Sunday, May 28, 2017

Australia...! your personal guidebook for exploring Down Under!

Another trip done. Another place explored. Time for another blog post.

My aim is to provide maximum tips/information which i term it as "vishesh tippani" :) 

So, fasten your seat belts.. keep tripadvisor/makemytrip tabs open..  apathkalin dwar/emergency exit from this blog can be found in the X symbol on the tab bar..

This is your captain, ANU, from the flight deck.
The journey till Australia - the continent-country with huge land mass & potpourri of various ethnicities- shall take us 4+8 hours, excluding airport wait time! We shall be touring the cities of Sydney, Gold Coast and Melbourne... Lets discover Down under :)


Passport... check!
Bags packed.... check!
Flights and hotels bookings... check!
Daydreams about a new experience... check!
Tripadvisor devoured.. check!

Visa... OMG! uncheck!



 Our dreams were swinging like a pendulum, owing to the "your visa application is under process at the Australian High Commission, New Delhi"!

It was 5 hours for our flight to take off from hyderabad, when we received the most anticipated e-mail in our inboxes. Visa has been granted! This was thanks to the immense pressure from the Maruti Suzuki officials who ensured all dealers made it to the Sydney Conference!

I want to advise everyone applying for an Australian Visa, "please read the offer document carefully before applying"...! The processing time seems to be highest in this consulate. Make sure you have read all about the documents ( example: IT returns, bank statements, itinery copy etc) needed and the category which you are entitled for.  Apply for it with ample time in hand. 

Imagine losing your money, time and excitement!

Planning your itinery will be a huge task.. There is so much data available online, making you feel everything is a must to do thing. Prioritise the things which appeals to your vacation goals. Example: Yarra valley wine tours will be sounding exotic but if you are not a wine lover, then its futile.
Inter city domestic flights are reasonably priced and Virgin Australia flights are super comfortable.

Currency requirements are to be considered while budgeting. Australian Dollars (AUD) are easily available in India. Rs. 48.90-50 is the best rate which we got, i.e. 1 AUD = 48.90 INR. Safety blanket overseas are US dollars and credit/debit cards. Its better to have sufficient back up, just in case.

Australia is pretty expensive if you convert into INRs. Beer is cheaper than bottled water. Public transport is cheaper than taxis. Shopping @ direct factory malls are cheaper than Indian prices.




Walking shoes and weather appropriate clothing are a must while planning this trip. There is lot of walking involved due to the fact that transportation is expensive and maximum places require you to walk! Jackets, sweaters and thermals will be your best friends in april-june time..!

Restaurants close by 10-30 - 11 pm and few bars are open till 12-1 am ! Indian restaurants are available everywhere. Vegetarians may have difficulty on the whole. So, carry haldiram bhujia, thepla and knick knacks like i did.. jaan bach gayi! Tap water is drinkable in the country, keep a bottle handy for refilling!

Every australian will greet you with "how'ya doing mate / hows your day", the positivity and friendliness will make you feel super good.

Sydney


After a super tiring journey, we landed on the soil of the vibrant metropolis!
inching our way towards the city centre, many skyscrapers greeted us.. You shall have a fleeting thought, whats so special? all cities like hong kong, dubai, bangkok will look the same. True, yet different.

Its convenient to stay near to the main transportation hubs like Central railway station and Circular Quay. Recommended hotels are four seasons, shangri la, mercure, hyatt etc.

The ferries and light rail (trams) are unique mode of transportation here. It is advisable to buy OPAL travel cards and keep recharging it. They are required to be "tapped on and off" while boarding and alighting from your desired transportation. The cost of travel is almost 1 dollar less as compared to paper tickets.  Ask around or google for the routes and use them. Its fun,quicker and cheaper!

We took a Ferry from circular quay till Manly Beach. Ferries are spacious, very clean, time punctual, convenient and cool.

Manly Beach is a beautiful place just outside Sydney, 30 min by ferry. Stroll around the souvenir stores, walk on the beautiful sandy beach or just savour the freshly brewed beer.  Perfect for half day outing.

Circular Quay provides the perfect glimpse of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Recommended highly is a ferry ride for watching these iconic landmarks glide past.

Darling Harbour is the most beautiful spot to just chill.. cute birds fly around, many bars/cafes to satiate your gastronomy cravings, checking out majestic yachts docked by the side, feeling the nip in the air, indulge in people watching.

If you are a chocolate lover, then the Lindt Cafe is the temple you need to worship in. Lip smacking pastries and coffee!

Madame Tussaads wax museum is located here along with the Sea life aquarium and Wildlife zoo.
Advisable to buy tickets which grants access to all three. Saves money!
Indians represented at the wax museum are Gandhiji and Sachin Tendulkar. Australian celebrities have more prominence in the museum. A short visit of half hour is recommended.

The Sea Life Aquarium enthrals you by its variety of exhibits. Expect lot of walking in this area. Overhead aquarium is the coolest thing i have experienced.. you can watch stingrays and sharks along with beautiful fishes swim above you! Penguins are also exhibited here, waddling around in their area. they are simply cute.

The Wildlife zoo is kinda okayish. Koalas, Kangaroo and a huge alligator are star attractions. A quick walk is suggested through.

Maritime Museum is a free exhibit. A real navy ship is anchored, making your curiosity happier!

Chanced upon a 18th century ship, towards one end of darling harbour, entry to this exhibit was AUD 5 per head. Amazement floods your senses when you stand on the deck and crane your neck while viewing the high mast sails.. hollywood movie scenes flash in front of your eyes and you are transported back in history. The quality of timber used is phenomenal.. this is highly recommended!

Opera Bar is the best sit out for a quiet drink with your travel companions. Situated just below the opera house overlooking the harbour bridge. Loved the atmosphere!

Sydney Cricket Ground has a capacity of 46,000 seats. Its magnificent! Take a guided tour through its grounds and memorabilia, if you are a cricket fan.


Gold Coast

1 hour and 10 min is the flight duration from Sydney to Gold Coast. I thought it was australia's goa :)
Surfers Paradise is the most happening area, with affordable accommodation.

The public transport is yet again very good here. Buses run on time and at frequent intervals till the amusements parks.

The beach is alluring with its waves and glistening sand. Summer is the best time to see surfers display their skills,riding mighty on the waves. Flea Market functions on alternate days, showcasing very interesting souvenirs, cakes, talents etc.

Cavill avenue is the perfect area for bar hopping. Sin City is the famous club with opens at 10 pm and closes at 5 am!! If you aint a bar bird, then just stroll down the lane soaking the vibrancy in the air. Indulge your taste buds in a variety of cuisines and ice creams.

A host of amusements parks provide various kinds of entertainment here. Would highly suggest to buy a 3 in 1 park pass. saves lot of money on the whole.

Movie world is a warner bros promoted park featuring live parade, roller coasters, carnival games and much more. perfect for a half day outing. If you are a batman fan, then this place will delight you to no end!

Dream world is supposed to be the biggest amusement park in the southern hemisphere, or so it claims. I felt it was kind of anti climax, since i had more fun and fantasy type feeling in movie world.
Mind boggling roller coasters are for the adrenaline junkies. One ride featured travelling straight up on a 20 storied tower and then plunging down at a high speed.. gave me creeper jeepers!
This park consists of animal park section, kids section and the roller coasters of various intensities spread around. The Tiger Island show is MUST do!

Sea World's dolphin show is the cutest thing you can ever see... 4 dolphins show you amazing circus type tricks! The roller coaster here is amazing!! Buy souvenirs/merchandise from sea world since they are cheaper in comparison with movie and dream world !


Melbourne

Trams, bicycles and cars/buses co exist peacefully in their dedicated lanes on the narrow roads of Melbourne. A free tram zone runs along the popular stops for sight seeing. Its convenient to hop on and hop off trams. This city is a true potpourri of various ethnicities. Indian community holds a major chunk of population,followed by chinese. 

Sight seeing in melbourne can be done easily by booking a half day city tour package. The tours pick you from your hotel/pickup point specified, and cover the entire city with 4 hours. They show you the Shrine of Remembrance ( a war memorial dedicated to the first world war martyrs, styled in the form of inca temples), the various sports stadiums, Captain cook cottage, fitzroy gardens and so on. 
The buses are clean with informative drivers-cum-guide. Only hitch being, the pick up  will be at 7am!

Whether you are a gambler or not, visiting crown casino is a must! Just spend some time here, watching people play, their emotions, the electric atmosphere and indulge in some hide and seek with your luck. Many interesting versions of popular games are available along with thousands of slot machines! The dealers are helpful in making you understand the game. It is a massive casino, spread over 2-3 levels and floor size is equivalent to perhaps 4 football fields. Only water is complimentary. unlike other casinos where beverages and some snacks are on the house, crown features many restaurants and bars inside to order and pay !

The Great Ocean Road drive will feature at topmost position in your memories. Driving alongside blue turquoise coloured waters, stopping for snacks/tea in the tiny villages enroute, clicking 10000000 of awesome pictures and feel the breeze tantalise your senses. 
Many people prefer to rent a car for the drive. You can also sign up for tours in a small vehicle. 20-24 people in a mini bus with a guide-cum-driver. Go west tours are highly professional.

12 apostles landmark falls along this route. Its truly a natural wonder. try the helicopter ride for a super time!


 




Phew!!! my 14 day journey is summarised in this blog post. Hopefully it will be helpful in planning your trip. 

Love,
Anu 











2 comments:

  1. Excellent written .... Will help many to plan Australia trip��

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    1. thank you so much bhaiyya.. i will be super happy if even one person would follow/benefit from my blog!

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