[Ad] I was fortunate enough to stay in Australia for six weeks when I was 20 (it made me choke when I just did a quick bit of maths and realised that was 15 years ago). Going that distance is no joke, in terms of effort and expense. But elements of that trip remain some of my most cherished memories, so naturally I’d love to return – this time with my husband and children, to hopefully enjoy one of the best family holidays Australia has to offer.
Here are my top reasons for wanting to go back to Oz:
Some of the Best Family Holidays in Australia…
It’s one of those cities that just stays with you. Something about it feels at once familiar, and exotic. It’s laid back cool and stylish, contemporary and iconic. When the sun is shining, Sydney Harbour is the place to be, whoever you are, whatever your age.
On offer are an abundance of bars and restaurants, interspersed with famous landmarks, such as the opera house and the harbour bridge, both dramatic backdrops against the sparkling waters of Port Jackson.
And then of course there are also the stunning Royal Botanic Gardens, which back on to the harbour, and take you right up to the opera house. Taking a leisurely stroll through the (free) gardens and then winding around the harbour and up towards the bustling area of bars was one of my favourite ways to pass the time!
The Great Barrier Reef
Whilst in Australia, I also visited Cairns. I snorkelled in the Great Barrier Reef and, having dived off the shores of both Turkey and Egypt for comparison, I have to say I was…disappointed. Unusually, the water was murky and I saw very little – I felt somewhat robbed of what proclaims to be a truly sublime experience.
- Term-Time Holidays for School Children: Where Do You Stand?
- My Family Holiday Bucket List
- What to Pack for a Family Holiday in the Tuscan Sunshine!
That said, I have little room to complain – it was a couple of days post the Boxing Day tsunami which occurred off the coast of Indonesia. I’ve always wondered if the two were related, and I count my blessings that I was in Cairns missing some spectacular views, rather than the alternative.
Nonetheless, I’d love the opportunity to see reef in all its promised glory.
I also took a ferry across to a small unspoilt island off the coast of Cairns, and it is one of the few locations I’ve visited in my life that still holds a very special place in my heart.
When I was there there was minimal infrastructure, with simply a small pool and outdoor restaurant, accommodation comprising shared dormitories, and a few separate cabins. There were water sports available, stunning walks across the preserved island, and not much else.
It was complete bliss.
Formalities of Visiting Australia
If you’re planning a holiday to Sydney or Cairns (or anywhere else in the country), it will be necessary to obtain a travel visa for Australia. You can do this online using a service such as e-visa.
There are two types of Australia visa available: the eVisitor, and the ETA. The eVisitor is for people with passports from EU countries, while the ETA is for passport holders from a small number of selected non-European countries. Both allow you to visit for up to three months.
The eVisitor is less expensive than the ETA, and the most popular choice. You can obtain the eVisitor through e-visa. Choosing their specialist service guarantees 24 hour support including during weekends and holidays, as well as a checking service to ensure applications are correct prior to submission. They also have a full refund policy for any application which is denied.
Some of the most precious memories I have from my trip is the wildlife I encountered, up close and personal – and while it’s true I cuddled a sleepy koala at the zoo, that’s not quite what I mean.
When I was a child I had a pet parrot called Sid. He was a lesser sulphur-crested cockatoo. They’re quite large, with a beak that could snap your finger like a twig (designed for cracking nuts), and really far too exotic to be kept in a cage. I knew no different – until I saw them flying wild, high up in trees on Fitzroy Island. Because of my personal link, it made the experience all the more poignant for me.
But that’s not all. I also saw the skies of Cairns turn black with bats, and whilst laying on one of Fitzroy Island’s beaches, I heard what sounded like a child skittering across the sand towards me. My eyes flew open – and I had apparently intrigued an iguana.
Again, I have a tie – my best friend had pet iguanas when we were growing up; so I was well aware of the damage they can do! That was a little too close for comfort, but it scuttled away, no harm done which thankfully leaves me with another incredible memory.
I was in Australia for December and half of January, which meant – of course – a barbecue for Christmas dinner.
It was something I was keen to experience – festivities in the blazing sunshine are be nothing if not novel to a Brit! – but I was aware it may also make me miss home. Sadly the 25th of December was not the fabulous weather I’d anticipated, and I spent a lot of the day camped inside because I was chilly!
I’m desperate to have another try, this time with my husband and our girls.
New Year’s Eve on Sydney Harbour
Yet another highlight of the trip – I was fortunate enough to pull some strings to be positioned on the top of one of Sydney’s tall buildings close to the harbour for NYE. We had a spectacular view of the bridge and the renowned fireworks for the new year celebrations.
It’s been a long time since I was in Oz, but writing these special memories down has certainly reminded me how extraordinary that holiday was – and made me all the more determined to return with my family.
Visiting Australia is truly the trip of a lifetime.