Australia stands out to me as a truly top destination after traveling to 55 countries. Having booked a 5 star hotel in Sydney Harbour, I was pleasantly surprised when I checked in. My view of the Opera House was front and center. He was so close that it seemed as if he was perched on the ceiling. Within two hours of checking in, I was out in a minivan for a half day tour.
Although the Sydney Opera House is the most photographed sight, there is an older symbol of the city: the Harbor Bridge. It hangs high over the horizon. The brave of heart can take a long journey to the top. A local guide recounted how he and his elderly mother put on their harnesses and went on the trek together. For the rest of us, there were plenty of other options closer to street level – from the Quay, Darling Harbour, Parliament House, Sydney Zoo, St Mary’s Cathedral to Mrs. Macquarie’s Point & Chair or just strolling through the local city parks. and trying numerous nearby restaurants.
Of course, as a first time tourist to Australia, kangaroo sightings were high on my bucket list. Most were in zoos or outside the city, but their smaller cousin, deer-like wallabies, stalked the suburbs eating flowers and plants.
After a few days in Sydney it was time to catch a quick flight to Melbourne. As with the faster pace of Sydney, I fell in love with Melbourne. Its Victorian architecture standing alongside modern buildings was a reminder of Australia’s colonial history. However, 21st century Melbourne is a cosmopolitan city. Its vibrant Chinatown quickly became my favorite place to dine.
Melbourne was a great gateway for ecotourism. First, I connected with a day trip along the rocky Great Ocean Road and on a separate day I headed to Phillip Island. In addition to seeing koalas (don’t say bears) in the wild along the way, Phillip Island is home to “little penguins.” They return from the sea in “rafts” at night. Although August was a slow season to spot them, between 1,000 and 2,000 turned up that night. In addition to watching from the stands, tourists can walk alongside them on a low boardwalk as the penguins make their way across the sand back to their nests.
Not having had enough adventure yet, I headed to tropical Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef located in the far northeast of Australia in the famous Coral Sea. As the only solo traveler on my reef-bound tour boat, I was the 201st passenger. No one has to snorkel or get in the water, you can just take the boat ride and if you want, the little submarine. The platform is like a large food court or a small shopping mall.
The Reef is not the only Queensland attraction, but also an ideal vantage point for visiting the rainforest. When the train arrived, I joined another tourist as a walking partner. We got lost, but instead of going further into the rainforest, we found ourselves on the side of a busy road. That was an ironic end to our ecotour. We managed to find the gondola for the half hour ride. Even though I was used to the lifts and my travel companion had scaled the Harbor Bridge, we were both glad to get to the bottom. At one point we were enveloped in clouds with zero visibility. When I heard the birdsong as they flew right outside, I could only guess how high up we were still.
There was still one adventure left: even though it was winter, I had seen a man-made lake from the gondola with “no boat” water skiing, a new concept for me. The next morning, before heading to the airport, I took a local bus to the lake. It was cold enough to rent a wetsuit while the only skiers were teenagers with their parents watching. I waited too late and running out of time to get to the airport, I missed my chance. I don’t regret not climbing the Harbor Bridge, but I do regret skiing without a boat and spending more time in the water at the Reef.
Although Australia was one of the places where I felt like I could stay forever, on the 16th it was time to go home. Considering the size of the country, there were many more places to explore, such as Ayers Rock in central Australia, Perth on the west coast, Port Arthur (Tasmania), the ski slopes of Thredbo or Perisher and Kangaroo Island (Southern Australia). South).
In any case, I recommend Australia to other solo travelers as:
1. It was friendly, safe, and easy to get around.
2. Apart from the airfare, the cost was moderate.
3. There were multiple options for adventures or just relaxing.
4. The time needed to arrive was not a reason to stay at home. Think of all the movies you can watch in-flight!
If you haven’t already, add it to your “to do” list.