The Land Down Under

G’Day Mates!!

As many of y’all know, my family and I returned from our trip to the “land down under” (aka Australia) roughly 2.5 weeks ago. We are having many friends and family ask what all we did when while on this trip, so I’ve decided to pick my travel blog back up and inform you about one of the most amazing trips we have ever taken.

Now, I am no expert when it comes to travel blogging, so I am just going to type what I feel about what needs to be said about this trip. It’s so hard to express an experience through words, but I’ll do my best to convey how amazing our time was. I hope this gives you a glimpse into our roughly 3-week long adventure.

Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t allow uploading of large files, so many of my “great” pictures couldn’t be published. Feel free to go look at my photo album on Facebook if you want to see some cool photos from the trip!

 

Here we go!

Ten flights, 23,817 miles, three countries (our layover in Auckland, New Zealand and stop in Maui counts right??) is all we could fit into our 17-day extravaganza. Y’all let me just make a note, to circle around Earth once is 24,000 miles… WE JUST ABOUT TRAVELED THE DISTANCE IT TAKES TO GO AROUND THE GLOBE!!! I’m so shocked by that statistic. Seventeen days is the longest we have ever traveled as a family, and while we wanted our own beds and to see our pets, we wouldn’t trade this time for anything. Since this was such a long trip, I am going to break this post down into cities and then add descriptions of what we did where. It might get kinda long so bear with me… or don’t, I’ll leave it up to you!

 

There is no direct flight from ATL to Sydney, so we first flew from ATL to LAX. This was roughly a five our flight, but we just so happened to be flying in at night on July 5th and people were still sending off fireworks. IT WAS SO COOL!! I think Abbey and I were the only ones who really saw them but looking down at fireworks is something else let me just tell ya. After we landed in LA, we only had two hours before we hopped right back on the airplane to head to ‘straya (trying to use some of my Aussie lingo). Y’ALL… this flight was 15 HOURS LONG!! The entire family was really dreading it, but luckily we were able to sleep a majority of the flight. We landed in Sydney at approx. 6:00 a.m. their time and had to hit the ground running. We luckily got to head to the hotel and shower to wake us up and help us push through some of the jet lag, because we lost an entire day due to the time difference.

**I’m leaving out the travel days in the day count, so it will seem like we were gone for a shorter time than we really were**

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, let’s get started:

SYDNEY

Hotel: Shangri-La

Duration: 4 days

 

Day One: Our first day we had to our leisure! Once we all freshened up at the hotel, we decided to walk down to the harbor and check out some of the sites, such as the Sydney Opera House. I knew what it was going to look like, but something about seeing it in person makes it that much more magnificent. The entire family, especially Brooke (who was once an architecture major and wont let you forget it) found the design and structure so fascinating. It literally looks like sails from a sailboat. To keep us busy and from sitting down, we took a tour of it. It was really interesting to learn about its history and how long it took to build such an iconic landmark that is recognized all around the world. By the end of the tour, we were all fading extremely fast. You could tell by looking at us that we were so exhausted. So once the tour was over, we headed back to the hotel to get to rest… and yeah… we fell asleep at 4:00 in the afternoon. Needless to say, we were EXHAUSTED!

Day Two: This day we decided we would take the ferry and go visit the Taronga Zoo and Manly Beach. The first half of the day we spent walking around the zoo and checking out the animals. The second half we visited Manly Beach, which is a popular local area with shops and just like its name implies… a beach. This area was so cute, but since it’s winter down in Australia right now it was too cold for us to really enjoy being out on the beach. That’s the only downside of visiting Australia during the United States’ summer, it’s their winter. Our family loves the beach, so I would love to go back during their summer months, because the beach is such a large part of Australian culture.

 

 

Day Three: WE CLIMBED A BRIDGE!!!This was such a cool day. One of the two things I asked to do on this trip was to climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge, and luckily everyone approved of this excursion!! I’m so glad my family consist of daredevils who aren’t afraid of heights, because it got pretty high, even though the climb was an easy one. The top of the bridge is one of the absolute best ways to see all of Sydney at once. It was so breathtaking from the top, looking out onto the harbor and city skyline. If you ever visit Sydney this is one of my must do’s!! After the bridge climb, we headed to a local restaurant to grab some lunch before we headed back to the hotel to rest up. By day three of this trip, I had eaten more fish and chips I could have ever imagined!! That night we had a cruise around the harbor and dinner at a local restaurant. We were told we were going to be picked up by a pontoon… we figured this was the shuttle to the main boat with where everyone else would be… boy were we wrong!! We ended up being picked up by a yacht and having it all to ourselves!! At first we were a little hesitant, but the cruise around the harbor was awesome. They took us to this local seafood restaurant where several of us had the Moreton Bay Bug. Yep, you read that right…I had a BUG for dinner! Fun fact: a bug is very similar to our lobster and it ended up being really good! After dinner we boarded the boat and continued to sail around the harbor while having dessert.

 

Day Four: This day we walked from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach. By the way, they pronounce it like Bond-eye. That tip will keep you from looking like an American tourist! This was roughly a 5 mile walk along the coast. The views from every inch of the walk were breathtaking. I was constantly trying to take photos of the view, but no picture can do this view justice!! Unfortunately, by the end of the walk and lunch, dad wasn’t feeling too good, so we headed back to the hotel for him to rest.  He ended up having a stomach bug and getting pretty sick on the trip, but luckily didn’t miss out on too much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PORT DOUGLAS/CAIRNS

Hotel: Sea Temple Resort and Spa

Duration: 3 days

Day Five: This day we flew from Sydney to Cairns. Cairns is located on the northeast tip of Australia where the temperature is significantly warmer than it is down south. It was nice to escape to a tropical paradise from the frigid Sydney temp. We arrived at the Sea Temple and went to our rooms to unpack. WE HAD THE COOLEST ROOMS!!! On the top of each room there was a green space with a grilling station as well as a hot tub. My sisters and I are fascinated by any room that differs from our usual Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn Express lol. Since dad wasn’t feeling too hot, mom and the girls headed into downtown Port Douglas to grab some dinner. Everywhere we went, we kept saying we needed a couple more days there. Port Douglas was no different. The town was so cute, but we didn’t have enough time to explore it.

 

Day Six: THE GREAT BARRIER REEF!!!! I was so excited for this day because I LOVE the ocean. My family is huge into snorkeling and so we couldn’t come alllllll the way to Australia and not snorkel around the Great Barrier Reef. We had been told that the ocean had been really rough lately, so we were kind of concerned about what was in store for us. Once again, I’m so glad no one in my family gets sea sick!! Yes, we indeed had some wimps take sea sickness medicine: **cough cough** Brooke, Mom and Dad. Abbey and I aren’t wimps and decided to run the risk by not taking any medicine. We snorkeled three different parts of the reef and saw so many cool varieties of marine life. We learned that the media has been telling lies about the Great Barrier Reef dying. It indeed is not dying, and we learned that coral bleaching is something that is needed once in a while in order for the coral to continue to grow and flourish. The GBR hasn’t seen coral bleaching in over a year and is expected to continue to thrive and flourish. The crew on board our boat were so welcoming and informative!!

 

Day Seven: We spent our last day in Port Douglas/Cairns by visiting the Kuranda Village. Kuranda is located in the rainforest, so it was really cool to go from the ocean one day to the rainforest the next. We took a scenic train up the mountain to the small village. This was a really cool way to see the rainforest and many of the waterfalls that surround the area. Once at the village we walked around for an hour before we went to HUG KOALAS!!!! You can’t visit Australia and not hug a koala bear, right? We had such an awesome time seeing and hugging these animals. Unfortunately, Brooke and Dad ended up being the Koalas toilet… yuck, I know. After lunch we visited local art shops that sold aboriginal art work. Australia has a large population of aboriginals, and their art work is so cool to look at. We ended up getting several pieces for our own home! After a day at Kuranda we took a gondola back down to the bottom of the rainforest.

 

BRISBANE

Hotel: Sofitel Brisbane

Duration: Two Days

 

Day Eight: This day we flew from Cairns to Brisbane. We got in late afternoon and ended up finding a Mexican restaurant for lunch. We were all craving Americanized food and this Mexican restaurant was the closest thing we could find!! It wasn’t the same as what you would find here in the states, but it was close enough. That night we ended up walking around in what I call “Little Tokyo” the actual name of the area was Queen Street Mall. You could tell this was easily the place to be in Brisbane. All the shops and food were located in this centralized area. The only downside of Brisbane is that all the shops close early. So, we emerged out of our hotel room around 6:00 p.m. and all the stores were closing/closed.

 

Day Nine: THE BEST DAY EVER!!! We visited the Australia Zoo! If you aren’t familiar with the Australia Zoo, this is the zoo that Steve Irwin “the crocodile hunter” started. This, besides the bridge climb, was one thing that I absolutely had to do! There was no question of whether or not I would be visiting this place, because I would have found a way to get myself there if it wasn’t planned into our trip! We had a guide drive us to the zoo and show us around. He had informed us on the way up there that the Irwin family had been in town all week and there was a chance they might be there. Apparently when we arrived he was informed that they would indeed be there. He told my family, but I must not have been paying attention because I was completely shocked when they came running out for the crocodile show. I was so shocked and taken back that they were actually in front of me. I definitely had my fan girl moment right then. It was so cool to see Bindi, Steve and Terri continue to live out Steve’s passion. You could really tell they have a huge heart for all the animals, especially their dads favorite: crocodiles. We spent the rest of the day roaming around the zoo and checking out the rest of the exhibits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melbourne

Hotel: Park Hyatt

*side note: this hotel has a dog for its ambassador!! His name is Mr. Walker, and he is a yellow lab that sits out front to greet guest every day. So of course, this has to be our FAVORITE HOTEL EVER!!*

Duration: Three Days

 

Day Ten: We flew from Brisbane to Melbourne on this day. When we got into Melbourne we checked in and took a little nap before heading out for dinner. Our front door man was actually from Dallas, Texas, so he suggested we head over to China Town for dinner since we were craving Asian Cuisine. Let me just says, my father doesn’t need to be the one with the map or giving any form of directions. Like always he thought he knew where he was going, but once again we didn’t end up where we had planned. Luckily there were several Asian restaurants on the street, so we stopped in a local Japanese place to grub. It ended up being a really good meal, which is just what we needed!

 

Day Eleven: This day we spent driving along the Great Ocean Road. The GOR leads to the Twelve Apostles, which was one of the main things my dad really wanted to do. We had the most amazing driver/guide, who went above and beyond for us. This drive was spectacular. Once again, the views were so magnificent even photos can’t do them justice! We made frequent stops along the way to check out the view. We stopped at this one local place that had a light house, it was so cute!! Plus, there was a coffee shop next door that made us some bomb hot chocolate. This drive takes several hours and as soon as we arrived at the Apostles it started raining on us. Now, this is somewhere that you spend hours looking around, but it was so cold, rainy and windy that we could only tolerate 30 minutes of its beauty. It definitely is a place to go back and actually take it all in for more than 30 minutes. On our drive we mentioned to our driver that we had passed the Princess Theatre on our walk back to the hotel the night before and Mamma Mia was showing.. When we looked that night, there was only five tickets left on the back row, so the ‘rents said they would think about it. Our driver actually had a performing arts background and knew one of the main leads in the show. GUYS… he went above and beyond to get us HOUSE SEATS for the show!!! He got us on the seventh row, aka some of the best seats in the house.

Day Twelve: We spent our last day in Melbs checking out the Australian Open Tennis facilities and walking around the city. That night we attended Mamma Mia, and boy are we obsessed with that soundtrack now. If you are/ have been around any of us since we have returned you probably have heard that soundtrack being played in our cars. The cast and show were phenomenal, and it was the perfect way to end our trip!

 

Day Thirteen-Fifteen: We spent these days traveling to Maui where we took two days to recuperate from all the jet lag. This time helped our bodies get somewhat back adjusted to American times. Of course, we were only in Maui just long enough for us to want to go back. I would like to say that we flew Air New Zealand from Melbourne to Auckland to Honolulu and all I have to say is if you EVER have the opportunity to fly this airline DO IT!!! It puts Delta and all other American based airlines to shame!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Minute Travel Facts:

We used Amy Daniel at Alabama World Travel!

The company she used was Abercrombie & Kent, and this  company provided us with the best guides!

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