Far from the familiarity of home, exotic lands beckon with sights, sounds, and sensations that defy imagination. Down under in Australia, the horizons are broad, the experiences grand, and the natives are friendly! Physically, Australia is as large as the United States, so it takes a bit of planning to see the key areas. Cruises offer pre- or post- land tours, so its an easy way to put it together. Seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere, so the best time to go is in January.
Sydney is Australia’s oldest and biggest city set on one of the world’s most stunning harbors. My family’s two bedroom apartment, with remote controlled curtains, faced this harbor and the Opera House was my morning view every day. Try to experience an opera while you’re in town or take one of the tours to really appreciate it.
The laid back lifestyle and physical allure make it one of the easiest and most pleasant cities to visit. There’s a wide range of cultural life, dynamic food scene, and a vibrant cityscape of outstanding contemporary and colonial architecture. Iconic beaches and five major national parks deliver unforgettable experiences. Don’t miss:
- Catching the perfect wave at famous Bondi or Palm beaches
- Dining waterside in the historic Rocks precinct…perfection!
- Being inspired by a magical performance in the acoustical and lovely Sydney Opera House
- Catching the Manly Ferry at sunset, or anytime, for one of the best and most affordable thrills
Melbourne boasts great events, a passion for food and wine, and a fabulous arts scene with more than 100 galleries from large public institutions to smaller commercial galleries to tucked away artist cooperatives. Known as a style setter, Melbourne is home to non-stop festivals and musical extravaganzas. Try the trendy clubs and bars and live music venues, as well as theaters and cinemas. Drive the magnificent Great Ocean Road! Meet the Little Penguins on Phillip Island. Pan for gold at Sovereign Hill.
A trip to Australia is NOT complete without a trip into the Outback! When my family visited Alice Springs, I hired a guide to teach us survival skills! I hope I never really have to break open a piece of fruit to feast on the protein (live maggots!) inside, but I did it to impress my kids! Eww… they wiggled on my tongue! The guide spotted kangaroo spoor, picked it up and declared it was fresh (really?). Then he proceeded to track that kangaroo so we could get pictures! I was impressed!
Ayers Rock is surreal unto itself. Uluru is a large, magnetic mound located on a major planetary grid point much like the Great Pyramid in Egypt. It is the second largest monolith in the world, more than 986 feet high and five miles around. It also extends 1.5 miles into the ground! It was described by explorer Ernest Giles in 1872 as the “remarkable pebble”. If you visit at sunrise, you’ll see the rock glowing red and join others in the pilgrimage to climb it. (I chose to watch!) The natives consider it a sacred place and do not like visitors climbing the rock. A rope hand-hold makes the climb easier but it is still quite a long, steep climb and many climbers with good intentions give up partway.
Cairn’s Great Barrier Reef and pristine rain forests are on either side of the golden beaches. My daughter hired a guide for a trek through the rain forest. He got lost! When her socks got wet going through creeks, she took them off. At the end of the day, there were dozens of leeches on her feet. She ran a high fever all the way home from Sydney thru Tahiti to Calilfornia. I called my family doctor from CA and he arranged to meet us at his office directly from the Philly airport. The CDC called me every week to see how she was doing. Wear shoes and don’t walk through creeks!
You’ll never be bored in tropical North Queensland: snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef; white water rafting down a raging river; sailing to tropical islands; browsing for crafts at country town markets; skydiving from 14,000 feet; fishing for barramundi; and those rain forest tours! What more could you want?