Australia

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The Great Barrier Reef

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We had almost a week in Cairns and at the top of our to-do list was one thing: Snorkeling/Diving the Great Barrier Reef. We booked a snorkeling excursion and I added an intro dive as part of the experience – which you don’t have to be certified for (Cory chose to just snorkel). We had the perfect day for it – about 90 degrees and hardly any clouds, and we were one of the first groups to explore the reef at the spot we went to. I did my dive first and it was amazing! The first thing I saw under the water was a huge barracuda under the boat. It was probably as long as me – slim and grey with sharp teeth. The crew had already warned us that we would probably see him because he likes to hang around the boat and eat the fish they throw to him. He was harmless to us though and really cool to see. Since it was just an intro dive I had to hold onto the instructor the whole time and we were about 20 ft below the surface. I saw a ton of colorful coral and so many fish – lots of striped ones, tons of different sizes, and a bunch that looked like Nemo. The dive only lasted about 30 minutes and then I snorkeled with Cory the rest of the day. We ended up seeing a stingray, green turtle, and a black-tip reef shark! An amazing experience we will definitely never forget.

AustraliaOceania

The Great Ocean Road

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After Sydney, we took a quick flight to Melbourne. One of the main things we wanted to do there was tour the Great Ocean Road, an Australian National Heritage listed 151 mile stretch of road along the southern coast. The road was built by returned sailors and soldiers of World War I, and is dedicated to their service. We took a daytrip along that road that included many small stops along the way at various beach lookout spots – they were all pretty but the best part of the tour was seeing the Twelve Apostles at sunset. These are actually 8 huge limestone stack formations just off the coast. They were pretty incredible and seeing them against the sunset was definitely an added bonus.

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Sydney

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After a quick flight from Queenstown, we arrived in Australia. Right away, we took advantage of our hostels free walking tours and started off by going on the famous Coogee to Bondi Beach Coastal Walk. On the walk, we passed through several Sydney beaches including Coogee, Clovelly, Bronte, Tamarama, and Bondi. All the beaches were really pretty but unfortunately it was too cold to go in the water. We had a full week in Sydney so we filled our days with going to the zoo, the aquarium, and mostly just walking around. It was very cool seeing the Sydney Opera House in person and we walked down to and hung around that area a lot. We explored a couple other of Sydney’s neighborhoods as well; just wandering around seeing what cool places we could find. We also took the ferry to Manly; a cute little beach town. On our last day it was the Superbowl (Monday) and it was pretty easy to find a bar that was playing it. Kickoff was at 1030am and the bar was already pretty full (of Eagles fans) but it was still fun watching the game here.