Australian Road Trip: Sydney to Melbourne (via Canberra)
Now you’re going to explore Sydney! Synonymous with vibrant and stylish, you’ll find plenty of things to discover here. If its world class arts/culture scene doesn’t appeal, a buzzing shopping scene and some excellent eateries are waiting to be discovered.
Museum of Contemporary Art
This museum plays host to a variety of modern exhibits from local artists (featuring many Aboriginal artworks), with a regularly updated exhibition calendar and free entry it's a great place to spend a couple of hours. Upstairs you'll also find a bustling cafe serving drinks and snacks with a magnificent view of the harbour. It was one of the few places we could get an unspoilt view without the crowds. https://goo.gl/maps/EGsJ68z9hYL2
Sydney Observatory night stargazing tours
This is a unique tour where you can explore Sydney's quaint observatory, the tour guides are entertaining and have a genuine passion for Astronomy. If the sky is clear enough, you'll be able to take a peek through a very expensive (not to mention enormous) telescope and gaze at some planets. Admittedly some of the exhibitions are a little dated, but the interesting stories told to you by the guide will make up for it.If you've spent much time browsing on the PEAK TAN website, you may have noticed that we feature some incredible night sky photography (see the Breathtaking Night Sky Photos from around the World article).
Pro Tip: Book online and the tours run at 8.30pm or 9pm.
Sydney Fish Market
If you enjoy seafood, this is a must visit. Sydney Fish Market is a working market with many fresh food options. The market is often very crowded as over the years its popularity among tourists has only increased. But it's definitely worth the trip. https://goo.gl/maps/dkSWbjMkAVo
Surry Hills/Eastern suburbs
Surry Hills is a great area to spend an afternoon exploring. It's known for its hipster, bohemian vibes with many vintage stores. Tons of cafes to sit and watch the world or you can eat at little one-off restaurants that are refreshingly not chains or franchises.
From the outside, this place looks like a sneaker store but no they actually serve fried chicken! A very trendy location with an urban twist. This is where you can get your fried chicken fix, or try the Cheezus sandwich and Laced Up fries while bopping to hip hop music. https://goo.gl/maps/HTFVXrPbfXM2
If you're looking for decent Italian food, Pasta Emilia is a solid option. They have a range of high-quality pastas, pizzas and gelato. We were lucky enough to be there on a beautiful autumn day and enjoyed our pizzas in the outside seating area. Prices are a little high, but this is pretty typical of the Surry Hills area. https://goo.gl/maps/3UUDd8HFeDL2
Spice Alley in the southern Ultimo area. Tucked into a narrow side street, you’ll find Spice Alley outdoor food court. While it’s better in good weather (what isn’t), they do have covered seating for when it’s raining. Designed to simulate an authentic Asian street food market, you’ll find a variety of Asian cuisine. This area is the more reasonably priced for central Sydney. https://goo.gl/maps/gjczkYRVu132Pro Tip: When we visited, they only accepted card payment otherwise you had to put cash on a ‘Spice Alley’ card.
This is the default party area nowadays and it's clear why. There are tons of bars and clubs lining the main street. This area stays open later than most of Sydney but the party mostly ends at 2am.
This is a pub-style American soul food joint. They have a great snack menu with all of the staples you'd expect - cornbread, fried chicken, brisket and more. It is conveniently located nearby to public transport and only a 15 minute train ride out of Central Station. https://goo.gl/maps/bz6JReXPd1q
The Grumpy Baker
Lovely spot to hang out and grab a coffee and pastries. We arrived in the early afternoon and most of the baked goods were sold out! We’d recommend the Fig and Walnut bread. https://goo.gl/maps/ybNUMSKSm962
Ace - Vietnamese Rolls and Bowls
Only a few stops on the train from the centre and you’ll find yourself in the Chinatown area of Ashfield. Here, we found the best Banh Mi I’ve eaten outside of Vietnam (and I’ve tried one in almost all 40 countries I’ve visited). For around 5.50AUD you can get a fresh Banh Mi. The vegetables are pickled just right, the chillies are evenly distributed, the bread is crusty (they’ve got a long way to go to get it like a true Vietnamese Banh Mi, but remember we’re not in Vietnam now) and the meat is tender and flavourful. I recommend ordering the BBQ Pork and asking them to put some meatballs in it too (it’ll cost a little more). The juice from the meatballs helps to make the bread a little softer and coats the veg in more meat juices.
This city is a stark contrast to the others in Australia since it's a planned capital and as a result lacks some of the idiosyncratic charm and character when compared to them. However, the Parliament buildings are open to the public and are interesting to explore on one of their free guided tours, especially if they are in session.
They operate a free tour which provides insight into the political history of the country along with entertaining stories about what goes on in parliament. The tour guides are knowledgeable and friendly, we were lucky enough to be there on the same day as the PM Question Time and we were invited to stay to watch from the public galleries - all for free of course! https://goo.gl/maps/eydV32V1XQw
Australian War Memorial
National Capital Exhibition
The National Capital Exhibition offers both free and paid tours throughout the museum and is arguably the best place to go if you're interested in the history of Canberra. The museum exhibits provide insight into the architecture, design and construction of Canberra as we know it, and the significance for Australians both then and now. https://goo.gl/maps/xXdAnZMnZAN2
Turkish Halal Pide House
We visited this place because of a recommendation from a local Canberran. If you’re looking for a fresh, delicious and packed kebab in a hurry, then head here. The staff are wonderful and this is one of the most popular fast food spots in the city. https://goo.gl/maps/yhjAdbqTvQy
Pro Tip: When you get inside, head to the left of the counter, fill out the order form and hand it to the staff.
One of the few places in the world you can go from beach to mountain within a relatively short drive. Enjoy the view as you ascend the windy mountain roads to Cooma and drive west towards Jindabyne. Jindabyne is starkly beautiful, reminiscent of Montana. The towns have a ski town, log cabins feel. Pack warm - it’s pretty cold up there. https://goo.gl/maps/98vhEXyiYJB2
Swimming with Seals
The experience of a lifetime! While seals seem clumsy and uncoordinated on land, they become majestic dancers when they're in the water. We joined Island Charters Narooma for a morning snorkelling trip with the seals at the nearby Barunguba Island. We were fortunate enough to see at least 20 seals as they playfully danced around us. https://goo.gl/maps/Fr8d1JhwNZx
Iconic spot in Narooma famous for its rock that creates an opening shaped like the continent of Australia. There are some short walking trails you can take around the area for a great view over the coast and Montague Island. If you go at the right time you could catch a beautiful sunset photo through the rock. Sometimes you’ll also spot a colony of seals that live near the wall. https://goo.gl/maps/7YDqaxLYUUA2
If you’re headed south along the coast towards Melbourne, it is well worth a stop at Broadwater Oysters. All grown nearby you can watch them harvest, clean, and shuck them straight onto your plate. For $15 for a dozen freshly shucked Oysters and a scenic view over Pambula Lake - you can’t go wrong. https://goo.gl/maps/7sAnJAFWkHR2
This stop is predominantly a working boat launching point, but it is also set against a beautiful beach. Since this point on the coast is so exposed to the sea, the ocean is more lively than in other parts, but it is safe to swim in the ocean when lifeguards are on duty. This is also a lovely spot for fishing and the dramatic coastline makes it a favourite amongst photographers. https://goo.gl/maps/sa143RaiLFy
Although admittedly not so secret when we visited! When it’s quiet this is a nice little spot to relax after a short hike through the bush to reach it. https://goo.gl/maps/tGSo7NpC6eu
Pro Tip: Parking is limited so you may have to wait to get a spot.
Funkey Monkey Cafe
A nice spot in the centre of town, if you can get a table. For such a small cafe in a pretty remote town, they’ve made themselves a destination for the Lakes Entrance. Among the favourites are falafels, eggs benedict and their vegan snacks. https://goo.gl/maps/yZMbS9EYB1E2
We actually parked up the campervan here and slept for the night, we witnessed a breathtaking sunset with a family of pelicans in the backdrop. It’s a great spot to stop and relax before the next big stop - Wilsons Promontory. https://goo.gl/maps/awSyH93kXGA2
Wilsons Promontory National Park
A much loved day trip for many Victorian locals, Wilson’s Prom is famous for captivating sunsets, idyllic beaches and diverse wildlife. As you drive through the winding roads we felt as if we could were in a National Park in Canada or Northern California. The park itself is home to a variety of wildlife including cockatoos, emus, wallabies, wombats and even penguins. https://goo.gl/maps/xBGmLWTxY292
Framed by interesting boulder formations, this beach is popular amongst locals and tourists for its magnificent sunsets. Even though we were not in the Prom for sunset we still found this to be one of the most picturesque beaches we visited in Australia. https://goo.gl/maps/xnZC6Eoc6W32
A short walk up a steep hill from the car park will take you to this iconic lookout. Whether you’re there on a clear day or an overcast day, you’ll still appreciate the captivating reflections of the sky onto the beach. On a sunny day, the ocean will be varying shades of blue and turquoise. But there is much more to see than beach and sand, these bays are home to a range of beautiful flora and wildlife, if you take the time to find it! https://goo.gl/maps/YQEp7kYkcgR2
Aptly named for the squeaking noises it makes when you walk along the sand. That’s due to the fact that the grains of sand are actually rounded grains of quartz and therefore more dense than your regular grain of sand, thus making the sand a brilliant white and hilariously squeaky! https://goo.gl/maps/VVx4kNfmZiv
A friendly cafe with an eclectic style and lovely staff. We had a delicious Eggs Benedict and a Quesadilla. This is a great stop in San Remo before heading to Philip Island. https://goo.gl/maps/9E5DHxeKCSA2
Let’s face it, the Penguin Parade is the main attraction for visitors coming to Philip Island. You're able to view the penguins from a huge, constructed stage with seating for visitors surrounded by flood lighting. You're not guaranteed to see any penguins on any given day, but that's the very nature of wildlife - they're wild! As the sun sets, the breeze from the ocean can get very cold so it's a good idea to wrap up warm, I'm talking scarves, hats, gloves. Everyone was freezing! Unless you're able to splash out for the VIP ticket and watch the penguins waddle up the beach from the comfort of the indoors. https://goo.gl/maps/T1vhR6nzfXn
Pro Tip: The staff are very strict about you taking photos or videos, the official line is that 'flash photography is dangerous for the penguins' which is absolutely understandable and reasonable. But be warned, even if your camera doesn't have a flash function, or you know you've switched it off - the staff will not hesitate to obnoxiously get in your face and shout at you until you stop. This is what we managed to film before a staff member threatened to eject us. Instead they kindly ask that you purchase one of their official photos in the gift shop.