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Aussie Diaries ...

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Some of the Twelve Apostles

Finally, today, I managed to put the house back in shape, which, since my arrival from OZ last week had resembled a disaster zone. The laundry has been folded into the closet, the house vacuumed and a host small things that needed to be done have been completed. Now, the only left on my to-do list is to tell you guys about my trip down South. And, here it is! I a good little girl, an't I?! YAY! I am proud of myself!! ;)

Soo, on an impulse, sometime in February, I decided to join my friend in her discovery of the youngest continent on Earth. Our itinerary touched Brisbane, Noosa, Fraser Island, Cairns, Port Douglas, Melbourne and Sydney, all in 17 days! To write about everything we did in that period would bore you. So, I just take you through some of the highlights and share photos from the journey...

Brisbane, Sunshine Coast & Noosa:

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Clockwise from top: Brisbane ferris wheel, Me feeding a kangaroo, Next to a Koala, Kangaroos in the park, Bright colored parrots, Story Bridge

Our discovery of Australia began in Brisbane. Our hotel was right by the Brisbane river and conveniently for us, in walking distance to all things - sights, markets and restaurants. We sighted the Story Bridge from our hotel itself, City Hall and took a ferry ride up and down the river and checked out the various suburbs. And, ofcourse did a stop at the Lone Pine Koala sanctuary to see koalas (I didn't want to hug them) and feed young kangaroos!

The highlight of my stay here - meeting Julia. She is as sweet as her mouthwatering creations!! :))) She took us to Ecco, Brisbane's top rated restaurant, where we had a fantastic meal. My friend is vegetarian and she was super thrilled to find that they had a whole separate vegetarian menu that was executed perfectly. Julia also recommended Piaf, a little French place, where I had the best Barramundi of the trip!

Noosa Sunset
Sunset over Noosa beach and surfers

Then we set off along the Sunshine coast towards Noosa and Fraser Island. Along the way, we stopped at Bribie beach and reached our resort just as the sun was setting, taking in the Glass House Mountains along the way. The drive along the mountains is about 30 miles long. My suggestion is to skip it. However, there are wineries on the way, some that offer lunch as long as you reach before 3 pm.

Fraser Island:

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Clockwise from top: View atop Indian Head, Portholes of a shipwreck on the beach, Aussie Dingo, the Wreck again, the gorgeous sea

From Noosa, we booked a two day (which actually was a day and half) tour to Fraser Island. Fraser Island for some background is largest island made of just sand. History is that these are sands that have been washed up by the sea currents all the way from Sydney to the Northern coast. Although, the island is on the list of "1000 places you must see before you die", my take was that there are other places of higher priority. It was beautiful and the sea colors were stunning but I have seen the same on the coasts of Andaman. Besides, you can't swim in these waters at all since the currents are too strong and the water is infested with jelly fish ...

{Be Warned - Most of the beaches along Queensland coast, aside from the Sunshine and Gold Coasts are strictly off-limits, because of the above reason}

Port Douglas & Cairns:

From Brisbane again, we flew to the Northern tip of Queensland, to the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest - two World Heritage sites and the latter being the oldest rainforest on Earth.

We took a day tour aboard the Silversonic to the Agincourt reefs. We were given a total of 4 hours in water at three different sites. I was sea sick on the way there (GAH! nasty winds and a over-confident big breakfast were to blame!!). But, yet managed to get about 3+ hours in water. The reefs and sea life were gorgeous!! I swam just a hand's length above a reef shark!! I am sure, he didn't care about me but I was super thrilled!! The reefs themselves were gorgeous!

Oh! and the highlight - The boat lunch was phenomenal (it cured my seasickness, scout's honor!!). The crab was succulent and sweet as were the prawns!! In general, Port Douglas and Cairns had some subliminal seafood. I would urge you to try Salsa Bar and Grill at Port Douglas. Seafood to try - Yabbis (smallish lobster), Coral Trout (YUMM!), Crab and Prawns.

Melbourne:

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Clockwise from top: Melbourne skyline from St. Kilda pier, St. Kilda pier, a canoe moored, St. Kilda park

Melbourne city center was, well, like a city. My favorite part was an excursion to St. Kilda, a suburb just 20 minutes from Melbourne city center. It's a lovely seaside neighborhood, very residential and just reminiscent of Besantnagar back home! :). I spent hours here at Pelican Cafe, reading a book and enjoying a happy meal.

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Clockwise from top: 12 Apostles, some more Apostles, Lighthouse along the way on GO road, Lockard Gorge

On the second day, we did the Great Ocean Road drive to the 12 Apostles and Lockard Gorge. It was a gorgeous drive and we entertained ourselves with a lot of out-of-tune and really bad singing :)).

Sydney:

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Clockwise from top: Harbor Bridge, Arts Museum in Domain park and Markets at The Rocks, St. Mary's Cathedral, Sydey Opera House

Sydney was my favorite city!!! And, clearly closest to NYC - no narcissism here, I swear. It had a harbor, a lovely park, a gorgeous Cathedral (St. Mary's by the park, where I attended a beautiful Easter service) and an inspiring museum in the park. Not to mention street markets (Rocks and Paddy's Market) where I picked up Aussie flavors! :). We also saw King Lear at the Opera House; very different from the NYC theatre scene with the drama focussing mainly on the actors' talents and very minimal on set decoration. It was an experience much cherished!

Sydney was mostly leisure and strolling around but we did have one day of intense activity, our last. We took a train to the Blue Mountains (similar to Nilgiris, in terms of Blue) and then did a shortish 2.5 hour hike along the Federal Pass trail. It involved a scary 1000 steps descent along a cliff with sheer views and a brutal 1000 step ascent on the other end. But, the view was worth it! :)

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Three Sisters at Blue Mountains

Next day, we boarded our plane back on sore legs to non-functional on-board entertainment system and many hours of sleep deprivation. Setting foot back in NYC was much welcome after the days of adrenalin rushed travelling! :)
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