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Australia: city, rainforest and the Whitsundays islands

With just two days in Sydney, we had so many things we wanted to do and just not enough time. On our first morning we climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge - this is such a great way to start your time in Sydney. You start the climb along the inner section of the bridge and then climb four ladders to reach the upper arch and continue to the top of the bridge. It is not so much a climb, as it is not steep and is quite a gentle walk to the top, the oldest climber they have had was 100 years old! The views are absolutely stunning out across the city, with the iconic Opera House to the right, you know that you have arrived in Sydney!

Sydney Harbour

Sydney Harbour

After our bridge climb we had a stroll through The Rocks area, down to Circular Quay to join our 'cruise like a local' harbour trip with Sea Sydney Cruises for the afternoon. Getting out on the water and cruising the bays, is a great way to get to know the city, as you cruise past the iconic sights and million dollar homes. We had a go at fishing off the back of the boat before enjoying a delicious three-course Australian BBQ lunch.

Our second morning in Sydney was spent touring the northern beaches of Sydney, before taking in the great coastal walk from Bronte to Bondi Beach. Once at Bondi Beach it was wet suits on to try our hand at surfing. Bondi Beach is one Sydney’s most famous beaches and it was great fun learning to surf.

A short flight to Brisbane and a 1 ½ hour drive inland, and you are on the gold coast hinterland in the World Heritage listed Lamington National Park, far away from the buzz and bright lights of Sydney. Lamington National Park is home to 160 kms of walking trails, hundreds of waterfalls and over 250 species of unique Australian wildlife, a bird watcher’s paradise. O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat offers a range of accommodation, from their garden and rainforest retreat rooms to the new luxury mountain villas.

On arrival we met some of the animals in the 'Wildlife Encounter', an interactive experience that lets guests get up close and personal with animals and also at the 'Birds of Prey' flight show. We also took a magical night tour to see the glow worms in the rainforest. They have many other experiences on offer, including Segway tours, private eco-ranger tours, and morning bird watching and feeding tours.

Back to Brisbane and a short flight to Hamilton Island you are in another world completely, the Whitsunday Islands. Hamilton Island is one of the 74 islands in the Whitsundays offering a range of accommodation options from the 4-star Reef View Hotel to the 5-star luxury qualia. A visit to the Whitsundays is not complete without visiting the beautiful Whitehaven beach - the stunning white sandy beach with the blue sky and ocean behind it is a sight to behold.

We also took a day trip to the Great Barrier Reef and ‘Reef World’, which is a pontoon located about three hours from Hamilton Island out on the reef. There is lots to do once you reach the pontoon, from snorkelling, to a semi-submersible underwater viewing platform - for me the best part of the day was the helicopter flight over the reef and seeing the heart reef. Hamilton Island offers a number of other activities and things to do, for example there is an 18 hole golf course just a five minute boat ride away at Dent Island. Plus a wildlife park, water sports, quad biking, or simply just relaxing and enjoying the beaches.

Reef world

Reef world

During just eight days in Australia, I got to see so much. This just shows how diverse the country is, how easy it is to get around and how much there is to see and do in a short time.

View Bridge & Wickers' Australia holidays to find out more.