A dive in the blue waters of the Great Barrier Reef, a hot air balloon ride to see the sun rise, experiencing the Sydney Opera House... And all of this in just one trip, to fulfil some of my dreams. This is Australia for you! A place full of a variety of experiences. Having semester exams and preparing for the same by burning the midnight oil has been a routine for me since past four years. Once done with my exams by the end of April and it was the time to get those bags out of the attic, pack’em and run away from the monotonous life and give a fresh start to the final year of my Architecture studies. An Australian jaunt was something that gave me ample reasons to stay happy and endure the post exam fatigue. I got some of the most memorable and wonderful experiences there, which will be cherished for lifetime. I had read about Australia, and always wanted to go there. The aerial view of this place from the flight gave me jitters increasing my excitement level manifolds. The journey was tad excruciating. With delay of two connecting flights the journey seemed never ending. But then, no journey seems like one if you don’t come across such standstills and stagnancy of commutes. It took more than a day’s time to reach Melbourne, the once upon a time Capital of Australia. Melbourne is the second largest city of Australia after Sydney, and is the capital of Victoria.
Day one consisted of visiting the Old parliament house, St. Patrick’s cathedral, which took a good hundred years to be built; Captain Cook’s house, a small house with a huge picturesque garden surrounding it. Captain James Cook was a major contributor in the mapping of the eastern coast of Australia in 1770; the Melbourne cricket ground, which came into existence in 1800s. The day ended, on a sweet note with a rendezvous with little Penguins at the Phillip Island. Here, my photography skills weren’t of any use since it is prohibited. The next journey was through the Great Ocean Road, a 243 km stretch of road along the south eastern coast of Australia. The coastline is enchanting with the beautiful South Pacific Ocean on one side and a rocky, mountainous terrain on the other side. The journey concluded at the Twelve Apostles. The apostles were formed as a result of erosion: the harsh and extreme weather conditions from the South Pacific Ocean gradually eroded the soft limestone to form caves in the cliffs, which then became arches, which in turn collapsed; leaving rock stacks up to 45 meters high. The uniqueness lies in the fact of their proximity to one another. Hence, this has made for a pretty tourist spot. Apparently, there are only eight out of twelve apostles left but the name remains unchanged for the obvious reasons of tourism. A helicopter ride over the same was the most unspeakable moment, really. To add to this, the excitement was twice as much because it was my first ever helicopter ride.
Next destination was Gold Coast, the Vegas of Australia. This city boasts of, sky scrapers, clubs, theme parks, zoos and a great coastline. One can get a wide range of experiences here. Adventure rides in the Warner Brothers Movie world, pictures with a baby koala, kangaroos, watching a dolphin show, was like earning brownie points on the visit there. Australia experiences temperate weather for a good part of the year. But since it’s a large continent, the climate varies occasionally. Northern states are warm weathered and on the contrary the southern ones experience cooler winters. Australia is unfortunately the driest continent on earth with an average annual rainfall of less than 600 millimeters. Australia's seasons are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere. This is a peculiar characteristic in the countries of the southern hemisphere. December to February is summer; March to May is autumn; June to August is winter; and September to November is spring.
The geography of Australia encompasses a wide variety of bio-geographic regions being the world's smallest continent but the sixth-largest country in the world. The population of Australia is concentrated along the eastern and south-eastern coasts. This country sees a high rate of international migration. It is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Along with being economically wealthy, the continent takes pride in being ecologically diverse. Although it is semi-arid, one finds a wide range of habitats, from alpine heaths to tropical rainforests to coral reefs. One such place which has diverse natural habitats is Cairns. The air journey from Brisbane to Cairns has the most beautiful views. Look out of the window and you see the Great Barrier Reef and the small, small islands in it. At the Kuranda rainforest, there is a cable car that goes above the tropical trees. Another wonderful sight! Here, there is a performing arts centre for the aborigines; the original inhabitants of Australia. One can see the life and art forms of the aborigines and experience them. Next on the list was an early morning Hot Air Balloon ride to see the sunrise! It was one lifetime experience, to see the mountains, farmlands, covered up in a blanket of fog; dew drops kangaroos running freely in the farmlands and just like a kindergarten drawing of the scenery, rising sun behind the mountains. Nature at its best!
At the Great Barrier Reef, one can visit a number of islands and the reef can be experienced in various forms. Glass bottom boats, semi-submarines, snorkelling, and scuba diving are some of the ways in which the tourists unwind themselves, bask in the atmosphere and live every moment with the nature. The flora and fauna around is terrific. I went snorkelling at the green islands; to see the world’s biggest aquarium, the Great Barrier Reef. Tiny, colourful fish, colonies of corals, blue waters all this and a lot more. This Barrier Reef is visible even from the moon and that day I was touching it, feeling it, breathing it, and enjoying it. Investing in a waterproof camera seemed a perfect thing at that moment. Rising high into the sky and then going down into the sea on the very same day.. What more can I ask for!
Last two places to visit on my itinerary were Sydney and Canberra. Sydney is the most densely populated city in Australia. An evening visit to the Sydney Tower, which is the tallest free standing structure in Sydney, to see the glittering city was a thing in itself. It is about 300 m high. Next day was the one I had been waiting for since long. A visit to the Sydney Opera House! Designed by Danish architect, Jorn Utzon, and completed in 1973 it is one of the distinctive buildings of the 20th century, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is an architectural master piece. The shells when joint together form a sphere. This was my field of interest as i am studying architecture. The first hand experience, the feel of the place, touch of it, observing it was even more awe inspiring. Canberra has been the capital city of Australia since 1908. Canberra is just 2 hours drive from Sydney but very different in all aspects. The parliament house of Australia is open for international tourists too! This is an elegantly designed modern building. Canberra houses all the government buildings of Australia as it is the capital. The Australian War Memorial followed.
The journey back home was equally tiring and long. And bidding an adieu to this I guess i was returning home only to visit this joyful country yet again to recreate my nostalgic moments. Airports on this continent are some of the massive ones with opulent architecture and clever detailing. The major cities in Australia are shuttled between by air since they are remotely situated from each other. I travelled on and explored just about every mode of transport during my visit here, right from boat rides to enjoying a hot air balloons. I label at least one visit to Australia as a mandate. They have a lot in store for exploration. I am happy to strike off one country from my bucket list though another visit seems likely. Since my trip was time constrained, I’d visit the places I missed out on the same. And yes, my travelogue is too difficult to manage now. Hope it becomes a lot more huge with bountiful of escapes like this.