Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Guest Post: Top 5 Things to Do in Australia

Kinds Canyon. Australia.

As mentioned yesterday, I am heading to Australia tonight! To get into the traveling spirit, I feel very privileged to feature a travel writing piece from Mackenzie of Frock. Paper. Scissors. Enjoy!

Since Australia is such a vast country (6th largest in the world), it’s often hard to pick a favorite area or place to visit. From the Red Centre to the Blue Mountains, Australia has varying terrain  (and people!), all just as breathtaking and friendly as the next. The following are my favorite places to visit while in the Land Down Under.

1.     The frothy waters of the Whitsunday Islands 
About half way between Byron Bay and Cairns on the east coast, you’ll find a string of islands unlike anywhere in the world. From the small backpackers town of Airlie Beach, you board your sailboat from the Abel Point Marina.

Then be prepared to be in awe for the next three days.

Our boast was named the SV Whitehaven, but locals knew it as the SV Misbehavin. I met my “best mate” of my Aussie trip on this boat. His name was Elliot and he was the deckhand. The 14 people on our boat learned to sail, visited a barefoot bar, snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef (I saw Dori and Nemo!), sea kayaked and saw numerous sea turtles, and ate delicious Australian fare. This is an absolute must-see experience if going to Australia.

2.      The Red Centre
Although hard to get to in comparison with other Australian must-sees, the Red Centre is the true Australia and a trip here wouldn’t be complete without seeing the marvelous rock formations, 70 thousand-year-old cave drawings, and Aboriginal culture first-hand.

Although Uluru is the star of the show, Kings Canyon was my favorite experience. A grueling hike to the top, especially the first bit nicknamed “heart attack hill”, leads to a plateau overlooking hundred of miles of red earth.

 Took a 14-day tour from Darwin in the Top End to Adelaide in South Australia through OZexperience. The guiding company has amazing leaders, who teach you all about the nerdy science stuff during the day, and show you a “full on, flat out” night at pubs, etc. I met my best friends on the tour from Ireland and Denmark, and even some local Aussies. If you want to spend a substantial amount of time anywhere in OZ, book with them.

3.      Melbourne Laneways
Melbourne is a city unlike any other. Americans make comparisons to it with that of San Francisco, but I have to disagree.  Although brimming with an exuberant art and café scene, there is really something for every season, and everyone. One minute you can be musing over fashion at an art gallery, and the next visiting Rod Laver tennis arena, then hit St. Kilda for a hippie beach vibe. I instantly fell in love with this city and you will too.

My favorite Melbourne (Mel-bun) feature is its small laneways, tucked back and hidden from the busy downtown streets perpendicular to them.  Easy to miss if you don’t know what you are looking for, walk down the cobblestone streets with cafés spilling out into them and you’ll know you’ve found it. Be sure to check out Flinders Street and Centre Place for the best coffee. And order a short flat white. They’ll know.

4.      Sydney’s Taronga Zoo
When you think Sydney, you don’t usually think wild animals, but you should. To get to the zoo, take a ferry from Circular Quay. Get perfect views of the Opera House on your left and a close up shot of the bridge while taking the breezy ferry to the Northeastern suburbs.

The zoo is not only packed with cuddly koalas, kangaroos, deadly snakes, and the like, the views of the Sydney harbor are divine. Visiting here was the best day I spent in Sydney. It’s also just a short trip to popular Manly beach when you are done with your zoo fix. Be sure to bring a student ID if you have one (you get $15 off zoo admission!)

5.      Byron Bay
Known for having the best and most “rippable” surfing waves in Australia, Byron was a small beach bum and hippie town in the 1960s. Because of it’s four beached each facing a different direction, no matter what the wind is doing, there’s always a beach to surf.

So, the hippies never left, and backpackers started coming, and today it’s a hub for beach life and cold brews. The nightlife starts around 7 pm and doesn’t stop until the sun comes up. Often times nights end with skinny dips in the ocean.

It’s not too difficult to escape the party scene though, as there are many hikes and action sports to keep you busy. We also saw a humpback whale breaching on our trek to the famous lighthouse.


No matter where you go in Australia, you will find friendly locals and beautiful scenery. It's a place all it's own, and visitors and locals like it that way.

Guest Blogger Bio:
Mackenzie is a freelance travel writer and blogger from Portland, Oregon. She sees the world through rose trimmed glasses, loves nothing more than to take her golden retriever on walks in the snow, and has no problem with wearing white past Labor DayLearn more about Mackenzie and her personal adventures on her blog Frock. Paper. Scissors.

1 comment:

  1. Abby is going to Australia!!! I am so excited for you! And reading about this stuff that you're about to experience has made me that much more so. Go Get It!!!


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