My First Visitor in Australia – Week 1

My mom is easily the most important person in my life. I’m an only child and have always been close to my momma. She is my biggest supporter and I’m so grateful for her every day. That being said being so far away from her while in Australia and traveling around has been tough and that’s mostly to do with the time difference. I say mostly because there’s so much I miss about not seeing her, but the time difference makes even the conversations we do have tricky. It made sense that my first visitor to Australia would be my mom. I was so excited for her arrival. I really wanted to show her the country I fell in love with and maybe she would see the reason for my obsession firsthand. That at least would be the best-case scenario at the end of her trip.

Planning for her three-week trip was challenging. I wanted to show her everything and go everywhere whilst not overdoing it and still relaxing. My mom kept saying she would be happy just by the beach, but there’s so much more to see in Australia. It was stressful and took a lot of planning, but we narrowed our itinerary down to get a little bit of everything without running around like crazy. The first week would be focused on Sydney and surrounding areas. 

Day 1 – Mom arrives on the 3rd, but she flew out of the US on the 1st (a long time traveling) so we were having a chill day. We dropped her bags off at the hotel and went to grab some brunch. Avo toast #1 check. We walk around the surrounding area of Darling Harbour not venturing too much, but we do stop for a passionfruit sorbet at Messina. That night we go to the hotel’s happy hour and later order in Thai via DoorDash. 

Day 2 – have a bit of a sleep in thanks to the black out curtains in the room and then have breakfast (avo quinoa bowl) at a restaurant in Darling Harbour. Today we are taking on the Costal Walk from Coogee to Bondi. We take it at a very leisurely pace and really take in everything along the way. When we finally made it to Bondi we treated ourselves to a meal at Bucket List and then shopped around. Mom was a fan of Bondi and the costal walk in general. Win! 

Day 3 – It’s Manly time. I was so excited to get over to Manly because well it’s an amazing, underrated part of Sydney. I think the other beaches overtake Manly in popularity, but that’s okay with me. The ferry ride over had an aweing effect on my mom and it was the first official view of the Sydney Opera House she got. Once in Manly we had brunch at Girdlers and then headed to the beach. A perk of traveling with your mom was being a little fancy and we actually rented beach chairs and umbrella. Something I wouldn’t have thought to do on my own, but now that I know how nice it was I don’t think I could go without. We grabbed Acai bowls to cool down from Acai Bros and then walked over to Shelly Beach. After more browsing in the stores we had dinner at Moo Burgers with a great view and my mom tried a kangaroo burger (she wasn’t a fan). Then we hopped back on the ferry and headed back across the harbour. 

Day 4 – Super early wake up call, but it was worth it because we were going to Hunter Valley

Day 5 – Spent the day/early afternoon in Hunter and got back to Sydney around 7pm. We checked in to our new hotel in a prime area – on the Rocks. We had a late, but delicious dinner at Pony and then walked around the Rocks a bit. 

Day 6 – Scheduled for today was a trip out to Watson’s Bay, but the weather was not having it. The rain was coming down hard all day. We had brunch on the Rocks (mom had another avo toast…I think she might be becoming a millennial). I checked another dining bucket list item off with dinner when we went to Sake. We thought we had allocated enough time starting dinner at 5:15pm to make it to the Opera before 7pm, but we had to dash over there. We were seeing Don Giovani. This was my first opera. The production was very well done and their voices were incredible, but now I can say with certainty that operas aren’t really my thing. It was still really great to experience especially at THE Sydney Opera House.

Day 7 – This day was originally going to be a day trip out to Jervis Bay, but with the forecasted rain we decided to stay in the city and maybe go to some markets and walk the Harbour Bridge. Oh boy were we wrong. The rain was at a constant downpour with heavy winds closing pretty much everything down. We had tea and scones at the Tea Cosy (another foodie bucket list item check), broke my umbrella walking back to the hotel which was one building over. The day was looking like a chill day, but it was also our last day in Sydney so it felt like a bit of a waste. We went to the QVB for a little bit, but weren’t in a mood to shop. For dinner that night we ventured to Newtown to try Golden Lotus, a fully vegan Vietnamese restaurant (another check). Wow the food was yummy and it’s BYO so we enjoyed the bottle of wine we brought back from Hunter over our shared plates. We ended the night with a night cap (can a beer technically be a night cap?) at the Lord Nelson Brewery. 

It was a super fun week and although the schedule didn’t fully go as planned it didn’t matter. Just spending time together was what really matters. Almost exactly a week from my mom’s arrival we were heading to the airport once again to fly to our next destination…

Here are my mom’s officially unofficial rankings of Sydney’s food scene:

Breakfast

  1. Girdlers (Manly)
  2. Dare Cafe (The Rocks)
  3. Two Sis & Co. (Darling Harbour/Pyrmont)
  4. Tea Cosy (The Rocks)
  5. Waterfront Grill (Darling Harbour)

Dinner

  1. Redsalt Restaurant (Hunter Valley)
  2. Sake (The Rocks)
  3. Pony (The Rocks)
  4. At Home Thai Cuisine (Doordash)
  5. Golden Lotus (Newtown)
  6. Bucket List (Bondi)
  7. Moo Burgers (Manly)

No Nonsense Noosa

Noosa is a very chic beach town in the Sunshine Coast. If you are familiar with Florida it has a very similar feel to Naples and if you’ve traveled around Australia a bit it feels like the “grown up” version of Byron Bay. Still full of chill, beachy vibes, but filled with families and fancier establishments (restaurants, shops, etc.). 

Getting There

From Sunshine Coast Airport there’s a public bus that will take you into Noosa Junction Bus Station. Depending on where you are staying you can transfer buses here, take an Uber, or walk because the accommodation starts around this area and then filters towards the main beach. I stayed at two very different hostels in Noosa.

Things to Do 

Main Beach – really easy to get to regardless of where in town you are staying. Most places are an easy walk and the further accommodations are still walkable or will most likely have shuttles to the beach. It was a beautiful beach to catch the sunset or lay out in the afternoon for a couple of hours. 

Noosa Coastal Walk – If you haven’t guessed by now I’m a sucker for the coastal walks. I finally had the opportunity to do this walk on my last full day and I knew I couldn’t leave Noosa without doing it. I started the trek at Main Beach. This walk goes through the Noosa National Park and it’s beautifully well kept and if you are doing the walk solo the other walkers will give you peace of mind. There are a bunch of well marked pit stops along the way from the Boiling Pot, Dolphin Point, Hell’s Gates, and most well photographed the Fairy Pools. I think these blew up because of Instagram and I witnessed firsthand what millennials will go through for the ‘gram. It wasn’t easy getting to the pools, in fact I would even wager and say it may have been dangerous, but that didn’t stop any of us from going. And you know what? It was worth it. The pools were so pristine and just freaken cool. The water is crystal clear (you can even see a little bit of coral on one of the rock walls) and the ocean is crashing on the sides, but not bringing enough to welcome any fish or you know sharks. So you feel like you have this special spot in the world. To top it all off dolphins came out in the horizon and kept swimming in the near distance for 10 or so minutes (I think they liked the music that was playing or maybe they just wanted to show off).  After sun bathing for a bit I realized I had to keep moving or I wouldn’t finish the walk before dark. The walk ends at Sunshine beach and is a total of approximately 3 miles one way. 

Kayak in the Everglades – I lived in Florida for five years and never did anything close to exploring the Everglades. Now I move to Australia and I kayak in theirs for five hours. It’s funny how things turn out. In all seriousness the excursion was fantastic. I went with Kanu Kapers. The leaders were so incredibly sweet and they made the experience. It also wasn’t a laid back paddling at leisure type of thing. It was challenging and I loved it.

Food

There are so many nice restaurants with live music or brunch specials. I’m sure you will be able to find something that suits your fancy. This is where I actually tired Betty’s Burgers. Now I realize it’s a chain, but until that point I hadn’t seen one anywhere else and every time I passed by there was always a long line. I really loved it!

I caught up with a friend who happened to be in Noosa at the same time for dinner at FOMO. We shared a bunch of tapas (small plates) and it was lovely.

I didn’t get the chance to go to Sum Yung Guys, but that will be one of my first stops when I get back to Noosa.

Shopping

So many cute boutiques on the main street by Main Beach and also around Noosa Junction. I wanted to give a special shoutout to JOJO Noosa for your classic boho beach wear. I had a small snag with a dress I bought and their customer service was fabulous.

Noosa is the perfect beach getaway for a girl’s trip or family vacay. It’s a must go if you are traveling the east coast of Australia.

Thankful

  • I’m thankful for the opportunity to live in a different country. 
  • I’m thankful for being able to travel and experiencing new things. 
  • I’m thankful for my family and friends and their health and happiness. 
  • I’m thankful for sunny days and even more so the rain recently because of the awful bush fires. 
  • I’m thankful for music. 
  • I’m thankful that I haven’t encountered a huge spider or snake yet. 
  • I’m thankful for the lifesavers on the beach, firefighters in the bush, and all service officials. 
  • I’m thankful for new friends. 
  • I’m thankful for the food I am able to put into my body. 
  • I’m thankful for fresh, clean water. 
  • I’m thankful for the breathtaking coastal walk. 
  • I’m thankful for modern technology and being able to FaceTime. 

And the list goes on and on. Life is short and we should appreciate what we have. I hope everyone in the States has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Last Year’s Fall – Today was the only day that I’ve missed the crisp Fall weather