Hello! I am finally back from my two week holiday Down Under, and I am so grateful for the amazing experiences, the kind people, the awesome new friends, and all the great food we had there. It was truly a most remarkable trip! 🙂
Now, instead of listing down day-by-day what I did there, I’m going to break it down to places to eat, and things to do. A personalized list of some of the things to eat and do – and only places I have been. I really hope you’ll enjoy it.
WARNING: Picture heavy post ahead! Please allow time for loading.
VISIT SOUTH BANK
One of the most happening places in the heart of Brisbane, South Bank is filled with cafes, restaurants and bars. There is also a beautiful garden by the river to stroll along, and by night you can see The Wheel of Brisbane, which looks spectacular at night. Also, in South Bank you can find the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Center which sometimes had some fun stuff going on, please check their site for upcoming events.
I would suggest coming for a stroll at night, where the city lights reflect beautifully against the river. There are also some BBQ spots along the river, where gas is already provided, all you need to do is bring your food along – and be sure to clean up after. By day, you can travel around South Bank via the river ferries, via City Cat (paid) or the City Hopper (free).
SEE THE KOALAS & KANGAROOS AT LONE PINE KOALA SANCTUARY
If you love animals (especially koalas & kangaroos), this is the place to see the animals that Australia is famous for. You can purchase your tickets at the door for $30, or go online, to get a 10% discount. Inside the enclosure, you can find various shows happening throughout the day. Everything from sheepdog shows to animal meet & greets.
The sheepdog show is usually followed by a sheep shearing demonstration. The sheep may look like it’s struggling form pain, but shearing doesn’t hurt them. They just don’t like being man handled.
My favorite is the kangaroo feeding enclosure. You can buy a pack of kangaroo kibble for $2 at the store, then get up and personal with the kangaroos. The larger ones can look very menacing, but the smaller ones are very cute, and loves to be petted. So feed them and pet them, and take lots of photos because, boy, can those kangaroos pose!
Down by the main enclosure, you can opt to take a photo with a koala bear, for just $16 for a printed photo. It’s free for you to take one with just your phone or camera. I held a koala for the first time, and are these little bears heavy! Their claws are pretty sharp too. Just be gentle with them and I promise, they won’t leave a scratch on you.
Other wildlife creatures housed there are the dingoes – beautiful wild dogs, possums, more koalas, emus, snakes and various reptiles.
SUN TAN AT SURFERS PARADISE
I absolutely love Gold Coast – the land of sun, sea and sand. The beach is a must visit, because it is one of the top ten best beaches of the world for a reason – its incredibly soft and fine sand. You can literally bring a picnic mat here and lie down over the sand in comfort, it is that soft.
The beach here is always full of people, and full of activity. You can surf in the water or play volleyball, jog along the sandy banks, or just lie down and get a tan. The weather is pretty great so expect a lot of people. Parking is quite limited so try to come early.
SHOP AT HARBOUR TOWN
The best place to shop! Trust me, Harbour Town is where everything are on discount, mostly items that are from last season, or direct form the factories. Australian brands like Cotton On, Supre, Roxy and Quiksilver are cheap here.
City Beach is my favorite store. They carry everything from bikinis to tops and dresses, shoes and even guy stuff from various brands – Roxy, Billabong, Ava & Ever, Mink Pink, Lipstiq , just to name a few. Most items are priced between $5 to $49. Plus, every 5 minutes, the sales staff would announce a special sale for a certain item of clothing, say a dress, and you can bring a dress you have chosen to her to mark down at a further $10 reduction. Trust me, you would spent at least an hour in there.
There are various restaurants located in Harbour Town, so you don’t have to worry about starving while shopping. My favorite place to eat there is Kofte Burger, a Turkish restaurant that serves kofte (meat patties made of minced beef and spices) to go with rice pilaf or as a burger. They have a yogurt garlic sauce there, which is super delicious! Do try.
HAVE FUN AT WARNER BROS MOVIEWORLD THEME PARK
One of the most known theme parks, Movieworld presents all DC comic characters, and Looney Tunes as well. There are a few shows you can catch, and a few thriller coaster rides.
One of the newer rides here is the Superman Escape. It’s scary because the coaster shoots off at 0-100kmph in just a second. Plus it is the coaster with the highest drop in the park. Talk about scary. I’m glad we tried and survived it though.
The Green Lantern coaster is quite scary as well. A lot of upside down and sideway drops from a very freaky angle. The ride didn’t feel too bad though. We also saw the Batman vertical drop ride, but we decided to give that a pass.
One of the main shows here is the stunt-driving. The cars were alright, but the motorcyclist stunts were crazy good. Imagine jumping up ramps that effortlessly.
We also went for this Scooby-Doo ride, which was scarier than expected. Spoiler alert, halfway through, there is a backward drop and you move backwards for a bit. Then the slow coaster becomes pretty fast for a bit before the ride ends.
Later, we just stayed on for some street shows, took photos with the Joker, and watched the parade. Eating in a theme park could be quite expensive though, and the food isn’t even that great. However, it isn’t too bad, and we shopped a bit – I bought a Batman tshirt and a Supergirl cape for a theme party I’m going to.
ENJOY MARINE LIFE AT SEAWORLD
We visited one of the biggest parks in Gold Coast, and this one is teeming with sea creatures big and small. It’s more packed than any other park as it is more of a friendly family place. We watched the dolphin show, which was beautiful because dolphins are just so smart and lovable. We also had to watch the seal show (seal detectives) that plays along a story line of the seals working with the police to catch the crook.
There are not much thrill rides here, but the new Storm Coaster is pretty cool. It’s a coaster that ends with you splashing into water, and getting pretty much soaked from head to toe.
Later on, we watched a Jet Stunt Extreme show, which is kinda cool. Until they brought out this crazy water jet-pack called the Jetlav. It’s so powerful that it is able to propel the person whose wearing it up a few meters into the sky! Seaworld apparently spent about $150,000 on that Jetlav – but boy was it worth the money!
After that we kind of wandered around and looked at sea creatures. The aquarium was beautiful, there are so many different species of fishes and sharks and corals in it. We even spotted two turtles that were humongous. Not as huge as the manta rays they have there though. For a fee, you can dive into the aquarium and swim with the fishes, and the sharks as well.
There are outdoor pools where you can buy food to feed the sting rays. If you are not keen on feeding them, you can just put your hand in and touch them. Just be sure to avoid the head and tail where the stingers are. On another side, you can touch some real life sea cucumbers and starfishes and also shark eggs, just to see how it feels.
Then, there were the penguins. They are located in a temperature controlled enclosure, where you can view them through a glass window. For a fee, you can also get up and personal with the penguins, and take a photo.
*Also, not listed here are other parks in Gold Coast that you can visit. Dreamworld, White Water Raft, and Wet N’ Wild. We didn’t have much time left for those parks, but will probably come back for that again another time.
DROP BY FEDERATION SQUARE
This place, is the heart of Melbourne city. Located just across Melbourne city’s most busy train station, Flinder’s Street Station – Federation Square is an open space where the Tourist Information Center is located. This should be the first place to visit, as they have brochures of things to do (plays, shows, tours, etc) and a map of the city which is very important to have. Everything is free for the taking, and there are people there who can assist you as well on any information you might need.
Around Melbourne city there are bicycles that you can rent to get around easily. The main rental area starts from here, and you can travel and park in other rental areas around the city.
Also, from time to time, there will be street performers who will do a show there. Usually there will be a lot of people sitting on the steps, eating or just chilling. That’s where performers put on a show, and if you do stay to watch, don’t forget to give them a nice tip. We were lucky to catch one where my boyfriend was pulled up to be part of the performance. It was totally hilarious!
VISIT THE MELBOURNE MUSEUM
It’s a must! We spent the entire day there as there is so much to see and learn. Entry tickets are $10, and believe me, it is so worth your money.
We started off in the Dinosaur section, because I love dinosaurs! I love how the bones and structuring of each dino looks so real and beautiful. Then there are various information sites, that can be quite interactive to help you understand more about dinosaurs.
Next we walked into the Insect section. If you’re not too squeamish, you can take a walk and appreciate the beauty of insects, plus learn a lot about them as well. Mostly native Australian insects are highlighted – a lot of poisonous spiders that made me squirm.
The next area was the Wild endangered animals, which is basically a room full of realistic looking animal figures. You can’t touch them, but you can use the interactive computers to zoom in and touch for information on a certain animal. There were quite a lot of art students in here, making sketches.
In the First People section, the museum highlights the Australian aboriginals, and everything related to their culture and heritage. There were also video interviews of children and adults that comes from such cultural lineage. It’s quite an eye opener for those who do not know much about that part of the Australian culture.
We moved on to the Then & Now, a section that highlights the changing lifestyle of Australians. Old appliances (TV sets, couches, fashion, kitchenware, etc) were on display, showing a vast contrast between the lifestyle back then, and now.
The two sections were the Mind & Body – a scientific exploration of the inner workings of the human mind and our anatomy.
VISIT THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF VICTORIA (NGV)
At the time, there was the William Blake exhibition at NGV, and it was so beautiful. As an artistic person, I understand so much of the portrayal in some of his works, though most were biblical related. The most interesting part was that in the process of making his watercolors, he has to grind some pigments on a stone palette, and most of the pigments are light sensitive – which is why it is rare to even display his works. So in a way, I was really lucky to be able to catch this! Well, me and a few hundred other people who were there.
There were also some mid 1800-century paintings on display, along with an Art of the Table exhibition of vintage European cutleries. They were all so beautiful!
DROP BY HOSIER LANE FOR STREET GRAFFITI
The famous Melbourne graffiti street is located along this lane where it is covered – full, of graffiti. Some are actually really beautiful, and most of the artists are actually not too bad. I even spotted an artwork on the aboriginal boy, Nullah in the movie Australia – high up on the 5th floor and up of a building. It must have taken a crane and a lot of patience, not to mention lots of paint to produce an image that beautiful on such a large scale. Just amazing!
SHOP AT THE QUEEN VICTORIA MARKET
It is open 5 days a week (Tuesdays and Thursday-Sunday) and you can find lots of things on sale. From Ugg boots to rare crystals, and there is a fresh food market as well that sells cheaper goods than Coles or Woolworths. There is even a meat district where you can buy lots of meat for a very low price – of course you would need to battle it out with all the hagglers.
SIGHTSEEING AT BRIGHTON BEACH & ST KILDA PIER
The famous colorful houses of Brighton is worth a visit, where you see very cute shack houses decorated in colors and interesting art. The sand isn’t quite soft and had shards of broken seashells all around, so it isn’t a very practical beach for sunbathing, but worth a visit.
Then there’s the St Kilda pier where you can see yachts and people fishing along the pier. Towards the end of the pier, there is a restaurant where you can dine, with a nice view of yachts. If you’re lucky you could spot a few interesting animals or two.
VISIT THE DOMAINE CHANDON WINERY
The home of the very best wines, Australia’s Yarra Valley has loads to offer. We chose to visit the Chandon winery to learn a bit about the making of these fabulous wines.
There are free tours held throughout the day, where the guide will explain the process of growing and bottling their fantastic Chandon wines. These are all followed by a wine tasting in their restaurant, where you get to also purchase all of their wines for a lower price compared to retail outlets outside of the valley. I loved their dessert wine, the Cuvée Riche, so much that I got that and a bottle of red Shiraz as well.
CHECK OUT BEER BREWERIES LIKE THE WHITE RABBIT
There are a lot of beer breweries in Melbourne, and we visited one of the more known ones, the White Rabbit Brewery. The beers here are brewed fresh and served to you. You can also buy freshly bottle beers, for a lower price as compared to retail.
They have a few places to sit outside, where you can enjoy the weather and view with a nice cold one. Some very cute Alice in Wonderland merchandise are also on sale.
EAT LIKE NOBODY’S BUSINESS
Melbourne is the city of food, food and more food. Everything from Asian to Greek to Mexican, Melbourne has it. But of course, this already is a very long post itself, so please look out for my next post on Where to Eat in Melbourne, Brisbane and Gold Coast. (UPDATED: FOOD POST!)
I hope you enjoyed this post, I certainly enjoyed myself writing it! 🙂