Do you fancy the corner slice of a cake? The one with extra cream on the top as well as on the side? Australia happens to be no different from that little piece of heaven–it is found in the corner of the world map, and has the added goodness of being both a country and a continent.
I travelled to Australia with my husband in September 2017. “It’s 11°C in Melbourne,” announced the pilot, right when the plane had started to descend. And once we stepped out, we got a real dose of how cold that was.
By the way, sorry folks, I won’t be able to suggest suitable accommodation options in Melbourne, unless you want to stay at our friend’s place. The city is well connected by train, bus and tram. In fact, we used trams ourselves, especially to drop by places such as Queen Victoria Market, Parliament House, Shrine of Remembrance, Flinders Street railway station, St Kilda Beach, Rod Laver Arena and Melbourne Cricket Ground.
On our second day, we drove along the sea on the Great Ocean Road, stopping en route at its prominent landmark, the Twelve Apostles. These are a collection of beautiful ocean-carved rock cliffs, only eight left standing now.
We flew to Adelaide the next day, where we stayed at the Ambassadors Hotel. The city was charming. A two-hour bus ride along a beautiful landscape took us to its other end, from where we caught a ferry to Kangaroo Island. One finds here Australia’s wildlife in its natural habitat, and everything seems straight out of a fairytale. Next morning, we hit the highway, and at one point, my husband could be seen driving and photographing at the same time. Turns out, he’d spotted a kangaroo leap to the other side of the road. Another inhabitant endemic to Australia is the koala bear, and I felt very proud to spot one on a tree by the highway. We pulled over and got off to find it clinging to a eucalyptus tree, true to character.
The next day, we caught our flight to Cairns, which is known for the Great Barrier Reef. A remarkable natural wonder of the world, it is even visible from outer space.
We spent three-and-a-half days there. We took a cruise boat out to the deep sea and were shown different spots of the reef. At two of them, we even snorkelled, and were left mesmerised by the ocean life.
On our last day at Cairns, we went to see the northern beaches. We visited Palm Cove Beach and Trinity Beach, both of which were in the same stretch. We then caught a bus to the famous Kuranda rainforest, but being from Dakshina Karnataka, we did not find it impressive.
The next day we took a ferry to Green Island, which is actually a 6,000-year-old cay on the Great Barrier Reef. Here, I took the ‘semi-submersible tour’, where I observed from a submarine marine life and plenty of multicoloured, multishaped fishes and corals, and huge turtles and sea cucumbers.
We then flew to Sydney, where my husband’s cousin received us. We decided to immediately head to the city. We started off from the lovely Bondi Beach and walked along the adjoining pathway–a 6km stretch that ended at the Coogee Beach.
The next morning, we took a guided walking tour of all the important spots of Sydney, which concluded at the Circular Quay, situated between the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. Our guide told us that the architect who designed the Opera House was banished and never got to see it. That tidbit added a rather sombre flavour to the end of the tour.
Our cousin later took us for dinner to a Mediterranean restaurant named El-Phoenician, where the food was fabulous and the overall experience great. It turned out to be quite the grand finale to our Australia trip.
Apart from being a hands-on parent to a three-year-old, Shamathmika Bhat spends the first half of the day assisting with the family business, and the second half as a coach at a tennis academy in Bengaluru. Other than her love for sports, she’s into travel, Tanjore paintings and cooking.