I posted a bunch of random funny stuff from our trip, so here's the real stuff:-) We started in downtown Sydney and it really was amazing to see the Opera House and Sydney Harbor in person. I don't even think pictures really do it justice. Here's some of the views of the city and Bondi Beach.
We left Christmas day and arrived in Sydney on 12/27, since it's 14 hours ahead we totally skipped the 26th. When we were planning our trip we didn't realize how amazing it would be to be there to celebrate the new year. Australians do up the fireworks better than pretty much the rest of the world. We watched from the Royal Botanic Gardens as up to 6 sets of fireworks, with the most impressive coming off of the Harbor Bridge all happened at the same time.
I love koalas, kangaroos, wallaby's and even wombats! The Emu's I didn't love they are a little crazy. The wildlife there is just so awesome because you can get so close to the animals, and I love the kangaroos with the little joey's in their pouch.
From Sydney, we took a day trip to the Blue Mountains, which they call blue because the plans emit a color that makes the hills look blue. Gorgeous outlooks and beautiful scenery. Much different than Florida! Speed bumps are as close as it gets to mountains! It felt a lot like California with the varying climate and wine country!
Australia's land mass is almost as big as the US so unless you have a lot of time to spend you have to fly between cities. After Sydney, we flew to Cairns and took the historic Karunda railway which is an engineering feat that connects Carins and Karunda village. It takes you through the mountains, waterfalls, rainforest, and Barron Gorge. We rode that one way and took the skyrail back for a totally different view.
One of our stops was a duck boat tour through the rain forest, our guide was awesome! We also learned a lot about the aboriginal culture and their history, very interesting as well.
Cairns - pronounced "cannes" is the leaving point for great scuba diving spots on the great barrier reef. We are both scuba certified and I don't love it, but David does so I go anyway:-) To get to the really good spots you have to go on a live aboard and stay out on a ship on the reef. Our first day to get the the live aboard we were on a boat with 80 other people and I didn't like that one bit! Once we were on the live aboard, the M.V. Taka it was only 30 people and only about 20 divers and the rest snorkelers. We met an awesome family from South Africa and hung out with them the entire time. They had nicely laid out maps of each of the spots we went on the reef so I took pics of them.
I did 6 dives in 2 days and David did 7 because there was a night dive that I opted out of. Why you may ask? Well, the line for the safety stop out the back of the boat had tons of fish once they shined the light out and sharks as you can see. No way was I coming up through that! David did make it out alive so I guess it's relatively safe:-)
On to Melbourne, our third and final city, and the one I was most excited about because the have penguins! My most favorite thing we did was to go to Phillip Island to see the colonies of little penguins come out of the ocean to feed their babies that are nested all along the hillside. There were strictly no photos or videos allowed so all I could do was take a picture of the stands so you can see them, and show you what these little guys look like from the only other place we saw them which was at a nature preserve. They are only 12 inches tall and are actually a dark blue color. In the one photo you can just see the little beak poking out of the nest. Once the sun went down, little groups of them started coming out of the ocean a couple at a time and we literally saw hundreds of them just a few feet away from us. So it's a natural event that humans get to watch. AMAZING. I wish I could have one for a pet! I posted an official video at the bottom so you can get an idea of the event.
The Great Ocean Road was another day trip out of Melbourne and definitely a site not to be missed. The views were stunning. Along the way we saw the 12 Apostles, hiked through an ancient jungle, spotted some koalas in the wild, and some fun little beach towns and lighthouses.
We did actually spend some time in Melbourne and even though Sydney was amazing, Melbourne was actually my favorite. It's very European, and has lots of treasures but you have to go looking for them. Everything there is "art" the buildings, bridges, alleyways, pretty much anything they turn into art they do. It was the trip of a lifetime!