Australia never fails to surprise or delight. It is understandable that 200 years ago the Aboriginals felt the land so sacred and in fact still do today.
There truly is something spiritual & magical about Australia and I know I’m not alone in saying that. Whilst I have some special personal ties to Australia, I feel a very deep sense of peace, contentment & empowerment every time I am there and yes, that power & energy comes from the land.
Last year we spent almost 2 month in the land of Oz and I ticked off several places from my bucket list, The Blue Mountains, Great Barrier Reef & Ayers Rock.
This trip was shorter, just 11 days because we wanted to get some time in New Zealand before we board our cruise in Auckland on 1st March. Our two stays in Australia were 5 nights in Melbourne and 6 nights in Sydney with the main intentions of Cameron going on the Puffing Billy Railway and me seeing Queen in concert. Other than that we had no real ‘to do’ list.
In both places we actually stayed well outside of the city centres. In Melbourne we stayed in the Eastern Suburb of Ferntree Gully just in the foothills of the Dandenongs, it was a very beautiful area and most days we simply spent our time walking in nature. Now I’m not an ornithologist at all, but there was something extraordinary walking through the Dandenongs seeing Kookaburras, Cockatoos, Parrots & Rainbow Lorikeets all flying free around you.
We were even fortunate to see an Echinda (similar to a british hedgehog but much larger) in the wild, which we were told is quite unusual.
The Puffing Billy Railway was of course the highlight of Cameron’s visit and he has already asked to come back next year!! You can choose from various length trips though from around 30 mins to two hours each way. Ours was around 1hr 10 mins each way which was just right and the scenery once again was quite breathtaking.
We also visited Healesville Sanctuary, which whilst its a nice place to visit isn’t the best of its kind in Australia but nevertheless we spent a very enjoyable couple of hours there. We drove up through the Yarra Valley which also provides an endless array of vineyards along the way, it would have been rude not to stop and at least sample some authentic locals wines. We stopped at the Rochford Vineyard and I have to say that having joined in a little tasting I did bring a couple of bottles to back at the apartment, which didn’t disappoint.
We found so many hidden treasures which are clearly undiscovered by the majority of tourists. This included the Yarra Park in Kew which is home to literally 1000’s of bats! When we arrived at around 7.30pm and they were all hanging from the trees, within an hour as the sun began to set, the sky was alive with them. It was probably some people’s idea of a living nightmare, but not for us, I have never seen anything like it, just beautiful. If you would like to see a short video we made of the said Bats in action then click here
We were genuinely sad to leave the dandenongs but as we have discovered with travelling with every wonderful place we say goodbye to, we say hello to another. For us it meant a flight to Sydney, and a taxi ride about 20 miles south to the seaside resort of Cronulla.
Cronulla has a much more local residential feel to it, it is once again a lot less touristy than the city and a truly beautiful place to visit. Whilst crowds flock to Bondi Beach for the surf action, Cronulla is much lesser known and yet also has brilliant surf. Whilst the big waves are great for surfers, it’s not so great for swimmers but there are two salt water pools set among the rocks on the esplanade.
We enjoyed many walks along the beach, especially in the evenings as the sun was setting. Watching Cam run along the sand at 9pm on a February evening, I just kept thinking to myself “this is the life I want to always give him”. A cold, dark February evening back in England he would just be sat watching TV or glued to his ipad!
Of course we can’t come to Sydney and not go to the Harbour. It was just over an hour back on the train from Cronulla with one change along the way. I grew up staring at pictures of the Opera house and the the bridge and just willing myself to be there. Despite this being my 3rd trip there now, I still stand there in complete awe and pinching myself that I’m really there. We picked the day of our harbour trip well this time as the MS Maasdam was in port and this is the same ship we shall be embarking on in Auckland in 2 weeks time.
Our final day in Sydney was spent in Botany Bay, famous landing place of Captain Cook & his crew. Again I was pleasantly surprised by a) how non-touristy this area is and b) how well preserved it has been kept by the aboriginals in all of its natural habitat. Not only was this a peaceful place of natural beauty to walk around, it also served as another great history/geography lesson for Cameron’s world schooling.
Anyone who travels knows that words and pictures don’t really sum up any trip, the only way to get to fully sensory experience is to go and see it for yourself. I know I have probably said it before but I cannot recommend highly enough getting out of the cities and staying in the places which you’ve never heard of. The hidden treasures you find are often the most wonderful.
For us it’s onto New Zealand now and a little road trip around the North Island…