Anyone who knows me knows that visiting Australia has been a dream/obsession of mine for years. I planned the trip a few times, only to have friends back out. Somehow it finally happened!!! Yes, it’s a crazy looooong plane ride, but so worth it.
Day 1: We left NYC Sunday night and arrived in Sydney early Tuesday morning, so after dropping our bags off at the Langham Hotel, we walked to the Circular Quay. I still can’t believe I saw the Sydney Harbour and Opera House in real life. Someone please pinch me.
After checking in to our rooms, my friend who lives in Sydney gave us a driving tour around different neighborhoods. We ate dinner in Katzy’s which is famous for its meat pies (not sure why – it must be an Aussie thing!). There are only a handful of kosher restaurants in Sydney- besides Katzy’s we tried Bondi Pizza and our favorite, Glick’s Bakery. Glick’s has a nice cafe, but they close early.
Day 2: Walked all over CDB starting with the Opera House (which has really cool restrooms in the lobby!), then walked through the Botanical Gardens on the way to Centrepoint Tower (tallest building in Sydney). From there we made our way to the Sydney Aquarium. We ended our day at Bondi Pizza in Bondi Beach, and funny enough we met people there who live right near us in NYC.
Day 3: Blue Mountains tour. It was freezing in the mountains! In Katoomba we took a Scenic Cableway and Railway, hiked around the rainforest and viewed The Three Sisters. The second stop of the tour was at the Koomurri Aboriginal Culture Centre. The “highlight” was an Aboriginal song & dance performance. Basically men with potbellies jumping around wearing loincloths. Yech. Actually, the real highlight of the day was visiting Featherdale Wildlife Park where I got to feed wallabies & pet koalas! The day ended with a drive through Sydney Olympic Village and a ferry ride back to Circular Quay.
Day 4: We moved from the Langham Hotel to the Meriton Apartments in Bondi Junction so we could be near the Jewish neighborhood for Shabbos.
Day 5: Bondi Coastal Walk, a beautiful walk that goes along the coast and has views of the parks and beaches.
Day 7: – Our last day in Sydney we had an early breakfast in Glick’s and then hopped on a plane for a 3 hr flight to Cairns. We were picked up in the airport in Cairns and drove 1 hr to Paradise Links Resort in Port Douglas.
Day 8: Great Barrier Reef!! We took a Quicksilver Cruise to the reef and went snorkeling. Totally surreal experience. I took some pictures with a waterproof camera, but it was hard to see what I was aiming at underwater (And the fish don’t really stop to pose.)
Later that day we walked to the beach in Port Douglas and saw the most spectacular sunset.
Day 9: Kuranda Rainforest - we took the railway to Kuranda which is a verrry touristy little village. Visited the Koala Gardens where I got to hold a koala!!! We took the Skyrail out of Kuranda which is really pretty – there are a few places you can get off along the way to look at the view and walk around the forest.
Day 10: Did some souvenir shopping in Cairns on the way to the airport. 3 hour flight to Melbourne. It was pretty cold in Melbourne and windy, especially coming from gorgeous weather in Cairns. We stayed in the Kimberly Gardens Quest Apartments since it is the only hotel in the Jewish neighborhood. Dinner in the Kimberly Gardens Steak House, the most “upscale” kosher restaurant in Australia. The prices were higher than in most NY restaurants and the food was subpar.
Day 11: Walked to the Jewish shopping streets and then took a train and a tram from East St. Kilda to the Queen Victoria Market. The most interesting part of the markets were the produce sellers all shouting about their delicious, juicy fruit. I also found some really cool patterned tights for a great price. The shop owner told me they are made in Korea “so is real good quality”.
I was really excited to spot the famous “Dumb Ways to Die” ad campaign in the train station in Melbourne. There were little characters plastered on every surface, and posters on all the walls. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go check it out right now!
Friday night and Shabbos lunch we ate by my friend who I haven’t seen in 7 years!
Day 12: Saturday night we went to a cafe called Sweet Crumble. I am obsessed with the place, I wish we had something kosher like that in NY. They have really pretty pastries (french macarons, cupcakes, homemade marshmallows, mini tarts & more) and a small menu with soups, salads, mini pizza & quiche. The store decor, the pastry boxes and the bags are gorgeous, just my taste.
Day 13: My friend & her husband drove us to Puffing Billy, an old-fashioned steam train. Her 4 year old son loved it. For dinner we ate at Milk n Honey. The place had an interesting vibe and the food was pretty good.
Day 14: Our last day in Australia we walked around Melbourne CBD, exploring all the interesting shopping arcades and alleyways.
Day 15: Remember how I said the long flight was worth it? Not so much when you’re going home. I was so sad to leave Australia and flying for 23 hrs straight (with a short stopover in LA in which you have to go through customs, find your baggage, check in your baggage, run across the airport, go through security and go right on to the next plane) is a real bummer.
Overall it was the best trip of of my life so far. Now who’s going back Down Under with me??