New South Wales, Australia
I recently had the pleasure of visiting Australia with Travel 2 a specialist operator, hosted by Qantas and Destination New South Wales. On this amazing trip I had an introduction to a small part of what New South Wales has to offer.
The trip commenced with a three-night stay in Sydney. Wow what a city! Best known for its harbour front Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, I was incredibly lucky to experience both. Firstly, we had back stage entry in to the Opera House, opened in October 1973. We were taken through the private areas led by a knowledgeable tour guide, who not only gave us an insight in to the day to day running but also stories of the people who played, acted and sang there. Then off to do the Sydney Bridge Climb, kitted out with safety gear we made our way the start of our express bridge climb, this is the fastest trip to the top and lasts approximately 2 hours 45 mins. There are many more bridge climb experiences during sunrise, sunset and even a wedding bridge climb! The view from the top was stunning, a view of the whole of Sydney and in the far distance the Blue Mountains.
There is a huge array of things to see and do in Sydney but with limited time, we had a visit to Sydney’s Taronga Zoo with over 4,000 animals and 350 species, over 20 keeper talks, shows and events. It was great to see a lot of the native animals of Australia. It’s an easy ferry ride over from Circular Quay or Darling Harbour.
There are numerous ferries that can take you all over Sydney, the network covers places like Manly, Neutral Bay plus many more.
On my last day we took the opportunity of doing a fantastic walking tour of Chippendale & Redfern. Guided through these up and coming inner city areas, Culture Scouts talked us through the urban transformation and along the way we viewed incredible street art, heritage buildings and galleries.
In essence Sydney is a melting pot of culture, culinary experiences, galleries, shopping and activities, definitely not to missed when visiting NSW.
Next stop Byron Bay, a two night stop here by way of a short domestic flight to Ballina.
A coastal town located on the far north coast of NSW, it is known for its’ spectacular beaches, unique shopping and dining experiences, world class festivals and a vibrant community.
To start we experienced stand up paddle boarding. Not as easy as it looks, I should know after falling in several times! Taken by fully qualified instructors on the Brunswick river, the water was warm and it was brilliant fun. The afternoon was spent sea kayaking with the dolphins. Byron Bay is home to a residential group of bottlenose dolphins which is estimated to have 100 dolphins in population so your chances of seeing them is high. You are taken out by a local surfer life saver, everything is included, pick up and drop off from your accommodation, all safety gear & wetsuits. The perfect combination of education, adventure and most importantly heaps of fun …. Oh, and prepare to save the best for last as you surf your kayak back to shore!
On our last day we visited the Crystal Castle and Shambhala Gardens. Home to the largest and most beautiful crystals in the world. A wander through the stunning gardens and rainforest, they offer daily workshops & experiences, you can even get your aura read. Be in awe of the enchanted Cave, the largest Amethyst cave in the world. End with a coffee and a piece of cake in their lovely café overlooking vast countryside views.
Our last stop! A short domestic flight from Ballina to Newcastle takes us to the Hunter Valley Wine Region, north of Sydney. Today we experience a fabulous tour of three wineries, with Two Fat Blokes Gourmet Tours and Kitchen. The Hunter valley has over 150 wineries and restaurants as well as open door tastings. There are wide a selection of events and concerts throughout the year. Today’s tour started with lunch and a tasting, then on to a chocolate and wine pairing and finishing back at the Two Fat Blokes headquarters for a cheese and wine pairing. Transferred by private minibus between each winery we were regaled with stories and history by our Two Fat Blokes tour guide, what a perfect way to end a truly amazing trip to NSW.
With so many things to do and visit all in one state, multi centres and fly-drives are incredibly popular. Please feel free to call in and see Louise to ask about any arrangements you may have for a trip Down Under!