Category Archives: Australia

Contiki Beaches and Reefs Tour – Review

Party in Australia

Lets’s review my first Australian Contiki Tour. The Beaches and Reefs tour is part of the bigger Aussie Explorer tour in Australia.

If you’re interested in doing the Aussie Explorer tour this article maybe right for you, as it features about 60% of the tour you’re going to do.

Aussie Explorer is a 2 part tour. The East Cost from Sydney to Cairns and the second part from Alice Springs to Darwin (or reverse).

The Beaches and Reefs Tour goes from Sydney to cairns (or reverse). My first Australian Contiki starts in Sydney.



Day 1 An early morning. After filling some forms and handing our tickets to Justine (our tour manager), we loaded our baggage in the coach. Then we took our group photo in Sydney with the Harbour Bridge in the background. At lunch we headed to Port Stephens for a nice dolphin cruise. Then we enjoyed the afternoon at the Shoal Bay Resort and Spa. And yes, we had a room party 😉

Day 2 we drove to Coffs Harbour, stopping in Port Macquarie for lunch. At this place we stayed at a Surf Camp in little containers and had our first surfing class. Our container didn’t have a toilet, therefore we received a voucher worth 150 AUD for photos and a free T-Shirt.

Surf Camp

Day 3 we headed to Surfers Paradise, stopping in Byron Bay for a few hours for lunch. On our way to Surfers Paradise, we stopped at Cape Byron which is Australia’s most eastern point. Then, we crossed over to Queensland and visited the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary where we pet kangaroos and took photos with Koalas.

Day 4 was a day for optionals and free time at Surfers Paradise. I spend the morning jumping out of a plane. Sky diving at the Gold Coast with a landing on a beach. It’s just amazing.  In the afternoon I spent some time at Billabong and took lots of photos. Then we went out to Sin City with the whole group.

Day 5 we stopped at Brisbane, capital of Queensland for a few hours to experience the city. We also saw a presentations about opals. The we drove to Noosa, a trendy beach town.

Day 6 most of us booked the optional 4WD Fraser Island Day tour which took us all through the island’s sandunes, rainforests and freshwater lakes. Swimming at McKenzie Lake and a nice BBQ afterwards.

Day 7 After a night in bunk beds we headed to a country homestead in the heart of Queensland. Most of us dressed up in our western gear for our big roast dinner and then Karaoke night!

Sailling at Whitsunday Islands

Day 8, 9, 10
involved sailing around the beautiful Whitsunday Islands on a racing sail boat. This was not the relaxing yacht ride that many of us thought we were in for. When we were sailing, the boat sat at a 45 degree angle so we would all have to sit at one side of the boat. Sailing included us hanging our legs over the edge, taking in the beautiful views of the islands. We also stopped at a few places where we got to snorkel and see lots of amazing fish. We enjoyed Whitehaven Beach. A few of us even tried sleeping out on the deck under the stars the first night, but it started to rain. The third day in the Whitsundays we stayed at Daydream Island. it’s a big island resort and spa hotel.

Day 11 we continued our journey to Cairns, stopping in Townsville on the way for lunch.  It was also Australia day. Party time!

Fun at Whitehaven Beach

Day 12 started bright and early. A few of  of our group (including me) headed to AJ Hackett for bungee jumping and Minjin Swing. I opted for the Minjin swing.

Day 13 the whole group went on an optional Great Barrier Reef cruise where we spent the day snorkelling and scuba diving the most beautiful reef. At night, we went out in Cairns to the Woolshed for our last night as a group.

Day 14 we made a stop to the rainforest village of Kuranda to see an Aboriginal Experience. We also got to throw a boomerang. Then we made our way back to Cairns Colonial Club Resort. We enjoyed some refreshing Australian beers and said goodbye to some tour mates in our group.


This tour is just awesome. You see so much from the East Coast of Australia and you also have fun at night with night clubs, Karaoke on a farm and a nice sleep under the stars.
My personal favourite is sailling between the Whitsundays and going Sky diving at the Gold Coast.
You have to do this tour!

Rating: 5.0

Questions about Contiki

Hi guys,

Quite a few people asked me “How is Contiki?”.
Quote: “Is Contiki just a big party or do we get to see some sights?”

I’ve done several Contiki tours. I think I am able to tell you more about the differences between tours in several countries

Are there only drinking people on the tour?

During my tours I’ve met 3 types of people on each tour.

First, the people who want party und action, then the people who want discover “country, people and culture” and the third group who want best of both world. You can see that with the booked optionals. While some people do  Bungy jumping, Sky diving…, other people do tours to the Rainforest or similar.
Usually you book the same optionals as your new friends. 🙂

How are the people in “Quad-Share” rooms?

Sailing boat - at the Whitsundays, Australia
Sleeping on a sailing boat between the Whitsundays

On my first Australian Contiki Tour, Justine, the tour manager did assign the rooms. If you had problems with any of your room mates, you could go to her and arrange something. Usually you stick together with the same people, which means if you like your room mates, then the tour manager assigns the same people to a room.

Josh did it a bit different on my Contiki New Zealand tour. He handed out a room list while on the coach, everybody can sign up for himself and
the new friends. So get the list early to make sure you get one of the better rooms (triple share instead of quad share in some hotels)

Contiki Tours are different in Europe?

According to my tour manager Josh: yes. In Europe it’s more like:
Sightseeing during daytime, Dinner at night and then booze and party all night.

Josh is a “Kiwi” tour manager, who did  tours in Europe for a long time, then he moved back to New Zealand.

Get up early or long nights?

Relaxed afternoon on Whitehaven Beach
Relaxed afternoon on Whitehaven Beach

On my first Australian Contiki tour and my New Zealand tour,there were often the so called “Early Mornings”.
Depending on how far the distance to the next point of the journey, sometimes this may mean:
7:20 am bags to Coach (bags / suitcases to the bus), 7:25 breakfast, 7:55 departure.
Sometimes there are also departures at 8:30 🙂

In Surfers Paradise Contiki stays 2 full nights, that means on the 2nd day you can sleep in, if you didn’t any booked early optionals.

On my first Australian Contiki tour and my New Zealand tour, there were often the so called “Early Mornings”.
Depending on how far the distance to the next point of the journey, sometimes this may mean:
7:20 am bags to Coach (bags / suitcases to the bus), 7:25 breakfast, 7:55 departure.
Sometimes there are also departures at 8:30 🙂

In Surfers Paradise Contiki stays 2 full nights, that means on the 2nd day you can sleep in, if you didn’t book any early optionals.

5 tips for your arrival at Sydney Airport, Australia

You’re flying to Sydney. Here are 5 tips you should read. I love this Airport and stayed there for several hours on my first arrival in Australia.

1. Get a local sim card

sim cards
Telstra - sim card starter kit

for your mobile phone. Using a local sim card with an Australian phone number is in most cases cheaper than roaming with your carrier at home.

Both Vodafone and Yes!Optus have retail stores in the public area of the international terminal. Also, you can get sim cards for Telstra at the Australia Post Office in the departure hall of the international area.

Make sure your phone is unlocked and supports the right 3G frequency bands. Telstra uses mostly 850 Mhz, while Vodafone and Optus use a Mix of 2100/900 Mhz (and sometimes 850 Mhz, depending on the area).

Check your phone’s manual or ask your carrier at home for details.
Also check details of your Australian carrier of choice, the frequencies may changed.

2. Get sunscreen!

My travel agent recommended SPF 30 or SPF 50 depending on your skin. The o-zone layer in Australia is not as strong as it is in Europe or the USA. You can get sunscreen at the pharmacy stores at Sydney Airport.

Here’s a list of locations at Sydney Airport.

3. Free Internet kiosks

You need to check your emails or update your Facebook status?. Sydney Airport has internet kiosks in several locations at International Terminal (T1) and Domestic Terminal (T2).  Most offer a free internet session for a specific time period

The Sydney Airport website has a list of locations.

4. Get a free Sydney city guide book

Free Sydney City Guidebook
Free Sydney City Guidebook

Before heading to duty free shopping and the customs and immigration counters, make sure to grab a free Sydney city guide book. some of them also include coupons for several attractions.

The city guide books are available in several languages.

5. take the train

Most people I know stay in Sydney when they arrive in Australia at Sydney Airport. When you stay in the Central Business District, the train is often a better option for transport from/to the Airport.
It’s a direct connection, no traffic jams and it’s eco friendly.

There are train stations at the International and the domestic terminal. According to a ticket to the CBD costs $ 15.40 AUD

in Australia

Australia, see you soon again!

A shuttle picked me up at the Tropical Queenslander at 10:20 Boarding started at 11:40. So just 1:20 hours to get to the Cairns International Airport, to check in, have breakfast and for boarding.

In fact, everything is very relaxed but still very good. 10:35, I was already at the Cairns Airport Domestic Terminal, just checked in , and yet I still had almost 45 minutes until boarding. Enough time for breakfast. In the terminal I met also some of my tour mates. The german girl, Kat and Louisa. While The german girl was already a bit earlier boarding her flight to Alice Springs , I was still waiting for my flight to Sydney International Airport – Domestic Terminal.

Our plane took off on time. I enjoyed during the CNS-SYD-flight by Qantas a delicious lunch and the movie Megamind

Boarding for my connecting flight to Singapore was at 16:10. At 16:01 I was still waiting for my shuttle to the International Terminal. 9 minutes!

At 16:10 I stood at the security checkpoint. Unbelievable 16:12, everything smooth and I was able to run through the terminal.

At 16:15, I stood near the gate and found out that they hadn’t not yet started with boarding.

The transfer time was dimensioned tightly, but still coordinated very well. E.g. Thanks to the high flight punctuality of Qantas.

Our plane started on time towards Singapore Changi Airport.

See you next time Australia! I’ll be back soon!

Contiki – Beaches and Reefs Goodbye

Jan 29, 2011

After yesterday’s party we went today in the rain forest just to see a show of Aboriginal and to learn throwing a Boomerang. Quite funny, but my mood was not quite so good, so I did not enjoy it fully.

During the ride to the hotel Justine (Tour guide) and Youngy (Coach driver) held a little speech. At Cairns Colonial Club it was time for group photos, give “good bye” kisses and tipping;-)

Some of us sat in the bistro to exchange addresses between us, to sign the group photos and enjoy cold beer

At some point,  another German and I decided to share a taxi, because we both stayed an extra night in Cairns, though each in different hotels, but these were only a few hundred meters apart.

I had a standard room at the Tropical Queenslander, Cairns. It was clean, and the reception is very friendly.


The german girl and I met again in the evening to drive together to Dundee’s Restaurant. This time I took a dish with a crocodile and kangaroo skewers. Very tasty! The german girl also enjoyed. Crocodile actually tastes like chicken. Do you think I can find it in Europe or the USA ?.
For some reason it seems to be unusual in Australia, to go to a restaurant just as friends. Many people t looked at us like we were a couple, or had a date. Very amusing 🙂

We both went early to our hotel rooms, because our flights were both in the morning.




Contiki – Great Barrier Reef

Jan 28, 2011:

Peep Peep … The alarm clock again. Today, i.e. 28 January 2011, we had again to get up early, because at 7:10 am we were ready to hit the Great Barrier Reef.

Most of us were on time. Youngy drove us to the port of Cairns, just a few meters away from Dundee’s Restaurant. There we entered a large boat with some non-Contiki people.

Great Barrier Reef Tour

We went first for a longer time on to the open sea.

The price of this optional includes: The ride, multiple occasions to enter the

Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier Reef

Glass-bottom boat, snorkeling and small snacks.

At an additional cost you could also book real dives (scuba diving).

During the trip we did stop several times, either to ride with the little glass-bottom boat , or scuba diving.

Our driver of the glass bottom boat was definitely a Frenchman. It just sounds funny

Great Barrier Reef - snorkeling
Great Barrier Reef - snorkeling

when you hear someone speak with french and Australian accent. At our second Stop, I decided to go out snorkeling.

While I was holding me on a ring and moved forward with dolphin fins , I was guided by one of these attractive Aussie girls working of the the Great Barrier Reef Tour team. She took Photos of me and the fish in the Great Barrier Reefs. She was using my disposable underwater camera, I bought before.

I’ve never snorkeled before, and then the first time right at the Great Barrier Reef (in the middle of the open sea), is therefore very special.


Contiki Beaches and Reefs Farewell Party

Contiki 2011 - Farewell
Contiki 2011 - Farewell

Today was the last full day of most tour participants. Therefore we had a small party with good food in Whoolshed, Cairns, the most popular backpacker bar . T-bone steak for $ 15 AUD is a good deal.

The bar was filling up slowly with other people and it got larger party.

Contiki – Cairns – day 2

AJ Hackett - Cairns
AJ Hackett – Cairns

After a long night in pubs it’s time to Swing!. At AJ Hackett in Cairns you can do bungy jumping and and a Minjin Swing. Since I’m already jumped off a plane at 12000ft, I decided to just make the swing. Unfortunately, it was less spectacular than expected. Skydiving is just not easy to beat.


AJ Hackett - Cairns
AJ Hackett – Cairns

I spent the rest of the day with some tour mates in a mall including lunch. It is possible to order a taxi at the front desk of the Cairns Colonial Club. Usually after 4 minutes one is there. In the Downtown Mall in Cairns, there is actually a pretty good Italian restaurant. A pizza costs min. $ 19 AUD here, but it’s worth it.

Dundee Restaurant

In the evening I went to Dundee restaurant with an Australian girl on the pier in Cairns. There we met further tour mates. Dundee Restaurant in Cairns is a recommendation from our tour guide Justine. You get “typical Aussie food“. Of course I ordered Kangaroo. It tastes very interesting, it has little fat and is just delicious. It was served with peanut sauce and some vegetables. A real recommendation!


Contiki – Australia Day, Cairns

It’s 26th January!

After a really generous breakfast buffet, including espresso, it was unfortunately time to say good bye to few tour mates. For some tour mates Daydream Island was the end of the tour.

During our ferry took off, we waved after them a long time. But it also meant to know three new people. For three Australian girls Daydream Island was the beginning of the tour.

After a short trip to the mainland, we waited briefly on the coach, and bought some cool beverages. Then came Youngy with his beloved coach, we packed up the luggage and the journey continued.

Australian flags were hanging everywhere inside. Why? It’s Australia Day!

Australia Day is one of Australia’s national holidays. Most stores are closed. At night you can see many people with faces full of makeup and colorful clothes in the national colors of Australia.

We took a break for a few hours in Townsville at a shopping center to prepare for our Australia Day. I bought a green / golden T-shirt. Others also makeup.

January 26, 2011 - Day sheet
January 26, 2011 – Day sheet

Our accommodation in Cairns is the Cairns Colonial Club . Somewhat remote, but a relaxing resort, with pool and bistro.

Tonight we had a big event again. A pub crawl through Cairns. $ 30 AUD today for dinner, VIP access to 4 pubs / night clubs, as well one free drink at each venue.

Our pub crawl / party expert “Clipper” led us first to Gilligan,

Australia Day 2011 - Party
Australia Day 2011 – Party

here we got first to bite something. Then went from night club to night club and bar to bite bar including ( 4 venues), Dacing and games. One of my tour mates lost his shoes and socks. In another venue, there was a Toad race. Here, a tour mate has even won free bungee jumping. Australian girls and Australians in general can party! the big way! That rumor is definitely true.

At some point a few tour mates including me took a taxi to the hotel.

Contiki – Whitsundays, sailing day 3, Daydream Island

The third day was much more relaxed sailing, there were only a few races and “attacks”. Around noon we arrived in front of Daydream Island, where we first had to wait for the Condor. 🙂 Hammer wins!

Daydream Island
Daydream Island

Before we landed, we all filled out a feedback form and promised to join the Facebook Group of the ship.

Daydream Island Resort and Spa

As we entered the island, we were the first shell necklaces around the neck. Hawaii vacation feeling!

The entire resort occupies almost the whole island. Various buildings, pools, attractions, restaurants and shops forming the island. Our room was okay, for Contiki, 2 Bunk beds were provided ​​instead of a king size bed. We had an ocean view room with shower bathroom.

I believe around 4:30 in the afternoon we did a tour of the facility, The island is home of many fishs, rays and sharks (and gorgeous female tour guides). I held for some time a mini-shark.

For tonight we had planned a pool party after dinner. First we had to do a mandatory group photo then went for dinner, which was really good, it costs just $ 20 AUD.



Contiki – Whitsundays, Whitehaven Beach, sailing day 2

Goodmorning Whitsundays, Australia!

7:30am, time to get up. We went straight to breakfast because we wanted to save us the time to shower for tonight. We had only 60 seconds per day for a shower. For 3 days that’s just 3 minutes.


For breakfast they offered cereals, fresh fruits and white bread. Of course, I tried again Vegemite. Many Europeans would probably spit it out immediately because they do not like the extreme taste. I think it’s okay.

We sailed again until 9:00 in the morning, then we took a boat to Whitsunday Island.

Whitehaven Beach

Whitehaven Beach is a 7km long beach and is considered the whitest beach in the world. It is located in the middle of the Whitsundays Whitsunday Island. 😉

Before we could relax on the whitest beach in the world. However,

Whitehaven Beach
Whitehaven Beach

first we had to walk across the island and through the forest. After the forest we were standing at an observation platform, where we did again a group photo of us, the Contiki group of the hammer. At Whitehaven Beach it’s not allowed to wear shoes , so we put our sandals under a shady tree.


At 12:30 we went back to the boats, where we

Whitsunday Islands - Shuttle to sandbank
Whitsunday Islands - Shuttle to sandbank

enjoyed pastries and salad for lunch. As always, delicious.

After several hours of sailing, including many “attacks”, we set in front of a sand bank and took the raft over. There we had cold drinks and nachos for dinner. Some tour mates collected shells and took pictures.

Whitsunday Islands - Sandbank
Whitsunday Islands - Sandbank

While some people went at nightfall over to the Condor to rise the alcohol level , stayed a few (including me) on the Hammer and looked at the starry sky. The story that during the night a tour mate went astray on the wrong boat, stays on the Hammer 😉

I slept for some time on deck, but then I moved to my bunk, because it started to rain. Good night! 🙂