I was just sitting down thinking about this last year of travel. Covid has played a huge role again in 2021, and at first I was thinking I’ve not been anywhere worth mentioning. Maybe I could find five highlights and post them on Facebook. And then I started looking through my photos. Not the ones on my phone or camera or in Dropbox, just those select few that have made their way into Lightroom for editing. I soon realised I have done a lot more travel in 2021 than I thought. Here are some of the highlights.
Like almost every other Australian, I have not been able to leave the country during 2021, so that means my travels have been limited to local and interstate destinations. During the year I have been to Sydney, Tasmania and all over South Australia. I did have a trip to Queensland booked in July, but rising Covid and closing borders meant that was cancelled about a week before we left.
In late 2020 our daughter moved to Sydney, so not one to let an opportunity slip, I have taken advantage of the free accommodation on offer and have visited three times this year.
One of the things on my Fifty Before 50 Bucket List was to do the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb and we finally did that on an overcast day in March. It was an awesome experience and not a bit scary, so even if you have an issue with heights, this is one challenge you should consider.
We spent a night up in the Blue Mountains seeing all the cool stuff up there, including Scenic World in Katoomba and lots of lookouts. Of course it was raining (it always is for me!) so we couldn’t do all the hikes we wanted, but that will be next time. We did get to see the rare flowering of the Pink Flannel Flowers, that need fire and then lots of rain to germinate – conditions had therefore been perfect for them over the previous year.
We did two great hikes in Royal National Park just south of Sydney, one to the insta-famous figure eight pools – which really wasn’t as hard as I was expecting it to be. Unusually, the sun came out that day so we were walking in the hot sun the whole way, but that meant a dip in the pools at the end was nice.
Tasmania almost ended up as a big travel disaster. We had nineteen days to travel there in April, and borders were just starting to open up. I grabbed some cheap flights, but didn’t look at anything else until the week before our trip. Which is when I discovered that half of Australia was also planning on being in Tasmania in April, and everything was booked out! As the panic was starting to set in, Queensland had a covid case or two, and Tasmania closed their borders causing cancellations, and at the last minute we were able to pick up a campervan booking for the whole time.
We had been to Tasmania twice before, but each time stayed around Hobart, so this time we were skipping them and doing a bit of a lap of the state. Nineteen days might sound like a lot for a small island, but If you are planning it, I recommend at least four weeks.
There are just so many highlights from Tasmania it’s hard for me to come up with just a couple. Cradle Mountain was awesome. Of course the weather was bad, so we couldn’t actually see Cradle Mountain across Dove Lake, and when we got up to Marian’s Peak there was too much cloud to see the views (top photo), but I loved seeing the wombats wandering along right near the path and the colours of the Fagus was so pretty. I also loved learning about – and touching – the Tasmanian devils and quolls. Even the middle-of-the-night hikes to the bathroom will be remembered, both for needing to do the wet weather gear every time, and for the wildlife scaring us silly in the dark!
We did some other great things like ride the Wilderness Railway and take a Gordon River cruise. We visited both Maria Island and Bruny Island, each fantastic in their own way. We tasted wine and beer and spirits all over the state and ate all sorts of local delicacies. My search for a platypus in the wild proved to be impossible, but I did find a blue mushroom just days before we came home.
I ticked off another bucket list item by going horse riding for the first time in who knows how many years. I grew up with horses, and have always loved riding. Getting back in the saddle felt like coming home, and I can’t wait to do it again.
And most of all – we came up with two more trips we need to do in Tasmania in the future. Now that we have seen many of the main sites, we need to get into the wilderness more on both the west coast and down south. Perhaps this will be a 2022 trip – we will see.
We travelled far and wide in South Australia this year. About the only area we did not travel to was Eyre Peninsula and across towards the Western Australian border – but we had been to both in 2020. After starting my other website, Exploring South Australia late in 2020, there were plenty of places I wanted to go, explore, and share with others.
We started the year with a trip to Mount Gambier and surrounds. We had planned to continue on into Victoria, but the borders were tricky so instead we just stayed around the Limestone Coast area. This was certainly no hardship, and I finally got to see the Blue Lake while it was blue – and oh boy is it stunning! I also swam in the Lake of Siloam, Australia’s version of the Dead Sea. It’s certainly not as buoyant, but it is noticeably easier to float here than in the sea.
Our big mid-year trip was up to Coober Pedy, a part of a longer loop through the South Australian outback. I had not been to Coober Pedy before, so it was fun checking out this quirky town. It did, of course, rain while we were there too, which almost threw our plans of driving to William Creek along the Oodnadatta Track into disarray. But we managed to get there, which was lucky because I think the awesome dawn flight we did over the Painted Hills and Lake Eyre was the top highlight of 2021 for me.
More trips throughout the year took us to the Flinders Ranges, Yorke Peninsula and the Riverland, multiple times each, with lots of day trips in and around Adelaide too. We drank wine in Coonawarra, McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills, Langhorne Creek, Southern Flinders Ranges, and the Riverland.
We did a whole pile of city stays thanks to the Great State vouchers, testing out some of the great new hotels in Adelaide and doing some cool things, like a Mystery Picnic and the Adelaide Oval Roof Climb.
All The 2021 Trips
Like I said, I was thinking I hadn’t done a lot of travel this year, but when I summarise it like this – well, I was wrong! This does not include the dozens of day trips we did from Adelaide which we sprinkled throughout the year. We drove more kilometres in this year than any other ever!
|Jan 17th - 27th||Coonawarra, Mount Gambier|
|Mar 4th||Hotel Indigo Adelaide Markets|
|Mar 8th - 15th||Sydney, Blue Mountains|
|Apr 9th - 27th||Tasmania|
|May 13th - 16th||Barossa Valley|
|May 21st - 23rd||Sydney|
|May 31st - June 8th||Coober Pedy, Outback, Flinders Ranges|
|August 4th||Soho Hotel|
|August 5th||Ibis Hotel|
|August 23rd - 25th||Berri|
|August 26th - 31st||Yorke Peninsula|
|Sept 26th - 29th||Majestic Roof Garden Hotel|
|Sept 29th - Oct 1st||Kangaroo Island|
|Oct 2nd - 7th||Flinders Ranges|
|Oct 8th - 11th||Renmark|
|Oct 28th||Oval Hotel & Roof Climb|
|Nov 20th||Oval Hotel|
|Dec 15th - 24th||Sydney|
Plans for 2022
At this stage I really don’t have any solid plans for 2022. With Omicron going crazy and wreaking more havoc in Australia than any of the other variants, travel is so uncertain. Australia’s borders are open again for citizens, so we can again travel internationally, but the requirements are onerous and uncertain – it’s so hard to know from one week to the next exactly how things are going to be. I kind of have in my mind that it will be the last half of 2022 before we pull out our passports again.
Having said all that, I do have a bucket list item I only have a limited window of time to tick off – and that’s Dubai World Expo 2020 (or 2021 as it became!). It finishes on March 31st 2022, so if I want to go, I’m going to have to go soon. Perhaps I will make it my birthday trip in February.
As for Australian trips – I do have a Gold Coast trip planned in April. This is another attempt to get there after the event I was planning in 2020 was moved to 2022 and now considerably downsized. I would love to get to Western Australia, but that may prove challenging. More realistic is a Grampians and Great Ocean Road trip between Adelaide and Melbourne. Of perhaps even one of those Tasmanian trips I came up with!
In South Australia, there are still some areas I want to see more of – the Riverland for example, with Loxton and Barmera, Robe and Beachport in the South East. I want to get back to Port Lincoln and Streaky Bay over on Eyre Peninsula, and there is always more for me to see and do in the Flinders Ranges.
So it’s farewell to 2021, and hello to 2022. Thank you for all your support, and let’s all hope for a bigger and better travel year coming up – maybe I can even see some sunshine!
Josie is a forty-something budget traveller. She only discovered travel in her late thirties, but since then has travelled extensively including taking an adult gap year. She is now based in Australia and loves sharing all she has learned about travelling on a budget but with the comforts a Gen Xer requires.