After our intense and adventurous time through New Zealand, our travels took us to Sydney to see the world renowned fireworks over the bay bridge on New Year’s Eve and Opera House. With only 3 weeks to get through Australia before heading over to a longer and more relaxed time in Southeast Asia, we decided to optimize for getting some sun and seeing the white beaches that Australia is well known for.
With that in mind, we planned two must-do tours that many of our friends had recommended: Fraser Island and the Whitsundays islands.
Sydney was our first stop in Australia, just out of New Zealand. After coming from a lot of hiking, waking up early and spending many hours per day driving between different locations, we decided to chill and recover. For that, we got an Airbnb in Bondi Beach which we loved.
For New Year’s Eve, after much pondering, we decided to go with the masses and queue up to see the fireworks from the famous Mrs. Macquarie’s Point, the place with the best view of all the Opera House, the Bridge, and the fireworks at the same time. Well, after waking up at 8 am, buying food for a whole day in the park, queuing up for 3 hours and sitting in the same spot for 14 hours, we can tell you it wasn’t worth it. The 31st of December in Sydney was HOT, and spending most of the day fighting for a (mostly blocked by trees) view was an adventurous idea we’re happy we did but happier we will never do again!! On the flip side, we got to meet with friends we met in New Zealand and spend a few days with them.
Overall, Sydney was a blast, we hung out with old and new friends, recovered from our NZ journey, then headed north up the east coast.
On our way north, we were invited to visit one of our Sauce Labs friend couples from San Francisco, Scott and Angel Dixon, in their house in Port Macquarie. We never pass on opportunities like this and were very glad we made time for this stop along the way! Spending a few days one-on-one with people that we like and respect is always a blast. We got to chat many hours over amazing meals with them and were inspired by both of their stories. Scott is a successful one-man -startup entrepreneur and Angel’s story has recently caught a lot of attention as a huge source of inspiration worldwide. We left Port Macquarie well-fed and energized to better ourselves!!
After some days with Scott and Angel, we headed north to do a Tag Along 4 Wheel Drive camping tour around this raw, beautiful and scary island!!
Although a bit washed away by the (way too many) safety briefings blasted constantly to our group by our guide, and despite the crazy partying at night by that our younger-and-louder-than-ideal camping group, we got to see some real beauty at this UNESCO World Heritage Site, particularly an amazingly clear and blue freshwater lake called Lake McKenzie.
Overall, Fraser Island was a beautiful place, but the way we chose to visit it wasn’t right for us. We wouldn’t hesitate to go back, but this time we’d try to find something more relaxed, with less hand-holding and alcohol. Perhaps next time we’ll be able to see some Dingoes!
Oh my god, if Fraser Island wasn’t as amazing as we were expecting, the Whitsundays made up for it in great dividends! We were lucky enough to book our trip with a tall ship named Solway Lass. By being a bit more expensive than other options, the group we landed with was a bit older and relaxed. The trip was 3 full days and 3 full nights onboard, which we enjoyed and would have been happy to extend if possible.
With a forecast of rainstorms and clouds, our expectations were low! Luckily, the weather turned out to be better than predicted and we got to enjoy plenty of sun during our sailing, sunsets, snorkeling and scuba diving in the outer reef.
A few of the highlights that made Solway Lass a great choice include a very fun swing that I jumped from a bazillion times, air conditioning 24/7 which we DID need in the hot temperatures of north Australia, the freshly cooked and abundant food, and a group of passengers and crew that we got to meet and make friends with.
Cairns and Brisbane
Along the way, we got to stop for a few nights in the cities of Cairns and Brisbane. Both were very pleasant surprises for us. Although we haven’t seen many more cities in Australia, the few we’ve seen have had a TON of infrastructure built for tourists and locals to enjoy parks and outdoors completely for free. We had a great time eating good food and spending time in public pools to survive the hot temperatures of north Australia.
As a bit of an extra adventure, Ashley finally decided to try out skydiving. Inspired by many of our friends in New Zealand, we decided to bite the bullet and make a jump happen near the Great Barrier Reef and Rainforest in Cairns. Needless to say, the whole experience was on the top of the craziest things we’ve done, but it nevertheless felt very safe.
Overall, Australia was a blast. We didn’t spend enough time to see even a bit of the country. We missed key parts like the Outback, the rainforest and driving the gold coast, but now we know what to plan for next time we’re around with more time available!