I’ve waited two months to write about my trip to Australia because it was so amazing I’m still processing it all. Since I was a kid I’ve wanted to go there, I grew up on Crocodile Dundee and Steve Irwin as the two on screen personalities that made me fall in love with the “accent” and over the years I’ve read stories and met many Australians who talked about the beauty and adventure that exists in their country. I have two cousins that grew up in California but now live in and are married to Australians and their stories and pictures further stimulated my desire to visit.
Australia was thrilling, there was never a dull moment and so many fantastic beach days and wildlife encounters. The family spent 10 days exploring various cities in Queensland and New South Wales along the east coast, we spent 3 days in Cairns, flew by plane to spend 3 days in Brisbane/Gold Coast, spent 1 day driving from Gold Coast to Sydney, and finished with 3 full days in Sydney before we flew home to California and we loved EVERY minute. I took hundreds of pictures but today I’m just sharing the highlights.
We rented a car for our entire stay in Australia. We got the hang of driving on the left side of the road after spending a week in New Zealand before arriving. Our first adventure took us out on a boat trip out of Port Douglas to the Great Barrier Reef. #bucketlist
We are not certified for scuba so we couldn’t go out into the deep water, but the snorkeling was great, we saw giant sea turtles, little reef sharks, so many fish and coral, and a venomous sea snake, yikes! But it was thrilling to spend a day at the beach and in the water.
During our stay in Cairns, we rented a 2 bedroom place on Trinity Beach, they had an area netted off just beyond our condo for swimming since jellyfish (“stingers”) are in the water in November.
Trinity Beach is a small coastal resort with a lot of vacation villas. It was close to everything with a gorgeous ocean view, I spent every morning walking the coast with my coffee in hand, these are two cell phone pics I snapped while the family snoozed, I simply can’t sleep in on a beach vacation, I must get up early and feel the sand between my toes!
The next day took us up the road 20 minutes to Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures and this place ranks top on our list of favorites. It was AMAZING. Hartley’s is an outdoor preserve that allows you to get up REALLY close to the wildlife.
Can I just pause for a moment and say that crocodiles scare the bloody hell out of me. You too I imagine. So at Hartley’s I couldn’t believe how close you could get to the salt and freshwater crocs with only a fence to separate you. They have a lagoon with a boat reminiscent of the Disneyland Jungle Cruise except crikey, the crocs around the boat are REAL.
In between visiting the tame animal habitats, we watched two croc shows, one was a feeding where we learned all about their biology and natural habitat, at another show they demonstrated how crocs lurk under the murky water then JUMP out, OH MY GOD, and then they showed us at the attack show the underwater death roll, you can watch this one on You Tube which also shows it too. Wow.
At Hartley’s there were a lot of cute critters that you needn’t be afraid of, in fact you’re welcome to pet them! Kangaroos, koalas, wallabys, and more. We fell in love with a harmless water dragon that hung around the cafe, I loved the pattern on his reptile skin. I was able to get up so close to so much of the wildlife, it was the best animal habitat I’ve ever been to.
These next two poses kill me.
Another place that’s big on the list of things to do in Cairns is visit the Kuranda Village in the rainforest. You can take a train or a gondola, both are popular ways to get to Kuranda Village, but we didn’t want to spend the money and time so we drove our car to the top to walk around the village. There is an animal habitat where you can see crocs, pet kangaroos, and hold a koala, also a shopping mecca where you can buy Australian made goods.
The highlight was the Butterfly Sanctuary in a gorgeous conservatory filled with thousands of fluttering butterflies and tropical foliage (it reminded me so much of this one in Niagara Falls).