First things first – let me establish the fact that Andrew and I are not wealthy, crazy spenders. I realize Australia and New Zealand in one vacation sounds a bit extravagant. Haha. We saved and budgeted to make this trip happen, and it happened only because I researched, bargain-hunted, and planned all the live long day for months. ;) Australia has always been my number one travel dream, and New Zealand has always been Andrew’s. They’re so close, it seemed silly not to knock them both out at once. Our easiest way to save on costs was with the flights. We had enough miles from our credit card points to get free flights from Dallas to Los Angeles, and flying to Australia from Los Angeles rather than Oklahoma City made our price significantly cheaper. (Keep that in mind when flights seem outrageous – always check for another location to fly out of just in case you can find a better deal.)
Our free flights from Dallas to Los Angeles were through Spirit, and our long flights were through Air New Zealand. I cannot say enough nice things about Air New Zealand. We’d (obviously) never flown with them before, but we were immediately big fans!
This beautiful little TV in front of my seat let me add a free Diet Coke to my cart, and a flight attendant would bring it to me within two minutes. PLEASE AND THANK YOU.
And naturally, we had to watch this on the 13 hour flight. ;)
After about 20 total hours of flying (with a layover in Auckland), we made it to Brisbane and checked into our hotel.
Nothing fancy, but it was a great price and location.
The real problem with Australia is that I could spend three straight months there and still not get to see everything I’d like to see. ;) It’s beautiful, and it’s ginormous. I knew we only had a few days, so I had to pick and choose things based on their locations to each other, because Australia is just that HUGE. Here’s some perspective for all you fellow Yanks.
So yes, driving across Australia would basically be driving across the United States, and we just didn’t have time for that. (Trust me, I would have if I had more time.) We stayed on the East Coast near Brisbane mostly, and we drove close to 800 miles over the course of five days going to different locations. There is just so. much. to see!
Our very first day was truthfully a bit disastrous. I think you have to expect that some things will go wrong in any long, overseas vacation, and while I pride myself on my planning abilities, there are always a few things out of my control. We had an excursion cancelled due to rain, I used up too much international data because I wasn’t paying attention, and learning to drive on the left side of the road was somewhat daunting with weekend traffic. The first whole day felt like a giant fail, and we prayed that night that we hadn’t made a huge mistake. ;) Every day from then on though completely made up for that crappy first day, and we watched the Lord work as He sent us countless little gifts and reassurances over the next week. (He is SO good.) The excursion we had to cancel because of rain meant we had a chance to go to a place called Moreton Island – a much closer location with much prettier weather. A ferry was just ten minutes from our hotel and took us to Tangalooma Island Resort for the day, where we walked on the beach, went sand tobogganing, watched wild dolphins, and had an absurd amount of curly fries. It was glorious. ;)
I married such a babe. ;)
Our ferry ticket included a free voucher for lunch, so we sat outside “The Beach Cafe” and feasted.
These ships were called the Tangalooma Wrecks. Apparently it’s a popular snorkel destination, but I think I’m too afraid of fish to try snorkeling. ;)
There were starfish EVERYWHERE.
Every now and then, Andrew and I would look at each other in a surreal state and say, “We’re in Australia.” And then we’d proceed to freak out.
We did something called sand tobogganing later in the afternoon, and we were obsessed. You speed down a 100-foot sand dune on a wooden board and try to keep your mouth closed to avoid swallowing sand. They also give you hip goggles so everyone looks really cool. ;-P
We definitely got our exercise in going up that massive hill.
Bowl of curly fries for dinner? Sure. It’s vacation.
Brief sappy sentence. I adore this man.
At night, Moreton Island is visited by 7 or 8 wild dolphins that come up for some fish! We didn’t pay for the feeding because it was too chilly, but we had fun watching and taking pictures wrapped up in our beach towels. :)
Our second full day involved a lot of driving, and here we really felt like we were getting better at that whole left side of the road thing. ;) Quick side note – Australian roads have the tiniest street signs I’ve ever seen. They must have fabulous eyesight over there, because I could barely read anything and had to do a U-turn at least a dozen times. I have a new sense of appreciation for Oklahoma’s massive signage. Thank God for Google Maps.
I didn’t plan too much for our meals because I wasn’t sure if we’d find anything better after arriving, but one of the places I knew we had to visit was The Pancake Manor in Brisbane. It’s an old Catholic church that’s been converted into a 24-hour pancake house, and I like to think the Lord still grows people through His house of pancakes. I know I was praising Him when our waiter brought us our breakfast. ;)
After breakfast, we did some sight-seeing at the Glass House Mountains, and then we headed for the beach at Noosa. If we could go back for a week, I would definitely want to spend more time in Noosa. It’s a happening little beach town with super cute shopping and dining places, and the scenery was to die for. I wished we’d had more time to visit Noosa National Park and look for wild koalas, but we had to drive another two hours to get to our next hotel. We made the most of our quick day at Sunshine Beach and a cute little restaurant called Betty’s Burgers.
Are you dying to visit yet?! ;) I told Andrew our vacation was both good and bad for me. Good – because we felt like we fulfilled a lifelong dream, but bad – because it just made me want to plan 12 more trips back. ;)
Next up, I’ll share pictures from the last two days we spent in Australia, my favorites, and then on to New Zealand. :)
Happy weekend, loves!