The most thinly populated region in the world (barring Antarctica) is Oceania and it is dominated by Australia, which has cities on its endless coastlines and the center houses the great Australian Outback (barren deserts and scrub lands).
While the country is immense, a short trip can be easily made. If you’re willing, this trip could include a heady mix of arguably the greatest city in the Southern Hemisphere, Sydney, along with a day tour of the Dividing Range, which has the Blue Mountains and, of course, getting up-close with koalas, kangaroos and wallabies.
You can hop onto a flight from any major Indian city – like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, to name a few –to Sydney. The average ticket could be anywhere between Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000 per person, including return. Then all you need to do is book with any hotel in the city’s center, and your trip is a-go!
Sydney is easy to navigate with its network of metros that snakes around to most parts of the city including the main attractions such as the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, Rocks neighborhood, Darling Harbour etc.
Good to know
While places like Bondi beach and Featherdale Wildlife Park can be reached by combining a metro and bus ride, the Blue Mountains remain a two-hour train journey away.
Here’s a short itinerary for Australia’s East coast (especially for those who also want to go to New Zealand in the same holiday):
Land in Sydney, Australia.
Take the full day city tour and attend a play at the Opera House (book online in advance); walk on the Harbour Bridge and have a drink or two in the up-market pubs of the Rocks neighborhood. Head next to the beautifully maintained and sprawling Botanical Garden right next to the Opera House and stop by Mrs Macquarie’s Chair that’ll afford you breathtaking views of the much-advertised Sydney Harbour.
On your third day here, head to the Featherdale Wildlife Park, a mostly fenceless park that houses the complete range of native Australian wildlife. Have photos taken with koalas (for free), sit next to kangaroos and wallabies and even get to feed them. You might even see the eating frenzy of the endangered Tasmanian Devil and much more. Highly recommended if you are a true animal lover.
On the fourth day set out for Darling Harbour, which is loaded with attractions such as the National Maritime Museum, the Sea Life Aquarium along with many eateries and bars along the wharf. The Central Business District (CBD) has the Sydney Sky Tower and the nearby China Town is worth a visit to partake in some oriental gastronomical pressures.
A trip to Sydney is not complete without a visit to the Bondi beach and its pure blue waters (whether you are a surfer or not). It also has cool pubs and eateries dotting the coastline. If time permits, head to the edgy cliffs facing the Tasman Sea
After a two-hour trip by train from Sydney to Katoomba station you will land at the ancient Blue Mountains (called Blue because of the blue haze which is really a haze of dispersed droplets of Eucalypt oil from the Eucalyptus trees). You can also visit the Echo point (three sisters), Scenic World’s steep railway, and Wentworth falls. Jenolan Caves are a further 25km away. Leave early in the morning and spend a full day here.
After a packed few days, take it easy in Sydney and visit the Toronga zoo. With its central location you can reach it on a ferry which goes across the harbour and shows you stunning views of the Opera House and the Bridge. This ride is included in the zoo admission charge and you save quite a bit as opposed to what you would have paid for a standalone ride on the same route. For those with more money to burn, try the sail boats near the harbour. End the day with some wine by the Opera House. Surprisingly, it’s not frightfully expensive and the view of the Harbour Bridge, all lit up at night, is something to behold.
Fly to New Zealand (Queenstown in South Island is where it’s at for adventurers) or explore the Great Barrier Reef up north in Australia near Cairns. In case you are on short trip, fly back home to India after a fun-filled week Down Under.