Australia – A-Z

Visiting Australia had been a long cherished dream, which finally came true this December. Here’s a list of thoughts and experiences around the vacation.
Australia: It is vast, and we only covered a tip of it – Sydney, Melbourne and Kangaroo Island.
Beaches: The beaches were beautiful and clean, and the water was icy cold (thanks to the close proximity of the Antartic), but somehow I always liked the beaches in Kerala the best. The wild passion of the sea in Kerala cannot be matched by the pristine calm of the international beaches. My son loved the beaches ! Bondi beach is just like Juhu beach with additional amenities – crowded with families.
Christmas Day – Australia is literally shut down on Christmas Day, so we spent the day in Kangaroo Islands. We had hired a self-drive car and we drove down to a national park – and saw sea lions basking in the sun. We also saw some amazing rock formations and clicked a whole lot of pictures. We had our kind of fun.
Eggs on Bread – That was the only breakfast option we had, and needless to say we got tired of it pretty soon.  People who have never had a crispy ghee dosa in their lifetimes is definitely missing a slice of heaven !
Food – I had great hopes of going to one of those high end fancy restaurants. But, we mostly ended up eating Malaysian and Chinese fare. In fact, the lack of spice was so terrible that we actually went in search of an Indian restaurant for a meal. (something we never do when we are abroad, as we love to experiment with food)
Goat Feeding – We visited a farm and had an opportunity to feed bottled cow’s milk to baby goats ! It was a wonderful experience. It was their first feed of the day – they were very hungry and were clamoring for our bottles.  At some basic level all kids are alike – regardless of the species.
Harbour Bridge – We saw the mighty harbor bridge. Climbing the bridge is a tourist must-do. We didn’t attempt it this time, but next time around, it is on my to do list. Did you know that it is painted grey because that is the only paint that is easily available in such large quantities – you need 80000 litres of paint to do it.
Incredible India – They were ads of Incredible India all around the Australian airports and I felt happy seeing them – some things cannot be explained.
Kangaroo Islands – We spent 2 days there and it was fun. We fed Kangaroos, watched sea lions and cuddled with a Koala. We also played with lizards and snakes. However, if you want to enjoy an island at one fifth the cost, without compromising on the fun – visit Langawi in Malaysia.
Melbourne – The bigger part of our trip was spent at Melbourne. We stayed at a family room (with an ensuite bathroom and a bunk bed) in United Backpackers. I would highly recommend the place to anyone who wants a decent acco in Melbourne without spending a fortune for it. It was centrally located and I really liked the city. My son was thrilled to be able to sleep on a bunk bed. I am thinking of buying one for the house !
New Year’s Eve: We skipped the Sydney fireworks and decided to stay on in Melbourne for New Year’s Eve. I had expected to go out for dinner at some fancy place and even had bought a dress for the occasion. The son had other plans, though. He promptly fell asleep after the 9:30 fireworks (for kids and family) and I didn’t want to have fun at the expense of his discomfort. So, we ended up celebrating New Year’s Eve in the hotel room eating leftovers from lunch. Surprisingly, I wasn’t disappointed. Sometimes, it is the company that matters. Thanks, hubby dear for making New Year’s Eve special in your own way.
Opera House: This was the high point of the visit for me. We were travelling to the Opera House by ferry and as the Opera House loomed in front of me I felt an unexpected sense of joy and contentment. Like most people, the image of Australia in my mind was that of the Sydney Opera House and when I actually saw it in front of my eyes, I once again felt, ‘Yes, dreams do come true !’. We took a guided tour inside and it was quite informative. However, I missed catching a performance inside – hopefully next time.
People: The people of Australia, deserve special mention. Before I travelled, there was a lot of skepticism about how they would treat Indians etc. My experience was quite amazing, though. They are one of the most friendly and helpful people I have come across.
Sydney: I stayed in Mosmon with family friends and had only 2-3 days in the city. I would visit again and see it in more detail for sure.
Train Ride: We took the Puffing Billy ride – a steam engine train which moves through a very scenic location. My son and the kid in me enjoyed the train ride thoroughly. Well worth doing it once. It has been kept active mostly by volunteers  and my heart went out to them with a big ‘Thank You’.
Zoo – We visited the Taronga Zoo for one full day – primarily for Siddhu. But, he enjoyed the stroller ride more than the animals, and it was a highly commercialized place. They were charging a hefty entrance fees and then there were additional charges for getting pictures done with the animals – we could do that for free in Kangaroo Islands. The shows were also nothing spectacular, and both hubby and self felt that if you wanna enjoy animals up close and personal, the Singapore Zoo is any day a better bet.
 

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