I recently returned from two weeks of travelling around Australia. A friend from Arizona, Michelle, came to Australia for the first time and we decided to visit all of the major tourist attractions. We went to Sydney and Melbourne, drove along the Great Ocean Road, enjoyed a few days at the Great Barrier Reef and Whitehaven Beach, and finished at Ayers Rock Resort. Michelle also came back to Adelaide with me and we went to Cleland Wildlife Park so she could hold a koala (one of the few places in Australia where you can do that) and up to the Barossa Valley for a wine tour. Because of the large distances between all of these places, we had to fly everywhere but since flying in Australia is the opposite of flying in the US (i.e. it is actually a pleasant experience), we had no problems with our flights or baggage.
I met Michelle in Melbourne where I had rented a car so we (ok, I since Michelle had never driven on the left before) could drive along the Great Ocean Road. We actually did it in one day, which turned out to be nine hours of driving for me, but we made so many stops along the way that I was not tired at all. Plus the drive is incredibly beautiful and I was so excited to finally be doing it.
We also wandered around Melbourne in 100° heat (38°C) and watched the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island. Then it was off to Airlie Beach where we did the Great Barrier Reef and Whitehaven Beach tours with Cruise Whitsundays. I managed to not get sick on the boats, but even if you are prone to motion sickness, they are totally worth it!
Next we flew down to Sydney and luckily it was not as hot as in Melbourne. I don’t really like big cities but the big cities in Australia are different than those in Europe or the US. I can’t really explain it but they are just somehow better (like everything in Australia!)
The last destination was, of course, Ayers Rock – or Uluru, as it is called by the traditional owners of the land, the Anangu people. There are also other rocks in the national park, called The Olgas or Kata Tjuta, which are just as beautiful. A three day pass to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park only costs $25, but getting there and the price of accommodation can be a bit high.
We flew to the Ayers Rock airport instead of Alice Springs (“only” a five hour drive away) because we were staying at the Ayers Rock Resort next to the national park, which is the only place to stay since there is no camping inside the park. It is essentially its own little town, with a gas station, grocery store, post office, police station, etc. but what I loved most was hearing so many languages. Since Ayers Rock is the biggest tourist destination after Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef, there are more foreign tourists there than Australians. Australia is very multilingual and I often hear several languages in the big cities and even when I’m out shopping in the suburbs of Adelaide, but languages were everywhere at Ayers Rock! In addition to the wonderful dry heat of the desert (anything less than 95°F / 35° C and I’m chilly), it was paradise for me.
I’ve already uploaded my photos to the Gallery, and I’ll work on typing up some travel trips for anyone who is interested in going to the same places. But I do need to get back to working on that pesky thesis over Christmas break. If only I had the life of a kangaroo…
I have also uploaded some videos of Ayers Rock, the Great Barrier Reef and Australian animals to my Youtube channel.