A country, a continent … and very colorful, Australia is a place that you need to visit for the sights, sounds, food, people, and the ‘down under’ hospitality. The great thing about a vacation here is that you can be a city buff and get lost in the glamor of Sydney and Melbourne, or a country recluse who prefers to drown in the soulful melodies of a didgeridoo with a side of crocodile and kangaroo meat among the aboriginals.
Tangalooma Splendor – Bonus
If you are on a tight schedule then these four places are a must-do: Cairns, Gold Coast, Sydney and Melbourne. Throw in a night at Tangalooma Islands for kicks. Alrighty, let’s start our journey here … you need to arrive at Brisbane and then catch a special catamaran to the Tangalooma Islands, which houses a glorious resort facility. Take in your day at the beaches, do Sand Dune sledding, ATV rides or simply lounge around the pool. Plan and spend the day as per your whim but make sure you head to the Dolphin feeding spot in the evening. This is the star attraction of this island – wild dolphins come close to the shore every evening, just to be hand fed by you. It is an amazing experience, that humbles you and exhilarates you, because it reminds you how grounded these gentle creatures are. It is your special moment that you share between the fish, the ocean and nature.
After your special overnight at Tangalooma, you head straight for Gold Coast, the Mecca for theme parks and unlimited fun. Surfer’s Paradise is the main beach here and a melting pot of activities. The beachfront shops are quaint and delightful, dotted with little surprises. For example you will find amazing shell jewelry or folks selling unique native handicrafts. Colloquially known as the ‘Glitter Strip’, the beach boasts of pristine waters and great waves that make surfers happy.
Next Stop – Cairns
Moving on to Cairns, the amazing part of the city is to see how nature has juxtaposition a rainforest next to sun-kissed beaches. No doubt there is a lot to do in Cairns, but if we were to pick just two things, then we recommend a day in the rainforest canopy and a day at The Great Barrier Reef, which is a mind-blowing experience. There are several tour packages that take you out to the reef for the day, you can pick a package that suits your requirements, however do try out scuba diving, it is the best thing you can do at the reef. For those who cannot manage a dive, snorkeling is the next best thing. A word of caution regarding your journey to the sea – when you travel towards the reef and back, you can actually feel the motion of the boat against the currents, this causes a lot of sea sickness amongst people. Do take precautions and preventive measures so that you don’t spoil your day.
As for the rainforest, there are many tour options, including a cable car ride up the mountain. Team this up with a local aboriginal village tour that gives you an insight into the life of this indigenous tribe. What we love here is the chance to learn how to throw boomerangs and play the didgeridoo. Another favorite spot in the city is the Cairns Esplanade, which hosts water fountains, mock beach and many play-areas for children. It’s the perfect place to unwind in the evening and catch some street entertainment and frolic.
Next in our list of must-do cities is Melbourne, the culture capital of Australia. City-lovers will fall head over heels for the energy and exuberance of Melbourne. If you happen to be here on a weekend, head to downtown where you’ll find the locals hanging out on the sidewalks, sipping beer and enjoying the evening. The usual suspects of a city tour that will capture the major highlights include an early morning hot air balloon ride, shopping spree, trip to the observatory and the cricket grounds. Make time for a drive down the Great Ocean Road to the Apostles, a natural rock formation just off the coast. And then there’s an evening trip to Philip Islands to watch the Penguin Parade.
The Great Ocean Road drive is breathtaking and spectacular. The dramatic rock sculptures of the 12 Apostles, the mystical Bay of Islands and the numerous viewing points along the Great Ocean Road showcase the Southern Ocean in a new light. After this grounding experience of being entranced by the beauty of Mother Nature, you are transported to another space when you watch the cute little penguins make their way out of the sea and to their nests, every evening at Philips Island. As a silent spectator you can only marvel at their resilience and intelligence.
Gold Coast – the ‘Theme Park’ Capital
Warner Bros’ Movie World, Dream World, Sea World, White Water World and Wet ‘n Wild are the main attractions in this category of entertainment. What we highly recommend is going to Movie World, Dream World and Sea World. For those who want to spend quality time with Wallabies, Emu, Koalas and Kangaroos, there are several small animal farms that welcome you to feed and pet them. Besides the mini petting farms, you can also get a glimpse of the Australians Outback experience through a special Outback show.
Saving the Best for Last – Sydney
Last up is Sydney, a haven for arts, culture, dining, and shopping. Sidney is a true urban landscape and home to the renowned Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. You can climb the Harbour Bridge, visit the Opera House for some amazing snaps. A suggestion is to take a speedboat ride down the bay where you’ll be zipping along at top speeds. The Sydney Zoo is well organized and worth the visit and a trip to The Blue Mountains is highly recommended. Shopaholics will love the Aussie malls in the down town area. But, take note that stores open and close early.
A trip to Sydney is simply wasted if you don’t pencil in a day at Bondi Beach. Fine sand, surf, and clear waters are a given, but it’s the energy of being Down Under that makes it so special. The essence of Australia is the people and surroundings – the wildlife, flora, and fauna are distinctly different here than in the rest of the world.
The places we have mentioned here are just a tip of the iceberg, Ayers Rock at Uluru, typical outback regions, Canberra, Perth and many hidden gems should be explored … but like the saying goes, we need to keep some for the next visit.