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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Exploring Australia with a Toddler

Australia has long been on my list of places to visit and this past November we finally had the chance to go. Our primary reason for visiting was to attend a family wedding but we filled our itinerary to the brim and managed to visit 4 different cities during our 2 week trip. Traveling abroad with a toddler can be a test of your organization skills, patience and adaptability but it's well worth it! 

Mom tips: 
1. Car seats and boosters are required in all cars except taxis. Here is a resource on the current car seat requirements. 
2. Be sure to print a packing list. I like this one from Independent Traveler because it allows you to customize the list with your own items. 
3. Keep all your travel documents organized and readily available. I uploaded all our hotel confirmations, flight info, car rental rental info, etc. into TripIt.
4. The flight from LAX to SYD was around 14 hours. We chose to fly out of LAX at 10 PM so our kiddo would be asleep for the first half of the flight. 
5. I packed a bunch of different snacks and toys/activities in Parker's backpack.The biggest hits for him at this age were: crocodile dentist (no batteries, no sound, no small pieces that can fall under a seat),  play doh, hot wheels, iPad loaded with episodes of Wild Kratts (don't forget headphones!), travel fishing game, and a Magic Ink mess free coloring book. 

SYDNEY

Our first stop was in Sydney where we explored Bondi Beach, the Opera House, the Sydney Bridge and visited family. We only spent 2 short days in Sydney but managed to see quite a lot. Sydney has a metro system that makes it easy to get around but we chose to rent a car since we were traveling with so many people. Driving on the "wrong" side of the road was an adventure!

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[We roll deep.]

[Dessert at Max Brenner with family.]

MELBOURNE

After a couple of days in Sydney, we flew to Melbourne where we spent time prepping for Henry & Ngoc's wedding. Mostly we just hung out at their beautiful home and they put my wedding planning/crafting skills to work. Tuan was very busy running around fulfilling his groomsman duties so Parker was my hot date for the wedding.  


HAMILTON ISLAND

After the wedding, we hopped on a flight to my favorite part of the trip, Hamilton Island! Hamilton Island was a lush tropical dream. The island is small and everyone gets around on buggies (golf carts). We stayed at a rental called The Cowries which was surrounded by lush trees and a lot of fruit bats. 

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[The first thing we did once we settled in was jump into the pool!]

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[We hosted a BBQ at the house for all our friends and family and watched the bats as they swooped by the deck.]

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[Parker and I at Catseye Beach.]


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[Parker loved the Bougainvillea Pool which is located right next to Catseye Beach. The whole island was very kid-friendly.]

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travel, family travel, travel australia
[Wild lorakeets and cockatoos can be seen everywhere on the island and they are very people friendly. This little guy flew right up to our table as we were having lunch along the marina.]

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[Sleeping koala at WILD LIFE Hamilton Island.]

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[Car seats are required for kids on the buggies! We were unprepared for this but luckily the owners of The Cowries had two on hand.]


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[Us at Whitehaven Beach. The ride out was very choppy but the beautiful sands and water made up for the rough ride.]


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[There's a tiny jelly fish commonly found in the water around Whitehaven Beach that can do some serious harm so these very classy sting suits were included in our cruise package.]

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GREAT OCEAN ROAD

After our time on the island was over, we returned to Melbourne and departed on a 2 day road trip on the Great Ocean Road. The Great Ocean Road took us through a handful of charming little towns along the coast. We made pit stops to hike, see waterfalls, farms and tide pools. We also saw giant ants, ferns that were taller than me, wild koalas, parrots and lots of sheep and cows. The road is very windy so if you get motion sickness easily, take some dramamine.


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[Erskine Falls]

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[Going off trail.]


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[Watch out for snakes!]

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[The green rolling hills in Apollo Bay were covered in herds of sheep. It reminded me so much of Ireland.]

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[Tide pooling with Parker. Of course he fell into a big tide pool right as we were about for dinner in town.]

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[The view from Seafarer's Getaway. This was a gorgeous property with rolling hills behind it and rolling waves in front of it.]

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travel, family travel, travel australia
[The parrots along the Kennet River Koala Walk were very aggressive. This one landed on Parker's head! Once we got passed the birds, we managed to spot one wild koala sitting in the Eucalyptus trees. You know what koalas do in the wild? The same thing they do at the zoo. Sleep.]

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[We wrapped up our road trip with a stop to the Twelve Apostles. Such an incredible sight and well worth the driving time.]

DOWNTOWN MELBOURNE

On our last day in Melbourne, we ate and walked our way through downtown. We rode around on the free trolley, visited Victoria market to buy souvenirs and had a fantastic steak dinner along the river.

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[Hot chocolate with fairy floss from #.]

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[I was busy taking pictures of food while Tuan was busy parenting.]

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[We spotted this orange vespa in front of a boutique and Parker HAD TO sit on it.]

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[Graffiti lane]

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[Downtown was decked out in holiday decor. Can you spot Parker being a creep?]

Our trip home was a disaster due to United Airlines making us miss our flight. Thanks a lot, United! We were rebooked with Quantas and had to fly from SYD to SFO to LAX. In total, it took nearly 30 hours for us to get back to San Diego. Parker was a trooper and did well on all the flights. In fact, he told me that his favorite part of the trip was all the plane rides. Where should we go next?






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