Melbourne & Sydney, Australia.
Just to be clear, the girls in the picture above are not named Melbourne and Sydney.
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There’s an amazing feeling of excitement and relief when you finally touch down in Australia after what feels like the longest flight ever.
This was a big one for me. It was March of 2017 and this was my third solo travel in 7 months.
We’re talking about almost a day away Australia here. This was big for me.
This was my second “Dreamtrip” via World Ventures. If you read my last adventure to Greece post, then you remember that World Ventures was a travel club I was trying out to see if it was really worth it.
It was a quick 3 or 4 days in Melbourne, and then I added a flight to Sydney for another 3 days there.
Take it from a now seasoned traveler, you don’t need to dump money into any travel clubs or monthly memberships to travel this world.
I’m putting together an article on how to travel like I do and, trust me, traveling as often as I do is totally affordable and doable if you know what you’re doing.
And here I was, as far away from home as I’d every been before in the land down under: Australia!
The Great Ocean Road & Twelve Apostles
The first day after a really long flight, and I can’t remember exactly how long this one was, somewhere around 15 hours from LAX to Melbourne, it’s really important to just take it easy.
Or at the very least, take your first day at half speed. Chill mode.
Don’t go booking excursions that start right when the wheels of the plane touch down. You’ll be so drained and tired that you won’t enjoy any of the amazing sights in front of your eyes.
Be smart. Let yourself rest.
My hotel in Melbourne was the Crowne Melbourne in Southbank, a great spot and walking distance to so much in downtown.
After I checked in, I did just that. Chill mode.
There’s nothing like exploring a new city, stopping into random spots for a beer, and just taking it all in.
Personally, I love having free days when I’m traveling.
Knowing I don’t have to be anywhere, that I don’t have to stick to any itinerary and can do literally anything I want.
I spent that whole first day just exploring the Southbank area of Melbourne, getting fully adjusted to being on the other side of the world, and getting ready for my full day excursion the next day.
I picked a good one, too: a full day trip down Australia’s coast along the Great Ocean Road!
The beaches in Australia just hit different.
See how it looks like you could just walk right out into the water and keep walking forever? That’s jaw dropping in person.
And the waves. Surfers travel from all over the world to surf these waves, and once you see them you totally get it.
These beaches were amazing. We stopped, got out, walked them. I’m telling you, next time I go back, I’m dedicating at least 2 full days as beach days.
And as beautiful and epic as this scenery was, the climax was yet to come: the Twelve Apostles.
Seeing the Twelve Apostles is an absolute MUST when you’re traveling down under.
It’s one of those epic views that no video or photo will ever do justice. You just have to see it for yourself.
There’s actually not twelve of them, but some crazy Australian from way back named them, it stuck, and when they’re right in front of you, you can’t help but stare.
I specifically remember holding my camera up and then taking my eyes off the camera and just looking at what was in front of me thinking, “This view is here 24/7, 365 days a year.”
Yet, how many times have I spent hours on my couch inside my house just sitting and watching tv or playing on my phone?
It’s a wake up call, isn’t it?
Don’t put off for later things that you can do right now! Drop your excuses, travel this world, and create amazing memories you’ll remember for a lifetime!
Scroll back up and take a look at that Twelve Apostles pic and the line of clouds rolling in.
When that blew in, it really blew in.
From one second to the next the temperature dropped and it felt like we were getting sandblasted. Everyone was running and screaming and laughing. It was kinda fun!
What a great time this was. I’ll never forget it.
Kangaroos, Koalas, Peacocks, Penguins & Wallabies
If you love animals like I do, Australia is the coolest place to visit! I took a great excursion to Maru Koala and Animal Park.
This place was LEGIT! It wasn’t one of those animal parks where you’re observing animals from behind a fence.
No, no, no… We got to walk right in amongst these amazing creatures and feed them right out of our hands!
The kangaroos were just like my dogs!
I loved it!
As if this wasn’t enough, the second half of this excursion involved making our way to Phillip Island for views of Pyramid Rock and a very special trip to Phillip Island Nature Park where actual penguins came up out of the water and waddled back to their homes at sunset!
Are you kidding me???
They set up bleachers right up on the beach for us to sit down and observe. The thing I wasn’t prepared for was the cold.
I’m in a t-shirt and shorts while everyone else got the memo and is wearing jackets. Then just as it got time for the penguins to show up, it poured down rain on us.
COLD, POURING rain.
I didn’t travel all the way across the world to run inside from the rain and miss the penguins waddling out from the beach.
(Remind me to tell you how a very similar thing happened to me in New Zealand years later.)
Long story short, I survived and it was worth it!
I wish I had more pics of the penguins, but we weren’t really allowed. All the pics and camera flashes would only disturb and disorient them.
I did manage to sneak a couple grainy ones without flash as they got close to their little homes in the dunes.
What a great experience this was!
Leaving Melbourne in Style
Speaking of once in a lifetime experiences, when I saw this next excursion, I knew I had to book it.
How about watching the sunrise over Melbourne from a HOT AIR BALLOON?
If you call yourself Batman, this is how you leave Melbourne in style.
If you’ve never done this, it is the most relaxing, calming, awe inspiring, exhilarating way to see this world from just below the clouds.
It was a group of 9 of us including the pilot. We got up before sunrise, met at a park, helped him set up, and before we knew it these massive balloons were filling with hot air, coming to life right in front of us.
Up. We. Went!
Aren’t these pics the best???
Here’s a few quick clips from up in the air. The views were unreal.
At the end of the video you can see people down on the ground waving at us from their balcony as we’re approaching to land.
The Flight Attendants Think I'm Famous
I’ve always been drawn to the iconic Sydney Opera House.
It’s always felt like some far away place I’d never get to see with my own eyes. And now I was just a short flight away from being there.
So on this short flight from Melbourne to Sydney I find myself stuck in the horrible middle seat between two other guys just as big as me.
This isn’t gonna work.
I hear the flight attendants talking to each other about how there’s empty seats they need to fill in the exit row.
I’m staring at them, summoning all my Jedi skills to notice me and it works. I hear one of them say, “Well why don’t we just move him?” pointing at me.
They motion me over and I move into my new exit row seat with all the legroom I could ask for. I’m a happy camper.
As we begin takeoff, the flight attendant sitting directly across from me in her jumpseat facing me leans over and says, “Would I know you from somewheh?”
(That’s my attempt at typing in an Australian accent.)
“Umm, I’m not sure if you would know me from somewhere.” I said.
“…because if I was an actah,” she says, “I would think it would be a huge compliment to be…” (and she really draws this out) “… recognizeddd.”
Maybe it was my hat, or my beard, or the fact that I was wearing sunglasses on the bright plane cuz I drank a lot the night before, I don’t know, but this flight attendant was convinced I was somebody famous.
It really became obvious when it was time to pass out the in-flight snacks.
She comes over with the cart, and just before I can tell her that I’m not gonna have anything, she tells the other flight attendant, “Anything he wants…”
This is getting better and better.
They just start handing me anything and everything onto my tray table, no joke.
Suddenly I got sandwiches, animal crackers, chewy fruit snacks, chocolates, and two cold beers for the quick trip.
This was awesome.
And I guess this attention I was getting from the flight attendants was enough to get the girl sitting next to me to notice.
She puts away her book and, I’m not even kidding about this, starts stretching her legs like some kind of gymnast.
She brings her knees up to her chest, then, wrapping her arms around the back of her knees, extends her legs straight up so she’s practically kissing her shins.
She puts her legs down, turns her head to me with her cheek pressed to her knee, “So what brings you to Sydney?”
So this is what it’s like to be a celebrity.
The Incredible Sydney Harbor
Understand this: Sydney does it right.
Sitting perfectly along the water at Sydney Harbor leading you to the iconic Sydney Opera House is Opera Bar.
Packed with people, music, food, and drinks, I spent a full day here and loved every second of it.
When I arrived it was packed. I walked up to one of the outside bars and ordered a drink and asked about food. They took my order and gave me a number
Now I just needed to find a place to sit.
There was a big table right in the middle of everything, front and center. The corner seat was open. I asked if I could sit, the table said yes, and just like that I was in a prime spot.
Around 20 minutes later, my food arrives just as the rest of the table settles their bill and leaves.
I had the entire table to myself as I enjoyed my delicious steak, beer, and fries.
I couldn’t believe I was here. The sun was out, the music was great, and the food was delicious.
As I’m finishing up my steak, a dad comes along and asks if the seats at my table are available for him and his family. There are 4 of them altogether, Dad, Mom, daughter, and her bestie.
I let him know that they’re more than welcome to join. He motions his family over, and it’s not until they’re actually sitting down that I notice, holy mother of god, his daughter and her bestie are beautiful.
Granted, everyone in Australia seems to be beautiful, but these girls… wow.
Mom starts a conversation with me, asking me where I’m from. I tell her I’m a firefighter from Texas, solo traveling, and that I’m actually sending pics right now to my buddies back at the station showing them what an incredible time I’m having.
“I like him!” hot girl #1 says. She’s the daughter. Her name’s Millie.
It turns out the family is from the UK and hot girl #2, Laken, is the bestie from here in Sydney.
This is where the dad comes up with the best idea in the history of ideas.
“Hey girls,” he says, “how about each of you sit beside him and get nice and close and we’ll take some pics so he can send back to his crew at the fire house!”
We took pictures. We took more pictures. We took a TON more pictures. This lasted like 10 minutes because they kept asking for retakes.
I’ve been spending my whole life on the wrong side of the earth.
We talked, laughed, and exchanged numbers. They invited me to a gathering for later that night at nearby Darling Harbor and it still haunts me to this day that I didn’t go.
And, yet again, people around me started thinking I was somebody. The supermodel girlfriends on my arm may have had something to do with it.
One girl came right up to me, didn’t say a word, snapped a selfie with me, and walked away.
There has got to be some Australian soap star who looks like me because years later when I ventured to nearby New Zealand the same thing happened again.
Note to self: MOVE TO AUSTRALIA!
The rest of my time in Sydney was equally amazing.
I did the Sydney Harbor Bridge walk where you literally walk up to the very top of the bridge and get an AMAZING view of the Opera House and Sydney Harbor.
It was a PERFECT day for this. They don’t allow cameras while you’re doing the bridge walk or else I would have had some amazing pics and video. I highly recommend it.
I made my way to Scenic World where I got in some epic views of the Blue Mountains & Three Sisters.
And as if I hadn’t had enough wildlife, I ventured to the Featherdale Wildlife Park to get up close and personal with more koalas, wombats, wallabies, penguins and exotic birds.
Then, just in time to watch the sun go down I made my way back to Sydney Harbor for a sunset cruise.
I specifically remember thinking about how as I was watching that sun setting in Australia it was simultaneously rising for all my friends back home on their horizon. How cool is that?
I spent my last quiet night in Darling Harbor.
It’s filled with spots to eat, little bar and grills along the water. I hopped in and out, not staying at any one place longer than 2 beers.
There was an incredible street performer with a haunting voice singing songs that echoed throughout the harbor.
I can’t believe I didn’t take video.
Maybe it had something to do with the rain. Out of NOWHERE a sudden downpour hit.
I ran into a bar and grill for shelter and when the rain didn’t stop I ended up chilling with 2 servers taking shots until around 1 am when the rain finally let up.
This was a great solo travel. Australia, I can’t wait to see you again!
Have you ever been dann undahh? Is Australia on your travel bucket list? What was your favorite part of this adventure?
Let me know what you think in the comments section below! Scroll down and leave your questions, comments, and anything else you want to share!
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