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Australia in 6 Days

Guest post by bh

Map tips: each color represents a different day. Click a marker to learn more about the spot, and click the star in the map header to save the entire map under Your Places in Google Maps.

This was part of Go Ahead Tours’ Highlights of Australia and New Zealand tour. You need to get a visa as a US citizen but can do it online. We did a separate trip report for New Zealand here.

We broke up the long trip there from eastern US by hanging out in LA for a day. That basically broke it up into 2 distinct days getting out there which was nice, and jet lag wasn’t bad on the way out there.

Day 1: Melbourne

  • Carlton Gardens
  • St Patrick’s Cathedral
  • Melbourne Museum
  • Queen Victoria Market

We took a city bus tour to all the stops. In the afternoon we went to the Melbourne Museum. It was worth it, had an entire section on the aboriginal peoples and their history. How they used plants to make food, clothing, and medicines. Also had dinosaurs and boats from way back when.

While we only had 1 full day in Melbourne, it didn’t feel like we needed more time there.

Good to know: public transit is free within a certain area in the central city and only costs if you go further out.

Day 2: Cairns

Flew to Cairns and walked around the city to get acclimated. The Cairns Night Market doesn’t open until 5 pm and is the best souvenir shopping in Australia – make time for that.

Day 3: Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef

Took a boat out to Michaelmas Cay to go snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. Could also get in a glass bottom boat. We did the snuba diving, which is where you don’t have a tank but are connected to the surface by a hose. The reef wasn’t as bright and colorful as I imagined but it was still amazing.

For dinner we went to a Brazilian Steakhouse called the Bushfire Flame Grill and had kangaroo. It was better than I had anticipated, even though we weren’t sure that we really wanted to eat it.

Day 4: Sydney Harbor River Cruise

We flew to Sydney and did a Sydney Harbor River Cruise in the evening. Great views but the food wasn’t that good (Captain Cook Cruises).

Day 5: Sydney

  • Royal Botanic Gardens
  • Mrs Macquarie’s Chair
  • The Gap
  • Bondi Beach
  • The National Opal Collection
  • Sydney Opera House

A bus took us around to all the stops. The Gap is where Sydney Harbor meets the Pacific Ocean. Bought jewelry at the National Opal Collection and did a tour of the Sydney Opera House (completely worth it).

Walked around the botanic gardens and saw Much Ado About Nothing at the Opera House. Amazing show. It was in one of the smaller theaters, which was nice.

Make sure you get dinner at a reasonable time. We thought we’d get dinner after the show and all the restaurants were either closed by 10 or just bars. We didn’t really get dinner this night.

Day 6: Sydney

  • Featherdale Wildlife Park
  • Chinese Garden of Friendship
  • Queen Victoria Building

The wildlife park is a conservation and rehabilitation center, as well as a zoo. We got to feed wallabies and kangaroos and touch a koala bear.

The Chinese garden was really awesome. Beautiful surroundings with temples, and a nice place to relax and have tea.

The Queen Victoria building is a big mall with modern amenities but has 19th century architecture. Good for shopping.

We really liked Australia but New Zealand (separate trip report) ended up blowing it away.

Traveled in November 2019

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