Australia, New Zealand · 13 Days · 21 Moments · August 2016

19 August 2016

Our last day of vacation we went to the Doubtful Sound. There were beautiful views and we even saw some penguins, dolphins, and seals! It was a slow day, and a sad day. Neither of us want to say goodbye.

19 August 2016

We also spent our afternoon in Queenstown using these cool buggies to climb up the mountain. Again. It was a blast, and we had an awesome guide, which is becoming a trend this trip!
Today we took the gondola up a mountain in Queenstown so we could go zip lining! Such a fun experience, and I even managed to get upside down. (Even if it were for 10 seconds)

18 August 2016

For our final event in Melbourne there were no pictures allowed! We went to Phillip's Island, waited for sundown, and then watched around five hundred Little Penguins, which is they're actual name, make their way out of the ocean, across the beach, and up little penguin trails to their burrows. The whole area is covered in this vibrant green ivy plant, and the 6 inch tall penguins waddle through the plants, on the same paths, for years. The whole time I kept picturing their burrows as hobbit holes, and the little guys were waddling through the shire! Apparently they can go as far as 2 kilometers in a night. With the tiniest little waddle steps ever. The whole experience was the cutest thing I've seen in Australia.

17 August 2016

We stopped at another Australian animals sanctuary today, and at first we were like "we did this already, we don't need to buy food." But after around 5 minutes we knew we had to feed them. Because kangaroos and wallabies are too lovable not to.

14 August 2016

Our last day in Cairns we went to Fitzroy island to experience the Great Barrier Reef. The views of the ocean and mountains were incredible. And we got to see some fish, turtles, and lots and lots of coral. Adrienne tried paddle boarding while I snorkeled, until I got tired and rode along with her. Most of the pictures are on my GoPro though, so we'll see them at home.

13 August 2016

We stopped at two last overlooks, with the sprawling countryside below. The first looks astonishingly gorgeous, but it is quite sad when you realize that it all used to be rainforest, but it was all cut down before the government could step in to stop it. The second gives a great view of Cairns.
At one single waterfall, I was man enough to get into the freezing cold water (estimated at 55 degrees.) When your body hits water that cold you suddenly forget how to breathe. Every single moment was simultaneously miserable, but exhilarating. This also happens to be where a Herbal Essence shampoo commercial was filmed, so naturally I had to do the hair flip thing. 🙃 Milla Milla Falls, you froze me once. Maybe someday I'll be back when it's warmer and I can concentrate on anything except not dying.
The theme of today was definitely waterfalls. We went from one to the next several times. Each was beautiful, and each was made from the volcano in the area. The last picture in this series shows a lake made from an explosion, and the entire area was originally filled with dirt and stone before it blew up.
This is a canopy fig tree. It is created when a fig tree finds a fork in a host tree to plant itself. As the fig tree grows, the roots of the tree make their way down to the forest floor, strangling the life out of the host tree. In this instance, the host tree fell over, landing in another tree, and the fig tree took over that tree as well, and continued to make a curtain of roots across the length of the original host tree. Apparently James Cameron used this tree as inspiration for Avatar.
There are so many things that we're doing on our tour today, it has to be separated into several posts. This morning we made our way out of downtown Cairns, and up into the tablelands. The drive up the mountain was winding, and the pass from forest to rainforest was distinct. Once we entered the canopy we stopped for tea over looking Lake Barrine. The lake was formed by a series of explosions from the earth, as most of the land in this area was formed by volcanic activity. Once the explosions stopped, a crater was formed, and gradually filled with rainwater. Currently, at its deepest, the lake is approximately 65 meters deep.
Just had to mention, this morning in Cairns I got up at 4:30 to go for a run before our first adventure. It was pitch black out, but I had a vague concept that the ocean was to my right for the first 3 miles. I felt tiny with the sprawling ocean around me, without being able to see anything. But as I started to make my way back the sun was coming up, and that's when I realized that while the ocean was on my side, I was also surrounded by mountains. And I had no clue they were there. I can't wait to embrace this wonderful land.

12 August 2016

On our last day in Sydney we said goodbye to this beautiful city by strolling through the Royal Botanic Garden. The garden is boasting it's 200th year, which is incredible considering, as a colony, Sydney was declared 228 years ago. The age of this area is important though, because if the area for Domain Park hadn't been set aside, homes and industries would definitely have popped up along the harbor's coast. But this area was preserved, and now one can stroll along the water's edge, and very easily forget that they are in a busy metropolis. I'm really glad we got up early enough today to see this area, it culminated our first city very nicely. Now off to Cairns (pronounced Cans for you Yanks!)

11 August 2016

Our second stop was Bondi Beach, the most well known beach in Sydney. We had to face the bus system to get there (the ferry is infinitely better) and all we could think about was ice cream! It was a beautiful beach, I just wish I knew how to surf. And that it was summer!
Sydney has a "hop on hop off" system with their public transportation. When you get on a bus/ferry/train you tap your opal card, and then you tap it again when you get off. The system then deducts the appropriate amount from the card. Well we were deep in conversation on the way home, when we realized that it would be more convenient to get off the bus immediately instead of waiting until we got to the stop we were originally intending on. So I got up, and just as I was about to tap my card Adrienne said, "I can't find my card." Knowing how responsible she is, I knew she would be right behind me. So I tapped and stepped right off. When I turned around however, the doors were closed and Adrienne just shrugged her shoulders and mouthed "next stop." At this point, Adrienne, me, and everyone on the bus were laughing. I had to follow the damn bus, waiting for her opportunity to get off. Eventually we met each other, but with no working phones it surly could have turned into a disaster.
Today was definitely beach day. In the morning we took the ferry over to Manly Beach, which was recommended to us every time we told someone we were going to the iconic Bondi Beach. So we followed their advice, and in my opinion Manley was the superior beach. We had lunch at a burger joint that had a second story patio, overlooking a small plaza. I'm seriously considering a summer home here.

10 August 2016

This morning we got picked up at the hotel by an amazing tour guide. Adam was our guide into the Blue Mountains, and he answered all our questions, managed to lose us only once, and encouraged all of our crazy antics. Of which there were a multitude. He truly made our day, from teaching about escarpments, Australian politics and policies, and explaining the importance of a drunk kabob, to showing us the most incredible views of a beautiful, but dangerous, terrain. I will forever appreciate the brief moment we crossed paths, because today was perfect.
Our last stop was at Featherdale Wildlife Park. This started off as a man's arboretum, which was home to dozens of parrots. Eventually his home became a popular place to stop on the long drive back from the Blue Mountains to Sydney, and so he started charging admission. As the place grew, it became a sanctuary for many different indigenous animals. I made so many animal friends today. Also, Adrienne and I are proud to post a picture of our baby. 😉
The majestic Blue Mountains were by far the greatest sight in the entire Sydney area. We started at Scenic World, which is simply the easiest way to get from the highest peaks, to the lowest valleys. There was a series of cable cars that dropped you deep in the Australian rainforest. We then went to two other lookouts, and we almost blew away at Sublime Point.

9 August 2016

Apparently the Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb is no longer a once in a lifetime experience. It's twice in a lifetime. 8 years ago I had the chance to climb all the way to the top of this bridge, and today I got to repeat the experience. The views are majestic, the suits are fashionable, and our guide was magnificent. Sydney is a breathtaking city, and seeing it from the iconic Harbor Bridge was the ultimate sight.

8 August 2016

On our first day in Sydney, we walked to the Sydney Opera House, truly one of the most unique buildings I've ever seen. We spent the afternoon taking a tour of the building. The most amazing part in my opinion is the incredible ceramic detail on the outside of the buildings. That night (after some serious jet lagged induced napping) we got to see Simon Boccanegra. It was my first opera, and it was beautiful. I fell asleep a few times, but that's just because it was around 4 am at home! The area is also totally hopping when it comes to Pokemon, if anyone needs inspiration to visit.