35 Best Things I did in Australia

Australia was amazing, but it was also absolutely jam-packed!

I realised as much as Phil and I love going through every single day and what we did, a blog post that goes "and then we did this" "and then we did that" probably isn't the most engaging thing to read!

So instead I thought I'd break it down into my absolute favourite things we did on our trip, from the best food to the best beaches, from hidden bars to animal encounters. 

Now even at nearly 4000 words, there are so many brilliant things we did which I can't possibly include on this list! So I've narrowed it down to my top 35 favourite things...

1. Spending time with family (and Anna and Liam's wedding!)


Our main reason for travelling to Australia was to celebrate Phil's cousin Anna's wedding. We hadn't seen most of Phil's family who live in Australia since our wedding three and a half years ago, so one of the best things about the trip was getting to spend time with them. They all met us at the airport with a sign and balloons and party hats and it was just the most amazing welcome after a day and a half of travelling! I think we were all pretty emotional to be reunited! We were so lucky to get lots of time together while we were in Sydney, plus enjoy the most beautiful wedding. It was the best to spend time together in real life and not on Zoom!

2. Climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon


While we didn't get time to do the Sydney Bridge Climb (another reason to go back!), one of the best things we did was to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon. The museum was so interesting and the views were incredible. One of my favourite things we did in Sydney.

3. Visit Lunar Park (and taking the ferry back)


After walking over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Phil and I were really excited to visit Lunar Park. We are both really into theme parks (and watching theme park video essays on YouTube...) so while we didn't go on any of the rides we loved visiting the park and having a photo with the iconic gate. It was also really cool to take the ferry back across the harbour.

4. Two Australian parkruns


Of course we managed to squeeze parkrun in (twice!), while we were away! We did Cowpastures Reserve parkrun the day of the wedding, and Huskisson parkrun while visiting Jervis Bay. While neither parkrun were actually on the beach, Huskisson did start on the beach and I loved running along the beautiful beachside houses

5. Ate the best vegan tacos of my life


In September, Phil's cousin Rob and his fiancee Fenna came over and Fenna promised that when we came to Australia she would take me for the best vegan tacos. Now, I didn't know if she had remembered and she didn't know if I had remembered, but thankfully when we met up we realised we had both been obsessed with making sure we went for these vegan tacos. The problem was, the taco place was closed on Mondays, the night out we had planned. Let's go Sunday, we decided. So Sunday comes around and it's the day after the wedding and the jetlag is hitting me so hard I feel absolutely sick to my stomach. I didn't even want vegan tacos anymore! But we'd promised so we headed into the city and I had a ginger beer to settle my stomach (currently obsessed with ginger beer) and it ended up being one of the best nights of the trip!

The tacos at Vandal absolutely blew my mind! The prawn one in particular looked and tasted and felt so much like a prawn that I think I'ves shown the photo of the prawn taco to every person I've seen to since we got back. I'm so glad we went out! 

6. Earl's Juke Joint

After tacos, Rob jumped up and said, "we just need to nip into the butchers". What? He headed over to the butchers next door and opened the door and.... a secret bar! Now Phil and I am obsessed with secret bars (there are a few more on this list) and this was just such an amazing surprised. The inside was fitting with church pews and it was so just so cool. Another of my favourite places we went to.

7. Clifftop walk from Bondi Beach


You can't go to Sydney without visiting Bondi beach right? We had the most beautiful day by the sea doing the clifftop walk from Bondi to Coogee on Monday. The weather was stunning and people were surfing and swimming and sat on the beach. I loved the Iceberg Pools and the beautiful walks. My favourite beach on the walk was Bronte where we stopped for a beautiful lunch.

8. Holey Moley Night Out


On Monday night we had a cousins night out with everyone and partners, and it was just so much fun. We got chatting so much we forgot to have dinner and then headed out to play mini golf at Holey Moley. It's one of my most cherished memories of the trip as we so rarely get that time together living so apart. It was the best.

9. Sydney Royal Botanical Gardens


Tuesday was our last day in Sydney so we spent it in the city, and Phil and I made sure we had a walk around the Royal Botanical Gardens which were just beautiful with a gorgeous view of the opera house and harbour bridge.

10.Sydney Opera House and Opera Bar



When it comes to famous Sydney architecture, Phil's favourite is the Harbour Bridge but mine is definitely the Opera House. We couldn't do much exploring inside as there was a performance on, but we did have a drink at the Opera Bar with a view of both the bridge and the Opera House. Definitely the best drink with a view I had on the trip!

11. Blue Mountains National Park



Our first stop after Sydney was to visit The Blue Mountains National Park. This was such a great day out! We started out at Scenic World and took the World's Steepest Railway down to the valley walk first, then got the Glass Floor Cable Car across to see the Three Sisters (I was even brave and stood on the glass sections both rides!). We went to see one of the waterfalls first, then walked across to the Echo Point lookout. Unfortunately due to weather, the clifftop walk was closed so we had to walk along the roads but the views were totally worth it. Then Phil persuaded me to walk down some pretty questionable steps to get to actually reach one of the Three Sisters, It was a bit treacherous but I'm so glad we did it!

12. Bald Hill viewpoint



Thursday was my favourite day of the whole trip. We got up early and our first stop was a viewpoint at Bald Hill we'd been recommended. Wow, this is such a well-kept secret This spectacular view was my favourite view of the whole trip! We also saw people handgliding off the top which was incredible!

13. Kiama Blow Holes


After a beautiful drive we stopped at Kiama Blow Holes. These were so much fun! They're big holes in the rocks which the sea splashes into and they spurt the water back out. I could have watched these for hours!

14. Minnamura Falls


Our next stop was Minnamura Falls, a beautiful raniforest walk within Budderoo National Park. This was such a lovely quiet and relaxing walk with lots of waterfalls (I love waterfalls!).

15. Two Figs winery


We visited two wineries while we were in Australia but Two Figs was hands down the best. It was such a beautiful setting next to a river, and the views were incredible. We did a wine tasting with a cheeseboard and we were talked through every single wine while eating the most delicious cheese. It was such a calming, serene experience and honestly one of the best things we did on the trip.

16. Huskisson


Our final stop on Thursday was beautiful Huskisson where we spent 2 nights. Huskisson was the perfect base for us to explore Jervis Bay and had the cutest little brunch spots and cafes and shops looking out onto the sea, It's also where we did our second parkrun which started on the beach!

17. Jervis Bay Brewing Company


When we arrived in Huskisson it had been a super long day and we were exhausted and I couldn't work out why Phil was dragging me on a half an hour walk to get to the pub when there were plenty of other pubs in Huskisson?! In the end he was right to make us walk - Jervis Bay Brewing Company was the coolest little brewery and we ended up stopping there all night thanks to a food truck selling food from a local restaurant and a monthly quiz, where I ended up wining a John Denver record for drawing the best toilet.

18. Hyam Beach


Maybe it was the time of year, but everywhere we went in Australia we found it quiet - in a good way! No queues for restaurants, no struggles for parking. Hyam Beach was the perfect example - it was a Friday morning and it felt like we had the whole beach to ourselves. This was probably my favourite walk of the trip - all white beach and blue sky, walking barefoot with our toes in the sea, it was absolutely stunning.

19. Merry Beach/Pretty Beach/Goanna spotting



I have to give Phil all the credit for planning our entire trip. He booked every hotel, planned our route and researched all the best stops along the way. I mostly just turned up. 

One of his trips from Huskisson was Merry Beach walk to Pretty Beach, which started with a muddy trail from a caravan park and didn't seem very convincing. (However this carvan park was where I saw absolutely huge groups of kangaroos which was amazing! I think we saw at least 50 that day!)

Once we got up to the cliffs a bit more we met a fellow walker, an Australian, who told me we were going to have some of the best views in New South Wales.

We left him behind and kept going, not completely sure where we were going, down some path, up some steps and into a forrested area, then suddenly we turned a corner and out of nowhere, a creature!

He was huge, at least a metre and a half long, black and scaly and walking like an alligator. We had no idea what this was. Could it kill us? We were in Australia for god's sake!

He was blissfully unaware of us to start with, crawling thankfully away from our path, but then legged it as soon as he spotted us.

(You can spot him in his glory in Phil's Australia video roundup here)

We nervously managed the rest of the walk, on lookout the whole time for him or anything else. There was nobody else around and our Australia friend was at least half a mile behind us.

When we finally reached Pretty Beach I was not keen to do the walk back through the trees again, but then our Australia friend arrived. Relieved, we showed him the video on Phil's phone, "that's a goana!" he said, in the broadest Australia accent.

A goana? No not an iguana but a generic term for several species of lizard. Not harmful to us, it turned out, but enough to give us a shock.

We did walk back and actually saw another, smaller, goanna on the way back, and it was worth it - for both the views and the wildlife!

20. Lakes Entrance walk




Lakes Entrance was one of the last stops on our trip, a lovely seaside town with a gorgeous beach and a lovely walk through the bush alongside the lake. Again this was a lovely quiet walk where we felt like we had the whole place to ourselves!

21. Met some koalas at Raymond Island


Obviously going to Australia I wanted to see some wildlife. Well no I wanted to see kangaroos and koalas, not snakes and spiders. I was told I would probably see a kangaroo, and we saw loads at Merry Beach, but for a koala I'd probably have to go to the zoo.

Well, I said, I'm not going to see one in the zoo. I could see them in a zoo anywhere.

So I gave up on my dream of meeting a koala friend and focusing on all the kangaroos I had seen.

Until we got to Bairnsdale.

Bairnsdale was our last stop before Melbourne. A good-sized town with a good selection of bars and restaurants and a nice-looking hotel.

As we were checking in the manager asked us "what brings you to Bairsndale?" and we said well we've been driving from Sydney to Melbourne and this is our last stop before the 4 hour drive to Melbourne tomorrow.

And she said oh well if you're interested while you're here, there's a town called Painsville about 20 minutes away and from there you can get a 5 minute ferry to an island full of rehomed koalas.

WHAT!

When Phil tells this story he says he wasn't looking at me but he could feel the beam coming across my face.

We were too tired to go that evening, but first thing the next morning we headed over to Painsville and waited for the ferry. True to her word, the ferry was every 20 minutes and took less than 5 to get across.

I was walking with my head facing upwards so much I'm surprised I didn't walk into something, desperate to spot a koala. Phil saw one first, sleeping up in a tree, almost perfectly camouflaged. 

Then we saw two women a bit further along taking photos, and saw right up close this beautiful huge koala. He was so close that Phil was convinced he wasn't real! 

We ended up seeing 8 koalas on the island and it was absolutely magical. Undoubtedly one of the best things we did the whole time.

22. Ate the most incredible Indian food at Tonka, Melbourne


Finally we arrived in Melbourne! We were mostly excited for Melbourne for the food and drinks. We'd saved so many restaurants and cool bars, and ended up going to Tonka our first night,

Tonka was one of the restaurants we were desperate to go to in Melbourne. In hindsight it was even more fancy than we expected and we weren't quite dressed for it, but the food and service were absolutely impeccable with the most beautiful Indian food and drinks. With the exception of the vegan tacos in Sydney, this was the best meal we had.

23. Watched an England game at midnight


The World Cup started while we were in Australia, but due to the time difference the matches were a nightmare! 1pm games were at midnight, 4pm games were at 3am and 7pm games were at 6am. But we were determined to watch England so our first night in Melbourne, after our meal at Tonka, we got refreshed and into our England shirts and headed to the pub for midnight kick off.

There were about 30 of us there watching it on the big screen. I got chips and tea at half time and just about managed til about 70 minutes at 1.40am when I absolutely had to go to bed!

24. Ate Turkish Street Food at Queen Victoria Market

On all the Youtube videos we'd watched on what to eat in Melbourne Queen Victoria Market was a must-do so we were so excited to visit! First stop was Turkish food as we'd heard the Borek Shop was the place to start. We had both a feta and spinach Gozleme and a feta and spinach Borek, which we washed down with a smoothie from the juice bar across the market. We'd also watched loads of videos about the American Doughnut van which Phil greatly enjoyed!

25. The World of the Book and State Library Victoria


We were staying just around the corner from Melbourne Library and you know I can't resist a library! State Library Victoria wasn't just a beautiful library, it also had a fantastic exhibit on The World of the Book which had some incredible pieces including old manuscripts and first editions of books.

26. Explored Fitzroy


Fitzroy is one of the coolest areas of Melbourne, all vintage shops and cool bars and shops. We absolutely loved it! We had a great afternoon exploring the shops and bars before heading to our most anticipated eatery of Melbourne...

27. Ate a burger from a disused train car on top of a roof at Easey's


The number one food place we wanted to visit was Easey's, which I think we'd seen on almost every foodie Melbourne video we watched. Located in the cool district of Fitzroy, Easey's is a burger place inside an old train carriage.... on top of a roof! We were so desperate to go I made sure I booked us in just to be sure we could get a seat in the main train car. The whole place was incredibly cool - even the toilets were in an old train toilet - and the food was fantastic! Definitely one of the coolest meals we had.

28. Drank cocktails at The Everleigh


The Everleigh, also in Fitzroy, is a classic speakeasy-style cocktail bar hidden around a sneaky corner. As I mentioned before we love secret bars and we love cocktails, so we were really excited to visit the Everleigh. Next time I would definitely request a seat at the impressive-looking bar so I could watch the bartenders, but the drinks we had were fantastic.

29. Had a famous Melbourne Magic Coffee

Another foodie-thing we wanted to try in Melbourne was a famous magic coffee, a coffee mix you can only get in Melbourne, but in most cafes it's a secret menu item that only those in-the-know to ask for. We were too scared to embarrass ourselves as tourists so we were so grateful that the coffee shop near our hotel had Magics on the menu! It was absolutely delicious and I'm so glad we tried it!

30. Watched Australia v France in Fed Square at 6am


One of the reasons we went to get a magic coffee in the first place was because it was just after 6am and we were heading to Fed Square to watch Australia in the World Cup! Unfortunately we woke up just after 6 and missed Australia score, but made it to the square for the second half. There were hundreds of people gathered before work to watch the match on a big screen and even though Australia lost it was amazing to be in the crows to watch!

31. Queued for a famous Lune Croissant


It's getting pretty clear isn't it that we planned pretty most of our time in Melbourne around food isn't it? 

Now if you know me you'll probably be like wait, Charlotte hates pastries, why would she queue for a croissant? And you're right, I famously hate pastries (I know, I know, it's weird). 

But every video we watched said 2 things 1) we had to get a croissant from Lune and 2) we would have to queue for it.

So after the football we joined the (already sizable for a Wednesday morning) queue for a croissant. We queued for about an hour but it was SO worth it! Seeing as I'm not a big croissant fan I decided to pick the one that was most covered in chocolate and pecans, and Phil went for a classic almond. We decided to really enjoy them and sat at the counter while they were being made and had a coffee to go with them. Mine was incredibly rich and sweet but it was so delicious! Well worth a stop!

32. Took a tour of the Old Melbourne Gaol


When Phil's family last came to Australia 8 years ago, they said Melbourne Gaol was one of the best things they did, so this was high on our list! We managed to get a guided watchtower tour too which was both really interesting and great fun, even if you did get a bit shouted at by the "guard". The rest of the gaol was a self-guided audiotour which I thought was really fantastic. Well worth a visit in Melbourne.

33. Took in the view of Melbourne from the Skydeck


On our last full day in Melbourne we wanted to take in the last few touristy things we could do on our trip, so we headed to Eureka Tower to visit the Skydeck. I love going up those towers with the super-fast lifts and taking in the views, and this was a wonderful way to see all of the city.

34. Visited ACMI

In the middle of Fed Square, Melbourne has a fantastic film and television museum, ACMI, and as film-lovers this was the absolutely perfect way to spend a few hours on a drizzly Melbourne afternoon. There were some fantastic exhibits on, but the main exhibit, The Story of the Moving Image was absolutely incredible.

35. Drank our last cocktails at Beneath Driver Lane


We had one last secret bar to do before we left, and it ended up being our favourite. Beneath Driver Lane was hidden in an alleyway down some steps, and as soon as we walked in we knew we were going to love it. We loved it so much we ended up staying there all night! We had a couple of drinks and a cheese board and a selection of their bar snacks - it was the perfect way to end the trip!

And that's it! So many things I didn't get chance to talk about, but I think after nearly 4000 words I've probably covered quite enough!

I'll be back after Christmas to round up 2022!

Charlotte x

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