When my children were still very young, our whole family went for a big adventure in Australia! We left behind a cold, grey February in the UK and arrived in Sydney where it was – raining! But not for long. February is summertime in Australia, so we soon found it was sunny and hot almost every day.
We were staying for a few months, so we had lots of time to see everything and visit as many cities as we could. Australia is a very big country, so we didn’t manage to do it all. We were lucky to be staying in Sydney, which is full of famous landmarks like the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The Sydney Opera House has become a symbol of Australia because it was completely unique and surprising when it was completed in 1973. Now there are lots of buildings that imitate its design, but nothing really compares to the original! The architect, Jorn Utzon from Denmark, intended the Opera House to look like a ship with billowing sails on the water. The roof structure also looks quite like seashells piled together.
It isn’t just for opera, either – you can also see theatre, concerts and shows for kids. Here’s a link to what’s on for kids at the moment, just in case you happen to live in Australia or are planning a visit!
Across the harbour from the Opera House is Taronga Zoo, which stretches up a big hill. Not only are there lots of interesting animals to see, including all the special ones like kangaroos and koalas that you only find in Australia, but from the top of the hill you get a fantastic view of Sydney as well!
We loved exploring all the beaches around Sydney, including Manly, Balmoral, Bronte, Bondi and Clovelly Beaches. This picture is of Clovelly Beach where we used to go quite often. My husband liked to snorkel there because it had enormous fish called “grouper” that didn’t mind a person swimming around amongst them. I must admit I never tried this! The very idea of swimming with giant fish as big as me was terrifying! But I am a deep sea wimp, that’s for sure.
We also visited Melbourne, and were very impressed by the Royal Botanic Gardens. It was like a lush, green paradise where all the trees were enormous and very exotic! You can see in the picture below how beautiful it is. Melbourne was a surprise for us, though. We set off in a car and drove for four hours, and when we arrived we couldn’t believe how much colder it was! Coming from the warmth of Sydney it was quite a shock, and we were not prepared. We had to rush to a shop and buy socks, jumpers and coats as we hadn’t brought any warm clothes with us!
We also visited the Blue Mountains which are about two hours inland from Sydney. Because Sydney is on the coast and the mountains are higher up, the air is cooler there and you get amazing rainstorms and sometimes even rainbows. We were lucky when we got to the Three Sisters, a striking set of bare rocks rising out of the forest-covered hills. Just as we got the camera out, a rainbow appeared!
Australia is so big that to get to some places you really have to fly. We were very excited to get on a famous Quantas airplane with its kangaroo design on the tail. Here you can see me with the children getting on a plane for the very centre of Australia where the earth is red and it’s dry desert for hundreds of miles…
The place we were going is called the “Outback” and it is where you can find an amazing red mountain rising out of the flat landscape. The name given to this rock by the Aboriginal people of Australia is Uluru. Near it you can also find smaller red rock mountains grouped together which are called Kata Tjuta. This means “many heads” and you can see from the picture below why the Aborigines gave them that name. These mountains have been formed by millions of years of wind and rain wearing them down. They are much harder rock than the surrounding land, so they have emerged as the softer material around them is worn away.
We had heard about Uluru and knew it was considered to be a sacred place by the Aborigines. These are people who have lived in Australia for thousands of years, far longer than anyone else. They are experts in survival in this very harsh desert environment. To see Uluru at its best, you must wait until late in the day when it is lit up by the setting sun.
Australia is a fantastic place to visit! We hope to go back again some day, as there’s still lots we haven’t managed to see.