We had a great time on our super quick tour of Australia! It would have been nice to spend more time there, but my mom only gets 3 weeks off of work at a time and we had an important Lord of the Rings tour in New Zealand, so Australia only got 10 days. It was awesome though and we loved everywhere we went.
I’ve really been slacking on this one. With my mom here now writing about what I’m doing just isn’t as pressing, so sorry to the one or two people who read these.
After a sleepless night on the plane from Bali, Talia and I arrived in Sydney early this morning! We ran into our mom as we were about to take the shuttle to the hotel, so we all got to go together, and catch up on the way! After settling in, we took a free walking tour of Sydney which started in Hyde Park and ended near The Rocks at s viewing spot of the Harbor Bridge and the Opera House.
Talia and I were totally exhausted from not sleeping, so after lunch we went back and took a nap until dinner.
This evening, we walked downtown again and went through the Vivid light show. It included a bunch of small art installations, the bridge lit up, and a series of changing animations on the Opera House.
This morning we started with a Hop on Hop off tour bus (the first one I’ve been on). We took the bus to the Opera House and toured it. We apparently picked a good time because we got to see 5 of the 6 interior theaters.
After our tour, we went to the Sydney aquarium then dinner at Darling Harbor. All the roads were closed on the way back to town, so we had to get off early and walked through the Vivid lights again.
Today we took a little 9 person tour to the Blue Mountains and a wildlife park. We started with a short hike (501 steps down and then back up) to see a waterfall and some great views of the mountains. We had hot chocolate at the mountains before going to see a short Aboriginal dance show nearby.
We stopped for two more photos then after lunch went to a wildlife park. The park had wallaby feeding, but they weren’t very interested in us as they’d just been fed. It also had lots of other Australian animals like koalas, dingoes, and lots of birds.
We took a boat back to the Sydney harbor and ended up seeing the Vivid lights for the third night in a row, this time from the water.
Today was entirely a travel day to Uluru in central Australia. We flew from Sydney to the tiny “airport” in Uluru (4 flights leave here each day). Uluru is controlled by the aboriginal people, and is really just a large resort. Outside of going into the park area to see the Uluru rock, there’s not a whole lot do do there so we just shopped and had dinner.
We got a lot in today! We only had one day in Uluru and we were sure to make the most of it. We were picked up at the resort when it was still dark and went to watch the sunrise with breakfast. Once it was up, we took a Segway ride around the entire thing. I’ve always enjoyed Segway rides (my family did one in California and Talia and I did another in Rome), but being on a Segway with no people around and no obstacles to worry about wa so much better. We had a blast going as fast as they would let us (only 10kph but still fun). We also made several stops to hear the stories that go with different sections of the rock.
In the late afternoon, we were picked up at the resort and taken to the base for Uluru Camel Rides. All the camels were led single file with two people per camel so it was relaxing and easy to take pictures. Talia and I shared a camel, Nicko, and mom rode Trevor. The camels couldn’t go into the park, but we could still see the rock and the sunset from where we ended up.
I initially thought that it was a waste of our time to go here at all since it took a full day to get here, but I’m so glad we did. It was a bit out of the way but we loved everything we did.
Today was another travel day, this time to Cairns. Our flight didn’t leave until the afternoon, but we didn’t do much in the morning – just hang around the resort and see some of the things they had there (a food demonstration and a show about the story of the eagle, the crow, and the cockatoo).
Today I checked off a big bucket list item and something my dad would have loved to do, scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef. I’ve never scuba dived before (save for a failed attempt in Hawaii when I was 11), but i didn’t feel like I could go to the GBR and not scuba.
We went to two sites on Upolu Reef. It was a bit hard to find things at the first site, but we did see some cool fish. The waves were pretty rough and I immediately lost Talia and Mom, but I still snorkeled for probably 45 minutes before heading back to the boat for my first dive.
To be able to take people diving without any training, a trainer held the hands or arms of two people for the entire 25 minute dive. We got to see some clownfish but mostly just coral at the first spot.
At the second spot, I went snorkeling with Talia for 20-30 minutes before doing a second dive. This spot was way better, with a sort of wall of Reef like you’d normally expect. Talia and I held hands in order to stay together, because it was still pretty choppy. We stumbled upon a sea turtle eating his lunch (some sort of plant) and followed it for a while before the rest of the snorkellers spotted it.
It turns out I was the only beginner doing a second dive (my mom was one of two passengers who were certified and ended up doing two as well), so I got a trainer to myself for the second dive. It was much easier without a second beginner on the other side and the Reef was much better in this spot. We saw a sea turtle sitting on the Reef, a white tip Reef shark, a Khuls stingray, and 3 types of anemonefish.
This was our last full day in Australia! We took a “Billy Tea” tour that started with a Daintree River cruise. We saw 4 big crocodiles, 3 little ones (ages 2-14 months), and an azure kingfisher.
We then went on a walk through the rainforest at Jindabla Boardwalk and stopped at a restaurant that had a little group of orphaned wallabies we fed lunch to. For dessert, they took us to a creek and we had a fruit tasting of 6 tropical fruits that we don’t find in the USA. They then gave us Billy Tea and some type of bread with molasses on top. We also stopped for some amazing fruit ice cream on the way home (best one was the wattleseed). We took the bus across the creek on a ferry and back to the city for dinner.