When I went solo to Sydney towards the end of July, I fell in love with it on a different level. Close to Japan-favorite level. So I spoke to my friends who have been there or who live there and asked them if they also felt the same way about the country. I won’t speak on their behalf. Instead I asked them to list their favorite spots and tell fellow Filipinos why they loved it (and directly invite the readers to visit Australia because, why not?). Here are their stories, and why you should be scouting for a trip to the land down under next time you hear of a seat sale.
Besides, not only is it a beautiful and huge country, it belongs to the southern hemisphere, which has the opposite season cycle! Imagine going there in June-August for winter (which is usually summer for North America and Europe) and December is a freaking hot month!
Not convinced? Read further and let us know what you think.
ATTY. CHIK ESCOVILLA
My family and I had a memorable vacation in Australia last year where we got to visit two states. We love how the country mixes the old and modern in such a classy fashion, and with due regard to history. We also love the nature tripping we did there. Here are my top three favorite spots among those we got to visit:
Hartley’s Crocodile Farm in Queensland is on top of my list. Sure, we’ve seen so many crocodiles in the past but our visit there offered more than just seeing the crocs in cages. We actually got to see them up close while we cruised through the river inhabited by hundreds of crocs. Fret not though. It’s safe as we were inside a small boat with enough protective measures. The bonus? We also got up close with other animals which Australia is famous for – koala, kangaroo and wallaby!
Going on a road trip along Atherton Tablelands is another favorite. It gave us not only a glimpse of what it’s like living in the countryside, but also a view of such amazing scenery. We got to check out the Gallo Dairyland where we enjoyed the sumptuous array of chocolates and cheeses, and visited the cow farm that produced these products. We also stopped by the Mungalli Creek Bio-Dynamic Dairy & Organic Café where we had a bit of the ever famous scones.
Sydney has arguably some of the most jaw-dropping architecture. Among those though, the Sydney Town Hall is a personal favorite. It is a late 19th century multi-purpose building that boasts of intricate interior design. Best part? Visiting the building would not cost a dime as entrance is free of charge.
Chik, by the way, is one of my “best-est” friends in high school and though it took almost a couple of decades to reunite, it felt like nothing’s changed. The age maybe, a kid, and better-halves.
It was in 2016 when I visited Australia and I will be writing about my top 3 favorite places.
1. Stradbroke Island or “Straddie” Island lies within Moreton Bay in the Australian state of Queensland and traditionally known as Minjerribah. It can be accessed by taking a ferry from Cleveland (which is 10 minutes away from where I live) to the dock at Dunwich (on Stradbroke Island). Stradbroke Flyer water taxi provides a free shuttle bus that picks up passengers from the Cleveland Train Station 10 minutes before water taxi departures. You will need about $20 for the ferry (two-way) and another $20 (two-way) for the bus ticket on Straddie.
Among the places I’ve visited, “Straddie” was my top favorite not to mention I’ve been in the island twice. The island has a wonderful nature vibe; I was amazed and it was definitely for tourists like me who want to explore and make a connection with the amazing geography.
There are many activities you can do in Straddie like whale watching, the famous 1.2km walk along the North Gorge Walk, hang out with the local wildlife, paddle and join a kayak tour, walk in the woods, learn to surf, 4 wheels on the sand, camping (best way to stay at Straddie) and many more.
2. Gold Coast – is the sixth-largest city in Australia. It is famous for its attractions like the long sandy beaches and surfing spots. It is home to theme parks and beyond the beaches, you will discover the laid-back neighborhoods. With 57 kilometres of sandy beaches to choose from, your perfect beach holiday awaits. Surfers Paradise is definitely my favorite area of the Gold Coast, there’s no better place to find yourself living in than Surfer’s Paradise. It has shopping centers, restaurants and bars, a beach worth spending the day on and my favorite Four Winds Revolving Restaurant which has a revolving dining room with panoramic ocean views and a buffet featuring Mediterranean dishes. Also, if you are a surfer or want to be one, then you need to spend time here and maybe even learn to surf.
I can’t count how many times I’ve been to Gold Coast since it was just an hour drive from where I lived (Cleveland) and when I arrived on the Gold Coast, I instantly felt excited about the things to do like the sun soaked adventures, getting your adrenaline fix at the theme parks, hire a bike to discover coastal neighborhoods, and staying in a not-so-posh accommodation.
3. Byron Bay is a coastal town in the southeastern Australian state of New South Wales. It’s one of Australia’s most popular destinations and has a combination of natural beauty and free-spirited local populations.
The town has a perfect mixture of activity and relaxation and my favorite part was doing the Byron Bay lighthouse walk. It took me almost 2 hours to walk up to the lighthouse but it was worth it because the views are to die for. From there, you can take a walk up the steps and watch the surfers in action carving up the waves at one of Australia’s most famous surf break, The Pass. A few more steps and I have made it to the Icon of Byron Bay. From the top, you will see the whole bay and town.
The trip isn’t complete without walking up to the Lighthouse and exploring the whole town on foot.
Cybill stayed in Australia for 3 months, maximizing her single-entry visa and bringing her freelance work there. We worked together for a BPO company around 4 years back.
MAE PEPITO, RN
My favorite place in Australia is Melbourne because it’s quite laid back compared to the fast paced Sydney. What I don’t like there is the four-seasons-in-one-day kind of weather.
#2 of course is Sydney because it’s been my second home for 4 years now. Very urbanized and the weather is not as cold as Melbourne. It has a lot of beaches. What I don’t like is the high cost of living and the traffic.
#3 is Gold Coast because I love the beach. It’s a just a small city but very cheap to live in there and Surfers Paradise is heaven to beach goers.
If in New South Wales, my favorite would be #1 Snowy Mountains because of the “winter feels” it brings. Plus it is only a 6-hour drive away from Sydney.
#2 Mount Wilson and Blue Mountains especially during autumn. Very nice view as in picturesque jud cya and has a lot of gardens.
“I’ve been here since 2013 and I work as a nurse in the operating theatre in the hills area of Sydney” is how Mae described to me what she does in Australia. She is also a high school friend two years my senior. We have not seen each other since she graduated but from a casual comment on my planned trip to Sydney, to actually meeting her there was cool! It’s like picking from where we left off since 1998!
My fiance is the reason I am here in Australia and we live in Perth, Western Australia for almost 2 years now.
It was my first time there and i didn’t know that there is a man-made falls from the entrance of the Lesmurdie National Park going to where the falls starts. My Aussie companions made me climb the peak through those rocks. That was on the spring of 2016. My first rock climb. 😊 water only runs during winter and spring which is around June to November. The rest of the year it is dry.
This is The Pinnacle. It’s a desert full of rocks in different sizes and forms. I like it because it’s unique. The rocks look like stalagmite but it’s not made of salt and it’s not inside a cave. There’s nothing much to see here but what i found fascinating is how the rocks are shaped.
Cottlesloe beach is the most popular beach this side of Australia. It has wide sand, turquoise water and an under-25 vibe every Sunday afternoon to evening. It has benches, a park, cafes and hotels too.
Lala and I used to work for a BPO company too but we have maintained communication through facebook and at one point, she even planned on going all the way to Sydney from Perth to meet me.
Sydney Olympic Park
Apart from every Manny Pacquiao bout, the only TV event I’d spend hours watching that’s remotely athletic would be the Olympic opening ceremony. Maybe it’s the state-of-the-art fireworks or the multi-million dollar production but I always wait in anticipation to witness it’s live telecast every leap year. On our trip to Sydney, I had to set aside an entire day just to visit the Olympic Park. It’s an entirely separate suburb about 22km north of Rockdale that’s only accessible through a single-stop train ride from Lidcombe station. Home to the ANZ Stadium, the Sydney Olympic Park has hosted almost every major sporting and cultural event in Australia from the time it opened in 1999. It has since been converted into a prime commercial area for modern offices and upscale hotels years after the 2000 Summer Games. The best places to check out are the Sydney Olympic Aquatic Centre, the Dome, the Lawn and the Sports Hall.
Why Australia? Well this is what I told the Consulate: My name is Johnson Paredes and I’m a Philippine Passport holder who has always wanted to experience the breathtaking sights and the amazing culture of Sydney. I’m a Financial Account Process Trainer by profession which allows me to travel to different places for both business and leisure. I’ve been to Cincinnati (Ohio), Joplin (Missouri), Tokyo (Japan), Seoul (South Korea), Macau (China) and Hong Kong. I’ve seen various cities but I’ve always been fascinated with Sydney. It has been my heart’s desire to visit the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Rocks, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Taronga Zoo as well as watch the Humpback whales up close.
As some of you may know, Jons and I go way back what, 7 or 8 years ago. We have been to Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, the US, Boracay, Baler, Balesin and Baguio. We are actually a trio, and Sani would not like it if I didn’t mention him here.
And of course, your very own footloosetomcat bloggers, Migz and Mary.
The architecture – pretty much accounts for a lot of buildings in Sydney that can cause you to stop and stare. From the classical Archibald Fountain in Hyde Park, the gothic St. Mary’s Cathedral to the iconic Sydney Opera House, one can’t help but admire the art in these structures. My favorite structure from the outside is St. Mary’s Cathedral, and on the inside, Mary and both like the Art Gallery of New South Wales. More about this on the first blog on Sydney.
Mary particularly loved the idea of a shelter for the homeless right along a very busy, posh street – St. Martin’s Place. When we stopped there during the walking tour though, our guide was reprimanded because someone in the group took pictures of the tents (I think it was me he saw… sorry). There’s a kitchen, a library and the wall screams of how eviction is caused by too much commercialism and capitalism.
Sydney Opera House – I can’t believe nobody’s mentioned the SOH! Oh well, that’s because it’s a stand-out on its own. It’s one of the highly and easily-recognizable buildings / structures in the world. That’s why Mary thought to finally see it was something else. It has an enchanting draw to it. Families, lovers, friends, soloists, flock there at any given part of the day but most especially during sunset, and at night during the Vivid Festival. It also has an intriguing story behind it that not everyone knows which adds more to its already oozing appeal.
So there you have it guys! Book your tickets on the next great seat sale and experience the same awe and inspiration we all felt. Cebu Pacific flies direct to Sydney only while Air Asia flies from Manila to Perth, Gold Coast, Sydney and Melbourne. Other low-cost carriers like Jetstart also fly in to multiple Australian destinations. Please click this link for your visa guide.