Australia. Wow. Definitely a bucket list item for most of us. And Sydney does not disappoint. Directly after our early morning arrival we were whisked away to drop our bags at our hotel (THANK YOU early check in!) changed our clothes and headed out for a great, enlightening tour of ‘The Rocks’ the original area of town built by English criminal that had be sentenced to their new penal colony. It was so interesting! You can still see chisel marks, foundations and even a few original buildings. Since they are sandstone and not wood they are still in use! After that we jumped on a lunch cruise around Sydney Harbor. It seemed odd to have the day we arrived jam packed but by 7pm I totally understood. Stop moving and you crash from the overnight flight and time change. We were gifted with a lovely spring day where the outside deck was warmish. Dinner on the harbor was a perfect end to our very long day. Day 2 started with early morning breakfast and the group scattering a bit to different adventures. Eastern Seaside Walk and Blue Mountains tour were the top choices. The coast is spectacular. The ocean breathtaking around each point. I’ve walked how far? No wonder my legs a sore!
We got to feed Kangaroos and pet Koalas! Betcha didn’t know kangaroos like ice cream cones – just the cone part! The animal park fills it with grass and we got to feed them. Koalas are adorable, but rather boring since they sleep 20 hours a day and pretty much eat the rest of the time. Hiking in the Blue Mountains are spectacular. Some went the day before and raved about it so others went today. It looks like the Grand Canyon with rainforest covering it. Waterfalls galore, great hiking and inspiring views. Our super adventurous members walked up the Sydney Harbor Bridge and watched the sunset from the top! The Sydney Opera House at night is a sight to behold. It’s majestic. It’s even better when you are sitting on a rooftop patio bar on a mild spring night.
Holy Great Barrier Reef! We just saw one small corner of it and it really is amazing. Wally is a snorkeler/divers favorite. They trained this massive fish to visit the tourists, be petted and ‘pose’ for photos. Even inexperienced divers could dive with a dive master and experience this once in a lifetime event. I loved it. Nothing else like it. Our dive master let us touch corals and items that had interesting texture (and we wouldn’t harm by touching it.) She pointed out interesting fish and the colors of both were astonishing. It is really disappointing that the colors are never as vibrant in photos. The option for an underwater camera was totally worth it. After a couple dives some of us decided to try the Adventure Snorkel with the Marine Biologist. We went on the outside the reef where you get to see even more astounding schools of fish but you are a human bobber rising and falling with the ocean waves. The fish were freakishly cool until motion sickness overtook all thought. Gimme some Dramamine and I’d try it again in a second. Got back aboard our boat, headed to shore and we all longed for bed. Oh! Downtown Cairns is hopping at sunset as we arrive. Tired? Who’s tired? We need dinner and to check out town. We can sleep on the flight home. . .
The Australian Rainforest is definitely a sight to behold. It’s breathtaking. The rich forest, massive trees and dizzying number of different greens is a jaw dropper. Our second full throttle day in Cairns took us up the hills into the outback. We had a scenic rail trip up where we all got to Oooo and Aaaah together; we split up in Kuranda to see everything from an Aboriginal Cultural Center, to koala & kangaroos to museums and shopping; then jumped on the sky gondolas for our trip back down. I got to hold a koala! The scenery here can’t be beat. It was fun to have a group to share the experience with. No one got tired of you saying, “Oh! Look at that!” because you could say it to so many different people 🙂 We had a couple stops on the gondolas so we fire drilled the carriages. Tomorrow we are off to Melbourne!