When we started preparing for our trip, we gathered information from several travel agencies and were given a lot of advice. However, it was our personal conversation with Bart and his local knowledge - regarding time, travel pace, activities and accommodation - that was the deciding factor for us to choose, A Journey DownUnder.
Our 4-week 'Down Under Adventure’
A Journey DownUnder provided us with clear and straight forward information. In our opinion, the types of accommodation and their location contributed to see and experience many beautiful and unique things. This was one of the many reasons we enjoyed our holiday immensely. Here are a few of our experiences.
From Sydney & surroundings to Melbourne
Our adventure started 'bottom-up' in Sydney. A beautiful city featuring the district, The Rocks, which is the first European settlement in Australia. Also the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, Darling Harbour with the Pyrmont Bridge and other historical buildings such as the Queen Victoria Building.
In the evening, you can take the ferry from Manly to Circular Quay and The Rocks to enjoy stunning views of the illuminated Opera House and The Harbour Bridge. In Sydney's oldest pub, Fortune of War, you can have a beer with the locals.
Together with a small group and a local guide, we visited the Blue Mountains for a day. Our dedicated guide, Paul showed us all the sights including the popular Three Sisters. However, he took us to viewpoints, where mainstream tourists don't usually visit. An unforgettable day, learning about Australia’s unique flora and fauna.
Melbourne is characterised by beautiful old buildings with Gothic architecture, many green parks and upmarket shopping streets. In the centre, you can visit Flinders Street Station, St Pauls Cathedral, Town Hall and Collins Street (nicknamed 'Golden Mile'). Queens Victoria Market is rich with history and features many different stalls.
Outside the centre is the district of St.Kilda. Here, you can explore the cosy Acland Street, Lunapark (a theme park), the beautiful beach and a long pier. When the sunsets at the end of the pier, you can find hundreds of penguins. They have come ashore to rest between the rocks. A beautiful sight and experience.
The Great Ocean Road
We took a rental car from Melbourne, along The Great Ocean Road (GOR) to Port Fairy, over two days. The entire coastline along the GOR has cosy towns, beautiful rock formations, steep cliffs, stunning beaches and endless views, and unique flora and fauna. The most eye-catching was the rock formation of The Twelve Apostles and spotting koalas.
We were advised by Bart to visit here and what a hit it was. Around four o'clock we arrived at our small-scale accommodation. Our cottage was surrounded by nature. We sat on the porch and watched kangaroos skip in 'our' front yard. It was an incredibly beautiful experience.
After the Grampians, we eventually made our way to the beautiful Kangaroo Island. We visited a lagoon with many different species of water birds, Seal Bay Conservation Park, sea lion colonies with (suckling) youngsters, the Little Sahara with its impressive sand dunes and the Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, where many koalas rest in the trees.
Flinders Chase National Park is a park with beautiful nature. Be sure to visit the Remarkable (the word says it all) Rocks and Admiral Arch. Through the beautiful inland roads with interesting sights on the north side of the island (a.o. via Stokes Bay). We then flew from Adelaide to Uluru.
In the Outback, we did a 4-day safari tour, together with a friendly small group. We slept in a ‘swag’ (a type of sleeping bag) around the campfire and enjoyed the beautiful starry sky. A wonderful experience that we will never forget. This was partly to the credit of David, the leader of our safari.
The safari was dedicated to learning about the rich Indigenous culture. With a local Aboriginal guide, we walked around the base of Uluru. We admired ancient Indigenous rock paintings. And we learnt more about the Aboriginal beliefs, traditions and spiritual connection between their culture and the land.
We flew from Ayers Rock to Cairns and from there we drove our rental car to our next small-scale accommodation. A lodge with a beautiful terrace, located in the middle of the rainforest. It was a really beautiful place. Prior to our arrival, we phoned our host, to let them know that we would arrive very late in the evening.
"No problem at all I will turn on a lamp and I'll leave the key in the door"; it's all possible there! "And if you're so late you can't do any more shopping, I'll make sure your fridge is filled". The fridge door could barely close!
To reach the Daintree, you have to cross the Daintree River by ferry, because there is no bridge. We stayed in a fantastic bungalow surrounded by nature. A place where bananas grow in trees, pineapples are flourishing in the garden and the only noise is birdsong.
In the surroundings, you can make scenic walks on the beach and through the rainforest. Here, you can find all sorts of wildlife including Cassowaries (a kind of emu), Pademelons (small forest kangaroos) and Saltwater crocodiles. There is also plenty more stunning and unique flora and fauna to discover here.
From Port Douglas, we sailed in a catamaran for 2 ½ hours to the coral cays at the Great Barrier Reef. Here, we snorkelled and admired the coral reef. We loved to see turtles and the many different species of coloured, tropical fish.
A lovely day out with good lunch, sufficient guidance, good safety instructions and a good explanation of the underwater world. Finally, on our last day of holiday in Australia, we took the Skyrail cable car from Smithfield to Kuranda.
You are so high up that you constantly feel a part of the rainforest. Along the way, we saw spectacular views over the ancient rainforest, snakes resting high up in the trees, plunging waterfalls and more. Our adventure ended in Cairns, from where we flew home again. 28 days in Australia is a great experience.
Thanks to the whole team at A Journey DownUnder.
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