How to do Mount Beerburrum Lookout

When thinking about things to do around Brisbane, the first thing that comes to my mind is the beach. Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, North Stradbroke Island, you name it ! However, one thing that I discovered last weekend is that there are heaps of places you can hike only an hour away from Brisbane ! More specifically, there is this place called Mount Beerburrum Lookout where you can hike for around 700m and get this wonderful view :

Not bad right ?

A 700m walk seems pretty easy, but don’t let it fool you : it is very very steep ! In fact, it is a class 4 hike, which are the most difficult ones. What is great about the hike though is that it is not too long, so you really don’t need to be an athlete to complete the walk. There is not a lot of shade on the way to the top and it does get pretty warm at this time of the year, so if you have he chance, try to go in the morning. It takes around 1h to 1h 30 minutes to do the entire loop, so you have plenty of time to go hit the local beaches of the Sunshine Coast after, or even complete one of the other hikes around if you are brave ! One last tip : if you do not feel like getting led by Google maps to an abandoned farm nearby, make sure to research how to get there before leaving Brisbane.

All in all, this hike is definitely worth it and I recommend it 100% !

 

 

Throwback to my New Zealand Adventures

As an exchange student, January and February were the perfect opportunity for me to explore the great country that is New Zealand. Since it is approximately 14 400 km away from my hometown (Montreal, Canada), I decided I had to see EVERYTHING, from Auckland to deep down the South Island. Even after 18 stops and a lot of time spent on the bus admiring the scenic roads, I still can’t say I am a New Zealand expert, as there are way too many gorgeous places to see over there. However, I still managed to see quite a lot, and I can definitely say that I am now in love with the country.

So, for those of you who might want to head to New Zealand during semester break or even this Winter, here are the places I think you will not want to miss:

  1. Queenstown

The adventure capital of the world! If you ever have the chance to visit New Zealand, DO NOT miss Queenstown! In only 4 days, I skydived, went on a luge ride, hiked the Ben Lomond mountain, went on a cruise through Milford Sound and of course, ate a lot of Fergburgers (some of the best burgers in the world). Other activities include bungee jumping, canyon swinging, jetboating, mountain biking and a lot more! Even if you are not a thrill seeker, Queenstown is still very enjoyable. The town is surrounded by mountains and has a very chilled-out vibe, so it is really for everyone, whatever your age or interests.

  1. Taupo

The town might be quite small, but the lake next to it definitely is not! Lake Taupo is the largest lake in New Zealand and the second largest in Oceania with a surface of 616 square km. The lakeside town is lovely, but most travelers head over there for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, the best day hike in New Zealand. It is basically a 7h loop hike that will take you around heaps of different landscapes, from mountains and volcanoes to lush forests. If you are not that much of a hiker, the Tongariro National Park has so much to offer, and a lot of very easy walks can take you around to see its gorgeous surroundings.

  1. The Coromandel Peninsula

I don’t think there is any beach quite like the ones I saw in that region. Unfortunately, I only stayed one day over there, but it was still absolutely worth it. My hostel was only a short walk from the very famous Hot Water Beach, where you can dig your own spa pool on the beach. The water gets VERY hot during low tide due to the geothermal activity close by. If you dig in the wrong spots, you might even (slightly) burn yourself! But if you do it right, it is an absolutely unique and amazing experience.

  1. Wanaka

Some people say that Wanaka is just a smaller Queenstown, but these people are wrong. Wanaka is a unique place for sure. Surrounded by lakes and mountains, the hiking possibilities over there are endless. Roy’s Peak is definitely the most popular and rewarding hike in my opinion, but there are heaps of less demanding and still worthwhile walks in the area. If you are a nature lover, you will fall in love with Wanaka in moments.

  1. Lake Tekapo

I am still not sure if this place was even real. The turquoise water of the lake and the mountains in the background might even make you weep a little. At night, most people head to the lovely Church of Good Sheperd where you can actually see the Milky Way in the night sky. I was fortunate enough to be there in the right time of the year for that (late summer), but even if you go in the Winter, you will see more stars then you’ve ever seen at once for sure.

So there you have it folks! Hopefully I’ve convinced you to put New Zealand on your bucket list. Just know that wherever you go in this country, whether it’s somewhere on that list or not, you will leave knowing that you have to come back again.

My trip to Gold Coast

After a year of hearing about the infamous Gold Coast and its beaches and absolutely dying to go there, I finally made it!

What nobody told me about Gold Coast was that, in fact, it is not one long stretch of … a coast. TheGC has many beaches and you have to choose which beach you want to visit. So yeah… there’s a little fun fact for you – that Gold Coast is not in fact one long beach.

By far, the most famous of GC’s beaches would be Surfer’s Paradise. So I went there first.

Undoubtedly, it was rather crowded on a Sunday. So I hopped on the G Link tram service and moved South to Broadbeach. It was only slightly less crowded than Surfer’s paradise but there was more shade to camp under, so I decided to stay there.

Broadbeach is lined with a market on Sunday afternoon so you easily get cheap food, fresh juice and little trinkets there.

Getting to GC via train and bus took me a total of just over $10 only for a round trip, which is really cheap. Alternatively, if you’re not comfortable going there via public transport yet, there are guided tours hosted by QUT ISS (International Student Services) for around $50 for a round trip. It’s a really good place to start looking if you want to start seeing more of Queensland’s beaches and wildlife spots. ISS will give you a detailed itinerary of your trip so you’ll be able to judge if the price you pay is worth it. A definite plus side is you won’t have to go alone as it will be a big group.

My advice is you pack and bring your own food and drinks if you’re short on money, rather than rely on the shops around the beach and they can get quite pricey.

Don’t forget to take a towel, sunglasses, your bathing suit, a large beach mat or blanket to spread and sit on, and HEAPS OF SUNSCREEN. I applied sunscreen religiously and yet suffered from a vicious sunburn. Use SPF 50+ always and stay hydrated. If your phone drains battery make sure you bring along a portable charger. Bring a nice book to read on the beach as you chill with your coke and chips.

 

 

Family trip in Brisbane and Gold Coast!

Brisbane and Gold Coast are two famous cities for tourists from all around the world to travel. These two cities are also the ideal traveling destinations for my family. Because I had a summer vacation and they also had holiday during lunar new year period which is the biggest festival for Taiwanese, they decided to come to Australia and travel with me. Moreover, I actually haven’t been back to Taiwan for more than one year, so it’s also the special reunion for us.

Today, I would like to share you some most-visited destinations in Gold Coast and Brisbane by a special way. I edited two vlogs about our traveling and share many important or useful information for travellers. If you are going to study at QUT or studying at QUT, it may be your travel guide for exploring these two cites when you are enjoying your holidays.

The main language of the videos is Mandarin, but I have already added English subtitles on them. No matter where are you from, hope you enjoy the vlogs!



Gold Coast

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnDBlcEAs2M



Brisbane

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkYGbM7ijQc

 

If you have any interesting experience or travel tips about these two cities, please feel free to leave your comments below for assisting more students to deeply understand these amazing cities. Also, don’t forget to keep following this QUT blog and hope everyone has a great semester! 🙂

New Year in Singapore

The famous Merlion

 

Guess where I am?

Can you recognise this Merlion?

Yes I came to Singapore. Merlion is the icon of Singapore.The fish body represents Singapore’s origin as a fishing town.

 

 

 

After my exchange in Japan and prior to my departure to Germany, I came to visit my friend Ada who’s doing an internship in Singapore at the moment and managed to catch up with two friends I met in QUT, one of them being my fellow international student blogger – Linette.

I have long been wanting to visit Singapore, a place people call Garden City and head of Asia’s financial hub.

As my friend was working most of the time, I visited a lot of places by myself. This was technically the first time that I travelled by myself. To be honest, I enjoyed it a lot. You can control your own pace and stop at places however long you want.

I spend my first day at Gardens by the Bay.

Sky trees in a rainy day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When getting out of the MRT(Singapore’s railway) station, I didn’t see Gardens by the Bay straight away. The reason I thought is that I got off one stop ahead of the stop where I was supposed to get off. So I took a stroll along the riverside and saw another Merlion and the Durian Museum.

Durian Museum

Another Merlion near Raffles Place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I kept walking, I happened to see Marina Bay Sands where the famous infinity pool was located. This is the world’s largest rooftop pool. Imagining I have a hotel room there one day, I giggled and said to myself: You need to work harder and take a photo there one day.

Marina bay Sands. Does it look like a ship?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I understand why people call Singapore garden city. It is a very very small country but is also the financial centre of south east Asia. Even in the city area where there are lots of skyscrapers, plants, trees and flowers fit really well with the high buildings.

City centre where plants co-exist with high buildings.

Night view of the sky trees

Back to the MRT station from Gardens by the Bay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traditional Chinese Food Hawker Stall

China Town in Singapore

Indian Temple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a lunch catching up with friends on the second day, I went to China Town and Little India to see the culture and shops. There is a very unique Indian Temple in Little India and the food was so authentic and cheap.

The third day was well spent in Singapore Zoo. It is literally the most amazing zoo that I have ever went. Not only did they have a wide range of animals, you get the chance to see them in an open environment. That is to say, sometimes monkeys walk pass on the trees beside you and there was no fence to separate you from the animals. I also saw Orangutan first time in my life. I guess you can only see them in Singapore or Malaysia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orang-utan eating food

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My last day in Singapore was well spent in Sentosa Island, the southern most point in southeast Asia and at friend’s place eating traditional Chinese Sichuan style hotpot. That day was the last day of 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sentosa Island is actually a famous tourist resort where you can spend the whole week and not feel bored. They have a range of amusement facilities which include casino, cultural cuisine, 3D museums, universal studio, beaches, high-end hotels and many many more.

Due to the short time-frame, I only went to one beach that day. Luckily I went there early enough because it started raining soon after 2 pm in the afternoon.

 

 

 

 

 

It started raining and a lot of people left the beach. That’s why there was nobody on the suspension bridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you ask me what I miss the most from Singapore, my honest answer is food! The exchange rate of Singaporean dollar versus Australian dollar is almost 1:1. But the food there usually only costs 3-6 dollar from food court (also known as hawker centre).

 

 

 

 

 

There are quite a few exchange programs running between QUT and universities in Singapore. If some of the opportunities come up, please make sure to grab it because Singapore is truly a city worth exploring and a place you will fall in love.

 

Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) turns 10!

I went to Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) turns 10 party with my friends. GOMA is an art museum located in the Southbank precinct of Brisbane.

On that day, there were backdrop and lighting prepared right in front of GOMA entrance. Anyone can take the photos there if you are keen.

The current major exhibitions at GOMA include art of Australia and the Pacific, a captivating new light work by renowned artist Anthony McCall and also over 200 contemporary artworks exploring light, space, architecture and the senses. If you are keen to know more information, simply check out the link: https://www.qagoma.qld.gov.au

Feed your eyes with the colourful exhibitions there.

The following photos are some artistic exhibitions at GOMA.

Other than seeing exhibitions, we found back some childhood fun through some hands-on artworks.

I created my own lego robot!

This is the area for you to write your thought for the world, your pet or anyone you miss in the world.

After finish seeing the exhibitions, you can still hang out with friends at the open air pub there.

The exhibitions brought me into the artistic world. A very recommended place for you to visit if you have some free time to spend at Brisbane. Forgot to tell you it is free for entrance too!

 

 

 

Winter Exchange in Germany

Last semester, I applied for several short term exchange programs overseas. It turns out that going abroad is less difficult than I thought because a lot of the programs are easy to get into and QUT provides great support along the way.

I applied for 5 programs last year and was admitted to 3 of them. Due to the timeframe of the programs, I picked two of them to attend this winter. After exchanging in Japan, I was off to Germany for another three weeks. I can say it was one of the best decisions that I have ever made in my university life.

To me, Europe is a completely unfamiliar continent and German is another completely different and hard language. But I’m glad I stepped outside my comfort zone and spent 3 weeks learning German language.

This winter program consists of four parts: German language class, business seminar (you can choose between business seminar and culture seminar), photography workshop ( other workshops on offer are cooking and dancing) and excursions.

A snapshot of International Winter University in Fulda, Germany (first week)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall the program is really hectic and we have things to do almost everyday.

My first impression of Germany is: it is so cold! I was very unprepared when I landed in Frankfurt and was shaking all the way to the hotel.

Eurotower

Point Alpha – It was so cold there

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You know what? The university education in Germany is for free. Besides, there are government food subsidy to students as well. So if you eat at school canteen, it usually only costs three or four Euro.

Food in canteen only costs 3 Euro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Besides studying, the highlight of this trip is of course different fieldtrips! We went to Berlin for the whole weekend, exploring the art and history of east and west German. Then we toured these two little towns called Nuremberg and Wurzberg with castles and ancient cathedrals. At our last day, we headed to a ski resort called Rhon for sliding.

Nuremberg adventure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Berlin loves you – near Topographie Des Terrors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mayor’s House in Fulda where our university is located

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We got so excited when slidingGoGoglo

Most of the program participants are from Australia and America. For some of them who are from Brisbane and California, they have never seen snow before. Thus sliding made them really really excited.

I want to say thank you to all the people I met in this journey who made it an amazing experience for all. I’m sure some of us will meet each other somewhere in the world sooner or later. Danke!

Winter Exchange in Japan

Last year, I was very lucky to get the chance to travel and study in Japan. It has always been my dream to come to Japan since high school as I watched a lot of Japanese TV shows and wanted to experience the Japanese culture by myself. Now after almost one month of stay in Japan, I can say my Japanese improved a lot and I learnt more Japanese culture.

I came to Japan early before the start the program and went to Kyushu area for travelling. Even in winter, the mountains in Kyushu was so pretty. I still remember how nice the people I met there were. When I was trying to go to the mountain in Kirishima and was told there was no bus access, a taxi driver offered to drive me and my friend there. Not only did he charge us a little, he showed us multiple hidden spots on the mountain and tried to explain the history behind it.

As my cultural class in Amagasaki was about to start, I said goodbye to my boyfriend who was travelling with me and went to Amagasaki one day prior to the start day of the program.

This winter program consists of Japanese language study, school visits and home stay experience. I want to share with you my experience from each parts and what I learnt out of them.

Students From Brisbane and Fiji

Namba, Osaka – one of the most crowded shopping center in Japan

Japanese Language study

We are very lucky to have Fujiwara Sensei as our Japanese language teacher who is humorous and knowledgeable. Her style of teaching is very interactive and encouraging. In each of the class, we spent almost fifty percent of the time in speaking. As a result, at the end of the first week, we already known how to greet and order food in Japanese. Although the program has already ended now, I will continue learning Japanese. I hope next time when I come back to Japan, I will be able to communicate better with my Japanese friends.

Attending local students’ English class

School visits

This is another part of the program which I enjoyed a lot. We went to visited Amagasaki Junior High School for their English Festival. I was so touched by how much effort and time the students put in this festival. Both year 7 and year 8 students played skit, while year 9 students shared with us their experience in New Zealand as all of them just came back from a study trip there.

One thing I noticed from this English festival is that unlike individualism, Japanese education focuses a lot on teamwork and respect. There might be twenty students in one group and only ten characters available in a certain skit, but everyone gets the chance to go on stage and perform because one role can be played by three or four students.

Another unforgettable school visit happened in Ojiro Junior High School where we ate lunch with the students and had classes together with them. Unlike Amagasaki, Ojiro is a very small town located in the mountain with less population and colder weather.

We, as exchange students from overseas, got the chance to participate in their English and music class. The English teacher in the school told us that a lot of students there don’t have many opportunities to speak English, so they really appreciate our visiting. When the class started, each of us did a short presentation in front of the class introducing our own countries. All the students seem to be interested and took down some notes.

In the music class, the students performed a local song to us and we danced and sang What Makes You Beautiful together. It was such a wonderful time to bond together with nice music.

Visiting Amagasaki Junior High School and attending their English Festival

Home Stay in Ojiro

My first impression of Ojiro is the beautifulness and peace of this little town. I still remembered some of my friends from Australia and Fiji were so amazed by the snow on the top of the mountain because it was the first time for them to see snow.

When we arrived at the Ojiro, our host family have already been in the city hall waiting for us. All of us felt a bit nervous to be honest as most of us haven’t been living with others before. At the same time, we also wanted to know where are we going to live and know our host family better.

My host mom came to the first meeting that day as my host dad was at work. She made me completely feel at home and prepared everything for me. When host dad came home, we had a really long discussion about Japanese culture, Chinese culture and Australian culture. Both of them were really humble and asked me lots of questions. Thanks to the similarity in Kanji and Chinese character, when we didn’t understand each other by verbal communication, handwriting came into use.

At the end of the homestay, it was so hard to say goodbye to all the nice people that I have met in Ojiro. I will always remember how pretty the mountains there are, how nice the locals are and how much fun I had there!

Snow in the mountain in Ojiro

 

Homemade meal by my host mum

One month of stay in Japan is definitely an eye-opening experience for me and I really find going overseas can open your horizon a lot. So my dear reader, if you come across such kind of opportunities in the future, make sure to grab it and make the most out of it!

 

Brisbane vs Sydney: The Differences of Christmas & New Year!

There are many different ways to celebrate Christmas and New Year in Australia. Last time I wrote the “5 events on Christmas and New Year in Brisbane” which illustrated some interesting activities that students can enjoy freely. This time I would like to share some experience of celebrating my second Christmas and New Year in Brisbane and Sydney and some interesting differences between these two cities that I found.

Brisbane vs Sydney

I love Brisbane!

Well… Brisbane is more chilled out. Although you may feel Brisbane is more crowded in this holiday, it is still much better than Sydney’s situation. There are numerous tourists from all around the world visiting Sydney during Christmas and especially for the New Year fireworks. It may make Sydney much more crowded than other cities of Australia. For example, if you want a perfect view of fireworks, you should prepare for it as early as possible! On the other hand, it’s no problem for you to arrive South Bank two hours before the New Year Fireworks.

About Christmas and New Year Events

According to Brisbane government, there are around 400 events held in December for celebrating Christmas and New Year. However, most of the events are local. On the other hand, Sydney indeed has more international events during this period. Although there are some differences of events between these two cities, there is one same thing. People all feel relaxed, happy, and blessed in this Christmas month and New Year!

Actually many Asian countries also embrace and celebrate Christmas and New Year, but it is still a little bit different from western world. After I came to Australia, I gradually love the atmosphere of these festivals and strongly recommend all international students to join the local events to experience Australian culture more.

Finally, please feel free to leave your comment below and don’t forget to keep following this QUT blog! Also, I am here to wish everyone a better year! 🙂

Solo trip at Newcastle

I planned my first ever solo trip in life to Newcastle to mark the completion of my bachelor at QUT.

Due to my very limited travel funds, I came across Couchsurfing on internet and tried to send some requests to the potential hosts. I got the positive reply from one of the host finally which meant that the accommodation would be free during the trip! So Yeah! However it was a bit daunting for me to just go like that as I have never tried Couchsurfing before. Furthermore, I didn’t know the hosts at all and also I was going there by myself. It sounds like so adventurous for me indeed!

Newcastle is a harbour city with many beautiful beaches at New South Wales. It is located not very far away from Brisbane. The flight from Brisbane to Newcastle only takes around 75 minutes and the one-way flight ticket only costed me for $39 dollars!

My Couchsurfing host is a lovely couple, Cameron and Julie. Cameron is Australian while Julie is from Ireland. They met each other during their backpacking trip at South America and fell in love since then. Their love story is so beautiful.

Besides providing me free accommodation, they also cooked food for me and drove me here and there. I appreciate their kind hospitality very much.

My first home-cooked meal at Cameron and Julie’s house at Newcastle.

During the daytime, I wandered around Newcastle city and the beautiful beaches myself with the assistance of the map.

I went to Newcastle during the summer time in Australia and came across the list of things to do in summer in Newcastle at the mall. If you happen to plan your trip to Newcastle during summer time as well, hope this list gives you some useful travel information 🙂

If you are one of the coffee lovers, Newcastle will be a good place for you to explore because there are many good cafes scattering around the town.

The following photos are one of the best cafés I went at Newcastle, One Penny Black. I enjoyed drinking their coffee and also eating their signature muffin.

     

Other than the good food, the cafe also has the good ambience.

The nicely presented crepe I tried at ‘Coco Monde’. I miss the tasty crepes so much now.

Other than good cafes, there are many cool shops scattering around the town as well. The following photos are some of the cool shops I enjoyed exploring very much at Newcastle.

The popular doughnuts shop ‘Doughheads’ at Newcastle. It tastes so nice and I am craving for it now!

There are so many creative and hipster stuff in this shop which called ‘Blackbird Corner’ at Darby street.

I feel so comfy and refreshing while staying inside this shop. Probably this is the magic power of botanic.

I adore the design of the shop and also the cool products selling inside the shop.

I didn’t manage to visit this shop in the end. However I know I will like it just from the exterior of the shop.

If you are book lovers, you shouldn’t miss visiting the bookshops at Newcastle. I have so much fun while exploring the bookshops there. I believe you will be as well!

The following photos are some photos I took while wandering around the town.

       

       

I was also lucky to catch the free performance by the orchestra in the city.

If you enjoy seeing scenery, Queens Wharf Tower is the place that not to miss. The following two photos are the view taken from the tower.

       

If you have some time, you also can plan your visit to art gallery and museum at Newcastle. These two places are free for entrance.

       

Besides, I also went to many beautiful beaches at Newcastle.

       

        

        

There is a beautiful garden in front of the sea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I spent some good time exploring Newcastle with my hosts as well. They brought me to Newcastle Memorial Walk. I was so amazed by the breathtaking view there.

       

Julie drove me to Mereweather beach and still treated me dessert. How enjoyable to savour the dessert just right beside the sea.

Julie also brought me to Fernleigh Track to cycle.

We went to the wildlife park too. The following photos are the cute animals I met that day.

       

After travelling around Newcastle, I headed to Sydney from Newcastle by train to meet a girl friend and travel Sydney together. The travelling time is only around 3 hours and the train fare is pretty affordable. I will share my Sydney trip with you guys in the future 🙂

My solo trip at Newcastle was a wonderful and memorable one. I was so glad to meet Cameron and Julie during the trip and thanks again for their kind hospitality.

Lastly, I would like to share a quote with you guys I came across at one of the shops at Newcastle.