Australia seems like a promised land to many, especially I think it appeals to Brits, which is hardly surprising, that, having such horrible weather most of the year, they dream about summer. How massive country it is I realised during domestic flights, when I watched thousands of km of untouched by human hand or foot fields, deserts and bushes passing underneath us. That what is so amazing in Australia – only big cities are densely populated, but other than that, it’s just vast, wild land, where you can drive for hours, without passing one single car!!!
We spent 2 weeks here, after also 2 weeks long trip to New Zealand. We bought domestic flights to 3 cities, which were our base for exploring national parks in the regions. First we’d visited Sydney and Blue Mountains, then we flew to Cairns in tropical state of Queensland, where the top attractions are probably Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest. Our last stop was Outback and Darwin in Northern Territory, where the heat was unbearable, and it was only a little taste of the burning sun that greeted us on the desert and in the bush of Kakadu National Park. I didn’t want to end up writing a novel, so I divided Australia post into three parts, the next two will be about Cairns and Darwin.
My biggest mistake, which I regret to this day, was not going to Kata Tjuta National Park and to the most important place for Aboriginal people – Uluru, while we were in Northern Territory. Instead I decided to go to Kakadu National Park, of which rock formation called Ubirr is the second sacred Aboriginal site. I made this decision a bit out of ignorance (it’s just a big rock in the middle of the desert), and so not to be too cliché and touristy (everyone goes there, so I’ll go somewhere else). And only when I saw how amazing Kakadu is, I realised that Uluru is so much more than a massive bump in the red sand, and what a bad decision it was, as both places are similar in terms of cultural heritage and natural beauty. Kata Tjuta and Uluru are phenomenal too, oh well, maybe I’ll get to see it one day…
It’s a very international city, the biggest minorities here are Chinese, British, Irish and Scotish. It’s also the biggest city in Australia, with 4 million citizens, who can enjoy 240 sunny days a year. Completely opposite to Europe, summer here is from December to February, and winter from June to August, and we had just run away from our winter straight into glorious Australian summer (although you can’t tell from grim photos below, but it was just one day like that, seriously😊).
Beaches in Sydney
Most popular beaches are located in the north of Sydney. Bondi is one of them, famous not only in Australia, but in the world. It’s wide and big, with massive waves and lots of surfers, who make incredible, cool and chill out atmosphere. There is 50 m salt water pool built at the edge of the ocean and conjoined with it, which is pretty cool.
Another beach which we visited – Bronte, has completely different character, is smaller, ideal for families with small children, because on a one part of the beach in the water there are rocks, which naturally stop waves and create shallow pools with lots of little white shells in the shape of stars (will keep the kids occupied for a couple of hours, proven 😊). This beach also has swimming pools in the ocean, which look just like normal pools in the city, with just this difference, that the water is coming straight from the ocean and not from the pipes. In the other part of this beach is just the open ocean with big waves and with surfers, just like at Bondi.
When you get bored with building sand castles and searching for the most perfect seashell, you can have a picnic one the grass. The picnic area is really big, there is also a playground and lots of cafes and restaurants, so it really is dream beach for families.
We were there in the last days of December, so there were barbecues everywhere, badmintons, frisbees, screams and laughter of children, the whole families came here to celebrate Christmas time, I couldn’t help smiling all the time looking at all this, really, tons of good vibes in the air.
2,5 km south from Bronte there another beach – Coogee, which is similar to Bondi, just with smaller waves, and also resembles polish seaside, just with much better weather 😊.
Walk from Bondi to Bronte is also a nice idea, it’s a popular walking route along the coast, views are great, only takes an hour, and it’s not too difficult. And I honestly think, that these two beaches are the best in Sydney, all other are just repetitive, and you won’t find anything new on Manly or Coogee beach. If you don’t have much time in Sydney, just take uber / go by car to Bondi, and then take a walk to Bronte.
There is another walking route – from Spit to Manly, but you need a whole day, it’s 10 km, so it’s rather for more experienced hikers. The views apparently are even better, but there is only one shop on the way, so remember to take water and snacks with you.
These mountains, situated only 50 km north from the city are a must see if you are in Sydney. We went for one day tour, which we bought through www.viator.com (it’s a big and reliable website, you can book excursions all around the world here). It costs around 130 – 140 AUS $ per person, so it’s not cheap, but we decided it was the best option for us, traveling with a young child. We stopped in Featherdale Wildlife Park, where most of the native species of animals live. Park is involved in conservation projects and eco initiatives to save endangered species, they also look after sick or injured animals, so it’s very positive place and it’s really great here. Especially for kids, because they can stroke and feed kangaroos, wallabies and other animals, which are unapproachable in the wild.
Blue mountains are truly incredible, and the views are out of this world. From higher points the forest looks like endless fluffy green carpet. Scenery is versatile and dramatic; steep edges and cliffs, waterfalls, sharp and bare rocks and lush eucalyptus trees.
We only went for a short hike (piggybacking Lily almost the whole time!), but you can come here for a couple of days for a true bushwalking, the area is enormous, with plenty of hiking trails.
You need to go on the steepest cable cars in the world while here, it’s almost completely vertical at times, and it’s so much fun! Lily absolutely loved it, and so did we, and it’s a quick and comfortable way of going down (or up), if the little one is too tired to walk anymore. You get off at the souvenir shop (obviously), where your child forces you to buy cuddly koala, kangaroo or boomerang, which btw doesn’t come from Australia at all, despite being its symbol. Boomerangs were present in many ancient cultures, even Tutanchamon had large collection of them, and the oldest boomerang surprisingly hadn’t been found in Australia, but…. in Poland.
Sydney was our first, but also the last stop in Australia, we came back here for the New Year’s Eve, after our trips to Cairns and Darwin. Just after New Year we were flying from Sydney to Dubai, which was the very last stop in our month long trip of a lifetime. New Year celebrations in Sydney are like nowhere else – Australians greet the new year as the first ones in the world, and also the most spectacular fireworks display on earth takes place right here. We had seriously been tempted to go and see it all live, but we were at the hotel near the airport, very far from city centre, and when we thought about crowds, no cabs, tired and whining Lily and very real possibility of being stuck there for hours, we decided that live tv broadcast was much better option😊.