A Bucket List for Australia

One of the biggest and most important decisions I have had to make in my life so far has been whether I wanted to have my children earlier on in life or wait until I had lived a bit and experienced a lot of what I wanted to do, before I settled down. In the end, I decided that having a family earlier was the way to go, hopefully meaning that by the time I was in my early 40’s, my life would be my own again and I would have the time, the life experience and the funds to be able to start ticking things off a bucket list. I’m not quite there yet – I’m 35 and I have a nine-year-old and a six-year-old, but there’s nothing like being prepared!

One of the places I have always wanted to visit is Australia. It probably began as a child, watching the sunshine filled lives of the residents of Ramsey Street and Summer Bay, but the itch to visit has just not gone away. A friend of mine spent a year backpacking around Australia at the age of 19, but as a 19-year-old, had very limited funds and had to work constantly picking fruit. This meant that whilst the trip was amazing, he does want to visit again so that he can do some of the things that were unaffordable last time.

Australia is absolutely immense – the world’s sixth largest country, spreading six states. Because of its size, it is known as the Island Continent and has climates spreading the whole range, from a significant desert area, to tropical areas that can suffer monsoons and temperate areas which are far more like what we are used to in the UK.

I think that seeing the sights in Sydney would have to be one of the top things on my Australia bucket list. Contrary to what a lot of people think, Sydney is not the capital of Australia (Canberra gets that accolade), but it is the largest and most populous city. Situated in New South Wales on the South East coast, I have always thought that I would absolutely love to visit and see the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour bridge in the flesh. I have always thought that Sydney is one of the coolest cities in the world, and when visiting a cool city, one has to look the part. I absolutely love these sunglasses and think that I would probably treat myself and my other half to something similar.  My absolute dream would be to be able to be one of the first to see in the new year, and watch the spectacular fireworks, which are launched from Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House.

One of the other things that I imagine would be on most people’s list if they were travelling around Australia would be to visit Ayers Rock, or Uluru. As well as being one of the most recognisable features in Australia, it is also one of the most recognised structures on the world and has massive cultural significance to the Anangu people. Notable for appearing to change colour depending on the time of the day or year, I really do think that it would be a “must see” for most bucket list travellers, especially at sunrise and sunset when it appears to glow!

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As Australia is so massive, it should probably come as no surprise that it is a very long way from Sydney. Located smack bang in the middle of Oz, at the bottom of the Northern Territory, it is 450km from the nearest town of Alice Springs and nearly 3000km from Sydney – quite the distance! Being right in the middle of a desert, this area gets incredibly hot, and I wouldn’t want such a magical experience to be spoiled by getting sunburned – something that would be really easy to do in that kind of climate. I’d be sure to pack some high-factor and long-lasting sun cream such as Ladival.

Of course, there is lots and lots more to see, do and experience but the last thing I would put on my must do bucket list would be the Great Barrier Reef, which is in North East Australia, off the coast of Queensland. One of the things that I find so very fascinating about The Great Barrier Reef is the fact that it is a living organism. Visible from space, it is the world’s biggest natural structure and was granted the label of a World Heritage Site in 1981. There are some amazing looking boat trips to the area and booking onto one of those would be one of the first things I would do once I arrived in Queensland.

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As the country is so massive, it should come as no surprise to learn that all of the three things on my list are an awful long way from each other! Also, as the country is so huge, there is plenty to see and do between these landmarks. The 2000km distance between Sydney in New South Wales and The Great Barrier Reef in Queensland is clearly going to take an awful long time, but if you are able to travel independently of coach routes and public transport restrictions could be broken into very enjoyable chunks, taking in Cairns, Brisbane, The Whitsunday Islands, Byron Bay and lots more. Of course, to be able to plan your own time and itinerary would be key here, so I’ve always thought that the way I would do it would be by car.

My immediate thought would be car hire, but with this comes concerns such as mile limitations, the rough terrain causing damage to the underside and being stung with a massive insurance excess / repair bill, As well as the astronomical cost of hiring a car for months rather than weeks. So, it occurred to me that the logical thing to do would be to take advantage of modern technology and use Gumtree to look for a second hand, all-terrain 4×4 vehicle. As well as being able to keep the vehicle for as long as I wanted and not accruing costs for extra days (which means you really could take your time instead of having to drive for 4 days solid), little scratches and big insurance bills wouldn’t be a concern. I would also be able to log back on to Gumtree towards the end of my trip and pop the vehicle back up for sale, effectively recouping a lot of the costs straight away – it seems like a win/win situation!

So there you have it: my musings and thoughts for a trip that I’m at least 10 years away from being able to embark upon! All I now need to do is save up, wait until my kids are older, get my immunisations up to date (you can check what vaccinations you need for travel anywhere in the world here – there are no mandatory ones for Oz, but advice is to get your Tetanus and Diphtheria jabs brought up to date), and get on the plane. If only it were so simple! Still, it never hurts to be prepared and a girl can dream.

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