Laughing through AUS to ORD: 10 days in Australia

Lucky for me, my sister and best friend met me in Australia for a 10-day exploration of the country right after I left New Zealand. I couldn’t have asked for a better transition.IMG_2949

We had two days in Cairns– the tourist hub for the Great Barrier Reef. It is a cute town, but I was too stoked to see the wonder of the natural world. We toured with SeaStar, and had a brilliant experience! The company was great and it was a luxurious ride. We stopped to snorkel in two places: one off a sandbar an hour boat ride from the port in Cairns, and the other a reef in open water where we saw a barracuda and turtles and parrotfish.IMG_2951

My sister’s favorite part of the trip was this lagoon in Cairns: a man-made pool with sand and some sprinklers for the kids(at heart) right on the ocean! The ocean water is filled with jellyfish and other fun creatures that make it not so fun to swim in, so this is the city’s alternative, and it was beautiful. IMG_2958 IMG_2969

After two days of sunshine and exploring Queensland, we hopped on a plane to Sydney. As soon as we landed, sister again proclaimed that this part was her favorite. This would be common throughout the trip…IMG_2981 IMG_2984

We spent the first day exploring and walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge (the free walk– not the climb to the top) to see the Sydney Opera House just as a HUGE cruise ship was embarking on its journey. We took pictures of the Opera House from almost every angle. And we ate lots and lots of delicious food (Oxford St. was a great location for us since every side street had cute cafes and options abound).

I took the girls to Bondi Beach on our second day in Sydney to try out surfing at this classic go-to spot. We got lots of salt-water up our noses, and then proceeded to eat the best fish and chips I’ve ever had at our shuttle driver(from the airport)’s brother’s chippery called Bondi Seafoods. IMG_2992 IMG_3006 IMG_3020 IMG_3029

We spent the next day walking around the city, and saw these cute birdies:IMG_3034

Our next stop was Melbourne, and we spent 4 full days there. We explored the street art, and wandered the parks. We hit up Fitzroy ave. and the Victoria St. Market. As our time in Melbourne ended, we realized we had only begun to discover the hidden treasures of the city. I would love to go back and explore more!IMG_3064

The girls and I also went on a hike: we took the train to Upper Fern Tree Gully and did the 1000 Steps hike through some pretty woods. IMG_3077 IMG_3106 IMG_3116

There’s a small blue penguin in the rocks!!!IMG_3119

And we visited the Melbourne Zoo…IMG_3136And then it was time to leave on endless flights home (United delayed the girls’ flight for 8 HOURS out of LAX!!! No United, NO…

We all made it back to Chicago, but still tasting the delicious cafe treats and salty sea air from those 10 days.