WOW.. if you haven’t been to Australia yet, I’ll go ahead and lead with: Everyone should take the chance to explore and visit that beautiful Country!
My sister and I got very lucky buying our tickets back in August 2018 (only 4 months ago!). We used Expedia, because that’s my go-to site for bookings. And in total, our flights came out to $632 each (round trip). Such a deal!
As for why we chose Australia, was because our Uncle Erik moved to Australia just 10 days before my sister, Kylie, was born back in 1997. He has never come back to the States since! So we felt it was time for my sister and Uncle Erik to meet, and for him & I to reunite!
After a long 23 hours of flying, and an hour layover in Shanghai, China, we arrived in Sydney on Friday December 7 around 9:30am. And instead of going straight to sleep, we stayed up to make sure our transition was easier & faster. We had no time to spare for sleeping-in during this trip!
On our first day there, we ate delicious food at The Tuck Shop (a MUST try!), cut a Christmas tree down, decorated it, and finally by around 8:30pm, we were ready to sleeeeeep! Oh-but no.. we made the mistake of opening Netflix on our laptop, and discovered ALL new shows (Australian shows) that we obviously haven’t seen before! So we got sucked in to watching a new series called Tidelands and another one called Lucifer. The clock was now officially ticking for us to finish these shows before returning home!
This was short lived though, we definitely fell asleep during the second episode.
Day two was very thrilling. We naturally woke up around 4am and couldn’t go back to sleep. Lucky for us though, it was a big day! We went to Hunter Valley (the Napa Valley of Australia) on Harley’s, which was about an hour & half drive from Kellyville (where my Uncle lives). We attached my new GoPro Hero 7 (Black) to the top of my helmet and hit the road at 9am.
We ate lunch in this adorable Vineyard, visit some friends at Blackberry Hill Winery, and then cruised through some wineries to taste test the Hunter Valley Wines of Australia. So yummy!
I won’t bore you with the day to day details, but I WILL confirm that everyone should experience Australia at least once in their life! I was amazed every. single. day.
Here’s a list of things we did during this trip (and that I highly recommend!) :
Hunter Valley Wine Tasting. Drink away! There’s so many wineries! Totally reminds me of Napa Valley. Just… a little more humid.
Attend a Christmas Carols event during Summer. It’s where people of the town get together at a field and play music, hang out, drink, and let the kids run around while the school dance teams get on stage and perform. We had such a blast! There’s BBQ, ice cream trucks, carnival games & rides, the fire department to make you feel safe (and to check out here and there.. *wink). They end the night with a bunch of fireworks, just to top it all off!
Hike to Barrenjoey Lighthouse. Just a heads up, this is a steep climb! But SO worth it! There are two hike options: one that zig-zags up the hill at a grade 2 level, or there’s the stairs option that goes straight up the hill at a grade 3 level. We went with the easier one of course. :) Once you’re at the top, walk around the cliff sides and check out the stories, burial ground, charred trees from lightning, and the lighthouse grounds. If you’re lucky, you can see the cast and crew filming Home & Away on the beach as you hike up. And if you don’t know what that is.. it’s basically a 30+ season drama tv series based in..well, Australia that started in the late 1980’s!
Swim at Palm Beach (near the lighthouse) just on the opposite side of where they film H&A (also called North Beach).
Self guide yourself through some Pubs in Sydney. We spent 4 days in a Hostel in the Chippendale area of Sydney. Every single day we would wake up (early) and walk in different directions to hit different cafe’s, brekky spots (that’s “breakfast”), pubs, you name it. It was so much fun! We usually had to walk back to the Hostel for a mid-day nap, then start again before sunset. To name a few spots we loved: Concrete Jungle Cafe, The Upside Cafe, Broadway Pub, The Broadway Crown, and Harbor Heights. The hostel we stayed at was called Mad Monkey Backpackers on Broadway. It was a perfect location and central to the city. It’s also right across the street from Victoria Park! We took a nice stroll through there, it was adorable!
Definitely check out the Sydney Opera House! We walked there.. which ended up being a mile & half from our Hostel. But they do have Uber & taxis out there. They also have plenty train, bus, or railway transportation options. Very easy to get around out there! Also, while you’re at the Opera House, go down into the Opera Bar and get yourself a drink with a nice view! It’s a little pricey, but I mean.. it’s worth at least one drink.
The Bridge Climb. Ohhh the Bridge climb. We didn’t get to do ours unfortunately. We had visit at a time of lightning/tropical storms. So we had a few hot days then usually cloudy and sometimes rainy days. Still worth it to check that out though! I’ve never experienced tropical storms like that, so I definitely wasn’t climbing an unfamiliar bridge.. during that time. But there’s always next year!
Blue Mountains State Park. Hike to see the Three Sisters monument! So gorgeous! And the story is quite interesting. Apparently there used to be seven sisters… but you have to read the story to understand it. ;) There’s also a ton of waterfalls, steep steps, and some sketchy carved out sandstone paths. It gets a little nuts, but worth the view! Just stay within the rope lines, you’ll be fine.
Hike to Glow Worm Tunnel. Ohhhh my gosh this was AMAZING! First off, you have to drive on the WORST dirt road for 30 km before you finally get to the parking area. Glow Worm Tunnel Rd is the bumpiest, non-maintained dirt road I’ve ever been on. So many potholes! Be sure to drive an SUV or large vehicle! Once you’re on the walking path it’s a 20 minute hike to the tunnel entrance. You go inside and as the tunnel starts to curve, you begin to lose light. And once that light it gone, it is pitch blaaaaaack in that tunnel. We used our cell phones for light, but my goodness it was dark! A few tips for this trip: be sure to bring water & food, there’s nothing nearby; have a torch (in America this is called a flashlight) available, and some good hiking shoes. The terrain is wet, and you’re hiking through a gorgeous rainforest once you get to the other side. So be sure to go prepared. Also, when in the tunnel, and you’re at the darkest part of the tunnel: stop, turn off your torch, close your eyes for 20 seconds, then open and look around. It’s the most amazing sight! Little glow worms create stars in the darkness and you literally feel like you are just standing in outer space. It’s stunning.
Taronga Zoo. It was our last day, and I was desperate to hit the zoo before we left. Due to weather conditions, we didn’t get the chance to go while we were staying in Sydney. So we saved it for last. Originally the weather had said that it was going to be cloudy with a chance of rain. So I brought my wet weather jacket and my backpack full of the necessities. We’re also allowed to bring our own food & drink so we definitely packed accordingly. ;) However…. it ended up being the HOTTEST day for us. I got a massive sunburn from lack of sunscreen application and literally sweating every bit of water from my body. LOL it was nuts though. I think we were both exhausted already too, so it was just a much harder trek than we thought. If you go to Taronga, plan to walk a bit! The zoo is huge and has a lot of paths. We did enjoy seeing all the animals! They’re so pretty! I love exotic animals.
A few places we didn’t get to see, but are on our list for next year:
Drive north to Queensland (also where the new Netflix series Tidelands is filmed!)
Inland to the Outback
I can literally list SO many things. But honestly, just do everything that you want! It’s a gorgeous Country, especially in the state of New South Wales.
Check out some photos from my trip below!