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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Traveling Muse: Australia

At the end of July, the hubs and I flew to Australia as one of our friends was speaking at a conference in Sydney. His wife went too, so we decided to make it a big trip down under. When I was a kid, I always thought about visiting Australia because it seemed like the farthest place in the world. I didn't think about traveling there because of the wildlife or the accent or the whatever -- it was just because it seemed like it was on the other side of the planet. The photo above is of Bondi Beach.


Now, at the age of 31, I was finally able to go there. And even though it was far away, it actually was not the longest plane ride I'd ever been on (India still holds that title). That's the benefit of living in California. We flew from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, and then from L.A. straight to Sydney. I believe it was a total of 15 hours in-flight time, and because of the time difference, we left on a Thursday night and arrived in Sydney on Saturday. Another interesting fact to remember is that Australia is in the southern hemisphere, so July in Australia is actually winter time.


As I said, our first stop was Sydney, which is probably the most famous city in Australia. Sydney is the capital city of New South Wales -- the state that it's in. Melbourne is the capital city of Victoria; Adelaide is the capital of South Australia; Perth (where Heath Ledger was from) is the capital of Western Australia; Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territory; Hobart is the capital of Tasmania; and Brisbane is the capital city of Queensland. The photo above is actually of Cairns, not Sydney.


Sydney is the most populated and the most popular probably because it's the home to the Sydney Opera House -- the most iconic visual representation of Australia. During my vacation, I was able to spend some time in Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns (in Queensland) and Brisbane. I can tell you that Sydney is the more posh and proper city while Melbourne has more of a hipster cool vibe. But since our friend was doing his presentation in Sydney, we ended up spending most of our days there. You might remember this Hacienda Bar on the Harbour from my Instagram.
We walked around the Sydney Harbour and even did a Sydney Harbour/Darling Harbour boat tour. We were able to sit on the boat enjoying tea and crumpets as the guide told us all about the Opera House and the history behind the entire harbour, including the whole "country built on convicts" thing. While in Sydney, we also took a ferry ride to Manly Beach to visit the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary. We actually got there 15 minutes before closing and were almost turned away until I batted my lashes and used my "you look like a child" charm to get us in. We didn't have a ton of time, but we did have the entire place to ourselves where we were able to see stingrays, penguins, sharks and more.
A day trip to Bondi (pronounced bondie) Beach was also in the cards. And we also did a tour of the Blue Mountains National Park where we saw the famous Three Sisters rocks at the Katoomba Scenic World. This is also the same day we toured the Jenolan Caves for beauitul stalactite formations.

Melbourne, Victoria

Even though Sydney had so much to see on a grand scale (and even an adorable town named Chippendale), the most interesting city in Australia has got to be Melbourne. Because of the whole southern hemisphere thing, we visited Melbourne in the winter time and Melbourne is on the south side of the country, which means it was pretty damn cold. Remember: the more south you go, the colder it gets in the southern hemisphere -- and the closer you get to Antarctica.
So before we did our Melbourne city walking tour, the hubs ran into a store and bought me a pair of gloves as they were very much needed. I'm talking 7 degrees Celsius, which is equivalent to 44 degrees Fahrenheit. Anyway, despite the cold temperatures, we really enjoyed walking through Melbourne and seeing all the beautiful murals on the walls. And I'm not talking about your run of the mill graffiti. These were stunning pieces of art on walls around the city that were specifically dedicated to mural art. When we weren't outside looking at murals, we were inside rooftop bars (the others had their share of espresso martinis) or cute coffee shops. We even had some drinks in an IceBar -- where the entire place is made of ice -- as it was in the Fitzroy District where we were staying.
Melbourne, which is also the home of the Australian Open, is very reminiscent of the west coast. It gave me a lot of Seattle/California vibes. It's very hipster cool with hardly any big branded stores (it was super hard to find a Starbucks, lol) and with a very "support the locals" vibe. I will say that all of Australia looked like various cities in the U.S. though. It's definitely the one place (that I've visited) outside of the U.S. that's the most like the U.S. Australians are just a bit more stylish and with cooler accents (like their British counterparts).

Funny story: we were walking through this park at night and came upon some super cute animals. They walked up to us looking for food. We didn't have any so we didn't feed them, but we did take some bad night flash photos of them. We thought they were adorable. The next day, in our Uber, we were told that those super cute animals were actually possums. We were relieved that we didn't touch them because we associate possums with these gross creatures with pointy teeth (the American opossum). Whereas, the Australian brushtail possum is actually quite cute.

cairns, queensland

After Melbourne, we headed to Cairns as that's that gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. I don't snorkel or dive, but I was initially going to venture out on the boat with my friends to go to the Great Barrier Reef. But I felt compelled to stay at our AirBnB treehouse in the mountains instead. If you follow on Instagram, then you saw my Instastories of me reading on the hammock, taking in the beach views and even spotting the kangaroo that lived in the backyard.

Now, Cairns is on the northern side of Australia, which means it's a lot hotter in Cairns than in Melbourne. We went from roughly 7 degrees Celsius to 23 degrees Celsius (like 76 degrees Fahrenheit). Still winter time, but very varied weather across the continent. Could only imagine how hot Cairns gets in the summer!

This place was actually in Trinity Beach, which is a suburb of Cairns.
Although my friends had a fabulous time at the reef, the hubs did inform me that he kind of thought the reef in the Maldives was just as beautiful. Side note: I just realized that I had comments closed on my travel diary posts for both India and the Maldives. So if there was something you wanted to comment on about either of those trips, then feel free to leave your comment on this post. Comments will be open!
this koala was having a case of the Mondays
Since we had done so much exploring in both Sydney and Melbourne, Cairns was more about relaxing and wildlife. We were able to venture over to this town called Port Douglas where we found some nice items to bring back as souvenirs and gifts. Port Douglas is also the home to the Wildlife Habitat, which is where we got to see even more kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, cassowaries and more. This is where I officially decided that kangaroos are ten times cuter in person and way cooler than koalas. They eat out of your hand and, mostly, aren't afraid of coming up to you and letting you pet them. And no worries -- this was a wildlife habitat, not a circus or even a zoo. The kangaroos weren't behind any cages.

brisbane, queensland

After Cairns, our friends went back to Sydney for a day before heading back to the states. The hubs and I flew to Brisbane for the day before heading to Fiji. Since we were only in Brisbane for one day (not even a full 24 hours), we couldn't see much. But we did visit the QAGOMA -- the Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art for their Marvel: Creating the Cinematic Universe exhibit. I'm not the biggest fan of museums and galleries.
I'm not going to lie -- they bore me. But some galleries speak to me more than others. I'm usually more into sculptures and modern art. And you muses already know how I feel about movies, so I just had to check out this exhibition. I think we spent a few hours in there and I totally loved it. FYI, if this Marvel exhibit is something you'd like to see, know that it's a traveling exhibit so it will be touring other parts of the world later in the year.
After the museum, we walked around downtown Brisbane, had some food, drank some coffee (which I believe was only the second time I had Starbucks while in Australia) and again mentioned just how much Australia looked like the west coast. But keep in mind that people do drive on the opposite side of the street over there. It's down under and reverse.

Some photos that were taken on the phone

// Bondi Beach, Sydney // Jenolan Caves //
When we took a day trip to Bondi (pronounced like bon-die) to hang out by the beach and hike a short trail. Another day we did a tour of the Jenolan Caves where we saw a wallaby and a ton of great stalactite formations.

// Wallabies, Kangaroos & Koalas // Wildlife Habitat, Port Douglas //
On our way to the Jenolan Caves, we actually found a group of wild kangaroos hanging around in a park. But when we went to Cairns, we drove over to Port Douglas to visit the Wildlife Habitat there, which is home to a bevy of kangaroos, koalas, cassowaries and more.

// Chur Burger, Brisbane // Trinity Beach, Cairns //
After visiting Sydney and Melbourne, we ventured to Cairns and Brisbane. Our boutique hotel in Brisbane was connected to this cute restaurant with amazing murals. And our house rental in Cairns had an awesome view of the beach. I read Dying for Christmas on that hammock.

And that's my travel diary of Australia. We left the states on July 27, arrived in Sydney on July 29 and left Brisbane on August 7. We spent the most days in Sydney, but Melbourne was the most interesting of all the places. Cairns had the best weather and Brisbane was just a nice addition to the end of the Australian tour. FYI, the capital of Australia is Canberra. There isn't really anything to do there. It's just the capital because it's in between Sydney and Melbourne and the two cities couldn't agree as to which one should be the capital. So, compromise.


  1. This is such an awesome trip, Australia is on my list.


  2. Wow sounds like you guys covered many different areas of Australia and each one was a different experience! Sounds like a great trip!

  3. Your Australian adventure looks like it had a little bit of everything from nature to culture! I hope I get to visit Australia one day.

  4. Amazing views and lovely pictures; I'm sure you have lots of fond memories of the trip. Happy Wednesday...:-)

  5. Is my dream to travel the word and Autralia is just amazing. Happy for you!!!

  6. Looks like an amazing trip. Loved all the pictures. And I knew their capital was Canberra but didn't know the reason. << It's just the capital because it's in between Sydney and Melbourne and the two cities couldn't agree as to which one should be the capital. So, compromise. >> Sounds like a practical compromise! :)


  7. Looks like an amazing trip! I especially love the kangaroo photo!

  8. Your trip looks fantastic! Love your pics :)

  9. We're thinking about doing an Aussie roadtrip around Christmas time and this has made me SO excited!!! Bookmarking this page for future holiday planning!!!

  10. The trip looks amazing. I would love to visit Australia soon. I know the country is so beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  11. I lived in Sydney for a while and totally loved it. Missed Jenolan caves.. did you do the Coogi walk?

    1. We were at Bondi and we started the walk but then decided not to finish it and turn back, lol.

  12. Beautiful photos! What a fantastic adventure Down Under!

    Beth ||

  13. Wow looks like you had a great time! Would love to visit Australia one day.

  14. Australia is on my wish list of places to visit one day. It looks amazing!

  15. Ahh Australia! I have a cousin who moved there after serving in the Navy and married a "Sheila" lol. I've never been but would love to someday. These are beautiful shots/photos!!!

  16. How fun! This looks like a great travelling diary and filled with loads of eventful days. I have a cousin that lives in Queensland. There is so much beauty in Oz. I haven't spent time in Cairns yet so that is on our next Aussie list.

  17. Looked like you had a lot of fun with those gorgeous places you've been to. Would love to visit this country one day.

    Jessica |

  18. Oh wow! I have that exact picture of us holding the koala in Port Douglas!! Lol! That little bugger held on to me for dear life. Did you see the creepy cassowaries and that enormous crocodile Sargeant??

    Scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef will always be a highlight of my life, and the table lands were beautiful. WOW.

    Australia is by far the furthest I've ever travelled via plane. 36 hours, gate to gate. By the time I touched down in Sydney, I had literal cabin fever. I never wanted to see the inside of a plane ever again.


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