Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Backyard Travel: Australia

I’ve recently had a bit of a financial reality check, which as a traveller, is not much fun.

It’s that time in my life when I’m thinking about making some of those grown-up decisions, like getting a mortgage. This unfortunately means I may have to cut down on my expensive international travel addiction, and try to stick to one a year (or less – yikes!).

As much as I break out into a cold sweat at the thought – I’ve realised I’m lucky to live in a beautiful country full of travel adventure options. I think because my country is an island I’ve developed an obsession with ‘overseas’ travel’ when in fact, there’s plenty to see at home too.

So it’s about time I appreciate the amazing Australian places I’ve been lucky enough to visit…and to start a bit of a domestic travel wish list!

Coolangatta, Gold Coast

I am actually lucky enough to call the Gold Coast home, but before I lived in this beautiful coastal city, I visited my favourite part – Coolangatta – every year.

Not only does it still have a friendly, small-town-feel to the area surrounding some of the world’s most amazing surf breaks (Snapper Rocks to name just one), it's also five minutes from an international airport and has some of the most amazing beach views anywhere in Australia.

You can spend a day at the beach without having to fight for a square of sand, a common problem at so many other world-class beaches, and accommodation and dining isn’t overpriced. And if you’re a surfing fan, make the trip in the Australia summer to catch the Quicksilver Pro, the first stop on the ASP world surfing tour.

The Murray River, Victoria

Australia’s longest river may look less than exotic to many visitors; I think it could be the brown, muddy water, but it really is an amazing river to travel down.

The Might Murray is the border between two states, New South Wales and Victoria, and is a popular location for water sports, particularly water skiing.

The scenery changes slightly depending on which part of the river you’re sailing, but highlights include the soaring sandstone cliffs and gum tree-lined banks.

 The ultimate way to experience the river is by houseboat. It’s basically a big, square, floating box, meandering down the river, at a nice slow pace. You may even spot a blast from the past and encounter an old-time steamboat.

Sydney, New South Wales

Simply put, Sydney is a beautiful city. There are so many reasons why, but if nothing, Sydney is a city of options. It just one city you can visit a world-famous beach break (Bondi), take in the wonders of Sydney Harbour (the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Oprah House) or the funky shops and restaurants of inner city Newtown.

Sydney has countless beautiful beaches, and if you venture away from the touristy Bondi, you’ll see that nearby coastal areas like Clovelly and Bronte are often less crowded. If you’re venturing north of the Harbour Bridge, Manly is another area worth a look. As well as another great beach, Manly has great restaurants peppered along the beach. A drive (or bus) even further north to Palm Beach will find you a smaller, town-like feel, where the famous Aussie soap ‘Home and Away’ is filmed. Palm beach also has a great headland view from the Barrenjoey Lighthouse.

Melbourne, Victoria

If you like a good coffee, amazing food and could spend the rest of your life shopping, then the southern Australian city of Melbourne is one you will fall in love with.

Along with enjoying the city centre shopping and the amazing coffee and Italian inspired food on Lygon Street, taking a tram ride to St Kilda beach is worth doing. Unless you’re there in the midst of summer, the water may not be overly warm and enticing, but it’s a great spot, popular for kite surfing.

One activity which is a must do in Melbourne is watching an AFL (Australian Football League) game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG or the Gee).

As you can see – us Aussies like to shorten the names of everything, including our important venues and landmarks. 

Even if you don’t understand the sport, you’ll enjoy the amazing experience of thousand of fanatic footy fans cheering on their local team with all the passion of a jealous lover.

So now all I have to do is start a domestic wish list – I’m thinking the Northern Territory; maybe Kakadu National Park, Cairns and Port Douglas in North Queensland, and maybe even Monkey Mia in West Australia. Any ideas, suggestions, recommendations? Please help me out below…

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