Sydney Must-See’s

Sydney is undoubtedly one of the most iconic destinations in Australia. There are popular tourist spots that everyone automatically goes to see, but I wanted to fill you in on some lesser-known ones! First, I’ll cover the basics.

Famous Places in/around Sydney

The Sydney Harbour is packed to the brim with people from all over the world, and beholds the beauty of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

You may have heard about the Sydney Bridge Climb, which is a pretty cool opportunity… BUT it will set you back a whopping $250 AUD for even the cheapest option. We all know our student budgets aren’t that flexible. So I’ll let you in on a pro tip: the Pylon Lookout.

Walk to almost the middle of the bridge, climb a few flights of stairs, and you’ll reach the Pylon Lookout! For only $10 AUD (saving you $200+!!!) with a student ID, you can have this AMAZING view of the bridge and city! That’s my kind of deal.

Hyde Park and the Royal Botanic Garden are other popular spots to check out that are definitely worth your time. The nice part is you can easily walk from each location!

Bondi Beach is an illustrious feature of Sydney. A short bus ride from the city will bring you to this dazzling town, where you can visit the famous Bondi Icebergs Club and soak up the sun. The Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk is 6 km round trip and provides breathtaking views of the ocean and beaches. There is a nice cafe with delicious food in Tamarama where you can eat at a table right on the sand.

Spots in Sydney More Under the Radar

Observatory Hill Park is nestled right in the center of Sydney and holds panoramic views of the city, river, and bridge. It was noticeably less crowded than most of the other places I went this day, and I personally really enjoyed the relative peace and quiet. If you’re lucky, you might catch part an outdoor wedding being held!

The touristy coastal destination other than Bondi is typically Manly Beach. Take the path less traveled and go to Watson’s Bay instead! You can jump on a ferry right in the Harbour to get there, which provides a unique perspective of the city from the river. Once you reach Watson’s Bay, check out the skyline in the distance before walking through the park to get to the Federation Cliff Walk. There are awesome views and photo opportunities of the coast along the walk. After you’re done, head straight to Doyle’s on the Beach for some fish n chips!

Portsea: Hidden Gem near Melbourne

If you have an extended stay in Melbourne, there is another coastal destination to explore other than the Great Ocean Road.

The town of Portsea, Victoria is on the very tip of the Mornington Peninsula, directly across Port Phillip from the Melbourne CBD. It is a wealthy suburb that is a popular holiday location for Victorians.

There are absolutely beautiful beaches, such as Portsea Back Beach, and lots of options for other outdoor activities, such as walking tracks and footy. Attractions such as London Bridge and Fort Nepean can be found in Portsea.

There is a great selection of cafes and restaurants to choose from. If you enjoy sailing, make sure to check out the Portsea Surf Life Saving Club or the neighboring Sorrento Surf Life Saving Club. Portsea is a great option if you would like a weekend away from the city at the beach!

Fun Day Trip: Mount Ngungun

Looking to escape the library and get a little physical activity in? Want a better view than your final assignments on the computer screen? Grab a friend and take a short drive north of Brisbane to check out Mount Ngungun.

Mount Ngungun (pronounced ‘noo noo’) is a part of the Glass House Mountains, about an hour away from the city. The hike is easily doable for people of all physical abilities because it is not very challenging. Once you’re up at the top, soak in the view!

Maybe pack a snack or a picnic if you want to take your time and spend quality time with friends. The mountain is close enough to Brisbane that you can drive there, hike to the top and walk back down, and make it back to the city by lunchtime. If you want to make a nice day out the trip of though, the Sunshine Coast beaches are relatively close by!

The Benefits of Traveling Solo

I’ve flown by myself many times before, but I had never flown to a new country to travel completely solo. Much to my parents’ dismay back in the US, I challenged myself to step a little outside my comfort zone and take a trip alone to Queenstown, New Zealand for a week.

I know it sounds extremely intimidating to take on a brand new country all alone, but I promise, there are endless benefits of doing so. When I arrived in Queenstown, the only plans I had set were my hostel for the week, and bungy jumping on my first day. I wanted to leave my plans open so that when I was presented with new opportunities, I had a flexible schedule to decide what I wanted to do. Not booking my week was the best choice I made- I met tons of new people and discovered awesome new places. Making friends that happened to have cars and/or boats allowed me to travel with great company without having to spend the extra money for transport. If I had flown to Queenstown with a friend, they may have wanted to go different places than me, do different activities than me, and eat different things than me. Since I was by myself, I was able to make decisions based off what would make me happy. If I wanted to wake up early and fit in a day full of activities, I didn’t have to worry about another person being willing to do the same. If I wanted a day to relax and read by the lake, I didn’t have anyone to object. I felt an independence and freedom in New Zealand that I have never felt before because I truly had complete control over everything that I did. It was a relief to not worry about meeting other people’s wants or needs. Being disconnected from the rest of the world because most of the places didn’t have wifi was also a major factor of my fulfilling experience during the trip.

Overall, being on my own for a week was an amazing way for me to get in touch with myself. I had a lot of time to clear my head, reflect on things, and realize what is actually important to me. I was able to toss out a lot of my careless worries and concerns, and focus on the happiness that the little things in life bring me. I highly recommend taking a trip by yourself, whether it is to a new country, or even just a new state or town nearby- it will impact you in a very positive way.


Fun Day Trip: Gardner’s Falls

Want an exciting, new place for a swim other than the beach? Look no further than Gardner’s Falls.

As an exchange student from the United States, I have been eager to get out and explore as much as possible in and around Brisbane. Located in Maleny, just about 90 kilometers’ drive from the city, Gardner’s Falls is exactly my ideal day trip. As much as I love the beach, it’s nice to swim in fresh water for a change. Gardner’s Falls is in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, so there are beautiful views of the mountains and surrounding land on the drive to and from the swimming hole. Once you are there, it’s a perfect location to set up camp for the day with a group of friends and have a picnic while soaking in the sun. Once you’ve had enough relaxing though… You have to try out the rope swing.

I personally am a huge adrenaline junkie, so when my friend told me there was a big rope swing we could go to, I was 100% in. It completely met my expectations too! These pictures don’t do the swing the justice it deserves. You can control how much air you get depending on how high up you perch yourself to start your swing. I may love a good thrill, but I sure am not as daring as the people doing flips off the swing. I’d rather be a spectator when it comes to those crazy feats! Be very careful if you choose to attempt any tricks when you visit Gardner’s Falls.

For those who are slightly intimidated by the height of the first rope swing, don’t fret–there’s a smaller rope swing for you to try out. Of course, the picture just so happens to be showing someone doing a flip… But no need to do anything fancy! It’s exhilarating enough to just swing through the air into the water.

If you REALLY aren’t feeling the rope swings, you can simply watch from the rocks and hang out! There were also people jumping off the rocks into the water. The water is very deep and is a safe depth to jump into. Just be sure the area you’re about to jump into is clear of any other swimmers!