Australia TripSeptember 14, 2018 - September 28, 2018
Traci and I finally visited our 7th continent - Australia! This 2-week whirlwind trip to Australia not only allowed us to do sightseeing in the big cities of Sydney and Melbourne, but we also spent time in the Outback and in Cairns where we did excursions to see the Great Barrier Reef and the Kuranda Rainforest. We timed our Australia trip so that Traci could run the Sydney Half Marathon (13.1 miles) thus adding continent number four to her quest to run a half marathon on all seven continents.
Things I Really Enjoyed
- I'm Free Walking Tours: We did two of these walking tours of Sydney. They were entertaining and very informative. As the name implies, there is no cost for the tours; however, you are expected to leave a cash gratuity for your guide.
- Sydney Bridge Climb: Decked out in a jumpsuit and harnessed, we climbed to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Despite the height, my fear of heights never kicked in. We had such a great view of the city from the top of the bridge. Although pricey, this experience was an unforgettable experience.
- Sydney Opera House Tour: This was a nice way to see the various performance halls and corridors of this iconic building. We also learned about its controversial construction. The most magical moment for me was catching an orchestra rehearsal in progress during our tour. The sound was awesome!
- Uluru Sacred Sites and Sunset Tour: I enjoyed learning about the Anangu aboriginal community of the region. We saw and learned about their food, art, cave paintings, and more. We also had the opportunity to view the famous Uluru rock at sunset which was cool, but again my favorite part was learning about the culture.
- Kings Canyon Rim Walk: We did this excursion while staying at the Kings Canyon Resort. The red rocky landscapes and lectures on aboriginal culture made this 3.5-hour hike along the canyon rim a memorable experience.
- Aboriginal Programming on TV: During the few times I watched television during our whirlwind tour through the Outback, I had the opportunity to watch Aboriginal programming. These shows and public service announcements were so different from what we see at home. Observing cultural differences is one of my favorite aspects of travel.
- The Esplanade: The Esplanade is the main tourist strip along the ocean front in Cairns. There are restaurants, stores, a night market, souvenir shops, and so much more to make you feel like you are truly on vacation.
- Great Adventures Great Barrier Reef Excursion: This well-organized tour company was our vehicle for exploring the Great Barrier Reef. We traveled by boat out to their pontoon over the the reef where they fed us and offered all types of activities and lectures for exploring the marine life. It was a fantastic day.
- Semi-submersible Ride Along the Great Barrier Reef: We did this during our Great Adventures Great Barrier Reef excursion. Being a non-swimmer, this semi-submersible ride was the perfect way for me to enjoy the marine life of the Great Barrier Reef without getting wet.
- Classic Kuranda Experience Excursion: This full-day excursion took us by railway up into the rainforest of the mountains. It was here that we were immersed in Australian culture and nature. We experienced wildlife, Aboriginal culture, food and more. We were even treated to a lunch buffet that allowed us to try food such as kangaroo, crocodile, and Vegemite. The cable car ride over the rainforest was breath-taking.
- Penguin Parade: This was part of the Phillip Island excursion we did from Melbourne. The Penguin Parade is a daily phenomena consisting of thousands of penguins emerging from the sea to join their mates who are calling for them from their burrows in the hill. It was a real treat to witness this but man oh man was it cold!
Things I Would Do Differently
- Not Dine in the Rocks Neighborhood of Sydney: I don't know what it was about the restaurants in this area but the food was only so-so at most.
- Skip the Motorcoach Tour of Sydney: We only did this tour because it was included in the package our travel agent booked for us. The tour was fine but the I'm Free Walking Tours that Traci and I booked ourselves were much better.
- Have Cash During the Outback Tours: I should have had some cash in small denominations on hand while we were doing the Uluru Sacred Sites and Sunset Tour so that we could have bought some aboriginal crafts from the Anangu vendors.
- Spend More Than One Night at Ayers Rock Resort: There are many excursions and activities offered at the resort that we missed because we were only there for a few hours.
- Pay Closer Attention to the Climate and Pack Accordingly: We were caught off-guard by the cold temperatures of Melbourne. We could have benefited from winter jackets. Australia is a large continent. The regional climates can vary greatly.
Here is our itinerary:
Our 2-Week Australia Itinerary Map
modified version of Goway Travel Classic Australia 12 Day itinerary map
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