My 15 Favourite Travel Moments of 2016


Well its safe to say 2016 wasn't everyone's favourite year.
Dubbed as 'one of the worst years in history' because of the amount of shit that went down I think most of us are pretty happy to be putting 2016 to bed and try to turn it around in 2017.
Not gonna lie, when Alan Rickman (a.k.a Snape) died within the first 2 weeks of Jan I already had written off the year.
& then Britain when to shit with the whole Brexit thing & then the USA literally 'trumped' us by electing him as president.
A gorilla was killed for gods sake & then to top it all off Princess Leia died in the last week. 
But enough about the negatives ...






I had a fantastic 2016 to tell you the truth (apart from Snape obv) & I'd like to share with you some of my favourite travel moments of 2016, and yes they all happen to be in Australia ha!


The Big Move
On March 14th 2016 I boarded my Qatar Airways flight heading to Perth, WA to start what I hoped would be 12 months of travel, work, experiences and ultimate adventures. It was the furthest I've ever been away from home, my first solo flight, my first solo adventure, and the longest time I'd be away from home. I have not regretted coming to Australia one bit and urge anyone who has even considered it for a second to just yolo it and go! I have learnt so much, not just about Australia but about myself. I have fallen head-over-heels in love with this beautiful country and cannot wait for the other adventures this country has to offer me in 2017!



Rottnest Island & the #quokkaselfie

I had never heard of a quokka until maybe 6 months before coming to Australia. 
Because I'm the most anal-organized person in the world I like to plan ahead of what I can do and see in places before I get there so I don't miss anything. This is how I discovered the craze of the #quokkaselfie. Quokkas are literally the happiest animal on the planet and live on Rottnest Island, just off the coast of Perth in Western Australia and people have started this craze of taking selfies with them because they look like they're smiling!!
Rottnest island is a gorgeous place anyway and 100% worth visiting for the long scenic bike-rides, the snorkeling & the views, but I basically just went for the selfie!




Swimming with whale sharks in Exmouth, WA

So I mention this quite a lot.
Im just so happy about it ok!!
This was legit the best thing I've ever experienced & will remember it the rest of my life.
In WA, whale sharks migrate between the months of April and July so you have the opportunity to go swimming with these gentle giants in places like Exmouth (or Coral Bay, Broome etc) and it was brilliant.
I don't feel confident in open water but I have never felt so calm in my life as I was swimming within a few metres of this massive fish! It was amazing.
If you'd like to read & see the whole experience just click here.




Sunrise over Uluru
One of the major things on the bucket list, was to not only visit Uluru, but to watch the sunrise & sunset there.
I did both and true be told, the sunrise won hands down!
Just watching the sun creep up over the horizon and watch as the whole area just exploded with colour was beautiful.
It also helps to set the scene with "Circle of Life' from The Lion King playing in the background!





Sailing the Whitsundays

I personally didn't sail the boat, well, technically I stood at 'the wheel' for a minute to take a photo but I never actually sailed it.
BUT
I did go on a big beautiful sailing boat called The Hammer and went on a fabulous 2 day, 1 night trip round the Whitsunday Islands.
You will never see anything as beautiful or perfect as the Whitsundays. The whole adventure was incredible and I loved visiting Whitehaven beach, snorkeling amongst the beautiful corals.
Look out for my blog post on my sailing trip with The Hammer coming soon.








Scooteroo 1770

What? You might ask.
First off, 1770 is a town on the East Coast, & Scooteroo is a "Harley-Davidson-style-bike-tour' round 1770 and Agnes Waters.
It was hilarious. I very nearly got asked NOT to participate because I was so bad in the practice sessions and nearly ran someone over but they let bygons be bygons and let me have a go & I lived to tell the tale.
This was a really fun and different way to tour round the towns and I'd never done anything like this so was automatically keen. We drove past wild kangaroos and took a nice walk through a forest to break up the drive.





TURTLE

I never really realized how much I wanted to swim with turtles until I didn't get to when everyone else had.
Yes, I managed to see them above the water from a boat in the Ningaloo Reef, but others actually got to swim with them and it was at this moment I guess I realized how much I wanted to.
So it was my absolute mission to do the same when we took to the seas around The Whitsundays.
We had 2 snorkeling opportunities; the first one I missed the bugger again didn't I!
And then the second snorkel trip I was swimming and swimming in every direction towards where our guide was pointing them out, but nope, nothing. Nearly killed myself swimming so hard and fast.
But eventually, just floating in the sea, a man swims past and points down into the water.
there he was
The most beautiful and fabulous turtle I'd ever seen.
Me and the guys swam with the turtle for ages and I was literally the happiest person in the world.




Hiking & Swimming in Karijini National Park
Karijini is by far one of the best national parks ive ever visited and has so many trails and hikes and spots to explore.
The hikes can be tough but the rewards are the end make up for it.
All the freshwater swimming holes and gorges and waterfalls to swim, jump and explore in.
I loved my time there and would love to visit again in the future and explore more.
Click here to watch and read all about my time in Karijini!



Snorkeling in the Ningaloo Reef, WA
Just off the coast of Western Australia is a hidden gem that I feel often gets overlooked by the famous Great Barrier Reef on the East Coast. I am of course talking about the Ningaloo Reef and it is divine!
I got the chance to snorkel amongst the beautiful reef at both Coral Bay and Exmouth where I swam with reef sharks, stingrays, turtles and absolutely gorgeous corals.
I'd never really snorkeled before so was very apprehensive and I may have struggled with the concept of breathing under-water at first but got the hang of it eventually to really enjoy myself.







Lake Mackenzie, Fraser Island

One of the most beautiful lakes I've ever laid eyes on. This stunning freshwater lake can be found on the famous Fraser Island & its one of the hotspots to visit while there.

It was surreal how crystal clear the water was until the sudden drop in the depth and all goes to a rich dark blue. I would love love love to go back there and spend more time just relaxing on the sand and admiring the views.








Completing the 'dreaded' Farm Work
I put 'dreaded' because that's what I had heard; that all farm work is horrendous and it takes ages to complete the 88 days and you get hardly any money.
I however stumbled across Dalbeg in QLD and actually loved it there.
I was one of the weird ones who actually volunteered to stay longer than my 3 months and worked an extra month to fund for my East Coast trip.
I had the best time, made the best friends and although I never want to see a squash, zucchini or choko ever again, it was definitely an experience I wouldn't change and am so glad I did it!
#122daysbaby






Settling in Melbourne
Since arriving in Melbourne at the end of October I have found a beautiful city I can call home. I have a wonderful set of friends here and have fallen in love with the delights of this chilled-out place.
I have finally been able to truly unpack my bag since arriving in Australia and the feeling is fantastic, but its also made me realize how little things I have left!
I have explored this city and will continue to do so to create great content for my blog.
& although the whole finding-a-job thing took alot longer than planned, I've managed to find some casual and random roles along the way ... TV Extra!!
I spent my first Christmas away from home here and with a brilliant group of people and took advantage of the hot hot weather! Although I cannot remember eating my christmas dinner (one too many glasses, bottles of gin) it was a fun day!




West Coast Roadtrip
Back in April I joined a tour with Intrepid Travel / Adventure Tours Australia and ventured from Perth, up the coast, through the Kimberleys and ended in Darwin.
I spent 3 weeks in some of the most enchanting and exciting places I've ever been and got to experience some truly amazing things.
I made a fantastic group of friends on this tour and was a great introduction to what Australia really has to offer.




East Coast Roadtrip
& what would a visit to Australia be without the 'right of passage' roadtrip down the East Coast.
This was the sweet reward after 4 months on the farm; myself and 5 bloody brilliant people set off in our camper van and hiked, snorkeled, sailed, drank, sang, danced and laughed our way down the East Coast from Ayr all the way to Sydney.
We had such a great time and it was amazing to visit those places with friends I had gotten to know and love over the 4 months on the farm.




Blue Mountains National Park
Literally just squeezed this one into 2016 and was brilliant.
Took the 2 hour train from Sydney to Katoomba and went on a fun, yet tough, sweaty, but bloody incredible hike round the National Park; visiting the famous Three Sisters and waterfalls along the way.
The steps down to the Three Sisters was so tough, my knees were literally shaking and like jelly the whole way down but the views 100% made up for this!
Never sweated as much in my life but was a brilliant trip and with great people!






But for now I'm off to count in the New Year with one of my best friends Emily in Sydney and enjoy the amazing firework shows!

I hope these experiences inspire you to visit some of these sights & to fit as much travel as you can into your 2017!
I'd love to hear what you're favourite travel moments were of 2016 or maybe what you've got lined up in 2017!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! 

Thanks for reading
& happy travels

♡ G

Join me on Instagram @gemwills 

& follow me on my Australia Adventure! 

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