In astounding Australia

Travel tales

In astounding Australia

Sometime back, nine of us close friends planned a visit to Australia. It was a 12-day trip which covered Sydney, Cairns, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Melbourne. Our tour was organised by Chariot World Tours Ltd. We were a group of 24 members, all from Bengaluru.

After an 11-hour-journey, Singapore Airlines took us to Sydney via Singapore. On landing there, the local guide welcomed us and helped us check into the Great Southern Hotel.
The next morning, we had a guided tour to the Sydney Opera House. Our next visit was to the spiral-shaped aquarium which houses 700 species of fish and other aquatic animals.

Sydney Tower, which offers a 360-degree-view of Sydney city, was next on our list. On our way back, we visited Bondi Beach, Harbour Bridge and Darling Harbour. As night fell, we went on a Sydney show boat cruise with dinner, which we thoroughly enjoyed.
The following day, we left for the Blue Mountains. After a journey of two hours through the country side, we reached Jenolan Caves known for its Calcium Carbonate Stalagmite and Stalactite formations lit by colourful lights.

It is around 400 steps up and down the caves and was worth all the pain. After lunch, we visited Katoomba Scenic World and travelled through skyway cable car, glass-bottomed cable car and scenic railway which runs on an inclined path through several tunnels over the Blue Mountain range.

After this, we visited Echo Point to view the Three Sisters’ rocks. Our journey was getting amazing by the day and the next destination was Cairns. After a journey of two hours by Virgin Australia Airlines, we reached Cairns to be welcomed by the local guide and checked into the hotel ‘Bay Village Tropical Retreat’. Cairns is four-and-a-half hours ahead of us. That evening we spent strolling along the Esplanade beside the beach.

The Green Island by Big Cat Green Island Cruise was our plan for the next day. We enjoyed the one-hour cruise sitting on the deck viewing the clear green waters and hillocks around. After reaching the island, we walked for about one km and reached a beach that had pure, white, non-sticky sand and pure green water. There is also provision for snorkelling, scuba diving and parasailing for sport enthusiasts. Travelling in the semi-submersible vessel for 30 minutes was very exciting.

After lunch overboard, we travelled in the glass-bottomed boat over the Great Barrier Reef for half a kilometre and had the opportunity to view various types of colourful corals.
We visited the Tropical Rain Forest at Karunda the following day. It is spread over an area of 30 sq km and houses trees as old as 600 years. We walked for about one km observing the trees and ferns and then travelled in the sky rail cable car with glass bottom over the rain trees for about five km. The open butterfly park there is also amazing.

Later, we boarded the Army Duck which travels through small lakes and sloppy roads and had view of the tropical forest.

We watched the ‘pamagirri’ dance by local artistes and finally headed towards the scenic Karunda railway which took us through the forest, crossing various tunnels and waterfalls for about two hours.

Brisbane was next in our itinerary and after a journey of two hours by Virgin Australia Airlines, we reached Brisbane the next day. The local guide took us for a city tour of Brisbane covering King George Square, City Hall, China Town, Treasury Building and Southbank Parkland.

After a 90-minute drive, we reached Gold Coast where we checked into Alpha Sovereign Hotel. That evening we spent time in the beach just beside our hotel.

Gold Coast is christened so as the water looks golden in colour when viewed from an altitude. It is also called Surfer’s Paradise.

Our next morning was spent at the ‘Movie World’ watching 4D show, Stunt Man show and clicking pictures with men and women dressed up as various cine characters. We then visited ‘Sea World’, where we had the opportunity to ride a helicopter for 10 minutes.

We also saw the penguins, sharks and dolphins. After dinner, we did a bit of a shopping in the nearby market.

Next day, we were back in Brisbane to catch a three-hour- flight to Melbourne. The local guide helped us to check into Hotel Ibis Style Victoria located in the centre of the city. We did opal stone jewellery shopping in the shop just opposite our hotel.

Next day was the exciting ‘Great Ocean Road Tour’. Driving along the Ocean Road, we enjoyed the clear blue waters and white frothy waves dashing against the rocks, for about two hours. After lunch, we visited PT Phillip Bay to watch the ‘12 Apostles’. Due to erosion, only nine can be seen now.

Then, we proceeded to see Loch Ard Gorge and London Bridge. Next morning, we did the Melbourne city tour covering St Patrick’s Cathedral, Royal Exhibition Building, Federation Square, Arts Centre, Shrine of Remembrance, Town Hall, Parliament House and Fitzroy Gardens.

We also visited Maru Koala Park where we took pictures with koalas and kangaroos. There were rare birds and wallabies also in the park. Later, we headed towards Phillip Island which is famous for the penguin parade. After sunset, flocks of penguins raise
from the sea and march towards the land in search of food.

Our journey was slowly coming to an end. It was time to leave Australia. With all the sweet memories, we left for Bengaluru the next day.


(The author can be contacted on ushasreepada@gmail.com)

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