Australia consistently ranks high on the list of countries offering the quality of life many countries can only dream about. And why not? With its massive land area (sixth in the world), amazing beaches and reefs, forests, fantastic four-season weather, diverse wildlife, multicultural melting pot cities populated with beautiful people, there’s very little that this country can possibly want.
So when we visited Australia for the first time last July, we came with expectations set so high and came back with the satisfaction that they were all met, surpassed even. I love Australia – SO MUCH that I sometimes still dream about our trip and how we could have stayed a while longer and visited more places. I’m pretty certain there will be more time for that in the near offing, and most likely with the little tyke in tow. However, for now, here’s a list of our Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sydney travel highlights:
- Took the Brisbane River Cruise – From our hotel in downtown Brissy, we walked towards Brisbane River and hopped on one of the river cruise boats. It’s a fun way of discovering the history of the river and admiring some of Brisbane’s most iconic sights (Kangaroo Point Cliffs, City Centre, Brisbane Wheel, etc) for only AUD 25 per person.
- Visited Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary – If I can only have one Aussie travel highlight – but we all know that’s impossible because, hey, it’s Australia! – this would be it. Only one of the very few places now where you can still cuddle a koala (for a fee, of course), Lone Pine Koala Sactuary is located about 13kms from Brisbane CDB. The zoo is quite company so it’s very easy to move around and they don’t only have koalas here but also other animals such as kangaroos, Tasmanian devil, few bird species, fish, and reptiles.
- Breakfast at Coolangatta Beach – Located at the Gold Coast side of Australia, Coolangatta is a beautiful stretch of white sand beach and gorgeous blue water that retains its precious charm even during winter. We had a typical Aussie breakfast of bacon, eggs, bread and coffee by the beach, which was made more fun by the frequent sighting of hot surfers about to hit the waves. After breakfast, we took a nice, long walk along the beach and took some very nice photos as well.
- Climbed the Gold Coast Skypoint and marvelled at the precious 360-degree view of Gold Coast below. You can’t make up a sight like this.
- Explored Surfers Paradise – Another one of Australia’s amazing beaches and a lot more crowded than Coolangatta. It was a sunny winter day so there were plenty of people milling around. Took a stroll down Soul Boardwalk and dined at Vapiano, a great Italian restaurant. Watch out for the hot cops patrolling the area and snap photos with them if you can.
- Ran the Gold Coast Airport (Half) Marathon…on a cold winter day and nearly paid for it with dear life. First a disclaimer: I am a tropical baby through and through, and by that I mean I cannot stand cold weather temperature. I was pretty sure I would collapse during the run but I managed to pull myself together and complete the half-marathon, though off-mark by several minutes.
- Took a stroll up and down Darling Harbour – Officially one of my favourite places in Sydney, Darling Harbour is lined with restaurants and cafés, including the famous Lindt Café. It’s gorgeous at daytime with all the boats, ferries and water taxis docked along the wharf and even prettier at night with the cacophony of lights and sounds emanating from the fancy establishments.
- Got lost in Manly and Bondi Beach – Thanks to lovely friends who took me around Sydney while Hubby was working, I was able to visit the iconic Bondi and Manly beaches. And because it was winter, we have enough space to walk around and get some suntan mesh going. Love, love, love Bondi and I wish to be back there on summertime. Special mention to Inez, Johanna, Zoe and Liza – thank you so much for the lovely company during my short stay in Sydney. Hope to see you all again soon!
- Took a photo in front of the famous Harry’s Pies – I’ve been told that Hollywood stars and Australian celebrities frequent this little roadside café on wheels, which is now considered an institution in Sydney. It’s a pity that we were still full from all the fish and chips that we’ve eaten the whole day so I didn’t get to try the famous pies. Next time!
- Went up the Sydney Eye Tower – Just before we took our flight back to Singapore, we crammed a visit to the tower and Madame Tussaud’s in about 4 hours. The Sydney Eye Tower offers an unobstructed view of Sydney and its iconic landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House.
- Took a photo of the Sydney Opera House – Because I’m a tourist and this is what tourists do!
- Visited Madame Tussaud’s – Another great first-time experience for me. If you’ve ever been to one, then you would know that they make them almost real-looking, it’s beyond amazing!
What are your favourite things about Australia?