Finally posting about our 3-week family vacation in July 2018 to visit our son on his “winter” break in Australia.  He was half-way through his one-year overseas, studying at The University of the Sunshine Coast as part of Elon Universities study abroad program.  We flew from NY to LA, had a 4-hour layover, and then headed on our 15 hour flight to Sydney.  Arriving a full day later we headed to our Sydney accomodation at Meriton Suites.

The  accomodations were impressive!  We had what was an apartment – a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom suite on a top floor.  It was pristine, big, open layout, kitchen, dining table, floor to ceiling windows, high-end finishes, laundry – such a great start to a vacation! We only had a few days in Sydney so we had to see the sites!  Of course, we headed to the opera house and took a harbour boat ride.

Sydney Harbour/ Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge

View of Opera House and Harbour Bridge from the water.

Walked all over the city and took a stroll through the Sydney Botanical Gardens…

And, had the first of many coffees.  Australians take their coffee VERY seriously and it is some of the best I’ve ever tasted.

The next morning we woke up to the most incredible double rainbow – seemed so close we could touch it!

After Sydney we flew South to Melbourne…a bit colder there.  We spent about one week in the Melbourne area.  We took trips into the city and we explored the vast, beautiful coastal area and attended a sporting event.

Photos of the city…along the river front…

Melbourne at night.

One day we took a road trip to Phillip Island where we had a fabulous lunch at The Cape Kitchen, pet and fed Kangaroos and saw Australian wildlife and ended the day sitting on the beach waiting for the Penguins to come home from fishing all day, waddle up the beach and head to their dens in the dunes.

A very windy day on the back deck of The Cape Kitchen overlooking the open sea.  Delicious food – breathtaking view!

After lunch we visited a petting zoo to meet and feed hundreds of kangaroos and see Australian wildlife: Koala Bears, Dingos, Tazmanian Devils, etc.

Kangaroos and Jack


Tazmanian Devil

Waiting for the sun to set so the penguins could come home.  No flash allowed so no photos of penguins – but it was so fun to see!! Hundreds waddled right past us, up and over the rocks and into the dunes.

We definitely enjoyed the amazing food and treats in Australia.  We had to try injectable donuts. A sweet start before an Aussie Rules Footy match at The MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground)

Outside the MCG, the most famous cricket stadium in Australia (also serves as a football stadium) and has a capacity of 100,024.  We saw a nailbiter match between the Melbourne Devils and St. Kilda Saints (massive underdogs) and St. Kilda won 119-117 which lead to raucous singing and celebrations by the away fans!!!  Jack said we would love the sport and the atmosphere – he was correct!!

Another day we took a road trip to see the sites of  The Great Ocean Road which is about 90 minutes from downtown Melbourne and winds for 249 miles along the wild Southern Ocean, past the world-class surf at Bells Beach and takes you to our final destination, The Twelve Apostles.

Me at a picturesque spot above Bells Beach on The Great Ocean Road

Spectacular view of Great Ocean Road from Teddy’s Lookout.

Lorne Beach – stopped for Fish n Chips at The Salty Dog in Lorne.

Arrive at The Twelve Apostles – Walking along the cliffs to get the best view of the limestone stacks off the shores of Port Campbell National Park.

Sun setting at The Twelve Apostles

The next day a historic train ride on The Puffing Billy Railway

A 3-hour train ride through the Wright Forest with lunch served in the historic cabins.

After the train ride we spontaneously decided to visit a suburb of Melbourne – St. Kilda

A view from across the harbour in St. Kilda, known for spectacular sunsets, to the city of Melbourne.

Watching the sunset and waiting for the penguins.

The white belly of a penguin.  Many came into the harbour to nest in the harbour walls.

After our fabulous week in the Melbourne, Victoria area we took an airplane North to the warmer weather in The Whitsunday Islands , Queensland.  We stayed in Airlie Beach, a popular backpacker stop.  It also happened to be The World Cup, so we watched an England game in a packed bar filled with every Brit in the area – what a wild night.  We enjoyed two snorkeling excursions. One to see Whitehaven Beach, perenially voted one of the top 10 beaches in the world and boasts the purest sand in the world and offers the added bonus of the swirling sands. On this excursion run by Red Cat Adventures we saw vibrant coral reef, swam with beautiful fish that swam right up to us – an unforgettable experience.  The second excursion, a 3-hour boat ride to The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system spreading over 1,400 miles where a few of us scuba dove for the first time.

The view from our Airlie Beach Air BNB pad.

World Cup celebrations in Airlie Beach

The Lagoon at Airlie Beach

Ali, Liz and Cate wading in the Lagoon

Cloudy day but still we enjoyed the remarkeable waters and powder-like sand at Whitehaven Beach.

The breathtaking swirling sands at Whitehaven Beach

Great Barrier Reef – After 3-hours of cruising in open ocean you arrive at this floating dock for scuba and snorkeling.  Also a submarine so you could view the reef without getting wet.  The dive was beautiful and on the cruise back to shore we saw whales!!

Ali and Cate suited up for snorkeling

The final days of our vacation were spent on The Sunshine Coast.  Jack, who was studying at USC (The University of The Sunshine Coast) gave the family a tour of his school and a feel of his life. We enjoyed the nearby beach town of Mooloolaba and now completely understand why he loved his time in Australia and did not want to leave.

A few campus photos

His dorm accomodations – his was the lower level and he had two Aussie roommates.

Mooloolaba Beach

Surfboard Bench at Mooloolaba Beach

We LOVED every minute of our 3 weeks in Australia.  The sites, the food, the coffee, the people, the relaxed life! I touched on some of the highlights but there was so much more to our vacation as well!  I hope you enjoyed the overview!  Put Australia on your bucket list and try for no fewer than 3 weeks.  So much to see and such a vast country/continent to cover.

Below is a link to an article from Your RV Lifestyle which has good information and is worth checking out if you are considering a trip to Australia:

Thanks for stopping by….Cynthia