This marked my third trip to Australia. Unlike prior trips, I wasn’t combining friend visits with playing tourist (or attending a wedding), despite the fact that Australia is a massive country and I’ve yet to see Queensland, Darwin, the Northern Territory, or Perth. (Future trips!) I figured it would be ridiculous to be in this part of the world and not make a pit stop, so that’s exactly what I did! Because my motivation was to reconnect with friends, there are limited recommendations that will be useful for most travelers, but I have thrown in a few things. Wine tip: sparkling wines in Tasmania are BOMB! Seriously. Better than many French champagnes I’ve had the pleasure of tasting, and at a fraction of the cost. So, when visiting Tassie, bottoms up! (And if you’re not traveling long term like me, load up your suitcase for the trip home.)
All of the people I love who live in Australia (with one exception: my favorite professor from undergrad who made his way there years ago) are travel buddies, and that makes me love this place even more. I met Paula ten years ago at a hostel in Istanbul! My first visit to see her was back in May 2011, and since then, I don’t think we’ve gone more than 1-2 years without one of us traveling and finding our way to see the other. This is why travel buddies are the best; when you meet kindred spirits who love to travel the world, you’ll often find these people will make more of an effort to fly around the world to catch up with you (vs. some friends/family who may live much closer but never travel/visit). I met Sarah and Ben the first day of hiking to Mt. Everest Base Camp, back in October 2013. Though Jodi and I had our own guide, as did Sarah and Ben (and Gaetan and Carole, my favorite Canadian couple… sorry everyone else), the six of us got along so well we all managed to arrange stops and schedules so we could stick together for two weeks. And we all came together again for Sarah and Ben’s wedding in Tassie two years ago. My heart was so full after seeing everyone. Now that you have the backstory of how I know everyone, here are the fun photos, and a few recommendations.
First Stop: Hobart, Tasmania. Target: Sarah, Ben, Audrey, and the teeny-tiny new addition to the family, Frankie. Bonus: staying with Briony & Joel (Sarah’s fabulous sis and bro-in-law) and their puppy dogs!!
The gorgeous (I don’t mean just physically, though she is that too, but I mean in the way that beauty just radiates from someone’s soul) Sarah had just given birth two weeks prior to my visit, so much of my visit was relaxing at their house, or spending time with Ben and Audrey. And I loved every moment.
For hiking: Ben and I did the Organ Pipes Circuit, which made for a nice trek right in Hobart. And on clear days, the view is wonderful! Unfortunately, this was the view we had at the top, as our reward after a few hours of ascending the mountain…I figured we may as well have fun with it and pose for a silly photo anyway! The one just above (with me holding Audrey) is the view from the exact same spot, when there really is a view of Hobart. (Luckily for me, Ben, Audrey, and I visited the top, Mount Wellington, the day before the hike, so I had a clear, sunny day to enjoy a view of the city.) If you need to fuel up before or after this hike, Lost Freight is an adorable stand right at the trail head where you can grab a latte (or espresso, etc.).
And if you need more than caffeine, head to Fondru’s Fromagerie & Wine Bar (https://fondrus.com.au/) for dinner. They have fondue that is as good as I remember enjoying in Switzerland (however, the portion is about 1/8 the size of what you get in Switzerland, haha) and amazing wines to enjoy. I highly recommend the Stefano Lubiana NV Brut Reserve and the 2016 Chateau Flamand Bellevue (Bordeau). In addition to fondue (go with the traditional!), we had a cacio e pepe, and finished the meal with a delish salad with thinly sliced zucchini, fennel, rocket (aka, arugula, fresh shaved parm, and just a dash of oil and lemon).
I also had another travel buddy reunion, but sadly, failed to get a photo of the two of us 😦 Trevor, one of the awesome guys I met while hiking the Camino in Portugal (and my hero of the first week, since he was kind enough to hike with me each day after my “incident,” when I no longer felt safe hiking alone), drove 3 hours down to Tassie and we got to spend a wonderful evening down at the waterfront catching up!
And of course, each evening I was spoiled to get to stay with Brioney and Joel (more wonderful people I forgot to take photos with!). But I did snap photos with their newest “baby.” She’s 7 or so months old and 70kg (= 154lbs), and has no idea she’s not 10 lbs. They also have a super adorable little guy, Albert, who I failed to get a photo of because anytime I was giving him attention Victoria would come barreling in to make sure that she got all the love, haha.
Finally, the post wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging the obvious: I’m back to PINK! This time it was more of a fuscia/violet color. FUN! Knowing how damaged my hair got last time I went to an unknown stylist, I did a lot of homework and thankfully got a great recommendation. If you find yourself in Hobart and need a salon, I highly recommend Sfumato Hair (http://sfumato.com.au/).
Final Stop: Sydney. Target: Paula and her dad. I’ve never enjoyed someone insulting me as much in my life. He’s so spectacularly hilarious that I asked Paula if I could stay with her dad, instead of taking advantage of other friends’ places in Sydney. (Lesson: when you find funny people, hold on for dear life and spend as much time with them as possible because life is too serious.)
Travel Tip: The ferry from Circle Quay to Sydney’s north shore offers great views of the Sydney Harbour! This is a great alternative to paying for a pricey harbor cruise if you’re on a budget or just short on time.
I just adore Paula and, unfortunately, this post probably isn’t the appropriate place to share what a strong, bad ass woman she is or highlight how much SHIT she’s had to overcome recently, and how gracefully she’s done all of that (and come through it laughing and shining). I am so grateful to have such strong, smart, kind, and compassionate women in my life, and this lady is a keeper for sure. We enjoyed a long weekend together full of food (and more food), wine (and more wine… thanks dad!), salons (mani-pedi treatment!), a trip to the pool (free public pool with a stunning view of Sydney Harbour), and lots of laughing and catching up.
The trip to Australia was a wonderful way to relax after running around so much in NZ, and to get prepared for my next adventure to… Singapore!