URBAN AUSTRALIA: SYDNEY, MELBOURNE, BRISBANE
Updated: Jan 7, 2020
A quick guide of what to do in Australia if you only have few days!
After going to Australia several times, I was often asked: "So, how is Australia?"
Well, it is hard to put it in a certain category as it is a country on it`s own. It has a bit of everything but it has it`s own flavor, as well.I felt it was a kind of a healthy mixture in between England and United States. But it is rather the country that I would like to live in.
So, let`s introduce Australia first! As we all know, Australia is a country and a continent. It`s major cities are Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and they are all coastal. I have been to 4 of them and they are all lovely!
The country is known for its Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef, a vast interior desert and unique animal species like kangaroos, Dingo dogs and koalas.
It is divided into 7 regions - New South Wales (NSW), Victoria, Queensland, Northern Territory,South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, with the major population being concentrated on the South-Eastern side.
Apart from an expensive flight ticket, the most important thing that you need to go there is a visa! Which can be a pain in the ass sometimes,depending on which nationality you are!
Here is a list of FAQ related to visa and customs.
In order to apply for a visa, you can check the Australian Government website and do it yourself or go through a third party which can apply on your behalf ( such as websites or travel agencies ).
Apart from this, you need to know that Australia has super strict customs and you might be aware that you are not allowed to bring to the island quite a lot of things. A list of them can be found here, which is their customs website. And bear in mind that they are really scanning and searching all the luggage entering the country!
Another thing you might want to be aware of is that, in order to rent a car, you need to have an International Drivers License.
Once you get there, things are quite simple as everyone speaks English ( D'oh! ☺ ), the country is safe and there are plenty of things to do and see.
My favorite city from all the ones that I visited was Sydney, so I will start with it. ☺
When to go
Well, Australia has quite a mild climate and the weather is pretty good all year round. However, the winter months ( June to August ) can be the least nice ones, mostly if you are going to Melbourne. So, probably from October to April would be ideal to visit any of these cities, with the peak during the summer.
It is a nice city to visit all year round, as it has such a mild climate. I went there in June (their winter) and it was like 20 degrees Celsius!
For the city itself I would recommend staying there at least 3 or 4 days. Accommodation is quite expensive, around 150-200 euros per night for a hotel Hotel like Holiday Inn, but there are plenty of "backpackers` places" over there, as back-packing is quite common over there.
I would also recommend staying in Potts Point - Kings Cross - Circular Quay area, as this is close to most of the things.
Apart from the main objectives that I will write about later, I would highly recommend taking it easy and have a try of how the city tastes like: go for a walk, sit in a park, go jogging among the Australians, sit in a cafe or just relax!
The things you might want to see first are all in the same area: Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Rocks, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Hyde Park. The Rocks are well known for their pubs and cafes, so it`s always nice to sit a bit after a long exploring walk!
Next, you might want to head to the famous Bondi Beach. Although it is a 2 hours walk, it is pretty nice to go from the city center to the beach by foot. Or you could just rent a bike and simplify your life! ☺
Since you`re in Australia, probably you would like to see some kangaroos and koalas, right? But for this one please don`t go to the Zoo!! Australia has a lot of sanctuaries for their native animals and most of them accept visitors. And Koala Park Sanctuary in Sydney is one of them.
Another trip not to be missed is a one or more days trip to Blue Mountains. From my experience, when it comes to this kind of tours, it is better to rent a car and do it yourself, but there are also a lot of tours going there and back in one day. Although quite touristy, the views are nice plus is a nice feeling to walk through the Eucalyptus forest. A viewpoint not to miss there is Kings Tableland
( the second image ).
In my humble opinion, Melbourne is Australia`s artistic and designish city. Or this is what I could figure out from my visits over there. It is also well known for its street art, being considered one of the street art capitals of the world.
The weather here is slightly colder, being further South, so I would recommend coming here anytime apart from winter and spending minimum 3-4 days over there.
Like Sydney, Melbourne is a great city to wander through lane ways, stop at the cafes, go shopping etc. There are also day trips but unfortunately I couldn`t do any of these. Anyway, the most common are the Yarra Valley and Winery and the 12 Apostles and Ocean Road. But, from my general experience with the organized tours, I would recommend renting a car and do it yourself.
Some things that you might want not to miss in the city are visiting Eureka Skydeck ( the highest building in the Southern Hemisphere ), Flinders Street Station and Federation Square, Royal Botanical Garden and Shrine of Remembrance, Captains` Hook Cottage, Queen Victoria Market ( but I wasn`t too impressed with this one ) and of course not to forget about the street art tour.
Gallery hopping was a real nice experience for me as there are some amazing modern art galleries that are worth visiting. My favorite one was the Australian Center for Contemporary Art which I absolutely loved.
Another thing I absolutely loved was to just wander around the streets and photograph the theaters, as they have amazing modern architecture. At the end you could just grab some tickets and enjoy one of the shows.
Taking a cruise on Yarra river might also worth doing. ☺
The third largest city in Australia and the capital of sunshine, "Brissie", how the locals call it, is a great city, but not as fancy as the previous two.
And, to be honest, for me, Brisbane was all about seeing koalas and kangaroos, as the city is pretty well known for its sanctuary.
Only 12 km from the city, Lone Pine Koala Sactuary is the world`s first and largest koala sanctuary with over 130 koalas. Apart from koalas, the sanctuary has a lot of friendly kangaroos that roam freely along with some other animals. Getting there is pretty simple as there are a lot of buses. A search on Google Maps will find the best routes, depending on your location.
Some other things you may want consider are visiting South Bank, taking Brisbane river cruises or just simply walk or jog around the promenade or perhaps doing a Story Bridge adventure climb. Check out the lookout on top of Mt Coot-Tha and the Botanical Gardens.
Renting a car and just simply visiting the Gold coast might also be interesting.
I am pretty sure the list is not complete and there are so many other nice things to do and see in Australia but this needs a lot of time. Anyway, if you have to skip any of these cities due to lack of time, I would say to skip Brisbane, as it`s the least interesting.
Any other comments or tips are more than welcome!
In the meantime, you can check out the gallery below for some inspiration!
Gear used: Olympus OM-D M5 with 25 mm and 75 mm prime lenses