Australia is an amazing country. Very few places in the world do you get the same diversity of nature, climate and landscape which means there is so much to do here. The most popular section of the country for tourism is the east coast – great weather, stunning beaches and some of the most iconic attractions in the world! Here’s what we got up to:
Sydney is one of those cities – like NYC, London, Paris and Rio – where everyone knows what to see there. The Sydney Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and Bondi beach have been on the TV and postcards for years and you can’t go to Oz without seeing them!
Aside from that, we mainly got fat here – see this blog for full details: https://amarnitravels.com/2018/09/23/a-foodie-guide-to-sydney/#more-380.
During our stay there was also a massive debate about whether a horse racing event should be advertised on the sails Opera House – protests and everything! I can’t imagine I’d be that bothered if they announced the Grand National winner on the Houses of Parliament but this was serious stuff. It even had a hashtag #sailsnotsales.
Brissie (as it is affectionately known as by the locals) is more a gateway to the areas around it than a tourist destination itself. But we had a day here so we had a look. Eagle Street Pier is a nice little spot for lunch by the banks of the river and the area we stayed in – Fortitude Valley – was certainly lively on Friday night (reminded us of those trashy strips of bars on that Greek / Spanish Island you went to when you were 18).
The highlight by far was the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary which gave us the opportunity to hold a Koala and feed a Kangaroo. An amazing experience.
We drove up from Brissie to Hervey Bay (missing out the Sunshine Coast which is another popular tourist place but ironically lacked any sort of sunshine and was absolutely pissing with rain) and took a ferry across to Fraser which is the worlds largest sand island. There is literally sand everywhere! It’s amazing how much vegetation is growing there all things considered (sand is not especially known for its nutrition).
The tour around Fraser took us to some of the highlights:
– Lake McKenzie: the water is just ridiculous here, clear as anything. It’s all rainwater as well, the lake is completely enclosed so doesn’t get anything from the sea. A great beach as well which is par for the course on Fraser
– Eli Creek: another spot with amazingly clear water, we had a great walk in the creek itself and also bizarrely bumped into what appeared to be a stag party. I always had Fraser down as a more romantic destination but they seemed to be having a great time so who are we to judge.
– The beach – the highlight! Partly because of the gold sand and partly because of the clear water. But mainly because the beach was also an 80kmh road and had 4×4 vehicles tearing down it. Was made even better by the plane trip we took which gave us spectacular views.
Fraser is also famous for its population of dingoes which are supposed to be the purest in the world as they’ve avoided breeding with dogs. They can actually be pretty vicious (a famous case involved the death of a 2-month old baby) but we managed to spot some from the safety of our vehicle meaning we could leave the island satisfied.
Airlie Beach was the place in Australia where we realised we were a boring old married couple. The place is backpacker haven and we stayed in Nomads which, aside from being an utter dump, played host to most of a terrifying species of traveller – student Brits abroad. Shalini was particularly appalled that they didn’t serve any wine at the bar and we had to make do with those pre canned spirit and mixer drinks. Somebody save us!
The Whitsundays came to the rescue! Honestly this is one of the most beautiful places in the world and the day we spent sailing here was amazing. The highlight is Whitehaven beach on Whitsunday Island but just cruising the seas was a massive part of the experience as well. Unfortunately we only did the day trip as our overnight tour got cancelled but if you do go here, I’d definitely suggest staying overnight on the boat!
A 10 hour train took us from Airlie to Cairns – the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. Honestly this country is huge, 10 hours from London on the train and you wouldn’t be in the UK any more – in Queensland this gets you from north to a little bit further north.
The reef is another of those iconic Australian attractions and it was here where we tried diving for the first time. It’s difficult to go back to snorkelling now – diving is like being transported to another world under the sea (play Little Mermaid song now…). The reef is huge and we only saw a small fraction of it but it was probably the best day of our Australia trip.
Cape Tribulation & the Daintree Rainforest:
This place probably highlights best how diverse and brilliant Australia is. About two hours north of Cairns is Cape Trib where you can see two world heritage sites at the same time – the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest (of which the Daintree is part of). Apparently it’s David Attenborough’s favourite place in the world and that man has travelled.
The Daintree rainforest is the oldest in the world at about 200 million years (the Amazon is 8 million years old) and hosts some amazing wildlife like the Cassowary, the tree kangaroo and a number of crocs and snakes! Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your viewpoint) we visited in dry season which meant the snakes were generally hiding. The crocs gave us a little peep though!