Dreams of travel consist of far-off locations and exotic animals, for most. The animals don’t get stranger and the location doesn’t get much further than the island of Australia. I know, it’s a continent and one large country. But, its separation from Asia millions of years ago has isolated this country as if it was an island. This isolation has allowed the evolution of some unique species of animals, just like the islands of the Galapagos. The beauty doesn’t stop with its flora and fauna, the landscape is amazing as well. The great barrier reef, panoramic views and thousands of waterfalls will overwhelm you.
“How can one see so much in two weeks?” was the question I had for myself. I knew my Expedition to Australia would have to be more than just a visit to Sydney. Yes, the Great Barrier Reef would have to be included to the itinerary, but where? The reef spans a large area along the east coast known as the Gold Coast. There’s so many beautiful beaches and islands in this area it was tough to decide.
I chose Cairns where I could spend two days on an island in the reef and spend a day in the outer reef. I was so happy with my chose in visiting Fitzroy Island and wish I could have stayed longer. Nudley Beach was truly amazing. Also, I did a day trip to the outer reef and I highly recommend this as some of the reef closer to the mainland are limited in fish and coral species, with parts of the reef considered dead. Cairns is also a central area where you can explore the rainforest as well. Daintree National Park is the oldest rainforest in the world and it’s only a two-hour drive from Cairns. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to include a visit to Daintree. I did visit the Atherton Tablelands and this day trip turned out to be my favorite single day of the trip. Short hikes, beautiful landscapes, waterfalls and a natural water slide, I could do this again and again.
With the sun and fun portion of the trip behind me, it was time to move on to the outback. My first choice was to visit Uluru but the cost of the limited number of hotels put this area out of reach. I chose to take my expedition to Kakadu National Park, via the city of Darwin, still in the Northern Territory. The Australians call this area the “true Australia.” My time here surpassed my expectations and I was truly amazed of this rugged territory. This landscape is raw and gritty. But, if you look deeper, it will make you fall in love with it. It’s ironic in the fact that it’s a desert environment but has so many waterfalls and plunge pools to enjoy. I had an amazing time playing in these pools and bushwhacking through the outback. Just be wary of the crocodiles. I do wish I had spent more time here so I could learn more about the Aborigine and their fascinating culture.
With my outback adventure complete, it was time to roam the largest city in Oceania. Sydney, one of the top destinations in the world was to be my last stop on the trip. But, adventure wouldn’t stop just because I was in the city. I spent my first full day hiking the famed Blue Mountains, just two hours away from Sydney. The flora and fauna was amazing and the hike allowed me to see the beautiful details of the canyon I wouldn’t have been able to see from the rim of the canyon with the rest of the tourist. My taste for travel usually doesn’t include large cities but Sydney wasn’t just any ordinary city. Getting around the city is easy with buses, trains and ferries but I chose to walk throughout the area, even at night. The city is safe and clean with an amazingly beautiful harbor area. I spent a whole day in the shadow of the iconic Opera House, just soaking up the experience.
I feel blessed to have these memories to reflect on. The two-week itinerary was ambitious, which included sleeping out of my suitcase, but well worth the effort. With Expedition Australia behind me, I know I’ll always look back at this time fondly and with vivid memories. The trip was a once in a life time experience I wish I could do twice.
* if you haven’t seen my past posts, details of each portion of my expedition can be found at this link: Expedition Australia