Visiting Australia had always been my dream, my obsession and even one of my life milestones. Who knows how many times I must have said to my parents “I´m moving to Australia” or “One day I will live in Australia”! I would say that for longer than half my life, I have been admiring this land and planning a trip that never seemed to happen. About 20 years after I placed Australia as number 1 destination on my first travel bucket list ever, my dream turned a reality! Last May I spent 3 amazing weeks here and oh yes, it did live up to my expectations! Here are my Top 5 experiences in the land down under.
5. SEEING THE TWELVE APOSTLES IN AUSTRALIA
I never understood the fuss about the Twelve Apostles until I saw it with my own eyes. Photos do not do the place justice. The magic of this famous place is the sensorial combination of the Pacific Ocean waves crushing on the large rocks, the coastal smell, the cliff winds and the sight of endless deep blue vastness before you. And, of course, if you add a beautiful pink sunset sky to the scene, it becomes too much to handle.
The Twelve Apostles are now 8 limestone rock stacks aligned along the shore of Port Campbell National Park in the estate of Victoria. These tall structures are the standing witness of the cliff erosion process over millions of years. And now they have become the highlight of any road trip along the Great Ocean Road and a landmark of Australia. I will write a separate post about my day-trip on this scenic road.
4. WATCHING SUNSET AT ULURU
I could not leave Australia without experiencing the Outback, even if it was for a couple of days. Though I would have preferred to plan a long adventurous drive along the red dessert, visiting Uluru was a special first-contact with the Australian Outback and essential to understand and feel the Aboriginal Culture a bit.
Uluru is an isolated large sandstone rock formation standing 348m height in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Central Australia. With little more than desert around it, the rock becomes quite a sight to behold at sunrise and sunset when its colour seems to vary with the changing daylight. This is further enhanced with the beautiful pastel and intense oranges dressing the unpolluted sky over Uluru.
Being the sunset lover that I am, I ensured to watch Uluru´s sunset from different view points the 3 evenings I spent there. Not only the colours of both the rock and sky were stunning but there was a special something in the atmosphere that made those moments very unique. Perhaps it was the isolated location, knowing the place is sacred or seeing everyone so focused and content. But whatever it was, I am thankful to for turning the experience into an everlasting happy memory.
3. SAILING THE WHITSUNDAYS
Visiting the Whitsundays was among the five things I had to do in Australia no matter how (others were: seeing wild koalas, hugging a kangaroo, diving in the Great Barrier Reef and seeing Sydney Opera House). And so I hopped onboard a five-star-catamaran to sail the Coral Sea for three days. Though the weather and seas did not accompany us the first two days and had to take many sea-sickness pills, this was one of my most fun and memorable experiences in Australia by far.
Despite Cat 4-cyclone Debbie having hit the Whitsundays badly two months earlier, Whitehaven Beach was clean and stunning. The different shades of blue and green and the shining white soft sand make this beach a true bucket-list item. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about the famous underwater world of the Whitsundays as the coral had been very badly damaged and the preceding rain had turned the water extremely murky green. Nonetheless, I had a blast swimming in the snorkelling spots, kayaking and paddle-boarding. Hopefully, the corals and island flora recover well and fast!
2. FLYING OVER THE GREAT BARRIER REEF
This is the one and only experience in Australia that got me shedding tears of joy and completely blew my mind away. Flying over the Great Barrier Reef in an 8-passenger seat plane was not only one of my top experiences in Australia but of my lifetime. Seeing the Whitsundays and Whitehaven Beach from above was great but flying over Hardy Reef was extraordinary.
The shallow clear water allowed a perfect view of the extensive reef with distinguishable corals, sand banks and apparently sharks and stingrays (I didn’t see these last ones). From the air, the water colour and the shapes taken by the different reefs look otherworldly! As I looked down the airplane window and thought this insane beauty extended for over 2000 kilometres in length, I was overwhelmed by gratitude and amazement and my eyes began watering.
If I were to visit Airlie Beach again, I would most definitely repeat the experience with GSL Aviation. This is the one time I recommend splurging on your trip to Australia! You will not regret it one second!
1. EXPERIENCING SYDNEY BY BOAT & SEAPLANE
No visit to Australia is complete without a visit to Sydney. Regardless of you liking big cities or not, it is a complete must-stop. There are many things to see and do here (I will write a mini-guide on a separate post) but the one thing you cannot miss is going on a boat ride in Sydney Harbour to see the city´s skyline. And if you combine that with a seaplane scenic flight over the city and the beaches, then you will have the most glamorous and amazing views of Sydney.
If I consider the beauty of the landscapes and views seen from the seaplane and the boat only, this experience would have come in second place, following the scenic flight over the Great Barrier. However, it is most definitely my TOP 1 moment in Australia because it was a total surprise gift from my husband for our first wedding anniversary! Lucky me with this triple score: Dream city, dream experience and dream man! 🙂