Australia at a glance

Sydney Travel Blog

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sailing out to michaelmas cay: Cairnes, Queensland

Unfortunately, I did not discover the glory of TravBuddy until months after my trip to Australia. Still, the events are fresh in my mind and could definitely be used by many of you who wish to travel to such a lush country in the future.

When the majority of people think of Australia they either get a clear mental image of Nemo or the Crocodile Hunter. Either that, or they are fear-ridden by the pressing image of that cute, young, blonde Aussie girl missing half an arm thanks to an overzealous shark. For the Aussie, Nemo has created a stereotype similar to that of the horrific show Laguna Beach or the O.C. created for us Californians. Even when scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Cairns, Queensland, I couldn't help but to want to shriek "NEMO!" at the sight of every clown fish.

out to breakfast at the BEST pancake place in Sydney
Luckily the gigantic, and very critical, oxygen tube in my mouth restricted such outbursts.

The one thing that should be noted about Australia is that they do, indeed, house the greatest concentration of poisonous animals of any country in the World. Far more than hungry sharks, the most prevalent danger to tourists is likely the jelly fish. Until I arrived to this natural wonderland, I was unaware that there were very specific months where the jelly fish were so great in numbers that swimming off the coast of practically every city in eastern Australia was impossible. Luckily, I found numerous swim lagoons looking over the ocean, so it was the best of both worlds: no worry of the jelly fish, while still relaxing to the crashing of the waves. If planning a trip I would definitely research the jelly fish season, and plan the locations of the trip in sync (oh, that word still echoes of that awful boy band) with them so one can have maximum ocean exposure minus these often deadly creatures.

Sailing to go Scuba Diving

Aussies are some of the friendliest people I've met. They definitely rival my Italian family that would give me the clothing off their back if I would let them. As an American, the experience of a different culture and still being able to easily communicate (of course, I hit a few speed bumps with the constant reference to baby kangaroos as joey's, mosquitoes as "mozzies", etc., etc.,...) was incredible. All seem to "pay-forward" the no worries attitude, and are very easy to talk to and accommodating. Of course this is a generalization, but the fact that the general vibe of the country is so laid-back is incredibly contagious. On a rabbit trail, If you ever visit, check out the calves of these people. I know that sounds incredibly odd, but my brother pointed it out to me and it was definitely a valid observation.

a little jet-lagged, but still traveling my heart out
Australians, even the significantly over weight ones, have great calves. Most likely it is because they refuse to pass up a beautiful day sitting inside, and have a great public transportation system that calls for a bit more walking than the average American is exposed to. Also, Australia is still set in such a wild atmosphere, that creates many opportunities for outdoor actives. Cairns, Queensland is literally set in the middle of a rainforest that has merely been paved for this city's existence.

On my trip I visited:

  • Melbourne (pronounced "Mel-bin", if American refrain from calling it "mel-burn" or "mel-born")
  • Cairns (pronounced "Cans" not "Karens")
  • the Whittsunday Islands (beautiful, but hard to reach)
  • Sydney

Melbourne was brilliant, but make sure to stick in the city.

Melbourne on New Years
The moment one steps out of the downtown area, he is swarmed by flies. Believe me, the word swarm is not an over-exaggeration. I recommend the Westin in the city. It has a great location, and great service. It is only a block away from a park, river, and train station--- just a few blocks from a lot of great shopping. It is a great location for New Years Eve--- I was there over New Years and was a little bummed that I wasn't in Sydney. However, when I later visited Sydney I was told by locals that Melbourne is the best place for New Years events.

Cairns is beautiful as well. Make sure to visit the rainforest and bring your swimsuit! Ask around for directions to a location that is around an Aboriginal (the equivalent to Native Americans in America) housing area.

Aaron and I at the pool: Cairns, Queensland
It is north of Cairns by 45 minutes or so, but definitely worth it. There is a river that is swimmer-friendly, and a great experience. Cairns is great for the younger crowd--- it has some good clubs and bars, but also isn't too shabby for the older crowd. However, if looking for more of a classy atmosphere I would diverge you a bit north to Port Douglas. Both of these locations also have easy access to the Great Barrier Reef

The Whitsunday Islands are very obscure, but worth the effort. We had to fly about an hour south only to change planes and fly 45 minutes back north. Hamilton Island is host to a major resort, and even if you don't stay on the Island it offers day passes to all its facilities. Whitehaven is also a beautiful natural reserve that offers tours.

Hamilton Island, Whitsundays Islands, Australia
Whitehaven has beautiful white sand that doesn't burn your feet, allowing the crystal like water to shine in its brilliance. It truly is the type of place that one dreams of. We stayed at the Coral Sea Resort that was not on an island but sat right on the sea edge of the mainland, and actually ended up staying there at the same time as some celebrities like Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson. One can also access the great barrier reef from here.

Sydney is the most well-known Australian city and has so much to offer. I don't really need to provide much advice as travel information is very easy to find on this city. I guess my main advice is get your Opera tickets in advance! They sell out 2 months before every show, so get online and plan ahead. Even if you don't want to go to an opera, still go to a dance performance or something--- it is all apart of the experience.

the view of the harbour from a water taxi
Also, a tour of the opera house is a must. I was reluctant as I despise tours, but they always provide a wealth of knowledge that is worth the swallowing of my pride. There are some great beaches around like Bondi Beach and Manly Beach, so I would advise at least a day at one of these beaches.

There is so much that goes into making Australia what it is... even the disgusting food items like Vegemite must be explored. The best piece of advice I can give, if you ever decide to visit Australia, is to make sure to let all guards down and embrace its wilderness with all your wild side.

dfoo says:
You sure you spoke to a local in Sydney about Melbourne's NYE being better than Sydney's?

They might have been undercover.
Posted on: Nov 25, 2007
genetravelling says:
great blog, you seemed to have really taken it in and understood the people. although you missed the better half of the country... one thing i dont get is the American fascination with our poisonous creatures. over 100,000 americans die every year from heart disease (ie obesity) and almost the same number from smoking.. i'd be much more worried about that. almost no one ever dies from a poisonous animal. maybe 1 person a year in the whole country... do the math...
Posted on: Nov 14, 2007
travelman727 says:
Thanks for the great blog! I'm in the process of planning my trip to Australia and your tips and advice are highly appreciated :-D
Posted on: Aug 14, 2007
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sailing out to michaelmas cay: Cai…
sailing out to michaelmas cay: Ca…
out to breakfast at the BEST panca…
out to breakfast at the BEST panc…
Sailing to go Scuba Diving
Sailing to go Scuba Diving
a little jet-lagged, but still tra…
a little jet-lagged, but still tr…
Melbourne on New Years
Melbourne on New Years
Aaron and I at the pool: Cairns, Q…
Aaron and I at the pool: Cairns, …
Hamilton Island, Whitsundays Islan…
Hamilton Island, Whitsundays Isla…
the view of the harbour from a wat…
the view of the harbour from a wa…
60,265 km (37,447 miles) traveled
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photo by: Sunflower300