"Australia" Australia Travelogue by apskip
Australia Travel Guide: 51,311 reviews and 137,034 photos
I had the pleasure of visiting a country I had always wanted to see when my daughter was married in Townsville. I decided that an 11 day visit would be appropriate. The 11,000 mile set of connecting flights into Houston, Honolulu and Guam finally got me to Cairns. My schedule allowed for sightseeing after the wedding. I started this adventure with an overnight in a hotel in Cairns and booking the 6 hour, 220 mile bus trip from Cairns to Townsville, which I did the next day.
My about-to-become son-in-law met me and took me to one of the most interesting zoos I have ever been to, Billabong Wildlife Sanctuary 17 miles south of Townsville. This is in the tradition of Australian zoos, highlighting native animals and marine species and not worrying about importing other strange animals from overseas. Australia has a sufficient number of unique species!
The wedding proceeded with receptions for consecutive nights at the Reef HQ Marine Museum. My daughter's new in-laws reserved after hours for the benefit of all wedding guests the entire museum, which is one of the world's largest coral reef aquariums features many underwater species that inhabit the Great Barrier Reef, which is within 50 miles off Townsville. The marine life on display there is truly spectacular and this is a museum not to be missed.
I used some available time to take a ferry out to Magnetic Island, 8 miles off Townsville. There are holiday cabins dotting the island. The reefs there are supposed to be good but not great, but I didn't have time to even find out. After the wedding, it was time for my exploration of northern Queensland. I got a bus back to Cairns and booked a jet catamaran to the Great Barrier Reef. It took us mostly east and a little bit north of Cairns. The reef with its colors and the fish with their colors are extremely interesting. This (any excursion to that part of the Great Barrier Reef) is one of the finest sightseeing trips on our planet and it should not be missed if you route yourself into the Cairns area.
There are more interesting things to see and do north of Cairns. I took a tour up to the Daintree Rainforest, with a stop north of there, then a covered boat trip along the Daintree River to see crocodiles in the wild. Those boat captains sure know where to find the crocs!
Back in Port Douglas, I walked around town but it was too pricey for me to consider moving my base of operations to from Cairns. My final day I went to Kuranda by bus (not the expensive Skyway) and visited many of the attractions there. It's another really interesting place. On my way down I stopped at Tjakupai Aboriginal Center to learn about the local aboriginal culture.
My time in Australia for this trip was up. I flew back through Guam and Tokyo, then nonstop from there back to the East Coast.
In July of 2011 I had another good reason to visit Australia. A choral group I was singing with booked the Sydney Opera House, so a trip to Sydney was on. My time for sightseeing in Australia was going to be brief. We flew via Los Angeles into Sydney. The outstanding movie choices provided by Qantas Airlines made the 15 hour second flight easy (I can be climbing the walls during 15 hour nonstops so that is important).
We arrived early and a tour had been arranged to keep us up and awake until late afternoon. The first stop was a viewpoint where we could see the Sydney Opera House with the Sydney Harbor Bridge as a backdrop. Next, we went 25 miles northwest to Featherdale Wildlife Park. it reminded me a great deal of Billabong Wildlife Sanctuary. You could see everything in about an hour. Next we were taken back to the Darling Harbourside Marketplace to find a decent lunch. Then the bus took us out to Bondi Beach, a huge and beautiful strip of sand but not too active in the middle of their winter. On the way there we stopped at an overlook to view the cliffs on the other side of Sydney Harbour.
We had a half-day of rehearsals, with lunch on your own in the Rocks area. I went to a famous Sailors Thai restaurant, then visited an outdoor market and then got to the dock for a sightseeing cruise of the inner part of Sydney Harbour. This would have been more interesting on any other day, but it was the only rainy day of our visit; that made it kind of blah. That evening we were bussed to the University of New South Wales campus to get a buffet picnic (at least that was what I would call it) with a fine local band providing music of the Waltzing Matilda variety so that the younger participants (in a macro group of 170, there were two girls choirs with many under age 14) could enjoy dancing.
The following day there was not time for sightseeing, just to walk around a bit until we were free at 3pm (actually we missed out on a few activities). My wife and I met my daughter and son-in-law who had flown in 1500 miles from Townsville. We went to the Sydney Acquarium, which was good but not world-class as it is advertised to be. We went to a Japanese restaurant and then called it an evening.
Our final day in Sydney was the concert. There was a 3 hour rehearsal in the Sydney Opera House, then lunch (I had picked out an Indian place nearby that was quite good), then the concert. The concert was a truly a thrill and one of the great musical experiences of my life (equal to singing in Carnegie Hall which I have done several times). Afterwards, we went to a French restaurant and then called it an early night.
The following day we had to rise at 3am to make a 630am flight. My trip to New Zealand is the subject of another travelogue.
My wife and I both loved Sydney. It has a pleasant climate in the winter and is not too hot in summer. It is the type of place in which we could see ourselves living.
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