It’s a long way from Cairns to Brisbane so we hopped on a plane and on arrival settled into a hotel with laundry and kitchen in the downtown area. One place not to miss in Brisbane (and a short walk from our hotel) was Southbank, beautiful by day and so much fun at night with lights and live music.
It was November when we visited so late spring/early summer and the weather could not have been more perfect. Southbank is a wonderful place to catch a view of the river, grab a bite to eat, or swim at the free public pool that rivals any hotel resort.
We spent a full day with my cousins who live in Gold Coast, the day’s events included nothing more than beer and pizza at the beach near Surfer’s Paradise and an afternoon of paddle boarding.
We had great fish and chips in Gold Coast and got another look at local wildlife, at my cousin’s house in Gold Coast they have a huge deck that backs to open space where wild birds fly up to their railing to feed including these sulpher crested cockatoos, and then at sunset the sky was filled with fruit bats swirling all around, loved that.
Our final day in Brisbane we headed one hour north to the Sunshine Coast to visit the Australia Zoo, founded by Steve Irwin and his family. It’s HUGE and takes an entire day to see but we loved many things about it mostly the animal encounters you can arrange in advance, my daughter and I held a juvenile koala #bucketlist and also played with lemurs on Bindi Island. I can’t believe I’m saying this since I hate snakes but the Zoo had the best snake exhibit I’ve ever seen, also an impressive bird show.
While we were there Bindi Irwin was competing on Dancing With The Stars so there was much excitement by the zoo team and and we found out she won as we were traveling to Sydney which was thrilling. I was reminded just how very passionate Steve Irwin was about animal conservation before his tragic death. After one of the shows at the Australian Zoo they played this 3 minute Wildest Things in the World video and I got choked up, I grew up watching his show and miss him so much, it’s a wonderful tribute to him, I recommend watching it, it will be the best thing you see all day.
We left Brisbane by car and headed to Byron Bay, a hippie surfer town, where we spent a few hours before traveling further south on our way to Sydney.
We stayed the night in Port MacQuarrie, halfway between Brisbane and Sydney, and spent a morning walking through Sea Acres National Park rainforest and playing at the beach collecting shells before heading by car to Sydney.
On arrival in Sydney, I was smitten, what an amazing city! The harbor is bustling with activity and there is SO much to do. Sydney reminded me of a mix between San Francisco and San Diego, it was both cosmopolitan and coastal, and it was thrilling to see the Opera House and Harbor Bridge in person!
We took an afternoon trip to Manly Beach by ferry, it’s a hip little cove where you can go for a shark dive, kayak, bike ride, or just relax at the beach enjoying a few drinks in the warm weather.
On our last day we took one of those double decker tour buses around Sydney which frankly is a great way to get to know a city! We sat up on top as the bus made its way around, and made a stop for a few hours at world famous Bondi Beach, thankfully it wasn’t too crowded since the school holidays hadn’t begun.
We spent our last afternoon watching the children play in the waves of Bondi Beach while we drank beers and ate fish tacos. Does life get any better than that?
Australia was an exciting and enchanting escape, and blissfully warm (I’ve always preferred living in tank tops and flip flops to cold weather). The food was delicious, the people we met were so very kind, and the adventures were unforgettable. I hope to travel down under to see my cousins again someday soon and pay a visit to Melbourne too. I simply can’t wait to return.