Australia: Eleven Days consolidated itinerary to Oceania
by Ravi Batheja
After 24 years of working at one company, I was told that my position was going to be eliminated……….instead of being devastated…..I said I’ve been wanting to go to Australia, as it was on my bucket list, before I start looking for another job.
In a couple days, I decided I wanted to go to Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns to see the Great Barrier Reef and planned an amazing itinerary A few weeks after that, I flew from Dallas nonstop to Sydney via Qantas, the Spirit of Australia.
4 days in Sydney
I flew on Sunday night and arrived early on Tuesday morning. When I arrived, my hotel room was not ready at the Cambridge Hotel Sydney, in Surry Hills. Instead of wasting time, I hopped on bus 380 to the Circular Quay and proceeded to the Sydney Opera House to take a tour of the iconic building. After the tour I found a good Indian restaurant, not cheap for lunch, The Spice Room in the Circular Quay.
I proceeded back to Surry Hills to my hotel room and then a few hours later to Darling Harbour to catch a sunset dinner cruise. The cruise was nice, unfortunately it was cloudy and rained a bit for the Harbour cruise. As soon as I had finished the dinner cruise, I caught an UBER to take me to Hordern Pavilion to see The Pixies perform in Sydney. It was amazing that I had a ticket to see the Pixies in the US in May, but had learned that the Pixies touring schedule had coincided with my arrival date in Sydney…….so I bought a ticket as soon as I arrived and was able to see the show that evening…..Amazing!!
Day 2- I had a full day of touring. I saw Sydney by day, followed by a luncheon harbour cruise. Post cruise I walked around Sydney to some of the sights I had seen earlier and then caught Bus 380 back to Surry Hills close to my hotel. I had several good restaurants to chose from that evening in the area.
Day 3- I went to the Blue Mountains, a mountainous range in New South Wales. The views were best from Echo Point. As we made our way back from The Blue Mountains, we stopped at Featherdale Wildlife Park. It was a nice park to view Koalas and Kangaroos and variety of other native Australian
animals. Please note that if you want to take a photo with a Koala in New South Wales, you can only touch the Koala in the photo. I learned later in the trip that other States allow you to hold a Koala, if you want to take a photo with one. The day ended by taking a boat from Sydney Olympic Park to Sydney Harbour.
Day 4- I took a tour to the Hunter Valley Wineries where I sampled a variety of wines, cheese, chocolates and vodka and met people from all over the world on my tour. It was nice to see this winery region which was more boutique wineries vs. the larger wineries which one might be used to seeing when in the United States.
3 days in Melbourne
Day 5- I flew Qantas early from Sydney to Melbourne. I was impressed that for a short flight, they served breakfast. I caught a shuttle from the airport to the city centre, which took roughly 25 minutes to get downtown. I was staying at the Pensione hotel in Melbourne, which was a boutique hotel with a good location. As soon as I got to Melbourne, I learned of the free trams in the CBD and used that to my
advantage. I had to walk a few blocks, but then was able to take the free tram to the city centre where I caught a foodie walking tour of the city. This tour allowed me to try amazing mackerel dumplings, coffee, macaroons and local beer. In the evening, I proceeded to Chinatown where I ate some amazing steamed dumplings at a restaurant that a line out the door.
Day 6- I had a long day that took me to the Great Ocean Road to see the 12 Apostles at sunset. It was an amazing day with amazing views. I had returned back late in the night around 11:30 p.m. Although I was exhausted, I had bought a ticket to see EDM artist, Marshmello at the Prince Bandroom who was
performing on the same evening. I quickly changed and headed to the Price Bandroom, via UBER. When I got to the show, local DJ’s were still spinning. Marshmello hit the decks around 1:34 a.m. I stayed for a couple hours and headed back to my hotel and had maybe 2-3 hours of sleep.
Day 7- I caught a tour of Melbourne followed a tour of Phillip Island on the same day. Although I was pretty exhausted, it was the only way for me to finish seeing Melbourne the way I wanted. At Phillip Island
I got a good view of Seal Island and then went to see the Penguin Parade. Since they did not allow photos of this phenom to watch penguins come up the beach, I recommend sitting in the penguin plus section to watch them coming in from the water.
4 days in Cairns
Day 8- I had an early flight from Melbourne to Cairns. I reached the Coral Tree Inn in Cairns and had to wait to check in. I decided to walk down the Cairns Esplanade and go to a restaurant called Dundee’s where I tried a taste of Australia’s most popular cuisine; chargrilled eye fillet, pan seared wild barramundi, kangaroo striploin, crocodile tail, emu and tiger prawns.
I had a night tour which included the Cairns wildlife dome, another Australian meal, a massage in the night market and a local brew. it was a nice way to see some of Cairns which I might have not seen.
Day 9- I took a boat out to Green Island to snorkel at The Great Barrier Reef. This was a bucket list item and was amazing to be able to cross off the list while spending the day at Green Island. I ended the evening at a restaurant called The Raw Prawn where I had the split bugs and prawns.
Day 10– We take a trip from Cairns via the Kuranda Scenic Railway to Kuranda and visited the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, Rainforestation and back down via the skyrail rainforest cableway. My last meal in Cairns was Kangaroo Tikka Masala at an Indian restaurant in town…..the tikka masala was quite delicious.
Day 11- My final day of my holiday. I relaxed it by viewing the Cairns bats on Lake St., looking at art at the Cairns Regional Gallery and chilling at the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon before I caught a flight back to Sydney.
On this trip, amongst many things……I had marked off a continent that I wanted to see and had crossed off one of the natural wonders of the world. Thanks Australia, it was a wonderful holiday!
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June 18, 2017