Australia is a gigantic country and has so much to offer. Probably one of my biggest adventures yet, from beaches to brunch there is something for everyone. Although nature is clearly the highlight of Australia! We started our trip in Melbourne, we then went onto Sydney, then onto Brisbane and then ended the trip in Cairns. See my top things to do on the East Coast:
1. Visit Philip Island to see the Little Penguins, Brighton Beach & Moonlit Sanctuary
When we got to Melbourne, we were excited to hear that we would be able to catch a glimpse of some little penguins (world’s smallest species of penguin! They grow to an average of 33 cm in height and 43 cm in length!). As we didn’t have a car, we decided to book a tour and found the perfect one with Go West Tours. As well as visiting the Little Penguins at Philip Island, this tour allowed us to visit Brighton Beach and the famous Brighton beach huts, along with a visit to the Moonlit Sanctuary, where we were able to feed Kangaroos and Wallabies. When we got to Philip Island, we were greeted by a beautiful coastline and as the sun started to go down, lots of tiny penguins swam to the shoreline and started to burrow down to their little homes in the hills behind us – super cute!
2. Explore Melbourne City
Melbourne was the quirkiest of places that we visited in Australia! Even on a rainy day, you can venture down a side street and find some amazing places to visit. Ramen galore, quirky Australian clothing shops like Gorman, the Rainbow Toastie shop and even a cat cafe. We were lucky to visit in winter when the ‘Winter Night Market’ was on and had some delicious cheese fondue.
3. Visit St Kilda Beach & Luna Park
A short tram ride from the centre of Melbourne, is St Kilda Promenade and Beach. We started our St Kilda excursion at Luna Park, a quirky retro theme park, which was pretty fun. We then moved onto all the stalls that were on the promenade and got some lovely street food – the best shakshuka I’ve ever had and waffle cones. After this, we visited the St Kilda Sea Baths for a dip in the indoor salt water pool, we stupidly joined in with the ‘Australian tradition’ of jumping into the sea before jumping into the indoor pool (bear in mind that this was the Australian winter and it was pretty damn cold – although it was refreshing!).
4. Visit Manly
Manly was my favourite place that we visited in Sydney, easily reached by ferry from the harbour. It’s a town that has a relaxed holiday vibe and the most stunning coastal views. If you’re looking to eat then there seems to be plenty of food on offer at the station and the surrounding streets. We followed the beach trail and saw some beautiful sights, including lots of little brush beach turkeys.
5. Visit Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach is one of Australia’s most iconic beaches, with its white sand and bright blue sea. A popular surfing spot too apparently and if you’re a hardy swimmer then have a swim in the Icebergs ocean pool. There were lots of casual pubs and eateries around, but we decided to visit The Bucket List pub for peachy aperol spritz, sweet potato fries and sriracha miso mayo – yum!
6. Visit the Glow Worms at Mount Tambourine
Again, probably another top highlight for me! We took a tour to Tambourine Mountain & Curtis Falls to see some glow worms, for those who are unsure on what glow worms are… Glow worms are known for their light ‘bioluminescence’ and are unfortunately marked as a species that may become extinct. Mount Tambourine has re-homed thousands of these little glow worms into a manmade cave, for a breeding programme to help stop them from becoming extinct. We couldn’t take any photos, like the little penguins experience in Australia but it was an amazing experience. See some pictures here.
7. Visit Australia Zoo (For Dingo & Koala Bear Experiences)
The Irwin Family’s home, Australia Zoo was another great Brisbane experience. Probably one of the best zoos I’ve ever encountered. Highlights had to be our dingo and koala Experiences (we booked before), along with the ‘Croc Show’! You can’t handle koalas in a lot of areas of Australia so this really was a special experience.
CAIRNS & GREAT BARRIER REEF
8. Visit the Great Barrier Reef
If a pair of sickly pale British girls (who cannot swim very well) can visit the Great Barrier Reef, then so can you! We saw ginormous fish, a sea turtle and even a Nemo fish – one not to be missed! My friend kindly booked the tour with Quiksilver, who were very kind to us brits. A special shoutout to our tour guide Hayley who was a real life mermaid and an amazing all-round person, who put up with said pair of sickly pale British girls holding onto her for dear life as we swam badly across the reef.
9. Visit Fitzroy Island
Fitzroy Island, is a tropical island in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and is a short ferry away from Cairns. The island is a beach and rainforest and is generally lesser known than the likes of Green Island and Fraser Island. Another true beauty!
10. Kuranda Scenic Railway & Skyrail Rainforest Cableway On our last day in Australia, we ventured to the Kuranda Traditional Village via the scenic railway. A great experience with lots to do, places to eat, shop and even local attractions like a specialist butterfly centre. On the way back, we came down on the skyrail which spans a national park.