After a twenty minute bus ride on June 30, 2011, from the bustling Sydney International Airport, we American Student Ambassadors arrived at our first destination; the Sydney Cricket Grounds. It's very amusing watching 40 junior high students play cricket while half asleep from the plane ride! Tours of the Ground are hard to arrange, so I recommend starting touring at The Rocks (Downtown Sydney). You can find cheap tours given by NSWU students, and those tours end up being better than others. The history of The Rock is very intriguing.
â–º Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
The next day we woke up at the crack of dawn, ate breakfast, and proceeded to wait in the lobby of the Quality Inn Cambridge for our coach. We then drove to Bondi Beach and immediately got into our wetsuits. We took the waves with our Surf instructors at about 10:00. I would definitely recommend the program "Learn to Surf" if you are a beginner. Although we only surfed for two hours, it was a blast! Now it's off to the Sydney Opera House! Even though I went on the exclusive tour of the Opera House, I recommend skipping the tour and buying tickets to a performance. The architecture was gorgeous, and worth the hassle. The beauty is unimaginable and quite hard to explain.
Our next destination was Moreton Island, and we were staying at the Tangalooma Island Resort, home to one of the best wild dolphin feeding programs, as well as a chain of 14 shipwrecks. I'd recommend snorkeling the wreck while there since it's one of your only chances to observe the native wobbygong shark in its shipwrecked environment. Also make sure you try sand tobogganing; be sure to wear goggles, and bring endurance to climb the massive dunes whichare also great backdrops for a family photo. Tangalooma is a must on your travel.
Approaching our last destination was sad, but we knew that Cairns would be our most memorable and interesting part of the journey. The Lakes resort was amazing; it looked like Oprah would live there! The resort had five family friendly pools, and was a four minute drive to Cairns Airport. One great Cairns eatery is the Hog’s Breath Café in Cairns; great service and tasty food.
If you ever plan to take a ferry out to the Great Barrier Reef, don't even think about eating breakfast that morning! The sea was calm on my ferry ride, but you never know. Once you get to the actual reef, take a while to admire its beauty. The reef is beautiful in low tide when you can see the reef sticking out of the water. My accommodations were Quicksilver in Port Douglas. Quicksilver is strongly recommended because they have a station in the most beautiful part of the reef away from the other busy ports. Their snorkel guides bring up starfish and coral for you to touch as well as scaring Nemo out of his home. Quicksilver also services a submarine, so it’s best to stay all day. Remember to bring underwater cameras to capture the Reef’s vivid colors for family.
My trip was amazing, but no matter what hotels you stay at or what quality of food you eat, it'll still be Australia, and it'll still be worth it. Even if you don't do all of the activities that I did, you'll still have a story to tell. With the program I traveled through, People to People, you look at the world in a new perspective. Be sure to be open to trying everything sane and never frown upon anything because you’ll never forget your journey.
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