AVA- Australia was so much fun! The first day we got there it was my birthday, (I turned 15 in the air!) and it was truly special. We got in and the sun was shining, the family made me feel special, and we had hit our 5th continent. Right when we got there and were going through security you began to hear the Australian accents. I absolutely love Australian accents. Something we learned very quickly in Australia is their view on life is, “It’ll all be alright mate!”. The first few days in Australia we explored the city, went to beaches, enjoyed the sunshine (after so much rain in Bali), and most of all, waited. Grandpa and my cousin Makenzie were supposed to arrive on the 28th of December, but didn’t arrive till the 31st. After many flight cancelations, overnights in the airport hotel, and phone calls, we truly didn’t know if they were going to make it to Australia
We were really bummed out until we heard the conformation that their flight was in the air! Of course we arrived an hour early to the airport, only to realize we were 3 hours early! When they finally arrived we gave big hugs. It had been so long since we had seen family. Since they were late, we dropped their bags off at home and went straight to our scheduled surf lesson which was a total blast. We went and saw the Sydney Opera House, The Harbour Bridge, and even got to see the New Years fireworks from our AirBnB! It was absolutely breath taking, and lived up to the hype. I really enjoyed getting to see Sydney through Makenzie and Grandpa’s eyes. While we still are in awe of driving on the left side of the road, it was funny to watch their reactions to taking a turn into what would normally be oncoming traffic, but it is the correct way in Sydney. I feel lucky to have seen Sydney, and be able to have done it with such amazing people. (New Zealand with Grandpa and Makenzie coming soon!)
TUCKER- Australia was really fun. While we were in Australia, we did tons of cool stuff. Our apartment that we rented had one of the best views in the entire city, we could see the entire harbor, the bridge, and the Sydney Opera House. In the city, we walked around, ate at cafes, bought presents, and went to the beach. The most popular beach there is called Bondi Beach. The waves were massive and there were tons of people there. We also went out in the mountains and took some hikes. There is a place called the Botanical Gardens that has wild kangaroos. They are so cool. When they walk they balance on their tails to stay upright. But the best thing that happened in Sydney was getting to meet up with my Grandpa and cousin Makenzie who came from Wichita to see us and to travel. It was very exiting because we haven’t met up with anyone we knew yet on the trip. We went to the beach, surfed, walked through the city and did so much more. On New Years Eve we watched the amazing fireworks display over the city. After that it was time to go to New Zealand. I really enjoyed Australia.
DAN- Sydney might be the most “at home” that I have felt on the trip so far. I would even say it is easy. For us it was a quick walk to stores and restaurants or a quick drive or water taxi to downtown or the beaches. There is a great neighborhood feel as you walk around and chat with people. Our host at the place we stayed (a counselor to mine workers) was gracious and the neighbors in our building could not have been more friendly. The fact that the first language is English after months in Asia was pretty helpful as well.
The Opera House is a testament to how much a single project can transform a city. It is difficult to imagine Sydney without this work of art at its center.
Our time here felt like a minute. Hiking to indigenous handprints, kangaroos, surfing, new years fireworks, hosting family, trips throughout the city, two birthdays and out. Australia, it was too quick and I hope to see you again.
P.S. Has anyone else noticed that Australians have the shoulders of Atlas? I don’t mean that they carry the world on their back, more like they could crush you like a soda can, but are cool about it.
CARMEN- On the day of our cousin and grandpa’s arrival we got up super early to go pick them up from the airport. Little did we know, we had come two hours early! Me and dad went back to the car to get a little bit more sleep and around an hour and a half later I woke up. There was about 20 minutes till they were supposed to get there, and I was super excited. Once they landed we rushed over to greet them, but then we had to get going. Since they arrived two days after they were supposed to, we had a surf lesson scheduled in just a little while. We drove to the house to get ready, the rushed to the beach. We were still a little late, but it might have been a good thing. We were too late to join the kids class, but a different adult class had just started, so we joined in and had a great time. The waves the kids class surfed were smaller. Once we were done we spent a couple more minutes at the beach. When we got home we found out that my cousin Mackenzie had been sunburned so bad that her skin had blistered. The next day she went to the ER where they told her that she was just fine. The rest of Australia was great.
TERESA- Australia, I love this place! Coming off a rough week in Bali and making it to Sydney, Australia was a little like the feeling of exhaling a deep sigh after completing a difficult exam. Ahh, we made it. After spending several months in Asia, it felt like a walk in the park. And we did walk in a lot of parks! Our first day in country was also Ava’s Birthday so we did our best to celebrate her on a “travel day” that took us from Indonesia, through Malaysia and onto Australia.
We rented an adorable AirBnb in Cremorne Point. We were all most excited for our fist visitors: My dad and niece, Tom and Makenzie. We spent the first few days preparing for their visit figuring out grocery stores, transportation, and restaurants. When they finally arrived on New Year’s Eve, two days later than planned, we were so relieved. Due to the delays and troubles within the airline system at that time, it was not guaranteed that they were going to make it and it was a long journey of canceled flights for them. Their visit was such a gift for all of us. They brought letters and gifts from family and friends at home and that meant the world. It truly was a joy to get to experience this new country and continent together. During my childhood, family vacations were always a priority for my parents, traveling in our car to other states and even Canada. As an adult, I have been lucky enough to travel with my dad to The Netherlands, Tanzania, Nicaragua, and Ecuador. He is a great travel partner, always interested in talking with the locals, enjoys new experiences and is so much fun. I think I get a lot of my adventurous spirit from him so hitting our 5th continent together was very cool.
We only got a tiny taste of what Australia has to offer and this is a place I hope to go back to and explore more someday.
Activities: Sydney New Year’s Eve Fireworks: We timed our visit to Australia with hopes of catching the fireworks show. There are many places listed that you can enjoy the fireworks from and most come with a hefty price tag and hours of travel before and after. Instead, we were lucky enough to stay at a wonderful AirBnB on Cremorne Point with a view out of our window of the whole show. Our host, Jackie, was absolutely wonderful and the neighbors made us feel at home. We were able to walk down to the pointe in the early evening and catch some of the festivities then rung in the New Year from our apartment. I am most thankful that we started off the year with my Dad and Makenzie joining us!
Sydney Harbour Tall Ship: http://www.sydneytallships.com.au
We took the Afternoon Discovery Cruise with a mast climb for the kids and it was a beautiful way to see the harbour. During our 90 minute cruise, we sailed past the Sydney Opera House, Fort Denison and under the Harbour Bridge. We met a lovely couple from LA and their parents, the kids climbed the giant mast as we cruised along and we learned about the local sights we were seeing.
Manly Surf School: (02) 9931 7000. We booked surfing lessons for the kids, Makenzie and Dan at Manly Beach. My Dad and I walked along the beach and enjoyed watching them take on the waves, even getting up on their boards a few times! However, we made the biggest mistake of the trip and did not ensure everyone put on sunscreen for the class since we were rushing. We soon learned the Aussie public service message – “Slip, Slap, Slop!” Slip on a shirt or rashgard, slop on some sunscreen, slap on a hat. Due to the elliptical orbit of the earth and a compromised ozone, the Australian sun can lead to some intense burns. By day two of their trip, we had Makenzie meeting with a very entertaining Dr. Australia at urgent care. Once he assured us that she would be okay and recover, recommended some vitamin E crème and told her he had seen worse burns, we were on our way (I have not personally seen a worse sunburn but at least he had – Makenzie was a trooper). So, yes to surf lessons but ONLY AFTER putting on loads of sunscreen.
Taronga Zoo – http://www.taronga.org.au – I took the kids and my dad to Taronga Zoo and we had a lovely time. You can’t go wrong with a Koala.
Wild Kangaroo’s. – We did some searching before our family arrived for some wild Kangaroos. We drove out to the Blue Mountains and went for a few hikes but came up short. However, we followed this up with a visit to the Australian Botanic Gardens in Camden, a suburb and hour west of the city center. Here we were lucky to spot dozens of them hopping across the open areas. The botanical center itself is also very cool but I was really there for the kangaroos!
Other fun things:
Bondi Beach – it was cold the day we went but it did not stop Tucker and Carmen from playing in the waves. Also, I have discovered my new favorite TV show/YouTube time suck – “Bondi Rescue.” Love it.
The Oaks Restaurant in Neutral Bay
Ferry across the Harbour to Circular Quay
Walk through the botanical gardens to the Sydney Opera House
Teach your niece how to mail a physical post card and lick a stamp.
Although I don’t recommend needing it, the Urgent Care in Mona Verde is relatively quick and you know what it is going to cost you when you get there.