It’s been six fab months since I moved to Sydney, Australia from New York City. That old adage “time flies when you’re having fun” is apparently quite true because it seems, in some ways, that I just got here. So many things still feel shiny-and-new.
At the top of my to-do list while living here is to see as much of Australia as I can. In March, I managed to visit three of Australia’s more popular locales. First up was the Great Barrier Reef with a group of NYC friends.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven wonders of the natural world and the world’s largest coral reef. It is the largest living thing on Earth, and is even visible from outer space. It’s made up of thousands of reefs and is said to be home to countless species of fish, turtles, dolphins and sharks (though I only saw fish).
It was breathtaking being so close to something so majestic. It was also rather anxiety-provoking because I’m a scaredy cat in the water so I vacillated between “this is so wonderful” and “suppose my helmut comes off and I drown down here.” I was pretty proud of myself that I didn’t let my fear of deep water stop me from this experience.
We also visited the Daintree Rainforest the largest continuous area of tropical rainforest in Australia. We were led by an Aboriginal guide, which was a real treat because in addition to telling us about the rainforest in general, he shared stories of the history of the indigenous people and their relationship to this land.
We stayed in Port Douglas, a beach resort north of Cairns. My best memories of Port Douglas was the food; I had lots of really good meals there.
Shortly after returning from Cairns, I spent a week in Melbourne (which the Aussies pronounce “Mel-bin”).
Melbourne is known for its architecture, vibrant art and music scene, and its hidden laneways, which I would describe as quirky little streets tucked away from the main drag and filled with eateries, shops, and more art. Melbourne and Sydney are the two largest cities in Australia and have a longstanding rivalry over who is the “best”. There’s probably no real answer to this though Sydney (where I live) is the leading tourism destination vs Melbourne for international tourists.
While in Melbourne I visited the National Gallery of Victoria which had an Andy Warhol/Ai Wei Wei exhibit. I had a sleepover at my friend, Ali’s house, during which her kids thought it would be fun to play “blind taste test” with me. I guessed everything correctly except the passionfruit. Ali’s husband, George Papadimas, is an artist and that’s some of his art on display at a local cafe. It’s my goal to soon have some of his art hanging in my living room.
And then there was Tasmania. I went there with my friend, Terri, for our four-day Easter weekend. I don’t think I knew Tasmania was a real place until I moved to Australia.
Tasmania is an island off the southern coast of the Australian mainland and is known for its vast parks and national reserves. It is also known for its Port Arthur penal colony which is where the British Empire sent some of its toughest convicts in the 18th century.
We stayed in Hobart and learned the hard way that Easter weekend is one of its busiest holidays. Most hotels were sold out. I graciously slept in a bunk bed in my hotel room. (Sigh)
I loved Tasmania: its award-winning internationally renowned whisky, Salamanca, the beautiful Tasman Peninsula, and the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), from which I bought earrings by artist Linda Van Niekerk.
So, March helped me check off a few spots on my “Australian tour to-do list”. Next stops? West (Perth and its surroundings) and North (Uluru).