Have you ever gone somewhere that was ridiculously hyped up and you left feeling… super underwhelmed?! Yeah, us too! It’s a pretty weird feeling because you wanna see what everyone else loved about it SO badly, but it just isn’t what it was made out to be – which is okay! Not everything is gonna be amazing and not everywhere is gonna be as beautiful as the photo-shopped pictures made it look. As travellers, there often feels like a lot of pressure to put a positive spin on everything and love everything we do – but it just doesn’t always work that way.
It was actually pretty hard to collate a top 10 because most of what we did in Australia was incredible – and we were able to write a much longer ‘best experiences’ list as opposed to worst! Maybe it was just bad luck that we didn’t get the best out of the below but these were the experiences that we deffo won’t be rushing to redo or promote if ever we visited again! So, contrary to a LOT of popular opinions here’s our top 10 of the worst, most underwhelming experiences we had in Australia.
1. Sailing around the Whitsundays
When I first started researching into the idea of sailing around the Whitsundays – I thought it would be paradise. I envisioned drinking on the deck, gazing out onto the idyllic sunset, closing off a fun-filled day of snorkelling and exploring. What we actually got was quite possibly worse than a prison sentence. We were crammed into tiny bunks below deck, being tossed from one end to the other for 48 hours during what was apparently one of the worst storms the crew had ever encountered on their trips. Lucky us! Because of the torrential winds and rain, we were only able to disembark once throughout the whole trip – where we got dropped onto the Whitsundays beach in the rain for an hour with nothing to do other than miserably daydream about the moment where we could finally escape what could only be described as a tour from hell. I’ve never suffered from seasickness before – but due to this experience alone, I’m pretty much put off boats for life. If you wanna do the Whitsundays, either view it from above in a helicopter, or just stick to the short tours because sleeping on a sailboat is not all it’s cracked up to be!
2. Phillip Island Fairy Penguin Parade
Penguins are adorable, teeny tiny fairy penguins even more so! We were so excited on our Phillip Island trip because one of the most hyped up activities to do there was to stay after sunset and watch the fairy penguins make their way out of the ocean back up to their nesting boxes. We sat as the sun went down waiting for the hoard of penguins to come waddling out of the sea, but over an hour went past and still nothing. The guide kept encouraging everyone to stay patient and stick around because the few 100 penguins would almost definitely emerge at some point. 2 hours later, 8 penguins waddled out of the water – which at this point, we could barely see them as it was pitch black and everyone had to sit 15 feet away from where they emerge. We left the beach feeling dejected and ended up seeing a bunch at the top of the hill outside of the grounds waddling around happily! Save your money, avoid buying the stupidly overpriced beach view tickets and just go fairy penguin hunting solo – it’s a lot more rewarding!
3. The Great Ocean Road
Seeing the 12 apostles and driving along the Great Ocean Road was near the top of almost every ‘Must Do in Australia’ list we read. Surely if that many people were promoting it, it must be pretty spectacular right?! Wrong. Yes, it was pretty and sure it was an enjoyable drive – but one of the best things in Australia?! Nowhere near! We found after road-tripping around most of Australia that there were a LOT of gorgeously scenic drives that massively surpassed the Great Ocean Road, so we were (and still are) super lost at why so many people made it out to be as jaw droppingly beautiful as they described! The history behind the 12 apostles was semi interesting and at least it was free, petrol aside, but would I encourage anyone to go out of their way to view it? No – every coastal drive around Australia is just as, if not more scenic that this over-promoted collection of rocks!
4. Scary Wildlife
Okay so hear me out. Although we obviously didn’t wanna come face to face with an 18-foot snake or nest of killer spiders, but at the same time we kind of did?! Before coming out to Australia, the main thing we kept hearing was that 90% of the wildlife down-under is dangerous and has to be avoided at all costs, which would be hard because killer spiders and deadly snakes are EVERYWHERE. So, you can imagine my disappointment when after a whole year travelling all over Australia – the most deadly thing we encountered was the smell in Kenny’s trainers after a long day of hiking! Even more frustratingly, whenever we mentioned to people that we hadn’t seen anything scary – they always responded with “oh but we saw *insert deadly animal* right here just yesterday!” Suspicious to say the least – starting to think it’s another fake news story like the Australian drop bears!
5. Gorgeous Australian Weather
Another thing everyone wrongly assumes about Australia is the weather is gorgeous at all times. My impression of Australia was that the sun was always shining and on the rare occasion you encountered rain it was a total surprise. Honestly, Neighbours and Home & Away lied to us all. Australian weather (at least for the year we were there) is trash! Our first rookie mistake was arriving in Melbourne during winter assuming that an Aussie winter would be mild, maybe 20 degrees instead of the usual 30. We were disgustingly wrong. Melbourne gets COLD during the winter! At least in summer it would be nicer, we wrongly thought again. Melbourne would go through about 5 different seasons per day – making it impossible to be dressed for the weather unless you left the house everyday prepped with a bikini, wellies and winter coat. Victoria wasn’t alone though – Queensland gets rainy, Tasmania gets windy and South Australia was so insanely hot (46 degrees) that we honestly thought we were gonna melt on the spot! I never thought I’d say this but UK weather > Australian weather. At least back home you KNOW 360 days are gonna be shitty and you aren’t sold a lie like you are down under!
6. Surfing on the Gold Coast
I’m athletically challenged so let’s be honest – surfing was never gonna be something I excelled at. What I didn’t anticipate was just how insanely hard it actually would be! A group of 15 of us took our boards down to the water, excited to become surfing pros after our 2-hour lesson. We practised on the sand getting on and off our boards, standing in position and envisioned the waves crashing around us – easy as, I was already en route to being an Olympian at this rate! The real kicker was when we tested out these exact same super simple moves out on the ocean, waves crashing around us, sea water stinging our eyes and feet slipping off the surfboard at every given opportunity. After 2 hours, we all looked bedraggled and broken, waves 1 humans 0. Although I have no regrets about trying surfing, it’s definitely not something I’ll be taking up in my spare time – Chris Hemsworth makes that shit look way easier than it is! Watching people falling off their boards and flailing in the sea was definitely better entertainment!
7. Attempting 88 Days of Farm Work
Although people talk about their experiences of farm work like its hell on earth – we were actually kinda looking forward to the challenge! We rocked up at our strawberry farm in South Australia fresh faced, wide-eyed and ready for the next 3 months we’d been contracted for. What we didn’t anticipate was that after 1 day, every single worker on the farm would be let go because enough work had been completed?! We only made about $30 for the 14 trays we picked on our 5-hour shift and didn’t even get to mark it as 1 day off our 88-day countdown because the shift wasn’t long enough! Being that it had already taken us weeks of searching and a full days training to get that role – we decided to quit while we were ahead and apply for a New Zealand visa instead!
8. Scenic Views at Melbourne’s Eureka Skydeck
Anyone that knows me knows I absolutely love a scenic view – whether it’s beachy, mountainous or a cityscape I’m all over it. I’m always the tourist sucker that pays stupid money to go to the top of the view towers wherever I visit just to get the shots for the gram and gaze out to the city below. Melbourne was no exception, Eureka Skydeck was near the top of my list and I was so excited to step outside and see the city I’d been living in for the past few months! What I didn’t expect however, was everything to be hidden behind huge glass window panes that reflected the sun so badly that pretty much every photo had a horrible glare on. Not worth the money considering some of the offices I interviewed at had better window views! My advice? Head over to some of the CBD recruitment agencies instead of the Skydeck and just hope they pop you into an interview room with a view like I had!
9. Rugby Games
Australia is known for a few sports – AFL which we LOVED, cricket which we never got around to watching, and rugby, which we excitedly rocked up to thinking it would be as awesome as AFL. We were vastly mistaken. Rugby is like AFL’s boring younger brother. Not as much action, not as much atmosphere and not as easy to follow. We still enjoyed the match as we were boozed up to the nines and decked out in a bunch of Melbourne Storm merchandise – but I vowed I would happily never watch another rugby game as long as I lived. Maybe moving to rugby obsessed New Zealand during the rugby world cup wasn’t the best choice after all!
10. Australian Boozing
Honestly, we loved most of our Australian nights out – it was just a real push to get past top 6 underwhelming experiences so I had to dig really deep in my soul for these last few! My gripe with going out drinking down under was that for a country so obsessed with alcohol – it’s so INSANELY expensive! Even happy hours still aren’t that happy, with prices being a lot higher than we’d expected, both in bottle shops and bars. Coming from London and New York, we thought we had pricey alcohol covered but Australia took the grand prize; no wonder all the backpackers drink goon, it’s the only reasonably priced thing out there! Cairns by far had the best drink prices, but a Wetherspoons style cheap pub would be a more than welcome addition to Aussie nightlife!
So, there you have it – our top 10 list of things to avoid down-under! Were there any overhyped places or activities that we missed?! Was there anything on the list that you absolutely LOVED and we were super off the mark with?! Drop us a comment below and let us know!