Ok, let’s face it, if you want to go to Australia, it’s going to be a long trip (15 hours going south and 14 hours on the return) no matter what city you leave from in the United States. So is it worth the trip? Without a doubt, yes! This was our second trip to Australia. Our first trip to Australia was to Sydney, then up to Brisbane, Noosa Heads, and Surfers Paradise. And by the way, the US Dollar currency conversion rate is an excellent 33% benefit in Australia, a steal.
The concept of this trip was to experience being there, walking the cities, going to the beaches, and relaxing. And why not base this trip on beaches in that it is January in New York, the worst of the winter season, and January in Sydney, the best of the summer season. So we began the trip by flying from New York’s JFK International Airport to Los Angeles and then onto Sydney.
Sydney is a beautiful city on the ocean and a delight to walk through. The downtown area is modern and centered around the Circular Quay (pronounced KEY). On the first day of our trip, we took an Uber roundtrip to Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach. (We could have just as easily taken an excellent bus system to Bondi, but we worried about jet lag and just wanted the easiest and quickest way.) Bondi Beach was beautiful but mobbed with beachgoers. As crowded as it was, there was no problem finding plenty of room on the beach and enjoying the crystal-clear water. This area of Sydney is quaint and a great beach town, reminding us of Venice, California.
On the second day, we took a ferry from Circular Quay to the first of many potential beaches. Next, we took the Watson Bay Ferry to Camp Cove and Lady Bay beaches. The port area and beaches of Watson Bay were terrific, relaxed, and not crowded.
The last two days of our trip in Sydney were to the beaches of South Mosa via ferry from Circular Quay. These towns, we were told, are some of the most expensive real estates in Sydney. So here we were on the beaches of Cobblers and Oberlisk; both beaches are clothing optional.
Originally, we were going to remain in Sydney for two days and then drive 100 miles north to Newcastle for great beaches; unfortunately, we experienced three days of bad weather coming into Sydney and, thus, with our interline benefits, we changed our plans and flew to Melbourne and rescued the days of bad weather.
Melbourne was, surprisingly, an extremely modern city with an excellent tram system that went everywhere in the downtown area, free of charge. As a result, walking around Melbourne was a pleasure, highlighted by a considerable walking area on the river, complete with restaurants, stores, and river cruises called Southgate.
We went to two beaches a short distance from downtown, the well-known Brighton Beach and St. Kilda Beach. Brighton Beach seemingly had better water to swim in; however, we really enjoyed the beach town of St. Kilda. This area also had a beautiful beach; unfortunately, the water quality was not as nice as Brighton’s; fortunately, the town was very charming, with restaurants, bars, and a Coney Island-style amusement park. Both beaches are connected easily and inexpensively by train.
In Sydney, we stayed at the elegant Sheraton Grand Hyde Park Hotel, right on beautiful Hyde Park, which was complete with an indoor pool and excellent Sheraton Club on the 21st floor overlooking the city, the park, and the port. The Seafood Feast should not be missed and is open four days a week at the hotel.
We stayed in Melbourne at the extremely modern Marriott Docklands Hotel in the brand-new Docklands Harbor Area. This hotel had an excellent ‘M Club’ along with an infinity pool on the top of the hotel. This hotel is just a few minutes from the center of the city and ideally connected to the city via three separate tram lines, free of charge.
The airports in both Sydney and Melbourne are very close to each city (within 5 miles). In Sydney, the airport is connected to the city via a train (costs $20.40 Australian Dollars, $13.50 US Dollars), and in Melbourne, the airport is connected to the city via a direct non-stop bus at the same cost.