“It was a country of continual surprises”, says Travel Advisor Erin Zetter, just returned from Australia. Erin was one of only 60 agents from throughout the US and Canada invited to travel down under on Travel2’s ‘Amazing Aussie Adventure’. Visiting Sydney, Melbourne, Ayres Rock, and the Wolgan Valley in a small group of 10 Virtuoso agents, Erin’s preconceptions of Australia were challenged – and in a good way.
“First,” says Erin, “I was astonished at the amount of wildlife. We went on a night safari drive to see the nocturnal animals, and then a nature walk the next morning to see kangaroos, wallaby and wombats. We also visited the Featherdale Wildlife Park, where I was thrilled to be able to feed kangaroos (from ice-cream cones!) right out of my hands. I originally thought, though, that the wildlife in Australia would be rather elusive. But when we went to the Blue Mountains I couldn’t believe the number of kangaroos you could see – they were everywhere, in the hundreds. I could even see them from right outside my room!”
“Everyone has seen photos of the Australian outback,” says Erin. “But I found that no picture can compare. You can’t begin to imagine the vastness, and the sunset and views of Uluru (Ayres Rock) were stunning. The stars began to come out at the end of a ‘Sounds of Silence’ dinner in the outback. They had billed it as a ‘dine under a billion stars’ evening – and for once, there was no exaggeration. With the clarity of the sky, I could see planets, galaxies, even the full Milky Way. It was a very emotional experience”.
Even the visit to Australia’s cities held surprises. Did you know the Sydney Opera House can be toured? And that ‘Opera House’ is actually a bit of a misnomer? Because it’s not just one house, but a full complex with five different theaters where you can hear the symphony, of course, but also rock performances, dramas, and theater in the round.
In Sydney, Erin also got to complete a bucket list item with another iconic city landmark. Conquering all fear of heights in the name of research for her clients, Erin climbed – and crossed – the Sydney Harbour Bridge for 1.5 hours as part of BridgeClimb Sydney. Her reward from the top was 360 degree panoramic views of the city.
And then there’s Melbourne, Erin’s favorite city. From above, the city of Melbourne has a full metropolitan skyline, complete with skyscrapers. But walk the streets, and you’ll discover a hidden Melbourne, one with narrow alleyways and lanes, cobblestone streets, café’s and street performers. “You’ll think you’re in Europe”, says Erin.
“So much of this trip was fabulous,” concludes Erin, “I couldn’t believe how much there was to see and do, and so much variety. I visited at the end of our summer and had a great time. Ideally, in order to see everything under the best conditions, I’d recommend booking travel for our Spring and Fall.”
Want to learn more about Australia? Give your Santa Barbara Travel Advisor a call today!