Now that I’ve finally got the whole of our Australia trip posted and up on here I thought it would be helpful to say where we stayed and why we picked where we did. It’s also a nice distraction from the cold, dreary and dark days in the UK atm! Goodness knows when we’ll next be able to go travelling – hopefully next year! I think this is the longest I’ve been in the UK and not been on some sort of holiday/ break in a very long time. For me travelling and visiting places is one of the main reasons I work – I’m someone who works because I have to and for the pay cheque! We work hard so we can visit places, go out for yummy meals with friends and family and enjoy life. So this year has been hard being in one place but it has definitely meant that we have slowed down and finally sorted out bits and bobs on the house.
We knew this trip down under would be pricey and that we’d have to go for over 2 weeks to make the most of such a big place and so far away. So we decided on the main places we wanted to go to which was: Sydney, The Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest and finally Melbourne and The Great Ocean Road. We then started making lists of what was a must in each of these places which then influenced how long we’d spend in each place. In the end we spent the following in each place:
- Sydney: 5 days
- Cairns, Great Barrier Reef & Port Douglas: 5 days
- Melbourne: 7 days
When we go away we always check out Airbnb to see what places we can find. A way we can cut costs down on trips away is getting a place with a kitchen so we can cook some of our meals. Whether that’s a place to prep lunches for on the go, a couple dinners or even an easy brekkie.
We stayed in our first Airbnb in 2014 on a trip to Rome and we have been hooked ever since. We’ve stayed in some pretty amazing Airbnbs – Italy (Rome, Venice, Florence, Milan, Lake Garda), Dusseldorf in Germany, France (Paris and Bordeaux), US on our California road trip and finally in the UK!
When it comes to staying in Airbnb and any other apartment type place, do your research and search in advance. As soon as your know your travel dates get on it! We will only go for places that are highly rated (so mainly 5*) and have had multiple reviews. We will check through the reviews to see whether the host had unexpectedly cancelled on anyone at the last minute as there would be nothing worse than being in a different country and having your booking cancelled! So we will make sure that any contenders don’t have any of these.
Another reason we like Airbnb is that you can stay slightly off the beaten track and with the locals in more residential areas. Although make sure to set your maximum budget to avoid swooning over places you can’t afford! The earlier you book the more choice you’ll have for sure.
So what was our itinerary and where did we stay?
Where we stayed: Annam Serviced Apartments
Day 1 – We walked over the bridge and explored north of the bridge including North Sydney and Kirribilli. We had a delish brunch at Celsuis Coffee and then got the ferry to Manly Beach. While waiting for the ferry back we had frozen margaritas at El Camino Cantina overlooking the pier.
Day 2 – An early start to go and explore the Blue Mountains with a packed brekkie and lunch. We then finished off the day with dinner at Thai Rocks.
Day 3 – We had another day of exploring starting in Darlinghurst and Brunch at Bills. We then walked over to Darling Harbour and then across to Mrs Macquaries Chair, the Botanical Gardens and finished off the day with a Bridge Climb at Sunset.
Day 4 – A chilled day with a Hunter Valley wine tour and dinner at Bang Tang.
Day 5 – Our final day in Sydney was spent exploring again. We got the bus to Coogee Beach and walked along the coast path to Bondi Beach. This was one of my favourite bits of our Sydney trip looking out to the sea and seeing all the gorgeous houses looking over the coast and all the little beaches. We grabbed lunch at Parida at Bondi Beach and then explored a random market where we brought some prints and then caught the bus to Watsons Bay. We had a little walk around, grabbed fish and chips on the pier and then caught the boat back to the Centre. We finished off the day with a walk to see the Bridge and Opera House lit up with gelato from Messina. A perfect end to an amazing time in Sydney!
Where we stayed: Port Douglas Apartments; Cairns Airbnb (which is no longer listed).
Day 6 – An early start to fly into Cairns from where we drove up to Mossman Gorge to explore. After this we carried on driving to Port Douglas where we checked in and chilled by the pool. After exploring the town we had dinner at the Tin Shed while we watched the sunset.
Day 7 – A day of exploring Daintree Rainforest and time at Daintree Discovery Centre. After this we spent the rest of the day in Port Douglas and exploring Four Mile Beach.
Day 8 – Checked out of Port Douglas early and drove to Cairns via Gatz Balancing Rocks to the train station for Kuranda. We spent a couple hours in the village walking around, exploring Koala Gardens and went on a boat trip down Barron River before catching the skyrail back down to Cairns.
Day 9-10 – Another early start but this was definitely worth it for our Great Barrier Reef overnight experience – Sunlover by Starlight.
Where we stayed: Apollo Bay – Captains at the Bay; Melbourne – Oaks Melbourne on William Suites
Day 11 – An early start for our flight into Melbourne. We collected the car and then drove down the Twelve Apostles and then onto Apollo Bay. We wish we had longer here as it’s a gorgeous little town! We finished off the day with a delish dinner at The Sandy Feet Cafe.
Day 12 – A day of driving from Apollo Bay along the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne via Mariner’s lookout, Kennet River (to see wild Koalas!), Erskine Falls (to see a waterfall), Angelsea Beach (for lunch and ice-cream) and a final stop at The Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie before finishing off in Melbourne.
Day 13 – We started the day with brekkie at Hardware Societe before a day long Neighbours Tour finished off with dinner at a friends.
Day 14 – A day spent with friends on Phillip Island.
Day 15 – Christmas Day! We spent Christmas Day exploring starting off at Melbourne Zoo before taking the tram to the centre and walking around by the MCG, sports stadiums, down the F1 track and finishing off with a walk down to St. Kilda.
Day 16 – We spent the majority of the day at the Boxing Day tests at the MCG. We finished off the day with dinner and then ice-cream at Pidapipo followed by cocktails on Arbory Afloat.
Day 17 – Our final day was spent exploring the rest of Melbourne. We walked to the Shrine of Remembrance, through the Royal Botanic Gardens, into the centre and stopped by Mr Crackles for lunch. We then ventured up to Fitzroy for cocktails at Naked for Satan finished off with jaffles at Bad Frankies (don’t knock them until you’ve tried them!).
Day 18 – flight back to the UK at 1:30am!
It was definitely a jam packed 17 days but we wouldn’t change any of it! We had the most amazing time.
We ended up finding the best deals for places to stay via Expedia. They ended up being more competitive prices and we were able to collect points. We spent a lot of time checking out the reviews and deciding where we wanted to be.
Where we stayed:
Sydney: Annam Serviced Apartments:
This was the perfect base for us near Potts Point. A nice sized studio with a king sized bed and a small kitchen – just what we needed. The only down side here was the lights from the street were a little bright and I should have brought an eye mask – I never learn! I also struggled with jet lag the first few days and was easily woken by the bin men early in the morning. We managed to cook a couple meals in the apartment which was really handy for packing lunches and a quick/ easy dinner.
Port Douglas: Port Douglas Serviced Apartments:
This was a gorgeous apartment and base for our few days in Port Douglas and Daintree. Again we had a lovely king sized bed which could be closed off form the rest of the apartment with a lovely bathroom which had a huge rainfall shower. The kitchen had everything we needed and there was a nice little sofa area to chill. The apartment also had a fairly large balcony which we used to dry all our clothes – there was a communal laundry room which was perfect for us to pop a couple washes on. As well as having a pool to use (which we did both afternoons!) there were a couple bbq’s for guests to use. So one evening we went to the shops and brought bbq bits to cook and wash down with a bottle of wine. It was perfect! These apartments are adult only which we hadn’t realised but it was probably why the pool was so quiet! It was only small but we basically had it to ourselves the 2 times we used it. I loved this apartment and would 100% stay here again if we ever went back to Port Douglas. They’re on both Expedia and Airbnb.
Unfortunately this Airbnb studio is no longer available! I spent ages trying to find it but it looks like with COVID they’ve decided to stop renting out the studio. We picked this Airbnb as it was very affordable and also because we mainly needed somewhere to store our luggage while we were on the Great Barrier Reef overnight experience. It was a bit off the beaten track (on Sheridan St just after Thomas St turning) and if we were to go back to Cairns we’d stay a bit more centrally. I wouldn’t have felt comfortable walking around by myself so was glad Tim was there. The studio itself was nice with a nice double bed, small kitchen and bathroom. It was the smallest place we stayed but that wasn’t a problem. The car park was gated however there was a car in the car park without wheels and balanced on bricks which didn’t give us the best peace of mind tbh! Either way it ended up being what we needed as a place to store our stuff and stay for a couple nights either side of the Great Barrier Reef.
Apollo Bay: Captains at the Bay:
We decided to spend a little more and stay at this B&B for a little bit of luxury for 1 night. We stayed in ‘The Bridge’ room which was just perfect! There was a huge bath in the room along with a luxurious walk in shower and a balcony. The owners were lovely and had some great suggestions for dinner in town along with places to go the following day for our trip along the Great Ocean Road. The king size bed was divine and I most certainly had a bubble bath to chill that evening! The breakfast in the morning was delish – there was a cold breakfast bar and you could order a hot breakfast of eggs and toast. Yum! Again, we’d have absolutely no reservations going back and staying here.
Melbourne: Oaks Melbourne on William Suites:
This was another serviced apartment but the building felt more like a hotel. We stayed in a studio but it was massive. Again there was a lovely king size bed (we struggled coming back to our double at home after 17 days in king sized beds!) with a little kitchen and a huge walk in rainfall shower. There was a little balcony but the view was of other apartments so we didn’t really use it. Tbh we just used the studio as a base for exploring and were just in the apartment for sleeping really! The apartments were in a good location for us but we don’t mind walking around a lot so if you’re not keen walkers then always make sure the location of where you’re staying works for you. There was a tram stop right outside the apartment which proved very handy.
And that’s where we stayed! I can’t wait to plan our next trip away – it’ll definitely look different with a baby but I’m looking forward to it! I’ve heard it can be easy travelling with a baby especially if they’re breastfeeding but I’ve also heard it can be stressful! I don’t know if we’ll venture far as the idea of a long haul flight with a baby doesn’t sound like fun! What do you think? Have you travelled with a little one? My parents used to travel with us and I loved it – tbh looking back on it I have no clue how my parents managed a trip to Australia with 4 kids under 8 – 8,7,4 and just under 1! They were definitely super parents – I remember it being the most amazing adventure!
I hope you found that helpful!
See below for more details on our time in each place on our epic Australia trip: