Month: January 2018

Adventures in Far North Queensland: Glacier Rock Lookout Hike

I’m a pretty big fan of walking up giant mountains and I am not afraid to admit that it’s at least 85% because of the view at the top. Yes, I definitely enjoy the physical aspect. Of course, I am most certainly crazy about the influx of outdoors ensued endorphins. Absolutely, I love getting amongst nature in one of the most beautiful rainforest filled parts of the world. And obviously, working up a sweat under the tropical sun is awesome. BUT that view!? That view is good enough to surpass all those things.

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Glacier Rock is a three hour round hike suitable for reasonably fit people of all ages. When I say ‘reasonably fit’ I really do just mean reasonably. It is not the most difficult hike I have ever done and there are plenty of options for stops along the way. As long as you can walk at a normal pace you should be fine to do Glacier Rock!

The hike starts at the Stoney Creek carpark, so type that straight into Google Maps and make your way to the carpark. Cross the bridge above Stoney Creek and start your journey through the rainforest. From there it’s all straightforward and simple – just make sure you keep going until you get to the top! Some people stop about an hour in because they think that’s all it is. If it’s not the view in these photos, keep going up!

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The hike is a very well established network of Aboriginal walking tracks boasting a great deal of history. The Djabugandgi Bama walked these tracks for trade, seasonal food gathering and to visit ceremonial sites. In the period of early European contact – around the late 1800s – the network of walking tracks was adapted by gold miners, cattle drovers and railway workers to cater for pack horses which is what inevitably turned it into what we see today when we walk the track.

The first time I walked the track I took my mum with me. We made it up and back in 3.5 hours, but that time included a half hour stop at the top for some refuelling (snacks, lots of snacks). We are not crazy fit nor do we do long distance hikes often, but we made it there and back with relative ease.

The second time I took my friend, Kate, with me. Again the actual walking part took three hours. The third time Kate and I invited another friend, Rhianne. Once more, three hour walking time. So I am very confident to say that three hours is what you can expect if you are planning to take your time and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Here are my top tips for the Glacier Rock Lookout Hike:

  1. Bring lots of water and plenty of healthy snacks. I would recommend a litre of water per person, especially in the Summer months. Cairns is a very hot and humid place and the sun is no joke – trust me on this one, water is essential. We usually take a backpack and take turns carrying it. Snacks like sandwiches and fruit always make us feel much better when we get to the top and it’s also nice to enjoy the view with a little picnic.
  2. Go early in the morning – that’s when it is the coolest here in Cairns. The middle of the day is the hottest, so try to avoid the main part of the uphill walk between 11am and 1pm. The view is also much clearer in general in the early hours of the morning.
  3. Bring swimmers! Stoney Creek is a beautiful and safe swimming hole with fresh water for cooling off. It’s also a quiet swimming hole, so most days you may get a whole area to yourself! Be sure to keep an eye on children though as there are a lot of rocks.
  4. Stop when you need to stop – this hike is stunning and there is SO much to see. I am confident that you will want to stop and look around as much as possible, so do that! There’s nothing like Far North Queensland.
  5. This IS a nature hike so please be mindful of the things that can be surrounding you while out and about in Australian nature. Always be aware and don’t venture off the very clearly marked path. Be cautious!
  6. If it has been raining or it is raining, I would recommend rescheduling your hike to the Glacier Rock Lookout until it is dry. This can be a steep hike in some parts and as it is all dirt it can get very slippery and dangerous in wet weather. Again, be cautious!
  7. Most importantly – take some kind of camera! You won’t want to miss this shot! Your friends will be reeling with jealousy when they see the amazing things you got to see and do in Cairns.

I’d love to see your photos and hear about your Glacier Rock experience – leave me a comment down below!

Katie

What to Expect at Walt Disney World

It’s known worldwide as “the happiest place on Earth” but what should you really expect from Disney World? I love Disney just as much as the next millennial but after working at an Australian theme park for over two years I definitely wondered how magical I would really find the famed parks in Orlando, Florida.

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Well, first of all – it’s busy.
You’re probably thinking: “Well obviously Katie, are you daft?” But don’t worry, I absolutely expected it to be busy. I just didn’t expect it to be THAT busy. There is a level of busy that one cannot understand until they experience it. That, my friends, is Disney Busy.

My top tip for surviving the hustle and bustle would be to book your breakfast, lunch, and dinner as soon as you possibly can. The group I travelled with didn’t wish to book any food times – and that’s fine, some people prefer to not be locked into any time constraints – but the one night we did book? We walked in, sat down, ate our food, walked out. That easy, that simple. I enjoyed that meal the most. Most other nights I didn’t eat very well nor did I eat very much. The days were spent lining up for 30 minutes to an hour or more for one waffle or hotdog. I have vowed that if I ever return to Disney I will book food times religiously. Katie has to eat well to be chirpy, I’ll tell you that much!

Another awesome tip: get there first! Even if it’s an hour before the park opens, I recommend you get there first. You will be able to do SO much more in those early hours than any other time and you will be grateful you did it.

You will gain a new talent: Queueing.
If you are not from the United States, let me tell you a thing: Americans are VERY good at lining up for stuff. You too will become very good at queueing once you have had your Disney adventure. Lines are meticulously crafted by the Disney gods to get you to the front of and back out of every character viewing, food stand, ride, show, and shop. This does not mean they are any faster… it just means you don’t need to constantly say “Oh sorry, we were actually next” to every person you see.

My top tip for getting through queues without ripping your hair out is go in a group so one of you can get food/hold your spot while you pee/talk to you to pass time. At the VERY least bring an external battery because if you are a solo traveller you may use every bar of your phone battery trying to pass the time. I make it sound terrible, I know, but it really is quite bearable. The only time I really truly noticed the wait was when we stood in line for TWO hours to meet Mickey Mouse for five minutes. But it is true that if someone can pop out and get food for you all no one will accuse them of jumping the line when they try to get back in. Everyone understands how hard it is to stand there for so long and they will let your friend join you again. We spent way too long worrying that people would think we were pushing in when we should’ve just realised that everyone was doing it and, to be perfectly honest, it really is a great time to eat.

Disney can’t be done in a day.
I’m sure this goes without saying, but just in case: it CANNOT be done in a day. You will probably find that even one park can’t be done in a day. Disney World is made up of four parks, two water parks, a bunch of resorts, Disney Springs and Downtown Disney. If you put Disney World on a map it would cover the entire city of San Francisco. Disney is GIANT. During our winter visit the water parks were closed so we only really had to worry about the four main parks: Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. I can honestly say that I didn’t completely see all of any one park.

The best tip here would just be do your homework and make some plans. The reality is that you probably won’t get to see everything unless you’re planning to spend a couple of weeks at Disney. So just be prepared to miss out on a few things. Be extra-thoughtful about what attractions, characters and rides you really want to see and do and make sure you see and do them. Disney requires monumental levels of organisation and as long as you’re prepared you will feel fulfilled.

But with those points out of the way, let’s talk about 5 things I loved at Disney!

  1. Disney is okay with outside food and drink! So you don’t have to queue all day!
  2. FastPass+ is awesome! You get three FastPasses in advance for every day you’re at Disney. Use them to skip the queues on the most popular rides! Just be mindful to book them early as the spots can fill up up to three months in advance for the really popular rides (Avatar’s Flight of Passage…).
  3. Adults can still ride even if the kids can’t! Take advantage of the parent swap option so you don’t miss out on your favourite rides just because your little ones are a little too little.
  4. The characters are great. Disney has a superior standard of characters when it comes to theme parks. They know everything there is to know about the character they’re playing, so go ahead: ask Ariel how Flounder is doing, ask Alice about the cheshire cat, and ask Gaston how many times Belle has decline his marriage proposal. Just don’t tell Woody that Andy is coming… he knows he’s gone to college.
  5. World isn’t just the name – you are literally stepping into a Whole New World (pun intended). Disney World is full of incredible architecture and magical sceneries. You will realise exactly how big this Disney phenomenon is just by looking at everything that surrounds you. You will be blown away time and time again by the way you are transported to different countries and different times. That, to me, is by far the most awe inducing part of the Disney experience.

2017

Here we are again! It’s that brilliant time of year when I get to do a recap of the last 365 days. I love yearly recaps, I really do. They make me feel so accomplished because I can realise – all at once – exactly what I have achieved in what is actually a very short amount of time.

Let me begin by proudly stating: 2017 was the best year of my life. So far, anyway!

When I left my life in Sydney and moved back to Cairns there was only one thing I really wanted from life – travel, travel, travel. I didn’t even know where I wanted to go or how I would get there or where the money would come from. I just had a burning desire to explore the world.

By the end of 2016 I had booked and paid for my first solo travel experience. I left for that trip in February and what followed can only be described as the most magical three weeks I could have ever hoped for. I went on the Asian Adventure Contiki tour which took me through Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. For those of you who may not be familiar with Contiki, they are an organised group travel company specialising in adventurous once-in-a-lifetime trips for 18-35 year olds. I met so many fantastic human beings while I was on Contiki. They quickly became like extended family (and when I say quick I mean the first day!).

When I returned from my Asian Adventure it was time to get stuck into cheerleading for the year. I ended up becoming the ‘social media manager’, if you will, for our team during 2017. I really enjoyed doing it and it brought the possibility of social media marketing as an alternate career path to my attention. I’m looking forward to doing it again in 2018 and beyond, hopefully until my time as a cheerleader is up. Speaking of cheerleading, I went to my first competition! My team placed first and so did the dance duo I performed in. I was ecstatic! I have never been a very competitive person and this was the first competition I’d been to since my very young years in gymnastics. To place first was just the icing on a very delicious cake. I was also honoured to be team voted to receive a Spirit Award for 2017. It was a great year of cheer.

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Cheerleading went hand-in-hand with my gym tendencies during 2017. I was very dedicated and focused on my fitness. I joined an F45 Team Training gym and completed my first 8 week challenge with them. The challenge helped me to change the way I think about food and lose a few more kilos in the process. I was two kilograms away from my goal weight when I hurt my hip late in the year. Not to worry though, it was just a minor setback and it’s feeling much better after a few months of rest! I’m very excited to see what 2018 has in store fitness wise… The next 8 week challenge starts at the end of January and I’m raring to go!

In May, one of my very closest friends turned 30. When this happened she said to me, “Katie, I’m going to go to Disney World for my 30th!”, and I said, “Count me in!” And that, my friends, is how easily my second overseas trip for the year was born. We ended up going to Orlando, Florida as well as New York, New York for two glorious December weeks. We went to all the Disney theme parks as well as Universal Studios AND I got to live my life long dream of seeing a show on Broadway. I ended up seeing 5 Broadway shows over 4 days and I was in absolute heaven. There is nowhere like New York City.

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But by far the best thing to happen in 2017? That would be Ethan. My wonderful Ethan. It was by pure luck that we found each other and I can honestly say that the butterflies have not stopped floating in my stomach since the first time he stood up and pulled out my chair for me on our very first date. In 2017 I learnt what it really feels like to be hopelessly in love and it is a magical feeling.

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Speaking of Ethan, we are super stoked to be planning our first overseas adventure together! He’s got the travel bug just as badly as I do, so come December we will be off on our own Contiki. We’ll get to visit 10 European countries together over a blissful month of nothing but us. I’m in another world just thinking about it…

2018 will be all about focusing on health, fitness, and saving up to make our holiday the best one possible.

So here’s what I learnt from 2017:

  1. Solo travel is as good for the soul as everyone says.
  2. When you stop trying to find love it will find you.
  3. Saying no to chocolate isn’t as hard as you may think.
  4. Sometimes you just have to do what’s best for you and move on – people will get over it.
  5. You are never too old to try something new.
  6. Something seems really bad? Take a breath and revisit tomorrow. It probably isn’t.
  7. If someone is nice, they’re nice. If someone is rude, they’re rude. If someone is mean, they’re mean. Get the point?
  8. Love heals all previous pain.
  9. True friendship is very valuable and becomes harder to find as we grow older.
  10. Sometimes, if you take a chance on him, a wonderful man will surprise you with his maturity, wisdom, and kindness.

Katie

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