I love travelling full stop – so while I’ve had some harrowing instances, I never look at them negatively. Memories are made when you’re travelling – not when you’re chained to your desk.Richard Branson
After months of anticipation, we finally made our way across the ocean and stepped onto the land down under. We were greeted with blue skies and sunshine right off the bat that energized us despite the long flight. The view from above was amazing, with miles and miles of sparkling sea and the equally beautiful coastlines. Our itinerary was simple with three main destinations, which includes city walks, National Parks and beaches.
Brisbane, the sunny, capital city of Queensland. We arrived in Brisbane bright and early after a long flight from Los Angeles. We’ve decided to rent a car so we could utilize Brisbane as the base for our Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast travels. Driving on the opposite side of the road though, was an adventure in itself. The city center is situated by the Brisbane River with a well-maintained paved pedestrian and bicycle walkway and beautiful scenery. We stayed in the South Bank area and is an easy walk to the city with plenty of restaurants nearby. The city also offers an array of activities that span from museums and art galleries to rock climbing or bridge climb. We visited the Queensland Museum, enjoyed the sun at Streets Beach and did some rock climbing by the river.
We, of course, wanted to see the koalas and kangaroos and opted to visit Australia Zoo, which is the home of the crocodile hunter Steve Irwin. It is a wonderful place to learn about the different animals found in Australia. What we like about this zoo is that the visitors are offered opportunities to interact with the animals. We were able to touch and took pictures with lizards, snakes, koalas; and kangaroos. The crocodile show is not to be missed and during the show, we were taught how to avoid deadly encounters with crocodiles.
We had planned on a visit to the Gold Coast Hinterland but stopped short by the forest fires in the area. We ended up driving northbound about two hours to Noosa Heads on the Sunshine Coast and hiking the trails of Noosa National Park. It was a wonderful hike with marvelous views. Noosa was voted as our favorite destination for this trip. The sun, cafes, shops, and beaches created a soothing vacation vibe. We wished we had more time than just a day trip there.
Airlie Beach, Heart of the Reef. After spending a few days in Brisbane, we headed to Airlie Beach, a resort town and gateway to the Whitsunday Islands National Park which is a part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. We picked this destination to explore the Great Barrier Reef area because it’s less crowded compared to Cairns. The September weather was warm during the day and cool in the evening. However, during the week that we were there, the wind gust was strong with big swells and waves at sea. We were drenched and holding on to dear life on board the tall ship Providence V when we set sail for the Whitsunday Islands. It was an experience not for the faint of heart and especially not for those with motion sickness. After what seemed like an eternity, the captain decided to turn back, which he later said had never happened before. We tried again a couple of days later with better sea conditions and were rewarded with an incredible time on the island. We anchored off the beach of Whitsunday Island, which is the largest of the 74 islands in the Whitsundays. We walked up to Hill Inlet lookout and admired the stunning colors caused by the swirling sand, exfoliated our skin with the pure white silica sand on Whitehaven Beach, snorkeled and saw the corals and colorful fish. The kayaking trip we did departing from Shute Harbour to White Rock was another highlight of our adventure. It was quite a workout because of the currents in some parts of the route but we had beautiful weather, a friendly guide and we even spotted a turtle coming up for air. It was the perfect ending to our Whitsundays adventure.
Sydney, the harbour city and home of the iconic Sydney Opera House. Our last destination for this trip to see the iconic Sydney Opera House and climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We were again welcomed with perfect weather for this leg of our journey. We enjoyed walking in the Royal Botanic Garden, seeing the Opera House up close and from above, visiting the Rocks Markets and shopping at the old Queen Victoria Building and the adjacent Westfield. The highlight was hands down climbing the Harbour Bridge with BridgeClimb Sydney. When we were at the top, it seemed like we could see as far as New Zealand.
It was a short two weeks to get a taste of what Australia offers and to spend some time with family and friends in the area. We will definitely be back again to see the rest of Australia in the future. Here are some tips I learned from this trip:
- September is winter/spring-ish in Australia but temperature varies from region to region. Check the weather before you travel. We wore short sleeves shirts and shorts almost all the time with a light jacket for early mornings and evenings.
- Water temperature is still cooler in September and wet suits are recommended if staying in water for a long period of time such as snorkeling.
- Don’t forget your sunscreens regardless of time of year you visit.
- Tipping is not mandatory in Australia. We did find the restaurant service a little slow at times but people were friendly.
- Don’t forget your driver’s license if you plan on renting a car. There are a lot roundabouts and it can be confusing for US drivers. We went in the wrong way once and had a scare.
- As always, relax and enjoy the adventure!