Gapyear.com goes backpacking Down Under
The thing about backpacking is it constantly changes. One year South America is popular; the next, it's South East Asia. This year, 2012, Australia is once again in the ascendancy with millions of tourists flocking back to the land of green and gold, and that trend looks set to continue into the summer of 2013.
I returned from my gap year in September 2010. Apart from a few city breaks here and there, I thought it was about time to don my backpack again and get back into the game. That's why, when Tourism Australia and the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) asked if gapyear.com would like to send out a roving reporter to see what's changed Down Under, I jumped at the chance.
This will be my second trip to Australia. On my gap year I lived and travelled there for five months. My Australian adventure, like the majority of other backpackers, was to hire a car and drive from Sydney up to Cairns. It took two months and it was one of the highlights of my gap year, mainly because there were so many coastal towns that I thought "yep, life is good here. Australia's got it right..." Once in Cairns, I travelled down to Bundaberg to fruit pick for a few months, to see what it was like living and working in a community of like-minded travellers. And this was all at the beginning of 2010. Over two years ago. Now that I'm travelling to Australia again, I can't wait to see what's changed.
So, on Tuesday 10th April I'm flying with Qantas to Sydney, and I've got a jam-packed itinerary from the moment I land.
In Sydney I'll be staying in Sydney Central YHA and Sydney Harbour YHA (make sure you pop in and say hi if you're in the area). I think the two thing's that I'm most looking forward to doing in Sydney is having a cheeky surf lesson at Manly Beach and seeing if Sydney is still the bustling buzzing city that I remember.
I used to love walking around Sydney. It feels small enough to wander around (unlike London), yet big enough to feel lost in, a feeling which I love. I hope it hasn't changed!
The Blue Mountains
After Sydney I'm heading to Katoomba, the local town near the Blue Mountains. It's stunning to think that Katoomba, a town of approximate 10,000 people, is only an hour and a half away from Sydney, Australia's largest city at four and a half million people.
The Blue Mountains is a mountainous region in New South Wales (as its name would suggest) and it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's also famous for the ‘Three Sisters', a cool rock formation. If you're a fan of adventure activities, then this is one of the places to go in Australia. While in the 'Blueies' I'll be hiking, rock climbing and abseiling. Hiking in the Blue Mountains is a great gap year activity and well worth getting out of Sydney for.
After the Blue Mountains I'll be flying up to Cairns for a spot of scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef (I'm a dive fanatic). I'm diving on the SilverSwift and looking to take lots of underwater snaps with InDepthVideo (watch this space - there's going to be a gallery on gapyear.com and it's going to be awesome).
Diving on the reef is a must on your gap year, even if it's a snorkelling day trip. It's an experience you'll never forget and it's on most people's bucket list.
Also, while in Cairns, I'll be learning more about Australia's heritage by taking a tour of the Aboriginal Cultural Park at Tjapukai.
So, that's my trip. As gapyear.com's roving reporter I'm going to be getting an insight into the current trends in backpacking and travelling, to see what's hot and what's not, so if you see me in Oz make sure you come up and say hi! I really want to see what the YHA culture is like in Australia and if adventure activities are as still as popular as they once were. Watch this space...
You can find out more about backpacking in Australia with Tourism Australia's Adventure Guide – check it out!
About the Author: Macca Sherifi
Macca is gapyear.com's travel editor and writes on a myriad of topics, giving the best travel advice in an easy-to-read style that he would describe as 'cutesy'. His two passions are travelling and writing, which is lucky, because he's a travel writer. Macca travelled for 20 months non-stop, never settling in one place for more than a week or two, living to travel and travelling to live. In his spare time, he reads about travelling, thinks about travelling, and then travels. If that fails he still harbours hopes of being a professional rugby player...