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Heading to Australia? Here’s the lowdown on the perfect five day trip down under

By CARTER BANKER | September 13, 2012

Welcome back to school everyone! I hope you all got to do a bit of traveling this summer! I spent two months studying Travel Writing in Sydney, Australia. Appropriate, no?

Sydney is an awesome choice for study abroad. It’s a beautiful, clean city full of friendly, beer-loving, multinational people who speak English. What more could you ask for?

But I realize that not everyone has the chance to spend a whole semester, let alone a summer, in Australia. You are busy people. I get it. So I’ve decided to use my two months’ worth of knowledge to plan out a 5 day itinerary detailing all the most important spots to hit when you’re in Sydney so that you can have an equally fulfilling trip in less time!

Day 1 of your Sydney adventure: Plan your travels so that you land in Australia in the morning (keep in mind that there is a 14 hour time difference between Baltimore and Sydney). This first day will be rough because all you’re going to want to do is sleep, but you have to stay really busy so that doesn’t happen. If you take a nap on this first day it will take you longer to acclimate.

Your first stop should be at Darling Harbor, location of the famous Sydney Opera House. Buy a Travel Ten bus pass and take the bus there. Hopefully the breathtaking sight of the Opera House will keep your adrenaline pumping and keep you awake. Grab lunch at Opera Bar for good food, decent prices and an amazing view. Spend your afternoon wandering around The Central Business District where you’ll find lots of high-end shops like Burberry, Louis Vuitton, and the largest Apple Store I’ve ever seen in my life.

Day 2: Today you’ll be itching to see some Australian wildlife. Hop on the train to Blacktown, home of the Featherdale Wildlife Reserve (let’s be real, it’s a zoo). You’ll get to see dingoes, wombats, Tasmanian devils, and emus. You’ll also get to pet a koala, and feed wallabies and kangaroos! Then head back to Sydney, grab some lunch and take the ferry from Darling Harbor over to Manly Beach where you can rent bikes or simply soak up some rays at the beach.

Day 3: By now you should be almost completely used to the time difference and ready to do some walking. Find your way to the University of Sydney, either by walking or bus, depending on how far away you’re staying. The campus is beautiful and looks like Hogwarts! Right next to campus is a sign pointing to Newtown. Walk a couple of blocks and you will come upon King Street, the center of the Newtown neighborhood. This is one of the bohemian areas of town. You’ll see lots of interesting, tattooed and dyed-haired characters along with cute cafes and trendy shops to explore. Let’s say, for the sake of it, that today is Saturday. You’ll want to take the bus to The Rocks, a neighborhood right next to Darling Harbor. There is a market set up there every weekend filled with local artists, craftsmen’s pieces and fun souvenirs like kangaroo ball bottle openers. Stick around until closing time and grab dinner at Pancakes on the Rocks. They not only have great pancakes, but an amazing chicken tandoori pizza.

Day 4: It’s time to go visit one of the most famous beaches in the world! Bondi Beach is an easy train and then bus ride away from any major part of the city. Spend your day lounging at the beach, or do the famous Bondi-to-Coogee beach walk along the coastline. This walk is the best way to see beach-life in Australia. You’ll get to see about 5 different beaches, an old lifesaving club from Australia’s early days, a picturesque maritime cemetery overlooking the ocean, some saltwater pools and, if you’re lucky, a humpback whale or two. Then, if you have the energy, head back into the city and explore Oxford Street and the Paddington area. There is a charming weekend market at the local church and lots of trendy stores.

Day 5: Today is your last day in Sydney, so you better make it special. Take the train over to the other side of the harbor and visit Luna Park, Sydney’s very own amusement park, dating back to the 1930s. You’ll be able to spot the giant clown head that serves as its entrance from across the harbor. Plan ahead and schedule a time in the afternoon to climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge, known to locals as the Coat Hanger. It’s a bit pricy, but the views are spectacular. For those on a tighter budget, I recommend spending $15 to climb the bridge pylon. The views are almost as good. For your nighttime plans, you’re also going to have to plan ahead a bit, perhaps even a month in advance. You can’t leave Sydney without going to a show at the Opera House. Shows range from operas to concerts, $30 to $120. I was lucky enough to see Train while I was there, and some of my friends got to see Carrie Underwood.

And of course there is much to see in Australia outside of Sydney. At the very least be sure to visit the Great Barrier Reef up in Cairns, and if you have time, check out Tasmania and Uluru.

Happy travels mate!

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