Planning a trip, big or small, local or abroad comes in stages; where, when, with whom and why... I don't know about you, but for me it starts with seeing photos of amazing destinations or maybe I have read about a sensational spot or even been referred by a friend sharing a story. Then the research starts, you hunt through Instagram, figure out the right time of year, whether to travel solo or with someone and the why...to holiday, try something new or just to explore. For me it was def a combo of all of the above when I decided on Australia! Vancouver-Sydney-Terrigal-Sydney-Hamilton Island-Brisbane-Gold Coast-Lady Elliott Island-Gold Coast-Brisbane-Vancouver 6 flights (all direct flights too), 6 trains, a few buses and cabs and this is the result...
The top spots on my agenda included; VIVID Sydney, visit family in Terrigal, snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef, attend a workshop (The Travel Bootcamp), create new content and have a wicked travel adventure with my teenage daughter. Not too much to ask of Australia in 17days.
VIVID SYDNEY, NSW - 1000 Cranes
First up on our trip was Vivid Sydney, the entire city was electric and completely transformed into a public art show... a festival of light, music, art and super creative ideas. It was absolutely phenomenal and blew my mind. There were so many installations that I adored, many of them were mesmerizing moving stories, the Opera House sails were constantly in motion and it was beautiful, but the above installation called 1000 Cranes was def one of my favs. The Japanese legend tells that is you fold 1000 cranes you will have a wish granted by the Gods. This installation was build with recycled plastic by artist/designer Isabella Bain. As people approach the installation more and more cranes light up until they are all lit and a gong rings through the air for you to make a wish! I recommend to spend at least 2-3 days here to full immerse yourself and see it all, get a map or the Vivid app and plan out your route and get there early. The last day was completely mobbed and manic, next time I would go towards the beginning of the event.
SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE AND HARBOUR BRIDGE, NSW - Sunset
A week later we were lucky enough to spend one more night in Sydney and after a busy day exploring Bondi Beach we hopped in a cab and rushed back to see the sun setting over Sydney Harbour. It was winter in Australia so the sun was setting early around 5:30pm, not a minute to waste when the days are so short. Did I mention I left my tripod at my front door in Vancouver? So it was a quick trip into Ted's Camera to buy a new tripod and we were good to go for this sweet sunset and long exposure! I recommend to have at least 2-3 days in Sydney and Bondi Beach is a must, it is about 30mins out of town and you can travel by bus, cab or uber. The Swissotel was super central to everything in walking distance to Opera House and Darling Harbour.
SHELLY BEACH, NSW - Drone shot
I knew before I left that I wanted to create a new website and capture some new exciting content, so I purchased a drone, having never owned or operated a drone in my life that came with it's own unique challenges, haha;) Luckily I'm always up for a challenge and know that everything in life is figureoutable. Flying this drone totally brought out a new side of me and it was awesome to view the world from this new perspective. What an incredible tool to have in my arsenal. It def gave new life to my photography...and the 120fps video, so in love with that super slow-mo!! Also, so fortunate to have the most patient cousins ever, a massive thanks to Kieren and Nic for taking us to the incredible breathtaking spots in Central Coast and waiting patiently as we flew that drone up, down, and all around the beaches. They are in a sweet seaside town called Terrigal, is a beautiful little surfers village with the friendliest people. I would recommend when visiting Central Coast to make time to go to the Pelican Feeding at The Entrance, we didn't have a chance to go as we had a couple of very heavy rain days, but there are pelicans flying around everywhere and when you have never seen one it is quite amazing!
BLUE MOUNTAINS, NSW - Three Sisters
This was probably our longest adventure day of all 17 days in Oz and probably the best day too! We left around 5:30am and returned after 7:30pm. Our cousin Kieren took us to the Three Sisters rock formation at Echo Point in Katoomba, NSW. The story goes that the 3 sisters were in love with 3 brothers from an opposing tribe, but this was forbidden, so the brothers were going to take the sisters by force when the local medicine man caught wind of this he turned the sisters into stone to keep them safe... a battle ensued and the medicine man was killed, forever trapping the beautiful sisters together in stone. There names are Meehni (922 m), Wimlah (918 m), and Gunnedoo (906 m). I had the pleasure of hiking down there and getting up close and personal, walking over a precarious bridge to the first sister, it was spectacular. I would recommend to go to Scenic World and spend at least 3hrs, it was so cool to explore on the gondolas, tram and walk the perfect paths around the area... oh and there are waterfalls too!
WHITSUNDAYS, QUEENSLAND - Whitsunday Island
I meant what can I say about this place other than it is the most photographed beach in Australia, can you see why? I fell in love with this beach online and it did not disappoint IRL (in real life). The sand is just unbelievable, like completely unreal, it actually squeaks when you walk on it, so bizarre and cool. The Whitsunday Islands are made up of 74 islands near the Great Barrier Reef. Most of the islands are uninhabited, just day time visitors allowed or camping permits. We stayed on Hamilton Island and booked a cruise over to Whitsunday island with Whitehaven Beach for the day. Some people were booking a half day, but the full day is well worth it, I could have stayed a week and it would not have been long enough! I would recommend to stay at least 3days on Hamilton Island, take a full day trip to Whitsunday Island and still have two days to hang out on Hamilton. Also, rent a golf cart out for a day and explore around the tiny island, you can get great views for sunsets if you time it just right. There are no cars on the island, so golf cart, bus or walking are your only options.
LADY ELLIOTT ISLAND, GREAT BARRIER REEF - Eco Reserve
Well this actually one of the very few images of I have from Lady Elliott Island, but funny enough it was the highlight of the trip for me. See that grey strip down the middle of the island, that is the landing strip, I could walk across the entire air strip in 20mins, that is how small the island is. I wish I had a few more images, but I was fully immersed in the experience of the glass bottom boat and instructions for snorkelling at this magnificent Eco Reserve. I was also in full concentration mode as a group of fish were swarming and forming a bait ball under the boat. The guides informed us they do that as a last form of defence when a predator is near...yep that is why I have no additional photos, I was waiting for Jaws to swim up and eat me. You see I have never snorkelled in my life and all I heard was "predator" and "last defence" then somehow everyone in the boat voted that we snorkel right here. I was thinking I'm in the wrong boat, I'm looking for the beginner snorkelling gang... bloody hell, what happened next changed my life forever. I got in the water and I saw what was underneath me, my eyes were opened to a whole new world. The GBR was completely magical and even when I saw that 6ft black tipped reef shark swim under me and I peed my wetsuit a little and sucked in some sea water, but I was in awe, I felt inspired and fearless. YES, I kicked fear in the face (not the shark because he really didn't do anything wrong) but I it was a completely unreal experience and I saw the other side of fear and it was extraordinary!! Our friends, Janine and Sierra, referred us here and I so happy they did:) If you book well in advance you could stay over night on the island, I would def do that next time for the experience and to be able to snorkel at the right tide times. We were there on a short day trip and it wasn't nearly enough time.
CURRUMBIN WILDLIFE SANCTUARY, QUEENSLAND - Gold Coast
Seriously, have you ever seen a more adorable animal.. well besides my pug Gordan;) This place has some sweet memories for me, the first time seeing a koala and kangaroo, in 17 days we didn't see one in the wild, so this was the next best place. This land was donated to the city by a beekeeper in 1947 and was originally his own private bird sanctuary, but now it has a rehabilitation hospital on approx. 45 acres of land. The opportunity to hold a koala was lovely, I'm not usually a fan of "zoo" type establishments, but after researching this place and all the work it does to rehabilitate and release injured animals, educate the guests, conservation efforts with the native species and efforts to replicate the animal's natural habitat, I believe it was an ethical operation. I'm happy we made the trip! I would recommend spending the entire day here and arrive when it opens. To have the full koala experience you must book online in advance, it sells out quickly. We arrived at 8am and didn't leave until about 3:30pm, most of the time was split between the roos and koalas;)
HAMILTON ISLAND, QUEENSLAND - Cockatoos
I throughly enjoyed Hamilton Island, the tiny island has no shortage of these fellas, there might be more cockatoos than people that live on this island, no joke! I think the Australians are not big fans of these birds, they are seen as pests, but I thought they were gorgeous and very cheeky, coming right up to your table to try and steal a few crumbs. Anyway, they are everywhere, these and their little buddies the lorikeets, the little rainbow coloured birds are even more bold. If you are a bird enthusiast look no further;) I recommend taking some time to photograph the wildlife on Hamilton island, there were cockatoos, lorikeets and wallabies too!
I will end this seemingly endless blog post with this image of my baby feeding a baby joey, it was a fast and furious 17days and I wouldn't change a thing! Oh and we took that workshop at the end of our trip, it was brilliant, couldn't have been more elevated... it def ignited a flame inside of me and even motivated this new website and blog post...well and much much more!! The Travel Bootcamp with Lauren Bath, Georgia Rickard and Liz Carlson, check it out. For more photos from this trip, check out my Instagram and for additional travel inspo check out Lauren, Georgia and Liz's IG accounts! Remember to always explore, create and connect :)