Flanders in NZ 16 – Aussie, Aussie, Aussie

Last week was busy per the usual run-up to one’s vacation. I found myself at the office until 9:30pm Thursday night, rushed home, packed, cleaned, then we woke up at 3:30am to grab our bags and head to the airport–Australia here we come! Get ready for the most photos I’ve ever put in a post.


We flew through customs, grabbed a cab (not the best choice since we arrived during morning rush hour – always take the train!) and met up with my frolleague Tori at her office in the central Sydney. After dropping our bags off at her flat, we walked…and walked…and walked. If I could describe our 2 days in Sydney in one word…”walking.” The park peninsula was our first stop, I will never get over the Opera House views!


Park Views

We walked closer to get some close-up shots. When you’re a tourist you learn that secret handshake of “I’ll take your photo if you take mine”–


Flanders “Hiking” Photo of the Week

After walking around for a few minutes we decided we should take the Opera House tour. I took the tour with my classmate…oh goodness…6 whole years ago; however, Keith was interested and I’ll always be up for another excuse to go poke around one of my favorite buildings. The tour didn’t take us into as many venues as I would have liked, but I always love re-hearing the story of Utzon the architect working with Arup the structural engineer–their trials and tribulations, Utzon & Arup working together to come up with a fabulous design with structural integrity, Utzon getting kicked out, and ultimately his family being able to continue his legacy… Ok engineer rant over!


Opera House Tour

One of my favorite photos of the tour!–


Opera House Structure

For happy hour we met up with my coworkers and had a fabulous night hopping around the city. When Tori & I were in Sydney together during our first New Zealand stint in 2012 we managed to stay up until 5:30am. We tried to do that again and failed. We did manage to go to Pie Face again though after midnight and take another meat pie classic photo. Once we got back to Tori’s flat we did manage to head to the roof, chit-chat, and enjoy the view until late. Unfortunately, no waiting until the sun came up! Apparently 2 years later makes us too old!


TTNZ 3.0 Together Again



Pie Face…then and now

Saturday morning Keith was up bright and early to run around the city and report back. There was a great little farmers market nearby where we grabbed a coffee before brunch at Fratelli Paradiso. The service was great, the options were a little odd (Keith got the omelet which just wasn’t a normal omelet). In Australasia I stick with scrambled eggs and toast for brekkie and it’s never disappointed 🙂

We then walked into the city, hopped the bus, and traveled to Spit reserve to walk the Manly to Spit Walk backwards–a 10km walking train to Manly Beach. I think I speak for all of us that the walk was more tiring than we expected! All of us were pumped to get to the beach and have ice cream.


Manly Scenic Walk



Sydney City Views


Our timing was perfect as we took the ferry back while the sun set.


We found a quaint Italian restaurant for dinner and had our last nightcap at a great little bar called The Owl House.


Then it was off to bed and up early again for our flight to BRISBANE! We purposely chose to fly to Queensland to experience some warm weather before flying back to Christchurch. The only time we actually spent in Brisbane was in the airport, we immediately grabbed our rental car (well, after we had an awkward situation of the rental company giving us a manual…left side driving with a manual? wasn’t happening) and drove to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.

When I travel I tend to have “bucket list items”–places I need to see or things I need to do while I’m there. For Queensland I needed to hold a koala. Lone Pine is famous for their “Koala Cuddling.” We went not even knowing how much it was going to cost, but frankly I didn’t care too much. The tickets to get into the zoo were a little pricey at $35/person and to hold a koala you just needed to make a $16 donation for a photo. SOLD. This is SO worth it if you ever find yourself in Australia. The zoo itself was incredible–tiny, yet perfect. There were hundreds of koalas, a kangaroo and emu petting zoo, your typical Aussie animals, and several shows including a sheep dog herding demonstration. Not only do you get a professional koala photo, you’re allowed to take as many photos as you want with your own camera…we took a lot…



When we headed into the kangaroo petting zoo I couldn’t resist…I saw my first kangaroo and instantly thought–SCOTT BROWN! I would bet the typical Cosmo photo is inspired by the way kangaroos lie down.



We made friends with an emu once he found out we had food…


And multiple kangaroo friends…




The below top is one of my favorites of the day–kangaroo stare down.2021



Luckily we got to the zoo early because by the time we left it was packed. We drove to the Gold Coast for warmth and beaches. We arrived to our hotel, checked in, and walked around some more! At this point I was really walked out. Luckily we went back to our room for sunset and enjoyed the sunset from our room, complimentary champagne in hand!

Sunday night we walked (ugh) down to Broadbeach where all the restaurants we heard about were. We perused a bit and ended up at Max’s where the service was fabulous and the food was just what we needed. Keith ordered alfredo that involved “Bay Bugs.” These things looked rather gross but ended up tasting just like lobster!

The next morning was hot–perfect beach weather. We enjoyed the beach before checking out of the hotel and heading up the nearby observation tower.


Surfer’s Paradise


I’m not always a huge fan of paying to ride an elevator, but the SkyPoint observation deck was worth it. What a beautiful view of the beach! Plus the Q1 building is the tallest purely residential tower in the world!



We decided to drive around the rental car a bit more, and through the power of Google discovered a nice little restaurant at the FAR south end of the beach–Oskars. The funny thing about the Gold Coast is that no restaurants are on the water, so it was nice to finally find something where we could see the water from our table. We enjoyed some seafood chowder and scallops and headed back to Brisbane Airport.


Overall an amazing little vacation! Keith & I just talked about our highlights and agreed — Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary! Keith loved hanging out with the kangaroos and I was pretty psyched to hold a koala. Additionally, it was a huge perk to have friends in Sydney to see and hang out with for 2 days.

We have a gap weekend now which involves attempting to do a horseback ride again before heading off to Wellington the next week! Until then…


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