Australia my home away from home. Any mention of this country, be it during Australia Day, whilst drafting an email at work or even at the mere mention of a Tim-Tim is a reminder of the times when I lived in Sydney. The things I saw, did and experienced whilst studying abroad there and making it home for a few months once I had graduated university.
There was so much I missed out on due to money and so much more of Australia I want to see. Drive the Great Ocean Road and see the Twelve Apostles for myself. Sip coffee in one of Melbourne’s cafes. Try (and probably panic and fail) at snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef and visiting some of the other states in Australia which I didn’t get to visit. Tasmania, Western Australia and Queensland. Which is why this list may not include all the typical Australian highlights, frankly because I missed them myself- all the more reason for me to jump on a plane and visit again someday!
But there was also so much I got to see and so much of Sydney especially that I fell in love with, which still makes it a city I get homesick for to this day. So if you’re heading to Australia and want to start up a list of some cool places to visit or you’re just interested to see what I loved the most during my time there, then this list is for you. Here are my Australia best bits. Enjoy!
Sydney’s Eastern Beaches
When in Sydney you most definitely need to visit the Eastern Beaches. They’re incredibly beautiful and helpfully linked by a great walking trail, so you can explore more than just one of the beaches in a day. On numerous occasions I took the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk. On it you’ll witness some amazing views of the beaches and the ocean and it features six beaches, plus a number of coves and bays that you can also visit.
Only a short distance away from Coogee Beach, you’ll find Gordon’s Bay. It’s another picturesque haven for those wishing to escape the bigger, busy beaches in the area. It’s a great little spot to spend the day and enjoy a swim in the sea. Just be careful of the rocks, they can get pretty slippery.
You can start the walk from different beaches, but I always started mine from Bondi Beach, which I know is super touristy, but it’s pretty cool to see. The first main stop on the coastal walk is Mackenzies Bay. This rocky bay looks like the perfect spot for those wishing to catch a tan away from the crowds of the busy Eastern Beaches. Out of them all Bronte Beach has got to be my favourite. Not only is the beach beautiful, if you walk a little further round you’ll discover the Bronte Baths where you can spend an afternoon swimming with views out to the ocean.
Blue Mountains and the Jenolan Caves
During my second stay in Australia, I decided to book myself on a tour to the Blue Mountains from Sydney. The tour included a visit to the Three Sisters and a tour of the breathtaking Jenolan Caves and a tranquil picnic by the Blue Lake.
The first stop of my Blue Mountains tour and the main reason for my trip was Echo Point, where we were treated to stunning views of the famous Three Sisters. According to Aboriginal legend each rock represents one of the three sisters who were turned to stone by their father. The lookout at Echo Point was, as expected, fairly busy, so I would recommend heading away from the main lookout and head on to one of the many walking tracks around the area.
The Lucas Cave was another highlight of my trip to the Blue Mountains. This cave is the most visited of all the Jenolan Caves and boasts some of the largest caverns. Having never done anything like this before (unless you count a mine in Wales as a fairly similar experience) I was extremely excited and was not disappointed by the experience. As we walked the 910 steps of the cave our tour group was treated to a range of stunning views throughout the different chambers. Both active and inactive crystals form unique shapes over the cave walls and it was like nothing I had ever seen before.
It may not be much to those who live in Australia, but the Sydney Harbour is one of my best bits of Australia for me. It was the first place I visited once I arrived in Australia and it was the first place I returned to when I moved back a few years later.
Sitting by the water, watching the boats go to and from the harbour, with the company of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, creates such a feeling of calm in me and will always be one of those special places in the world to me.
It’s not just what it means to me that makes this spot one of the best bits of Australia for me. It’s all the things to do in an around the area that make it great. You can catch a tour or show at the Sydney Opera House, climb the Harbour Bridge, visit the Barangaroo Reserve for a different view of the harbour, catch a ferry or explore the Royal Botanical Gardens.
Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park
There are so many ways you can visit and explore the Uluru Kata- Tjuta National Park. You may opt to drive yourself and your friends there and complete a self guided tour. Or you may choose to join one of the many tours heading to the Red Centre. I went for the latter and experienced STA Travel’s Overnight Dingo Dreaming Safari. I only took part in an overnight trip from Sydney to Ayers Rock, as I was a little lacking in funds, but had desperately wanted to visit since my first trip to Sydney.
I experienced sleeping under the stars next to a burning campfire in the bush, waking up at 5:30am to witness sunrise at Uluru and hiking through Kata-Tjuta stopping to capture the views from the Valley of the Winds. Uluru may take a lot of the limelight for visitors to this area, but Kata Tjuta deserves it just as much. For nature and wildlife lovers this place would be the perfect destination for you to explore when in the Northern Territory. The whole trip was so worthwhile and I would recommend every last part of my trip to anyone thinking of making the leap and visiting Uluru.
Barrenjoey Headland Walk
I spent a lot of my time exploring the Eastern beaches of Sydney, so when the opportunity arose to visit the Northern beach I jumped at the chance. We headed first to Palm Beach, where we completed part of the Barrenjoey Headland Walk. There are two tracks to pick from, but we decided to take the Smugglers Track, which is the more challenging of the two walks. It took us up to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse, which stands an impressive 91m above sea level. And, fun fact, it’s also the lighthouse that’s featured in Home and Away. Throughout the walk, you’re treated to some amazing views of Palm Beach and Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.
It’s also a great spot for whale watching and there is some great information provided for visitors wishing to learn more about the migration movements and habits of these incredible creatures. Unfortunately we didn’t spot any whales on our trip, but the panoramic views of the water more than made up for this!
Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures
Whilst in Australia I interned at travel website Xplore Sydney. One of the best things I got to do whilst working there was to take a day trip to Illawarra Fly with some of my colleagues and then write about it! Illawarra Fly’s zip-line tour is officially the highest in Australia and you’re suspended 35 metres above the forest floor. Throughout the two and a half hour tour, whilst navigating suspension bridges and of course taking part in a zip-line or three, you learn about the history of the forest from the experienced guides. The zip-lining was incredible scary, but being amongst the wildlife you were learning about, some of it being hundreds of years old, was pretty fascinating and the views were pretty special.
These are some of my absolute best bits about my two trips to Australia. There’s so many other things I got to see and do that I’d love to share with you some time. But this post is not the place. Unless you wanted to be reading it for days. Have you been to any of the places I mentioned, or are you thinking about visiting? If so, do let me know! I’d love to hear about them and offer any advice if you need it.
Until next time.