After 8 weeks of classes it is finally time for our mid-semester break! We got two weeks off to travel, relax and explore different parts of Australia. Some of my friends ventured to New Zealand for a week, while others chose to explore various cities within Australia. I was fortunate enough to have Mom and Dad come over for the first week of break! I’ll break this post down in categories based on each city we visited. See map below to see where we went!
September 16, 2012:
3:00 a.m. on Sunday morning I was awake and ready to catch my ride to Brisbane Airport. The shuttle came around 3:30 and I was off. The driver asked if I was flying out of the Domestic or International terminal, and I thought since I was just going to Sydney, it would be Domestic. After the hour or so ride, I get out at the Domestic terminal and try to check in. I am then informed that I am booked on the International flight to Sydney because I was meeting Mom and Dad who were flying from the States. I then had to catch the tram at 5:17 a.m. to the International terminal. I enjoyed an easy flight to Sydney, went through customs, and looked for my parents, who had landed an hour before me. After 15 minutes of looking, I got a phone call from Dad! They had taken the tram to the Domestic terminal to pick me up. They too, figured I would be there since I was just flying from Brisbane. Whoops. They then took the tram back to the International terminal, which is where we were finally reunited. I was so happy to see them!
The three of us took a taxi to our hotel and planned several activities with the hotel concierge upon arrival. That afternoon we took a beautiful Coffee Cruise of Sydney Harbour. We got a full view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House, which looked much smaller than I had expected. After the tour, we walked around downtown and did a bit of window-shopping before returning to the hotel. Mom and Dad were jetlagged and tired from traveling, so they were both in bed around 5 p.m. I ordered room service and had an early night too.
My 21st Birthday! This birthday is definitely one to remember. I climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge with my dad, which was amazing. We did the express climb, which took just over two hours. The view was fantastic and we were able to see the entire harbour from the top. After that, we had lunch and explored more of Sydney before dinner. I was even treated to a wonderful massage and manicure for a special birthday treat. It was fantastic and incredibly relaxing!
The three of us celebrated my birthday dinner at a very nice restaurant called Café Sydney (don’t let the name fool you, it was not your typical cafe)! We had a table overlooking the harbour and the bridge. It was beautiful. I even got to enjoy my first legal drink as a 21-year-old, although I’ve been legal in Australia for two months! We went back to the hotel where I enjoyed my birthday brownie which included a birthday candle.
September 18, 2012:
We left Sydney and flew to Melbourne, which is drastically different than Sydney. Melbourne has lots of contemporary architecture and is a very artsy city. We had lunch at a quaint café, and walked around the city. The first night there, we saw the musical South Pacific, which was fantastic!
September 19, 2012:
The highlight of my trip to Melbourne was the Penguin Parade. It wasn’t actually in Melbourne, but we took a bus about two hours South to a place called Phillip Island. For thousands of years, just after sunset, little penguins come from the sea back to their sand dune burrows on land. Phillip Island has one of the largest little penguin colonies in the world. We weren’t allowed to take any pictures of the penguins as it is harmful to their health, but seeing them come out of the water and waddle to shore was one of the cutest and most magnificent things I’ve ever seen!
September 20, 2012:
This day we took a city tour of Melbourne. We got to see the arena where the Australian Open is played every year. There was also a beautiful conservatory full of fragrant and colorful flowers. After the bus tour, we took a boat tour on the Yara River, which allowed us to see more of the unique buildings and bridges of Melbourne.
September 21, 2012:
Mom’s Birthday! We left Melbourne and flew to Brisbane, which is two hours south from University of the Sunshine Coast. There is a lot of shopping in Brisbane, and a large open-air market that is open on the weekends. Many local vendors come and sell their goods. There are many different products such as homemade soaps, lotions, woodcarvings, jewelry, clothing, etc. We enjoyed some Kebabs for lunch by the river and spent time walking around the markets. We got to celebrate Mom’s birthday dinner at a nice restaurant called Aria, which overlooked the Brisbane River.
September 22, 2012:
Mom and Dad got to come up to the Sunshine Coast to see exactly where I go to school! Around 8 a.m. we took a train and a bus two hours North to the town of Sippy Downs. I gave them a tour of my campus, showed them my apartment, and took them to my favorite beach, Mooloolaba! We enjoyed a nice lunch followed by some gelato by the beach. Mom and Dad even took me to Woolworths, the grocery store by school, and restocked me with many delicious foods! We then took another walk around campus and saw some wild kangaroos. We then got on the bus and train again to begin our two-hour journey back to Brisbane. It was a busy, but great day.
September 23, 2012:
This was Mom and Dad’s last day in Australia. We slept in and decided to have an easy day. We had thought about cramming in a trip to the Australia Zoo, but it would have been too rushed since they had a flight to catch that afternoon. We spent the day walking around the large outdoor shopping center and spent time in a few bookstores. Before we knew it it was time to say goodbye. Mom and Dad had to catch a flight to Sydney, where they would spend a night before catching their flight back to the States.
The week went by so quickly, and we saw so much in so little time. I am so grateful they were able to come so far to spend a week exploring Australia with me. I am now back on campus with a few other people, and we are looking forward to relaxing, and maybe doing a little homework on this second week of break. It is hard to believe my time in Australia is more than halfway over! I will continue to savor every second of it.