Hiking Australia’s Blue Mountains

DSCN1890After visiting the gorgeous oceans of The Great Barrier Reef we headed onto the next leg of our journey: Australia’s famed Blue Mountains.  The Blue Mountains are a really unique phenomenon.  I’m not just talking about the blue hue the mountains get from the water droplets in the atmosphere either.  After only an hour and a half car ride from the hustle and bustle of Sydney, we ended up in the beautiful Eucalyptus-filled forest teeming with wildlife.  We even had cockatoos come begging for seeds on the balcony of our B & B.  We stayed at the Valley of the Waters Bed & Breakfast and were simply blown away.  It is situated right up against the forest (I took the pic above from our balcony) and only 2 doors down from the nature reserve center which is the start of the famous nature walks.

There are tons of different hiking options, from slow and easy to full day treks.  You can even visit Scenic World to take in the beauty of the Blue Mountains without having to hike at all!  Just make sure you’re prepared with lots of water!  It got HOT while we were out there.  Overall it’s an absolutely beautiful National Park that will make you feel like you’re a million miles from the big city.

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Great Barrier Reef: Heron Island

DSCN1422Remember when I visited Australia, got halfway through posting photos, then disappeared for awhile all distracted by my full time job working retail over the holidays?  It’s time to get caught up.  Over the next few weeks, every Friday I’ll be sharing the rest of my travel photos from the epic Australian journey.

Heron Island is actually quite difficult to describe.  It’s one of those surreal Discovery Channel beauty type of places that just saying “It was so beautiful” doesn’t even scratch the surface of how I really felt.  The skies are the purest blue of blues and the ocean looks as if a turquoise diamond has melted over the reefs.  This island is located on the Southern end of the Great Barrier Reef so the coral is mostly browns and neutrals with a few great pops of color.  The bright colorful coral is more North where the water is warmer.

One of the fantastically fun things about Heron Island in particular is that during low tide, you can walk a good mile from shore and only be up to thigh deep water.  It’s such a remarkably unique way to visit the reef!  We were able to spot tons of sea life just during these walks alone.  Bright blue starfish, neon lipped clams, sea cucumbers everywhere, and we were even lucky enough to spot a sea turtle both times we did a reef walk.  You’re literally in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, surrounded by wildlife.  From birds to sharks, you’ll have some form of wildlife in sight at all times.

This Island is known for its sea turtle activity.  While we visited in October, the sea turtles were in mating season.  We witnessed quite a bit of sea turtle love and saw evidence of the females coming to shore for a little rest.  Apparently, the males practically drown the females while, you know, getting busy so the ladies need a break.  A sea turtle cigarette so to speak.  At other times during the year, visitors can witness the entire sea turtle life cycle.  I would have died to see the baby turtles!  Next time, I suppose.DSCN1494DSCN1579DSCN1470DSCN1407DSCN1545DSCN1359DSCN1534DSCN1502DSCN1454DSCN1393DSCN1375DSCN1361DSCN1726DSCN1356DSCN1605DSCN1432

 

Fun fact: Heron Island was named after these birds above but they’re actually Egrets!

To plan your visit to Heron Island, click here.

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Seaplane to The Great Barrier Reef

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The next step of our adventure was to visit The Great Barrier Reef.  Visiting here better be on everyone’s bucket list.  It’s an amazing surreal experience.  It’s absolutely incredible how up close and personal you can get with the wildlife.  For example, we got up to watch the sun rise one morning to witness a little sea turtle love and saw tracks where the ladies had come to shore for a nap.  Just a flat out cool experience.

I highly recommend trying to take a helicopter or seaplane out to wherever your stay takes you for another perspective of The Great Barrier Reef.  As we were flying over we saw sharks, stingrays, schools of fish, and lots of sea turtles.  Pretty much everything I wanted to see!  The seaplane experience was really awesome too.  Landing and taking off on the ocean was crazy! I’m so happy we did that.  Stay tuned Wednesday for more on my Great Barrier Reef adventure.

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Hunter Valley: Australian Wine Country

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Australian Wine Country, how I love thee.  For this portion of our epic road trip from Brisbane to Sydney, we stopped off in Hunter Valley for a bit of wine tasting.  And, WOW!  This place is absolutely beautiful!  It’s such an experience!  And for everyone reading this in the US, Yellowtail is not the best Australian wineries have to offer.  We happened to meet a winemaker while waiting for our helicopter in Fiji and he said he was so embarrassed that Yellowtail was the one to pave the way for Australian wine imports.  And it’s so true!  I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy tasting because I didn’t think I liked Australian wine!  Man, was I ever wrong!  If it wouldn’t have cost us roughly a million dollars to send wine home, we would have gone a little crazy with our wine purchases.

The scenery was just stunning too.  We had a picnic in the paddock by our Bed and Breakfast to watch the sunset and were just blown away with the beauty of this place.  See for yourself!

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Dorrigo National Park

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After we left beautiful Fiji for our Australian Adventure, we embarked on a road trip from Byron Bay down to Sydney.  We made several stops along the way and I will start to share those amazing places with you over a series of posts.  One of our first destinations was to visit the Dorrigo National Park.  The Skywalk is an absolute must-visit!!  You literally walk out on a pier OVER the rainforest!  It’s incredibly high up!  I kept telling Tyler, “Don’t drop the camera!” because that thing would have exploded from a drop like that!  The views are simply mind blowing.  It feels like you can see to the other side of Australia!

From the visitor’s center, we did a hike (well more like a nice walk since the trail is really well maintained) down to Crystal Shower Falls.  It has a bridge to view the falls and a trail down to walk behind it.  It feels so weird to be behind a waterfall!  It is a really beautiful National Park and definitely worth the windy drive.  Plan a lunch or dinner in Bellingen on your way there.  It’s a small town I was really surprised how much I enjoyed visiting!  Keep your eyes peeled at night when their famous Flying Foxes take over the sky!

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