5 years old again – running up to all the characters and ensuring I took pictures with each and every one of them. I even befriended a “NYC Cop” who became my personal photographer for the day! After personally meeting Shrek, SpongeBob, Curious George and many other friendly characters I made my way to the main attractions.

20131016_044746 20131016_044913 20131016_05111120131016_050108

The Studio Tour was hands down the best and my favourite attraction at the park. It was incredible to see a behind-the-scenes look at how some of greatest films and television shows came to life at Universal Studios. It is definitely an experience you should add onto your bucket list.

20131016_07132620131016_072456 20131016_072653

Watch out for the flash flood!

20131016_074544

Following the Studio tour I found myself on The Simpson’s Ride, meeting Megatron from the Transformers, attending the Special Effects Stage and lastly experiencing Waterworld.

20131016_04220220131016_05253620131016_083225Everything you see at Universal Studios from the character costumes, live shows and main attractions has the potential to blow you away. Universal Studios is definitely something worth checking out if you ever are in the Los Angeles area.

If the characters, rides, live shows and attractions weren’t enough to put a smile on this girl’s face; as I was exiting out of the park I noticed a mob of people surrounding the “Extra” TV show stage. I made my way closer and crazy enough… it was Julianne Hough, star of Footloose and Save Haven being interviewed by Mario Lopez!

Julianne Hough

It is always a plus to see a celebrity… or two while spending time in the Entertainment Capital of the World, Hollywood!

Goodbye North America – HELLO Australia!

Passing through Australian customs marked the beginning of my next adventure. All that I had with me was a 60 + 15 litre rucksack, a tiny suitcase and a daypack to last me for the next while. I had only packed the essentials – the must have items that I couldn’t live without while being away. After retrieving my luggage I made my way through to the arrival gates… I had finally arrived and was in Sydney, I was home.

20131020_094124

Home Sweet Home!

Since being in Sydney I have moved locations about 5 times. From first checking into the Sydney Central YHA for my first three nights, to transferring to the Bounce Hostel where my Canadian friends were staying, to another hostel named Wake Up! down the road from my work to Bondi Beach and then back to Wake Up! … my life has been go-go-go ever since. (Side Note: I am aware that was a huge run on sentence, and it was exhausting trying to say it all in one breath… but that is how I have been feeling for the last 2 weeks :p).

In addition to constantly changing hostels, I have been working at Peterpans Adventure Travel since the day I arrived. Peterpans is an adventure travel company focused around servicing the backpacker, student and young at heart traveller. It has been an incredible experience so far working for them, as I am constantly surrounded by travellers (mostly all Australian foreigners) who share the same passion for Australia as I do. They have all found themselves travelling through the country and come to the realization they want to share that passion with prospective travellers. Peterpans plans and organizes trips anywhere within Australia from the East to the West Coast, to the Top End, Outback, South Coast and everything in between. In addition they specialize in trips throughout New Zealand and Fiji! It has been such a drastic learning curve, and I am really starting to realize how amazing this side of the world truly is for backpackers/travellers of all ages. I can’t wait until I am fully trained up and am able to give everything I have to share my passion for this amazing country through working at Pans.

Peterpannnn

Come by and say hi! Ask for Sam 🙂

If you are ever in the Sydney area, you should definitely stop on by 1/800 George Street in the Sydney CBD and say hi! I’ll plan you a trip of a lifetime, at a price you can’t find anywhere else.

When I am not working, I spend a lot of my time in the city; exploring the unique Sydney suburbs, laying on the  beach, as well as going out downtown. Sydney has so much to offer for the youthful traveller – from various backpacker “bar nights” at a different club each night of the week (with cheap drinks too!), to free walking tours offered by various hostels, to heaps of events and festivals going on daily. Sometimes it is easy to get overwhelmed by how much is going on in this city, that I feel as though I should stay in… to avoid having to choose what to do!

20131020_100951

With my time being spent in various hostels, I have met some really unique people. It is incredible that travelling can give you the opportunity to create a network of friends across the world. I have met people from all over the world including; Germany, UK, Brazil, Netherlands, USA, Denmark, Sweden, France and Italy.

After two weeks, I have finally started to feel settled in to my new home; my job is going well, my friends are abundant, and there is truly never a dull moment. The next step and final step until I am fully settled in is to find an apartment; a place I will stay for the remaining 5 and a ½ months while I am living and working in Sydney. I have been spending a lot of the time on the web looking, but I haven’t found the perfect place yet, so I am not rushing into finding a place.

Just before I end this post, I want to let you know about a trip myself, and a couple of the Best Jobs winners are planning for the end of November. If all goes as planned, I will be heading down to Adelaide for a few days to explore with Mr. Allan Dixon and Mr. Greg Snell. It has been AGES since I have seen either of them… so this trip will definitely be a treat! Stay tuned about how this trip comes about!

As I sign off for this post, it’s time to head to the Wake Up! Halloween Party – hope you enjoyed reading into what I have been up to since being in Sydney. I will be posting more frequently in the future and I hope you join me during my adventures.

Cheers!

sc.

Australia

Dream Big

Good afternoon Wanderers!

As you already may know, in August my life took a complete 360 turn when I decided I was going to delay school and move to Australia. This decision was made in hopes that I could I follow my dream and find a job in the Australian tourism industry. After securing a job focused in the youth backpacker market at Peterpans Adventure Travel in downtown Sydney – my trip preparation began to ramp up full force! Two short months later, it’s now October 14th and I am ready to take on this dream and jet off!

DAY HAS ARRIVED

My journey began with a short but sweet stop in Los Angeles where I met up with Tourism Australia (TA) – The Americas team. During this visit, I’ve had the chance to see their head office and meet the team that helped organize my “Best Jobs in the World” media trip this past June. In addition, I had the chance to attend a luncheon with Tourism Victoria – where various travel products throughout Victoria (VIC) were highlighted. I found it extremely useful to hear first hand from the providers what makes each of their products special. The products showcased included:  Eureka Skydeck 88, BUNYIP Tours, Oceania Tours & Safaris, Sovereign Hill, The Australian Wine Tour Co, Go West Tours and Segway Victoria.

As for the remainder of my time in Los Angeles, I have a jam-packed agenda. Tonight I will be having dinner with my life-long best friend (Scott) in Hollywood followed by a full day at Universal Studios Hollywood tomorrow. It has been years since Scott and I have seen each other; therefore I predict the evening to be filled with laughs, reminiscing on old times and lots of food.

bloggityu

There is a lot to look forward to in the next 24 hours – stay tuned and I’ll keep you posted on my adventures as I go!

Sam Clarke.

Guest Bloggers

Adventure By: Guest Blogger Georgia Boutsalis

Today, I am delighted to introduce to you the first guest blogger to be featured on SamsWanderfulLife. Georgia Boutsalis is an avid travel, lifestyle and “adventure” blogger from Toronto, Canada, and also happens to be one of my closest friends. She hosts a unique blog entitled Adventures of the Bun – the name deriving from the messy hair bun you commonly see Georgia rocking on a day basis – regardless of the occasion. With “adventure” being her other middle name starting with an “A,” it was fitting that she had the opportunity to share her insights on this topic as a guest blogger. Within a day of me reaching out to her about writing for me – she was able to find time in her busy schedule to publish this incredible post. I hope you can sit back, relax and enjoy!

560516_10151575812906709_1802657029_n

My life changed the day I realized my passion, and started living it.

It took me a while to think of what I was truly passionate about. I competitively danced all through from ages 12 to 18 (how I met our lovely Sam) and even enrolled in an arts high school where I danced at least once a day for four years. But I knew I wasn’t passionate about it. I didn’t crave it, it didn’t consume me, and if I missed a day or two, well to be quite honest, I enjoyed my days off.

Then I entered university and I still couldn’t find the thing that drives me every single day. It took a conversation with my personal trainer to help me figure out what my motivating element was. After pondering the simple question “What are you passionate about” for a few hours, it finally hit me. Once the word left my lips, I felt an exciting surge run through my body, followed by a moment of sheer relief.

Adventure.

Travel has always been a constant theme in my life. From a young age, my parents would take us on car trips to the east coast of Canada or down to New York, Boston, or Florida (we flew that one). Even better, we would take month long trips to Greece where I had the freedom to aimlessly run around my tiny village (which seemed huge at the time). Getting on a plane meant I was taking a break from my regular day-to-day activities, and jetting off to explore new places, meet new people, and experience new adventures. Now, I didn’t realize this at my young age: I was just excited to be near a beach or get off school for a few days. But looking back now, I see that I’ve always had a passion for adventure, and it grows stronger each and every day.

Now, for those of you saying, you have school or a job or something stopping you from going on an adventure, I call bullshit. Life is not getting in the way of your next adventure; you’re stopping yourself from getting creative. Break free from the commercialized idea that you have to be backpacking in a different country to go on an adventure. Explore your own backyard. I’ve lived in Toronto my entire life and I haven’t even witnessed 1/800th of what this city has to offer. Make it a goal to explore a new neighbourhood, new restaurant, or new activity. Your enthusiasm and open-mindedness are what make it an adventure: not a new stamp on your passport.

But yes, the new stamp is always an exciting moment. It means you get to explore a new city, state, or country, and learn as much as you can in the time you’re given. I truly believe travel is the greatest learning device out there. Not only does it teach you about a county’s cultural, spiritual, economical, physical, and emotional beliefs, but it also teaches you about your own cultural, spiritual, economical, physical, and emotional beliefs. When you travel, you’re put in different and sometimes uncomfortable positions, but it’s in these moments where you learn the most about yourself. You discover a side of you that you never knew existed. These new life lessons mould you and turn you into the person you were destined to be. Sometimes it takes climbing a volcano, conversing with a monk, or swimming 60 feet below in the bluest oceans to realize who that person is. These experiences expand your knowledge and open your mind and your heart to a whole new world of opportunities.

1148932_10151575802291709_1473515449_n

Another incredible thing I have learned through my adventures is that sometimes it is not the adventure itself, but the person or people you share that adventure with. I have developed some of my greatest friendships while on trips and/or trying a new activity. The best example I can give is the fact that I am about to celebrate my 2 year anniversary with an amazing guy I met one summer in Greece. Because I was in my element (going on an adventure to a new greek island) I was completely carefree and had a positive attitude the entire weekend. This attracted his carefree and positive attitude and we spent a majority of the trip bonding over our love for adventure. Since then we’ve shared endless adventures together, and each one is more exciting than the last.

A more recent example was agreeing to go on a 5 week trip to Southeast Asia with 2 girlfriends from university who I hadn’t known for very long. Well after 5 weeks, it feels like I’ve known them for forever. We have 3 very different personalities, but I learned so much about them and myself in our time together. That’s what happens when you spend day and night with someone: you get to know their pet peeves, their habits, and their aspirations on a very personal level. These are the friendships that can overcome any obstacle. These are the friends you call up when you’re planning your next adventure, because you know no matter what, it’s going to be a fabulous time!

944136_10151419132296709_18830523_n

Lastly, write about your adventures. I started my blog for the sole purpose of having a way to document my experiences without having to lug around a journal. Adventures often happen when you least expect it, so having the ability to type it out moments after, when the feelings are fresh and new, is an incredible asset. Not only this, but eventually, you get to share these adventures with friends and family who love to see what sort of trouble you’re getting into. And last, but certainly not least, you pass on the adventure bug. People see you doing these awesome things and are inspired to go out and do something equally as awesome. If we all wrote down and shared our adventures, we would never run out of ideas and there would never be a dull moment in any of our lives. You’ll also thank yourself 50 years from now when you’re having trouble recalling the specifics of your Euro trip.

Pictures are also a beautiful thing. I am a huge picture taker and love printing them and putting them in albums to look back at every once in a while. But sometimes I let picture taking get in the way of enjoying the adventure. Lately, I’ve been reminding myself that 1 or 2 photos will do the same job as 75. Pictures are there to remind us of the time we had, not to take up the entire time. So take a couple, and then put the camera away. Don’t fret if you don’t have 500 photos up on Facebook; your friends will understand that you were just enjoying yourself and taking in the full experience.

If you’ve taken anything away from my rambling, I hope it is that you’ve read the word adventure so many times that it becomes that nagging voice in your head that tells you to go on an adventure today! Get up off your chair/bed/couch, walk out your door, and find your next adventure. Don’t forget to call up a friend, pack your enthusiasm and open mind, and get ready to start living!

xo gb & the bun.

Australia

Australia Round Three – Third Times a Charm Right?

It’s been a while since I have last connected with you all about what I have been up to lately. I feel as though this is the perfect post to start up my blogging craze again.  Following my return from the “Best Jobs in the World” competition this past June 2013, I was immediately off on another adventure; an adventure very different than “Best Jobs.” I was off to Boston, Washington D.C, NYC and New Jersey for three weeks as a trip leader for a high school Community Service trip. 

972047_643358359009490_1069235873_n

While I was away, I couldn’t help but constantly think about Australia and how I yearned to be back there as soon as possible. I found it difficult at first to be fully immersed in the experience that I was undergoing, as my mind and heart was set on Australia. You could say I was going through serious withdrawal… My withdrawal became so severe that I began to reconsider a few plans that were currently set for my immediate future. I had been enrolled in Teacher’s College and was suppose to begin my studies in Intermediate/Senior Physical Education and Geography in September. After finally piecing together my many thoughts and feelings, it became very clear to me that I didn’t want to be a teacher. I realized that the main reason I chose “teaching” was solely based off the idea I wanted a way to justify my “wanderlust,” and I believed I could do that by supplementing my travel expenses with teaching worldwide. However it occurred to me that if I really just wanted to travel the world… why don’t I simply do that?

Greg Snell (Best Jobs – Wildlife Caretaker) stated it perfectly to me on a Skype call we had not to long ago; “I once considered teaching because it was one of the only jobs that would allow me enough time off in a year to travel, but then I realized all I really wanted to do was travel… so I did.” My mind has revisited that Skype conversation that we had many times, and it has helped me immensely in making many decisions I’ve had about the next chapter of my life post graduation.

I know that it may sound extremely crazy and slightly impractical at this stage of my life but the final decision I made was to decline my acceptance to Teacher’s College and move back to the country I adore – I’ll give you three guesses what that country is…You guessed AUSTRALIA right? Well if you did – way to go! If you didn’t… you obviously don’t following me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any form of social media… it’s all I talk about.

Let’s now fast-forward about a month and we are sitting on the date of August 16th 2013… two months away from the biggest and most drastic (but AWESOME) move of my life. Leaving around the 15th of October, I will board a flight from Toronto Pearson International Airport and jet off for the adventure of a lifetime: This spontaneous-Canadian-wanderer is Sydney, Australia bound indefinitely! As cliché as the saying is: YOLO – and I want to live it to the fullest. Are you ready to join me for the ride?

auzzzzz

Travelling requires a certain amount of planning. Before we discuss all the “fun” stuff surrounding my move – I think it is smart to highlight some of the technical and logistical aspects of leaving one’s home country to reside in another for an extended period of time. First thing that was on my checklist was applying for my Working Holiday (Temporary) Visa – Subclass 417. This visa is meant for people between the ages of 18 -30 who are interested in supplementing their “holiday” in Australia with short-term employment. Within minutes of answering a few questions and filling out a simple application… my visa had been approved. It took less than three minutes to be granted permission to live, work and study in Australia for up to a year! I was amazed by how fast and easy it was to get, and made me wonder why more Canadians don’t consider doing a WHV in Australia. For more information on the Canadian and Working Holiday Visa connection, make sure you check out my previous interview with “Best Jobs in the World” winner Greg Snell.

Now with my Visa sorted out, I knew I had to get the ball rolling in seeking out jobs in Sydney. Apparently my Australian luck struck again as I received an email I had been waiting for from a backpacker adventure travel company that I had applied to a while back. It was to schedule a Skype interview for a position in their Sydney City shop as a travel consultant and on-field travel blogger. Talk about the perfect job for me! I’m going to cut to the chase now and say that I got the job and will officially be starting in mid October as Peterpans Adventure Travel’s newest employee!

20130817_152259

What is Peterpans Adventure Travel?

They are the leading brand in adventure travel for the student, backpacker or “young at heart” traveller. With 18 shops located all across Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, Darwin, Gold Coast, Cairns,  Perth, Adelaide, etc) and a 2 located in New Zealand (Auckland, Queenstown) … Peterpans Adventure Travel specializes in providing the best deals and packages for all travellers within Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. Whether you are looking for a day trip to Phillip Island (VIC), an Outback Rock Tour to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (NT) or a 2 night, 2 day sailing adventure through the majestic Whitsunday Islands (QLD), Peterpans will be able to plan the perfect trip to suit you!

With my visa approved and a job secured, things are starting to become more real each and everyday. I look at my calendar and realize that 2 months is not a lot of time to plan, pack and say all my “see you laters” before I leave. There are still lots of things to do and I can’t wait for everything to fall nicely into place.

It’s going to be one hell of a ride and I hope you are there to join me.

Sam Clarke.