Travel Guide: Australia

Where in the world: Australia

How many days: 10

Favorite meal: Fried prawns (aka shrimp!)

Goodness… where to begin?? Our honeymoon was nothing short of amazing. We chose Australia because for us, it was one of those places people long to visit but never actually make it to. It’s remote, exotic, and has always fascinated our adventurous sprits! In short, we wanted something unforgettable, and boy, Australia did not disappoint!

There are so many reasons we loved Australia – the beautiful weather, the unusual wildlife, the varying scenery from beaches to deserts to rainforests… the list goes on and on! Before I jump in with the details, one of the most common questions we’re asked about our trip is how we planned it. We used the travel agency Aspire Down Under, and our agent Shelley was an absolute miracle worker! She was essential in making everything run smoothly. Shelley coordinated our transportation, recommended the best hotels for our budget, and gave us wonderful options for excursions. As an Australian native, her suggestions went a long way for us. Without her I can’t imagine how many hours we would have spent researching online, lost in a million different web browsers until our brains turned to mush. Long story short – I highly recommend using a travel agent!

Over the course of 10 days, Keith and I visited 3 different areas of the country and were on 9 different flights. Yep, you read that right, 9 flights in 10 days!! One thing I think we didn’t fully grasp initially is that Australia isn’t only a country, it’s a continent. There were so many things we wanted to do and see, and everything is very sprawled out. In order to see it all we had to fly frequently, pack lightly, and stay very organized. I’m thinking about writing another blog post on how I packed, so stay tuned for that friends! Let’s jump in. 

 

Where we visited: Sydney, Australia

Where we stayed: Amora Hotel Jamison Sydney

What we did: Sydney Bridge Climb, Opera House Tour, Dinner Cruise in the Harbor, Blue Mountains Tour

Keith and I were very excited to see Sydney, but were not expecting how much we’d LOVE the city! First off, it’s absolutely beautiful. Surrounded by water, striking architecture, and perfect weather, it’s truly a paradise. We loved the culture, the food and the local markets. The city is very clean and walkable, making it easy for tourists to get around. The Harbor was our favorite spot. We spent most of our time there exploring, eating, and cruising on the water.

While in Sydney we knew we had to tour the Opera House, the most recognizable attraction in the city. We enjoyed going behind the scenes and learning more about the structure. It’s very fascinating up close and not what I expected, I thought the roof was made of cloth-like material, instead it’s all tile! 

We also took a day to explore the Blue Mountains, a National Park in Australia. As avid hikers we loved it. Australians called the trails “bushwalks”, one of the many fun words we learned on the trip, and we enjoyed visiting the lookout points and even discovered a few waterfalls!

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Where we visited: Ayers Rock, Australia

Where we stayed: Desert Gardens Resort

What we did: Hiking and camel riding

Ayers Rock was our second stop. We arrived at the teeny airport and quickly realized that visiting the outback basically means you’re dropped off in the middle of nowhere! Since we honeymooned during Australia’s summer season, it was HOT. Surprisingly, it was also very rainy. We were told from the locals that we had a rare experience seeing the desert so green from all the recent rainfall.

We explored Uluru, a huge rock formation and sacred landmark to Australian Aboriginal people. One morning we had a sunrise tour scheduled and it was pouring. Thanks to the storm clouds we didn’t see much of a sunrise, but instead we got the opportunity to hike up rock formations through mist and waterfalls. The experience was unique, mesmerizing, and totally worth getting soaking wet! 

Another trip favorite was our camel tour. We fell in love with these sweet (and slightly stinky) animals. I’d never rode a camel before but made quick friends with my guy Diesel. The Uluru Camel Tour Company was great. They take wonderful care of their animals and it's apparent that the guides have special bonds with their camel friends. We rode to dinner and were greeted with “Nibblies and Sparkling” after our tour, the American equivalent of appetizers and champagne! Cheers to that! 

Where we visited: Cairns, Australia

Where we stayed: Regal Port Douglas Resort

What we did: Snorkeling and Rainforest tour

Cairns was our final stop in Australia. We stayed in Port Douglas, a cute beach town on the coast. We loved exploring the local shops and restaurants during our downtime there. We even got to celebrate Australia Day (our 4th of July equivalent) with the locals!

By far our favorite experience in Cairns was snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef. Seeing this natural wonder was just incredible. The clear waters, colorful coral, and friendly ocean life made it a highlight. We saw clown fish, sting rays, puffer fish, giant clams, even a shark! Eek! I felt a bit seasick early in the day as the boat ride was choppy. I recommend packing a few Dramamine tablets with you just in case. 

Our travel tips:

- Schedule events early in the day to avoid jetlag struggles. The time difference for us was 18 hours, so we were usually exhausted by evening time. It was helpful to start our days early when we had energy!

- Try Vegemite. It’s horrible (we’d describe it as bitter and salty), but the locals LOVE it for whatever reason so it’s worth a try! We recommend spreading it VERY thin on toast. It tastes a little better layered over butter.

- Koalas don’t like to cuddle. From all the photos we’d seen of celebrities and tourists cuddling koalas in Australia, we thought this was a standard activity. Turns out, koalas are very fragile creatures, as they don’t have much muscle mass. They spend their days eating only special varieties of Eucalyptus, and when they find a plant they like, they only nibble the most delicious outer edges of the leaves. Since their diets are so limited, the adorable creatures never gain much energy or strength. They must be handled with extreme care to avoid accidents. Most states in Australia have actually outlawed tourists holding koalas. If you’d like to interact with the cuties, a recommended greeting is a “friendly pat on the bum” instead.

 

Why we loved Australia:

Our honeymoon was truly the trip of a lifetime. Australian locals were so friendly and welcoming, the scenery was amazing, and the weather was perfect. For us, it was a great mix of romance and adventure. It wasn’t your relaxing, lay-on-the-beach-all-day type honeymoon, but for our adventurous spirits it was perfect! 

 

XO

Rachael