Going Down Under in Australia
By Charaighn Sesock
Craving adventure, our family embarked on a 20-day trip down under. My husband and I boarded the 13-hour flight from LAX to New Zealand and another 5-hour flight from New Zealand to Melbourne with our 3 and 5 year old daughters.
Once we arrived in Melbourne, our Australian Holiday officially began. We were eager to take in the sights, culture and wildlife as we traveled through Melbourne, down The Great Ocean Road, into Port Douglas, and ended in Sydney.
Melbourne is known for its arts, music and culture. It is also a city that encourages play and growth, with its numerous parks and activities for kids. We were able to enjoy the Melbourne Zoo, Melbourne Museum and ScienceWorks Museum. The city itself is completely accessible by public transportation, and offers tourists a free shuttle bus and tram ride to view prime highlights of the area.
Great Ocean Road
Our first major adventure took us on a 150-mile road trip along The Great Ocean Road in Victoria. We drove through quaint little beach towns filled with stunning views of untouched beaches and sea cliffs, and enjoyed local shops and restaurants.
Driving along the road, we spotted a colony of Koala Bears sleeping among the trees. Although initially difficult to spot, they were amazing to see, and a great way to keep the girls occupied in the car. We saw other remarkable creatures that day including eagles, Kookaburras, Cockatoos and Parrots.
The road led us to our final destination and most famous attraction of The Great Ocean Road, The Twelve Apostles. They are located in Port Campbell National Park and were once called Sow Piglets. The Twelve Apostles are a collection of huge rock formations created by the constant erosion of the limestone cliffs. They were unlike anything we’ve ever seen in the Ocean.
Our next stop was Queensland. We flew into the Cairns Airport and took a bus 40-miles north to Port Douglas, a smaller tourist town. The area was filled family activities, shops and restaurants.
Snorkeling was at the top of our list, as we chose the Quicksilver Outer Barrier Reef Tour that takes you to the very outer edge of the Barrier Reef. The tour included a day-long all-inclusive adventure with an underwater observatory and semi-submerged submarine.
We felt embraced in the ocean paradise as we snorkeled among one of the Seven Wonders of the World, seeing the rich coral growth and marine life. The semi-submerged submarine was a great way for the girls to see the incredible creatures and colorful coral in areas they would not be able to swim to. We also saw large clams, fish, and a hammerhead shark.
Our first snorkeling experience was so amazing; we decide to do it again. This time we sailed aboard Wavedancer to the Island known as Low Isles. Here, we were able to snorkel from the Island shore to the coral gardens filled with brilliantly colored fish and other sea creatures. The girls got to ride on the glass bottom boat (included with the trip), which was perfect to see Nemo’s home on the reef, giant colorful clams and large turtles.
The next adventure took us through the tropical rainforest with a day-trip to Kuranda via the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and Kuranda Scenic Railway experience. Located in the Village, we enjoyed the Kuranda Koala Gardens, a place to experience unique wildlife up close and personal. This is one of only a handful of places in the world where you can actually cuddle a Koala Bear. The girls loved being able to touch the Koala Bears, and feed the Kangaroos and Wombats. They also got to walk through the snake house, which meant being up close with pythons and other reptiles with no fencing between them. Although scary, it was amazing!
Our last major city to visit was Sydney. The Sydney Aquarium was huge with more than 6,000 fish and other water creatures. The best part was walking through the series of underwater, see-through glass tunnels where sharks, sting rays and turtles swam above our heads. It was like experiencing underwater life through their eyes in their natural habitat, surrounded by their natural companions.
The Taronga Zoo was next on our list. We took the Zoo Express Ferry to get there. It allowed us to cruise around Darling Harbour and Circular Quay, passing the Sydney Bridge and Opera House, before arriving at the Sky Safari Cable Car. The Taronga Zoo is one of the most beautiful zoos in the world with the largest group of native and exotic animals in New South Wales. The girls loved seeing all of the animals.
While in Sydney, we experienced all the famous tourist spots including the Royal Botanic Gardens. This was a chance for us to see the amazing Flying-foxes, or fruit bats. It was astonishing to see hundreds of them sleeping in the canopy of trees above us, as we explored the garden grounds below.
On this trip across the world we definitely created memories that will last a lifetime, and gained a stronger appreciation of all the beauty Australia has to offer. Our experience down under was the greatest adventure, and one that makes us want to travel back for more.
NOTEWORTHY WEBSITES AND DETAILS:
$1.00 (AUD) = $.89 (US)
www.wotif.com – online travel site that offers great rates
Charaign Sesock is a public relations consultant and mother of two girls who love to travel.
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