Australia (City, Beach & Barrier)
Coffee everywhere! So much better than in the United States. I had given up caffeine, but well worth it to sip flat whites and cappuccinos for a few weeks.
- More about your oliver guide: Ginny Rothschild
- Trip type: Adult, Beach, City
- Activity level: moderate
- Ideal length of trip: At Least 10 Days
to & from
- American/Qantas direct flights to Sydney from Dallas and LAX.
- Try to take a Quantas flight vs American –nicer planes and a week before your flight you can bid for Business or Premium economy. I was able to get Business one way over for $750 additional vs original $3,000 price and was well worth it to arrive rested and be able to tour all day.
- Rented car in Melbourne to do Great Ocean Drive, Tasmania and to tour various places. Once you get used to driving on opposite side of road with the windshield wipers and turn signals reversed it’s a breeze. Make a special request for GPS and an automatic car. I booked all my cars through Eurostar online and had no issues.
Where to Eat and Drink
- Palmer & Co: Location, ambience, drinks everything! We had charcuterie and cheese plate with our drinks and turned it into dinner.
- A Tavola: One of the best meals from entire trip. Let’s just say Australians know how to do Italian (and Thai, dumplings, and coffee).
- Little Larder: For unique and yummy sandwiches. On main drag.
- Mo Vida or Mo Vida Next Door: In a graffiti covered alleyway, tapas, great to sit at bar
- Mess Hall: Awesome breakfast
- Wander all the lanes for phenomenal food- recommend the dumplings at Shan Dong
- Hang out in Fitzroy or on Brunswick: Tons of bars, shops, restaurants- including a rooftop bar called Naked for Satan that was awesome.
- Vue de monde: This is Michelin star preset $250 dinner but they also have a cool bar with snacks and amazing views of city. Worth a visit.
- Lenna Hotel: Great location and they have free parking. The back opens into a park that is perfect for a picnic.
- The Standard: Top 10 burger I’ve had in my life. Casual alleyway joint. Milkshakes are killer as well and they have chicken sandwiches and veggies. Sit on egg cartons or take away.
- The Brunswick Hotel: Also on Liverpool across from alleyway where The Standard is located has best parmies per the locals.
- Machine Laundry Cafe: Phenomenal breakfast
- The Nant: Local whiskey bar
- Templo: Tried to get in but failed, small little Italian. Email for reservations. Open Thursday- Monday. Quite a few blocks off main drag
- Fico: Recommended but did not make it there
- Smolt: Sat at bar and has awesome service and great food and wine
- If you are there on Friday night- tons of food stations and life music in park in center of town- Frano in the park
- If you are there on a Saturday morning go the market, but go early- 8/9 before everyone else. Get a table outside at Retro Cafe and you will hear all the local music entertainment.
- I stayed in Eco Retreat Freychinet-6 little lodges that provide stunning views of Tasman Sea. The sunset was just gorgeous. The lodges were simple, but comfortable and had everything I needed. It is all about the views. Wallabies are everywhere. If you want a splurge then go for Saffire hotel.
- Freychinet Marine Farm: Fresh oysters and all sorts of seafood. Casual picnic tables- open until 5 pm. Reminded me of Bodega Bay or Marshall Beach Oyster in Nor Cal
- Edge of the Bay: Gorgeous views for dinner- make reservations
- Tombolo: Wood grilled pizzas in Coles Bay and fresh oysters
What to Do
- Snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef: A must! Try and book with a smaller company. Boat that holds less than 75 people. We went through Wavelength tours. Team of marine biologists
- Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb: Expensive, but such an incredible and unique way to see the city and the adrenaline rush cured all my jet-lag issues.
- Walk from Bondi to Coogee- take the day to do this. We started in Coogee, had breakfast, and then did various beaches and followed by lunch and gelato in Bondi. Be prepared for crowds. We stayed awhile and then took an uber to a less crowded local beach- Queen’s Beach. From there we walked 15 minutes to get ferry back into city.
- Real Melbourne Bike Tours– Melbourne: The four hour bike tour is a perfect introduction into the local spirit of Melbourne. Paul was our guide and gave us the inside scoop on everything. There were only 3 other people on the tour.
- Great Ocean Beach Road: Leave from Melbourne and take at least 2 days. Stay at least 1 night in Lorne or Apollo Bay and then stay at least one night in Port Fairy. Drive will remind you of driving the 1 from LA to San Francisco. Port Fairy will remind you of small towns in New England. Excellent food along the whole trip. Take the inland road back and don’t worry there are gas stations about an hour into the drive. Stop at a random convenience store in Lismore for awesome chicken schnitzel sandwich and a cute middle of nowhere post office.
- MONA museum in Hobart, Tasmania: Museum of old and new. Not for kids. Take the MONA ferry there. Book ahead online and plan to go for the day. So much to see and you will need breaks so you are not overwhelmed. Cafe, restaurant, and bar are all out of this world. Bathrooms are an experience as well and each is different. I booked noon ferry there and 4 pm ferry back and it was not enough time to experience everything.
- Wineglass Bay hike in Freychinet National Park: If you are there in high tourist times start before 8am or after 4pm to avoid crowds. Favorite beaches- Hazzards Beach which is on the longer version of hike and Honeymoon Bay, also in the Park.
- Port Douglas: Fly into Cairns and rent a car to drive an hour to Port Douglas. Four Mile Beach is gorgeous and long stretch of beach. We wore stinger suits while snorkeling on Great Barrier Reef and did not have an issues.
- The photos at the key tourist places (Bridge Climb, Sydney Opera House, Great Barrier Reef tour) are $40+ if they give you USB drive with more pictures it is $60+. Some will be worth it, but at first we were shocked by the price and then realized it was consistent throughout the country.
- Circle Bar and restaurant in Sydney or just go for drinks. Great views but certainly better and more local spots. Heard great things about Cafe Sydney but could not get in.
- Green Island or know that if you are going there will be tons of tourists during the hours of 10 am- 4 pm. After those hours it is lovely and the restaurant is phenomenal. If you do go to Green Island make sure to schedule a snorkel tour, foot massage, and go to the crocodile feeding and evening fish feeding.