Marvelous Melbourne

Post by Jeremy

“Melbourne, oh you’re going to love it!” “You’re going to Melbourne; very jealous!” “Ahh Melbourne, it’s going to be great!” These and more are what we heard from fellow travelers when relayed that our last stop in Australia was going to be Melbourne. We knew from before we left home that Melbourne was supposed to be cool but Sydney always seemed to be the more popular, well known city back in the States. So with little knowledge but big expectations we were excited to see what the hype was all about.

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Sydney, Australia- Our Biggest City Yet!

Our journey took us next to the largest city in Australia, Sydney! After spending some much needed beach time at Byron Bay we were ready to get our tourist on. Jeremy’s favorite part about getting to a new city has become the trip to the information center and getting a city map, so he was delighted that Sydney’s was very comprehensive. We decided to stay in the eastern suburb (in Chicago we’d call it a neighborhood), of Bondi Beach. One of my old college dorm friends Raechel lives in Bondi with her fiancé and suggested it was a great spot to both explore the city from and also be near the beach. We got in around dinner time and our Air BnB host suggested a nearby burger joint for dinner just down the street. The burgers were fantastic and strange enough as we were saucing up our fries we noticed a Lillie Qs label on a squeeze bottle! As we paid Jeremy asked the owner about it and told him we were from Chicago and that Lili Qs was a great neighborhood spot we’d been to many times. The owner proceeded to tell him that their burger place was known for how good the sauce was! He was also thrilled that we thought he made a burger as good as we can get back home.

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Beaches and Backpackers in Byron Bay

Backpackers galore sitting in the park, street musicians playing guitar, old and young wearing flip flops and swimsuits. That was the scene we took in as we got off our quick shuttle from Brisbane to begin our three nights in Byron Bay. Needless to say, Steph and I were very excited to enjoy this popular beach town among tourists and locals alike. While Airlie Beach was clearly more dominated by the backpacker scene, Byron Bay is a wide mix of people. It’s a quick weekend getaway for locals from Brisbane and seemed like a town where Australians from up and down the east coast like to escape to at least once or twice a year. It was also big enough where you could make it a year round home; our Air B&B host was a lifer, it had a thriving live music scene, and even is the host of what looked like an awesome music festival over Easter weekend headlined by Kendrick Lamar.

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Koalas and Kangaroos in Brisbane

The Whitsundays had proved that the Levinson’s would never be sailors, but we decided to not let our experience deter us from enjoying the rest of Australia. An early morning flight took us from Airlie Beach to the city of Brisbane, a bustling metropolis of two million people. Besides our arrival in Auckland a month prior we hadn’t experienced a large city since we left Chicago and were looking forward to some good sightseeing and food.

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Sailing the Whitsundays, A Maritime Disaster

From some of our Air BnB hosts in New Zealand, to friends back home sending us scary sounding emails, the theme we kept hearing as we ended our time in New Zealand and headed to Australia was, “There are zero predators in New Zealand but in Australia, everything is trying to kill you.” Since we were go, go, go in New Zealand, the Australian portion of our journey was designed for us to visit beach towns and bigger cities, nothing really in the Outback. We figured our biggest concern would be checking the bed at night for spiders. While we did not overlook pesky insects, we definitely forgot to factor in choppy water, coral, jellyfish and more.

Let’s start from the beginning– and listen, I know there is zero sympathy for the couple who isn’t working and seeing the world, but bear with us as we relay our first sailing trip! We started for Australia with a 3:00am wake up for our shuttle to pick us up for the airport. From there we were due to have an easy layover before boarding a flight to a small airport in Hamilton Island, one of the Whitsunday isles. Instead we encountered the first of hopefully not many, travel luggage incidents. One bag came out while the second was mysteriously nowhere to be found. After a good 30 minutes, Steph went to report the bag missing, and just as she was next up in line after waiting 20 minutes, the bag plops down onto the carousal, mocking us, saying “what’s the big deal, I’m here now.” So we start rushing through customs inspections, the transfer to the domestic terminal, cut the line to check our bags for the next airport (Sorry Aussies!), and then busted through the terminal to make our next flight. Avoided a big problem, all good ahead right?

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