The Australia portion of my round-the-world trip went by far too quickly. The overcast skies in the land down under cleared up after Christmas day and the weather was beautiful for the rest of our time in Sydney.

Sydney Opera House

We spent time at Bondi Beach and Freshwater Beach; strolled through the botanical gardens, carefully avoiding the thousands of creepy bats in the trees; sipped cocktails by the Opera House, Darling Harbor, and chic downtown bars; ate yummy brunches in Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, and The Rocks; visited the Art Gallery of NSW; walked around Wooloomooloo; went wine tasting for a day in the Hunter Valley and saw some kangaroos and a turtle in the wild; hiked around Watsons Bay and the eastern beaches; surveyed sketchy King’s Cross; and soaked up the sun in Hyde Park.

Bondi Beach in Sydney

We enjoyed our time in Sydney, but for all the times we felt like we had the city pegged as Vancouver-esque, Hong Kong-like, or LA-ish, we never did figure out what it reminded us of. There are parts of Sydney that resemble the other major Pacific coastal cities, but there is a uniquely Aussie undercurrent that makes it rather hard to pin down.

Rocks in Sydney

On the 30th we flew to Cairns and drove up to Port Douglas, where we rented a house with our friends. While Sydney proved elusive, Port Douglas undoubtedly reminded us all of Hawaii. On the 31st, the four of us went exploring the tropical rainforest area of the Daintree National Park and Cape Tribulation. For some reason none of us had anticipated tropical areas in a country so well-known for its ‘bush’ and ‘outback,’ but we were amazed at the dense rainforest flora.

Daintree National Park

As for the fauna, it proved mostly elusive save for a handful of creepy-looking lizards and a few colorful birds. We arrived home exhausted, but managed to cook ourselves a nice dinner and hit up some bars before watching the New Year’s Eve fireworks in Port Douglas.

New Year's Fireworks in Port Douglas

On New Year’s Day we embarked on a Great Barrier Reef snorkeling tour. The weather was beautiful and the sea calm, so we had great visibility on our three dives. We saw everything from colorful parrot fish to giant electric blue starfish to three-foot eels to trumpet fish that changed colors when they moved. The coral formations were as beautiful as the fish themselves, and the giant clams and sea anemones were massive and brilliantly colored. The trip was a great way to start off the new year.

Great Barrier Reef

Yesterday morning we woke up at 2:45am to travel on our flight to Sydney and then to Auckland. Now we’re in New Zealand soaking up the kiwi sun and feeling like we fell into a Lord of the Rings movie. The round-the-world trip continues!

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