Wednesday, May 4, 2016

When your best friend visits you in Australia

I moved to this spectacular world of Sydney, Australia (from Houston, Texas) in December 2008.  I'm not telling a lie ~ Australia is as wonderful and fantastic a place to visit as you imagine...and I've only scratched the surface.

My college roommate, most loyal, generous, brilliant, travel adventurer, favorite friend, Katy (who lives in downtown Fort Worth, Texas) came to visit me in November 2012.  Here are some highlights of that visit...

After the longest commercial flight operating (this is no exaggeration), Katy is ready to stretch her legs and explore.  First stop, the world-famous Taronga Zoo!


November is late Spring in Australia.  Temps were nice, but we had a couple of overcast, threatening-to-rain kind of days in Sydney.  One of those days was the day we conquered climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  We got to the top and acted like fools for a photo.

We took a ferry from Circular Quay (in the heart of Sydney's city centre) to Watson's Bay.  We hiked to The Gap (not the store, but a rock cliff facing the Pacific Ocean), and had lunch at Doyle's on the Beach, a family owned and operated restaurant for 5 generations. 
The top picture is our lunch view...see the city skyline in the distance ~ the bottom picture is us at The Gap
I highly recommend Bonza Bike Tours if this seems like something that interests you.  It was a great way to see the city with a group of people from every corner of the world.  Our guide was fantastic, and I learned (even after living here a few years) a few bits of local trivia that I didn't know.
Fun fact: Bonza Bike Tours is owned by a fellow Texan.
The entire time spent with Katy in Australia was unforgettable.  Truly.  But...how can you beat getting into a tank with sharks to highlight a trip???  After taking another breathtaking ferry ride to Manly, Katy and I visited the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary.  It is a great place to visit on its on with a cute little penguin cove.  We had passes for the Shark Dive Xtreme. We got in our scuba suits, had a quick lesson for diving (because this was a first for both of us), and followed our guides into the aquarium tank. 
These are grey nurse sharks, and apparently, they don't choose humans for lunch.  Also, we were surrounded by various fish, tortoise, and stingrays.  It was a magical experience.  My heart was pumping with adrenaline, then it reached a point of peace and calm that is difficult to explain.  You need to experience it for yourself.

Katy felt that if she was going to come halfway around the world, we might as well explore another part of Australia as well.  We flew from Sydney to Hamilton Island, located in Queensland that is a part of the Whitsunday Islands.  We stayed at The Reef View Hotel, and I recommend it.
Katy splurged for us to have a suite; she approved of the wrap-a-round balcony and the views..
A top a small hill called One Tree Hill there is a small gazebo that serves cocktails at sunset.  Well, duh, we checked that out.  Most visitors get around Hamilton Island in rented golf carts.  There are shuttles provided as well.  We jumped in our golf cart, cruised to One Tree Hill, enjoyed fruity beverages, and appreciated life.  Beautiful. 
As part of our hotel package, breakfast was included.  This was no ordinary breakfast.  We had breakfast every morning with koalas!  They just chill out in the trees, snoozing, as you eat breakfast...and it's as awesome as you think it is.  For an extra fee, you can get your photo with one of the fuzzy residents.  Queensland is the only state in Australia that allows you to actually hold them.
Elvis and Katy become fast friends.
We booked a package that offered a boat tour around the Whitsunday Islands...

...and allowed us to spend several hours at the world famous Whitehaven Beach.  Depending on the list you read, it is often listed as one of the world's most beautiful beaches.

We made our mark in the sand
The next day, we took another tour.  This one took us to the Great Barrier Reef where snorkeling was provided.  For an extra fee, you could take a helicopter tour or go on a small guided scuba dive.  We opted for scuba.
We ended our day with an early dinner at a fantastic pizzeria that overlooked the marina, sipping cocktails, and toasting our friendship and adventures.

One thing I love about a trip like this is depending on who you are with, you can make it romantic, adventuresome, relaxing, and more......but you are definitely going to be making memories that last!  I'm so appreciative that I have a friend like Katy to share this experience.

Linking up with Kerri and the ladies for Wanderlust Wednesdays:
Wanderlust Wednesdays

***Apparently, I posted this a week early. Oops. 

Have you visited Australia?  Wanna come???

21 comments:

  1. Ummmm hell yes I want to come!!! I've always wanted to go and this post just absolutely makes me want to visit even more. I want to hold a koala!!! And swim with sharks, but I think I'd like making friends with a koala more haha! Super jealous that you got to do all of this!

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  2. oh my god what a fun time! haha just link up again next week :) but seriously hamilton island looks stunning too. best friend time is THE best and nothing really compares :)

    xoxo cheshire kat

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  3. Alternate title: Jana's Sydney itinerary.

    I love when you do these because it's like I have my own personal travel agent for my one day trip to Australia.

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  4. I want to come back to Australia some day some how.

    I feel like the 15ish years ago I was there were so long ago and I know I'd appreciate it much more now than I did then.

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  5. Remind me to hit you up if I ever make it to Australia! Those are some crazy awesome adventures! I love seeing the nature topography of a country- the ocean views, the hills and mountains, all of it!

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  6. Looks like you two have nothing but a good time together! So much adventure!!!!
    I hate heights but I think I would even love the bridge climb thing!

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  7. Wow, what a fun time! I wanna come visit you & do all those same things! Ha, ha! :)

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  8. That looks like the best time with one your closest friends! Y'all really did so much while she was there! I loved that y'all got to hike the bridge and that you got to hold a koala bear! So cute!

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  9. I WANT TO HUG A KOALA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The entire time your friend came looks amazing and clearly the koala thing would make my life haha. What a fun trip! I would love to visit Australia one day, so much to see and do!

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  10. Wow - what a fantastic trip. I love everything you did, except maybe climbing that bridge. I am terrified of heights and will probably start crying 3 steps in. Seriously, it's kind of sad. But everything else - YES! And being able to hold a koala - HELL YES!

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  11. Those pictures are great. I'm totally digging the Koala. Sooo adorable. :-)

    THOSE are nurse sharks?! Holy shit, from a distance they look like great whites!!!! My eyes bugged out of my head. Having said that, I'd go to Stuart's Cove in the Bahamas for sure.

    Happy Thursday when you read this lovey. Xo

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  12. I'm in overload because I did so many of these things (and also missed out on some, sadly!). This seriously makes me so nostalgic! I want to swim with sharks one day, but then I'm like, I might wuss out. Hahaha.

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  13. That looks like amazing fun! I am super jealous! Australia is on my bucket list of places to go. I hope when I do get to go I will have that much fun!

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  14. BREAKFAST WITH KOALAS?! Sign me up. I love bike tours. You get exercise, have fun, and learn a lot in a relatively short period of time.

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  15. This is exactly how I'd want to do Australia! And LOVE that you guys ventured outside of Sydney, I completely agree if you fly all the way there you should see more than one place <3
    Green Fashionista

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  16. What a fun trip! How great that she was able to visit you and you guys could have so many fun adventures. I know my college roomies are some of my closest friends still. :) I would love to go scuba diving... but I'm super afraid that I wouldn't remember something correctly.. and hurt myself. :/ I think the actual experience would be great.. The koala thing looks super fun. I am so leery of anywhere you can be so close to the animals though. A lot of places drug them (not that this place does!) just that it makes me so sad what some humans do in order to make money off of animals. I would probably have to do research for my own peace of mind... but if it checked out I would love it. They look so sweet!! :) I would love to go to Australia someday! XO - Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

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  17. I'd love to visit Australia! I have a few OZ friends and would love to explore all the nature and beauty has to explore!

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  18. I need to come there. Want to plan my trip? lol
    You guys had so much fun and my time in Perth was so limited. I still want to dive and do fun Sydney things.

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  19. How great that she was able to go visit you! You guys did a lot, which is definitely what we try to do when we have visitors!

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  20. Oh awesome! I've always wanted to go to the Whitsundays, especially Hamilton Island and Whitehaven beach. You're seriously not helping! Cocktails at sunset sounds about what I need right now. Oh and what did you make of Bridgeclimb, worth it? I've always been intrigued but it's so expensive :(

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