Cayla Barker is a student at Bridgewater State University and an ISA Photo Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in the Gold Coast, Australia.
I have been on the Gold Coast for a little over a month now and I have loved every single second of it! I have luckily already been able to do a bit of traveling to places such as Byron Bay, North Stradbroke Island, Mount Tambourine, Sydney, the Blue Mountains, and Brisbane.
Out of all of the places I have been able to travel to so far, some of my favorites were only a short drive from the Gold Coast. These places are Byron Bay, New South Wales; North Stradbroke Island, Queensland; and Brisbane, Queensland.
1. BYRON BAY
Even though Byron Bay is located in New South Wales, it is still only about an hour away. I was lucky enough to be able to spend four days in Byron Bay for my ISA orientation. Byron Bay is where I got my first taste of the Australia life! Byron Bay is a small hippie town and unlike any place I’ve ever seen before. Words can’t even describe Byron Bay. The lighthouse, the beaches, the downtown area, everything was just so cool and unlike anything I’d seen or heard of before. Byron Bay will always hold a special place in my heart as this is where I made my first friends on my study abroad journey and where I experienced my first days in Australia. It is definitely a place I would like to go back to in the future!
Fun things to do while in Byron Bay:
- Take a surfing lesson
- Kayak with dolphins
- Take a walk to see the lighthouse
- Enjoy the beautiful beaches
- Venture through the downtown area
2. NORTH STRADBROKE ISLAND
Another place where I was able to spend a weekend was North Stradbroke Island on my ISA excursion, which is just off the coast of Brisbane. It takes about two hours to get there because a ferry ride is necessary, as it is an island. Something that amazed me about this ferry was that cars and busses could drive right onto the ferry and also go over to the island. I had never seen anything quite like that before. Unfortunately, the weather during my time on this island was not the best, as it rained most of the time, but the experience was still one I will never forget. This beautiful island is a must see for people looking for weekend getaways near the Gold Coast.
What to check out in North Stradbroke Island:
- Sand boarding
- 4×4 ride through the sand
- The North Gorge Walk at Point Lookout
- Wake up early enough to see the sunrise (it’s truly as beautiful as the pictures show)
- Learn about Aboriginal dancers and history
Brisbane is the capital city of the state of Queensland in Australia. Visiting this city was definitely a must do. I have been told that this city is not all that exciting, but it exceeded my expectations and I loved it! I unfortunately only stayed for one night, but plan on going back at some point in the next couple of months in order to see everything that I didn’t get a chance to see. The weather was also not all that great when I was there so hopefully next time it will be better! The hostel I stayed in was located in Fortitude Valley, which seemed to be a very popular area. I can’t wait to check out this city even more during the semester and before I catch my plane ride home!
Things worth doing while in Brisbane:
- Botanical Gardens
- Eat Street Markets
- Streets Beach in South Bank
- Outdoor Markets in South Bank
- Mister Fitz’s Ice Cream in Fortitude Valley
The world awaits…discover it.