We visited Australia (pre-Covid!) and had the most wonderful time that we can’t wait to get back. Sydney is an amazing city but Australia is truly unique and well-worth the long flight to get there!
In fact, the long flight was precisely WHY we chose to visit Australia when we did. We found the very longest route possible for us to fly Etihad’s First Apartment on their A380, from Abu Dhabi to Melbourne. This was in 2016, and we booked before major American Airlines AAdvantage miles devaluation, so paid only 54,000 miles each for what typically would have cost $6,400.
Each Apartment had a sofa, reclining chair, and vanity area. We booked side-by-side so we were able to lower the partition and see into each others’ apartment. One of the coolest things was also the shower on the airplane, so we felt totally refreshed as we landed in Melbourne. Flying in Etihad’s First Apartment was a true bucket list item and something we’ll never forget!
We started our trip in Melbourne, which is the second-most populous city in Australia. It has a thriving arts & culture scene and the coolest part is all the closed-door bars (you could walk right past them and have no idea). It’s also often rated as the world’s most livable city, so it’s a must-visit on the continent.
From Melbourne, we flew to visit the Great Barrier Reef, which was at the top of our list to see. We chose to basecamp in the smaller town of Townsville, which was one of our favorite places to walk around and explore (and spend a day out on the water!).
From Townsville, we made our way back to Sydney, where we stayed at the Park Hyatt Sydney — and got to watch the sun set behind the world-famous Opera House, one of my life’s greatest memories. Visits to Bondi Beach and Manly Beach rounded out our time in the capital and, to me, were the epitome of Australia’s laid-back culture.