Follow Nikisha Jain and her husband on their adventures through Australia with Pickyourtrail with this perfect 13 night itinerary!
That’s the thing about visiting your dream destination – even when you are actually there, it still feels like dream. Touching down in Australia and breathing the sweet air and seeing the sights of the beautiful country – we still couldn’t believe we were there.
It is with this sense of incredulous-ness we began our first day in Australia.
Day 1 - 4
We began exploring Australia at this riverfront city – decked with plazas, bars and restaurants everywhere you look; Melbourne is quite a beaut. So, it was a no-brainer, that we flagged off our first day with some good ol’ city wandering.
Melbourne bus tour
Our ride was a bright, red double-decker bus with huge windows offering beautiful views of the city. And ogle, we did as the city passed by us in clusters of skyscrapers, small peeks of the river, people teeming the streets and restaurant names that we tried to remember for later. We pitstopped at sights to get a closer look. Here are a few:
- Arts Centre Melbourne
A complex of theatres and concert halls, this place previously hosted everything from a circus to an ice skating rink. Today it consists of the Hamer Hall – used as a venue for orchestra and contemporary music performances, and the Theatres Building that is home to everything from galleries to a 2,077 seat theatre for opera, ballet and theatre performances. The most eye-catching part is the 162 metre spire on the top that is said to have been inspired by both a ballerina’s tutu and the Eiffel Tower.
- Melbourne Zoo
With over 250 species, the Melbourne Zoo is set amidst well-landscaped surroundings. For the wildlife enthusiasts, there is everything from close-encounter to overnight camping experience to try out. You can even sign up for a behind the scenes tiger interaction experience. And after all the walking and skipping around, it is essential you know where to find food. Here are the range of options the Melbourne Zoo offers:
Meerkat Manor Cafe
- Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium
Sitting squat on the Yarra River, Sea Life is your introduction to the colourful and diverse underwater world of Australia. Watch penguins, sharks, stingrays, sharks and more come alive around you. They even host talks if you want to get to know the marine life a little better. Let’s talk ocean predators had us particularly intrigued.
Located at the city centre, Chinatown is a riot of colours, smells and people almost throughout the day. Known for being the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the world, today it hosts top class restaurants that dish out a range of cuisines, while historic heritage through its low-rise brick buildings.
Another unmissable sight are the District Docklands – a waterfront part of Melbourne that hosts some of the best shopping and dining options. There’s a lot to stock up on especially if you are big on luxury brands. For those who are shopping unenthusiasts, there are waterside diners to try, concerts to see and murals and light displays to adore.
Great Ocean Road Trip
We had heard and read so much about the Great Ocean Road, so we just had to hire a car and take a look at it for ourselves. And, boy, was it a delight. With waves crashing below, and the ocean air around us; everything about this place felt alive. As we drove along the road, the view below and in front of us had us in raptures. Spotting the Apostles was a true delight – they looked even more magnificent up front.
If you are planning yourself a road trip down the Great Ocean road, here’s what you need to remember:
- The road is 243 km long so it is doable in one day.
- While there are assigned attractions on the map, you should always take spontaneous breaks
- The 12 Apostles are at their most prettiest during a sunset or sunrise.
- Great Ocean Road is also meant for walks. Take the Maits Rest Rainforest Trail, a beautiful lovely walk in Otway National Park.
- Torquay, Bells Beach, Apollo Bay, and Port Campbell are great places to pitstop during the drive.
- At many places the road is narrow filled with blind corners; so heed caution when you drive.
Day 5 - 7
Popularly known for being the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, the Cairns city is known for its endless collection of gorgeous beaches, rainforests, gorges and beaches. Lazing by the beach is a must-do. But while you are it, check out Cairn’s many markets while sipping on your cocktail at one of the cafes facing the great ocean.
Interesting read: The best beaches of Australia
Cairns → Green Island
We couldn’t wait to get a closer look at this natural phenomenon we heard and read so much about it. So, once we, docked onto Green island, we were already jittery and raring to go. A cay, the island is actually a Marine National Park filled to tee with rainforests, dazzling white-sand beaches and of course the coral reefs we were vying to get a closer look at.
While on Green island, pick up your scuba gear and dive in. The corals look breathtaking up close and the vivid marine life around you will have you stoked and in awe.
Day 8 - 11
When we couldn’t get enough of Australia’s soft sands and the mesmerizing coast, we headed to the perfect spot – Gold Coast. Renowned for its unending stretch of beaches, surfing spots, theme parks, and a glorious nightlife, we couldn’t wait to get started.
Best of 3 worlds
The only movie-based theme park in Australia, Movie World has everything from roller coasters to simulators to slow river rides. While you aren’t screaming on top of your lungs, you can chance upon anyone from Scooby Doo to Batman to even Marilyn Monroe parading the park. For the comic nerds, there is an entire section of the park dedicated to DC Comics Super Villains.
A fun and colourful place to make acquaintance with Australia’s vivid marine life. Wildlife enthusiast or not, this place is bound to have anyone hooked. With water rides, meet and greet with polar bears, seals, penguins and more, the Shark Bay caught our eye. Within a man-made lagoon, the two-level Shark Bay exhibit provided a spectacular glimpse of the colourful stingrays, tropical fish and the predator sharks.
The Reef at Castaway Bay is a fun place to cool down at. With water cannons and life-sized animal sculptures, this is pretty popular among the kids.
Wet n Wild Water World
If you love water and adventure as much as we do, you will definitely have the time of your life here. Everything from tame to high-intense water rides are here. From a Calypso beach that lets you travel across the sub-tropical gardens, and remains of a pirate castle. Another attraction we both loved was the Whirlpool Springs – hot in the winter, cold in the summer; this is just the place to unwind after a day of exhilarating rides.
Related: 10 ways to kick up fun in Australia
Gold Coast Sky Point Observation Deck
When in a beautiful coastal city, score the best views of the coastline. So that’s what we did. After a day of exciting rides, we headed to the Gold Coast SkyPoint Observation Deck to catch the bird’s eye view of the city. After quick elevator ride upto the 77th floor, we reached the observation deck – views of ocean, beaches and land took our breath away.
There is even an eatery – Seventy7 for those who want a quick snack or even a drink or two.
After a mindblowing sunset from atop the deck, we retired for a day: arms aching but hearts full.
Tamborine National Park nocturnal tour
After checking into Gold Coast’s tried and tested nightlife – full of life, wild and unforgettable; we thought it was time to take a spin on the nightlife. And instead of a club or nightlife, we headed to the jungle.
A four-wheel drive away was the summit of Mt. Tamborine. The drive was unbelievable – the speeding wind against our faces as we passed miles of fast-changing scenery. Reaching the summit and overlooking the acres of forests and cloud cover left us speechless. There was so much to take in!
After a quick supper, we were guided into the rainforest for a bushwalk. Unsure at first, the rainforest seemed less hostile and more welcoming as we walked on. The floor was carpeted and everywhere we looked the foliage blended beautifully.
A little further down the Skywalk, we even came across the Curtis waterfalls cascading down to pools below. Nearby, a glow worm cave gleamed against the gushing falls. All in all, it was a picturesque scene. We stood staring until we had to leave – promising to come back soon here.
A drive took us back to our hotel – to retire for the day and reminisce about the night we just had.
Day 12 & 13
Our tryst with Sydney began long before we set foot in Australia. The iconic Opera House made it to any and every research we ever did about the country. To say we looked forward to our time in Sydney was an understatement.
Australia’s largest city, the city was constantly abuzz with restaurants, nightlife, harbour and people. So, we set off to discover the city better on one of those open-roof double-decker buses. Some places we checked out on our tour:
Sydney’s harbour region, the Quay is always buzzing and vibrant. The Sydney Opera House, and Harbour Bridge are both accessible from here. There were several restaurant and cute cafes along the waterfront just waiting for us to enter.
Sydney Opera House
Dating back to the 20th century, the Opera House is Sydney’s most popular venue for shows, concerts, performances and more. It is also the permanent home to Sydney Theatre company, Australian Ballet and Opera Australia.
Our tip: Keep track of events to catch one yourself here.
The oldest parkland in Australia, this is sprawling garden that even features themed gardens, public art works and water features. The park is generally abuzz with locals – turns out it is a common hangout spot for them.
Sydney Botanical Gardens
Located in the very heart of Sydney, the gardens are a breath of fresh air. Sprawling lawns, well-kempt plants and flowers send us on a sensory overload when we walk in. While there is a lot one can do here, we took a walk under the shade of towering trees. A true city getaway, it’s easy to leave all your stress behind here. In fact, you don’t even have to try.
Sydney Tower Eye
Southern Hemisphere’s second highest observation tower, the tower provides some of the best panoramic sights of the Sydney. Look far enough and you can even spy a hazy silhouette of the Blue Mountains to the west.
This glitzy stretch of the Bondi beach is a must-do on your day out in Sydney. The soft beach sands, the glorious oceans and a balmy sun – nothing can better sum up the Australian beach experience. Just remember to slather on some sun lotion – you are going to need it.
Must read: 10 reasons to go to Australia
And, although, we took off to India the very next day, the ocean breeze, the soft sands and the balmy sun will still stay with us.
Want to have yourself the epic vacation Nikisha did? Here is the itinerary they used – revealed to you!
Or just plan yourself one with this smooth vacation planner: Pickyourtrail.
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