Royal Botanic Gardens
Most cities proudly boast their own botanic gardens, and I’ve been through many of them. Aside from lovely buds and sprawling lawns, I particularly enjoyed Sydney’s because you get the added bonus of a waterfront ambience mingled with the park setting. Stroll along the harbor promenade behind the seawall, and hike up to Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair for the best view of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House together (just try to avoid mid-morning and mid-afternoon tour busses.) My favorite part was finding a quiet, secluded spot up on the hill and watching the sun set behind the bridge and opera house. You’ll even share the view with wild parakeets.
Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne
Neighbouring the Shrine of Rememberance are the Royal Botanical Gardens. Founded in 18th century, these green beds of sprawling lawns are pure delight for your mind and soul. Take a stroll in these amazingly curated peaceful gardens or just enjoy a leisurely picnic with friends/family along tranquil lake sides. These magnificent gardens offer a relaxing therapy. It is like a magical wonderland which doesn't disappoint you at all and has something to offer to everyone.
The girls went on their secret shopping adventure, so I went over to the park with the boys, played cricket for the first time in my life and soaked Grant in the pool of reflection at Hyde Park, which gained me a soaking in return of ice cold water. Had the best Spaghetti Bologenese cooked for us for dinner by Mike tonight too, it was delish!
Named after the original Hyde Park in London, this is the oldest parkland in Australia. Once a popular racing ground and a turf for various other sports, today this 40 acre park is only a humble reminder of the city's past. This huge space filled with gardens and a main fountain at the center is perfect to lay back and absorb the two-hour walk. A perfect end point to the journey.
Next we went to The Nobbies where we wandered along the boardwalk around the rugged coastline. This place gives you a great view of offshore islands.In the end we went to the world famous Penguin Parade. The little penguins fish in the sea all the day and return to the shore just when it starts to get dark. It’s fun watching them gather at the shore and walk towards their nests. Approximately 900-1000 penguins participated in the parade. One must carry jackets as gets freezing cold at the night. Photography is not allowed as it may disturb the penguins.
We visited Tasmania's east coast village- Coles Bay, during the same trip to Australia. While we visited the world famous Winegalss Bay, the most beautiful and probably one of the most unheard of places was "The Hazards" and the Freycinet Park. What we saw here was one of the most interesting experience into wilderness, for we saw red granite cliffs tumbling their ways into the cold ocean, surrounded by the park and its most unusual animals, ranging from the white-breasted sea eagles and red-neck wallabies to the Tasmanian pademelons. What's more is the abseiling, boating and fishing, snorkeling, coastal wine tasting and scenic flights that were just the perfect ways to experience the essence of Coles Bay. The entire experience truly makes up for the most marvellous coastline I have ever travelled! HOW TO GET THERE: Coles Bay is about 45 minutes' drive from Swansea and around 30 minutes' drive from Bicheno, both on the east coast of Tasmania.
CERES Community Environment Park
I took the 96 tram for a morning’s stroll around the CERES Environmental Park. This is something you won't do if you are not from Melbourne. It is too local to be featured on some quick city guides. i moved along the park's markets, workshops. Even discovered a plant nursery and an outdoor cafe. It is such an amazing atmosphere. If you plan to go to Melbourne, this should feature among your must halts.
With old colonial buildings on one side and the pristine ocean marked with beautiful lighthouses on the other; we enjoyed the mark of beginning our journey on the most amazing coastline of Thomas Bay. Rustic cottages, old mills and vintage bricks all around us got my enthusiastic photographer out and all around the place with my camera!
The tour starts at The Glass Dome at Wynyard Park. This small park is closely connected to the history of the city. and was made a public park in 1887. It was earlier a part of the Soldier’s Parade Ground and Barracks that was used by the guards of the many convicts that arrived in Sydney till 1840. The Dome Glass has an underground lavatory that was built in 1912. A small, pleasant place to start this evening walk.
What more astounding things could one ask for in a day ? Don't you think so ? And this place also had a lovely cosy cafe to sip some hot coffee and to munch on some snacks amidst cute conversations of many kidos with their mommies and dadies. Who said it was just meant to be for children. Bundoora Park turned this 27 year old into a kid.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------Roving around Melbourne CBD for shopping is a pleasurable experience one can have. Being a shopaholic by nature, Melbourne felt like a perfect fantasy world to me. From the very high end brands to many cheaper ones, you have many choices in hand. Though my shopping got a little restricted to winter dressing because of biting cold weather but I was and I am in love till date with every little piece I got from there. To name a few of my favourite brands,I would say- Cotton On, H&M, Temt, Valley girl and Factorie. How can I forget K Mart. One stop shop for anything for yourself to everything for your house. I ended up shopping lots of shoes, boots and high heels from there. One of the treasured things that I bought which brought me countless compliments was the pink H & M scarf. I wonder if there would be any girl who would not like this scarf. Afterall, pink is the new black these days. In a complete shopping spree mode, I got to witness several colours of Melbourne life. Hustle bustle across the streets during peak morning and evening office hours,trams brimming with passengers over the weekdays & weekends and the maddening amount of footfall at the shopping malls due to sale season.
Manly BeachOnly a half and hour ferry ride from circular quay, Manly Beach is a great place for family day out to be by the beach, go surfing, snorkeling, enjoy the weather at laid back cafes or take scenic walks. A picturesque 30 minutes ferry ride to a fun town for a day. Remember that on weekdays the ferry rides are much cheaper and less crowded.
Bondi to Coogee Beach Walk The walk itself only takes about 1-2 hours (3-4 hours return), but you could easily stretch it into a day-long adventure. This gorgeous stretch of coastline on Sydney’s outskirts is especially enjoyable on a warm summer day, when the sun drenches the craggy cliffsides and the ocean seems impossibly blue. Start in either Bondi or Coogee and end up at the other, where you can catch public transport back into the city or walk back to your starting point. The trail is paved and well-posted, passing through several smaller beaches along the way. You can walk the entire length or just sections of it; and be sure to bring a lunch so you can stop and picnic along the way. Also required: camera, hat, sunglasses, and lots of sunscreen.
Whitehaven Beach is a beach unlike any you’ve ever seen before. A cruise through the islands will take you there and possibly elsewhere, depending on the vessel. You can dive or snorkel along the way, creating a fulfilling experience. I’d recommend a smaller boat with fewer people–larger boats become more commercialized and a bit less personal.
To get away from the hustle bustle of the city, to relax a bit and to munch on my veg roll peacefully, I decided to walk through Treasury park and then walked into the Fitzroy gardens across the road. It felt like a perfectly pleasant place to laze around and get soaked in the splendid aura of these scenic quaint green beds. One must also visit the colourful conservatory for amazing clicks. I also managed to get few stunning selfies.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------During my daily excursions over the week, I got to know about the fireworks that were being organised every Friday night at Docklands in winters. Trust me, I was eagerly waiting for Friday evening to arrive.With oodles of thrill and energy, I was at the Docklands by 6 in the evening. I was zealously waiting for it to start and when it did, my eyes got glued to the sky and I felt hypnotised. Diwali has always been my favorite festival and I relished that 1 hour Diwali in Melbourne with all the happy people around. Let me give you a little glimpse of what am I talking about.
Next day it was time to go for a day tour to Whitehaven Beach and Day Dream Island. Though the journey through cruise was really a rough one as there was unusually high tide on that particular day. At one time our ship was under the tide and we could see that we were under water for good 5 secs and I was scared to death. But luckily we survived the journey and reached the world’s most beautiful beach i.e. Whitehaven Beach. 7km stretch of milky white sand beach with all shades of blue spread over the it, like fearless stroke of brush on artist's canvas, makes it a sight to live for (I don’t believe in dying for anything ;-) ).
Everything that stings, bites, and kills is found in our country,” said Tim, my taxi driver from the Sydney airport to the hotel when he heard I’d signed up for a nature-driven holiday. There was some truth to his words: the deadliest spider (funnel web) and the top 10 killer snakes in the world are all proud Aussies. But I was there on a different mission: to track down the cute critters on the island continent. If penguin parades amuse you, head to Phillip Island at dusk to watch the smallest penguins in the world, aptly named Little Penguins, waddle their way out of water and into their sandy nests on the beach, or spot the endangered cassowary while on a stroll along the beaches of Northern Queensland. And in Land Down Under, thousands of sprightly kangaroos with little joeys peeking from their pouches are a delightful sight for animal lovers. My favourite, however, is the teddy bear-like koala for which I headed on a four-and-half-hour drive from Sydney to the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie. After signing up for the complimentary walk-and-talk tour that takes place daily at 3 pm, I entered the open-air hospital to the refreshing scent of eucalyptus and a screeching sound of cockatoos, and camouflaged against the brown barks, were the sleepy little saints I had come for. One was busy biting into leaves, as another, a baby, clung onto its mama. “They look like they were made to be cuddled,” said a voice behind me, as if reading my mind. This was my guide on the group tour, a pioneering volunteer at the Koala Hospital, Mick Feeney. He quickly added, “Wild koalas on’t like being touched. They’ve got claws!” And with that, our tour began.The Koala Hospital, the first of its kind in the world, began operations when animal-lovers and local shop keepers, Jean and Max Starr, came across one-too-many injured koalas. The couple wanted to care for the animal, and in 1973, launched the Koala Preservation Society, a non-profit that runs the Koala Hospital. Even today, the hospital remains an organisation that functions on the might of volunteers and donations, sans government funding.To volunteer, one needs to fill forms online and pay a fee of AUD100 for a monthlong specialised training programme that covers insurance. A sweet deal that hasn’t yet been lapped up by an Indian.The InhabitantsOn the tour, one gets to meet a few koalas. Ian is a 17-year-old koala and a senior citizen, easily recognisable with his dull brown coat. Mick explains, “With advancing years, they wither away.Sometimes they come down to move to another tree but are too weak to get back up.” This inmate was saved by a passerby as he sat helplessly at the bottom of a tree in the forest, in clear view of predators like foxes, dingoes, and pythons. “Most of our rescues take place when people who are out on their walks or hikes spot an injured koala and call our helpline,” prompting the team of koala-messiahs to rush out in an ambulance for rescue. The good Samaritan who calls in, gets to name the animal. Zenani, another inhabitant, is a feisty three-year-old who has a human mother. She was brought to the hospital after surviving a bush-fire where she lost her mother. Baby koalas need their mamas perhaps even more than we humans do.In only 35 days after conception, the little jelly bean moves from the birth canal to the pouch where it develops for the next seven months. At about one year, the joey is much too big to fit into the pouch and climbs out, still clinging to its mama’s belly, back, or chest, till the age of three. Zenani didn’t get that. Having lost her mum, she latched onto her caregiver, Barbara. Within the hospital, it is only her human mother that Zenani will rush towards, hugging and clutching as she cradles Zenani, wrapped in a blanket, and feeds her through a milk bottle—a most heart-warming sight.We then walked into the ICU to meet Nick, a young koala who was hit by a car that left him with a damaged paw. “At first, it looked like we might need to amputate, but managed to save the limb.” In another bed lay ‘one-eyed Jack’ who had contracted chlamydia and subsequently lost one eye.Some can’t defend themselves in the wild and live out their years at the hospital; others recover and are rehabilitated. Mick ends the tour with John Williamson’s lyrics, a well-known Australian singer whose donations helped build the ICU. He sang Goodbye Blinky Bill decades ago and warned the world, ‘Our koalas are all dying, can it really be. A national disaster, a world catastrophe.’ As I left the hospital, I thought about our future generations which may never know this unique marsupial. Williamson’s song sums up the sentiment, ‘What would we tell our children about this little mate.’Plot The Cute Critters1. Run alongside an Emu at Wildlife Currumbin Sanctuary, GOLD COAST2. Cuddle a koala at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, BRISBANE3. Watch the Australian Sulphur-crested cockatoo at Australia Zoo, QUEENSLAND4. Hand feed kangaroos at Featherdale Wildlife Park, SYDNEY5. Watch the bearded dragon at WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo SYDNEY
Australian Butterfly Sanctuary
At the end, we disembarked in the village of Kuranda. Very touristy, it is souvenir shops and restaurants galore. We had train tickets for the railroad going back down at 3:30, the last train of the day. There are only two of them and the earlier one is at 2:00. We went to the butterfly sanctuary to spend some time. We hesitated at the $16.00 entry fee per person, but once in, realized it was well worth the money. There are over 2,000 butterflies of various species at any given time. After ten minutes in we were offered a free guided tour. Our guide explained the details of half a dozen different breeds of butterflies, their life stages, their sex life, colorations, and so on. The amount of information was incredible, but the beauty of the Ulysses butterfly with its vibrant blue wings outshone anything she had to say. Two of them landed on her chest. She was wearing a white t-shirt with a Ulysses butterfly on it. There is also a large green species that I cannot recall the name of that was an incredible emerald green. At the end of the tour in the butterfly area, she took us into the museum to show us butterflies of the world. Mother nature is quite the artist. Some had wings that when opened looked like snake heads to thwart their enemies.