Port Arthur was the location of the first juvenile detention center in the British Empire. The announcer on the boat explained that the kids were mixed with adults. At ten years old, they were legally responsible for their own actions. It was sad because most of them were just trying to survive the streets of London and were homeless.
I took a boat tour to Hell’s Gates and Sarah Island, aka, Devil’s Island. The convict history was fascinating and alarming. If the convicts survived, they could leave as skilled tradesman. Others were cannibalized.
As a solo traveler, I value the opportunities where I get to meet new people as well as meet up with old friends along my travels. Returning to Melbourne gave me the opportunity to reunite with a new friend that I met months earlier, and an old friend and co-worker from the U.S.
I was approaching Melbourne, which would close the loop. My drive around Australia was complete. After 6 months on the road, it felt surreal. It felt like I was coming home.
Sydney’s convict history is fascinating. My favorite story was about the ship, The Juliana, which transported female prostitutes. They would go on to become wives, mothers, and respected women.
The weather in Sydney was awful. I wandered into the Maritime Museum and walked through a fascinating exhibit about William Bligh. Each item and story presented the argument that he was a hero and one that showed he was a villain. We even got to vote at the end. Was he a hero or a villain? I also explored the inside of the Sydney Opera House.
I walked along the Sydney Harbor, enjoying the nice weather and beautiful views. As I sat on a concrete block with headphones on, a young man approached and asked me for directions. I ended up getting to know all about him and have stayed in touch with him. Talking with strangers is easier than talking with people we know because they don’t hold our past mistakes against us.
I drove to the beautiful and famous Bondi Beach near Sydney, but was overwhelmed with the amount of people there. Just as I contemplated living as a hermit in the woods, a few people brightened my day.
I finally arrived to Sydney! I spent the day climbing the famous Sydney Harbor Bridge overlooking the Sydney Opera House. That evening, I went on a bar tour, where I met people from around the world.
The fires in Australia started early and it was becoming clearer that this was going to be one of the worst fire seasons on record. I checked into a motel in Newcastle, Australia, and was treated so poorly by the man at the front, he even sent me a nasty email while I watched T.V. in my room.
I saw glowworms inside of a cave and then drove to the Gold Coast. I met some fellow travelers in the Australian outback and randomly ran into them a few times in the Northwest. While in the Gold Coast, I met up with them again – at the perfect time!
I met up with a couple who were house and pet sitting too. They were from London and had completed several sits in the U.K. and Australia. We went on a hike together, and enjoyed the beach town of Noosa.
I enjoyed the fancy resort at Airlie Beach and the infinity pool. Then I took a large boat from Airlie Beach to The Great Barrier Reef for some more diving. Airlie Beach is incredible and so is the reef! The underwater current was powerful though and swept me away!
I drove from Cairns to Airlie Beach, stopping at a sugar museum, Cardwell, Townsville (stayed the night) and then on to Airlie Beach. The scenery was beautiful and I instantly wanted to stay in Airlie Beach for a long time! I found a steal at an incredible resort.
I explored the northern area around Cairns and couldn’t help but notice all of the warning signs about crocodiles and box jellyfish. It didn’t help that I had a nightmare about a crocodile eating a man. I also went for a hike in the rainforest at Mossman Gorge. Then, I drove to Cape Tribulation.
I drove a campervan 2,000 miles from Darwin to Cairns, making a stop in Kakadu National Park. It wasn’t the easiest drive & I was exhausted. The road was only partial paved and then I drove up and down a mountain on a narrow road with 263 turns! I had to get the campervan back to the rental place by 3:00 pm, but would I make it with all of the slow turns?
I was back to traveling solo, but thankfully, I had my Airbnb hosts and a friend who was still in town. I also met some great people at the horse races who welcomed me into their groups without hesitation.
It was our last night camping in the Australian outback. I was really starting to enjoy the company of the other 19 people on the tour. Jokes were told, we laughed, we drank, and we sang! What more could you ask for?