Ajeeth Ramanan works as a Reservations Manager at PEAK DMC in New Delhi, Intrepid’s local ground operator in India. He recently spent a week in Australia, travelling on Intrepid’s seven-day Sydney to Brisbane Northbound tour. This is what he had to say about his adventures in the Great Southern Land.
“If you’ve only got a week of holidays up your sleeve, you should book a flight to Sydney and do Intrepid Travel’s Sydney to Brisbane Northbound tour.
Why? Because it’s an amazing trip, and Australia is an amazing country. Here are seven reasons to add it to your Down Under diary.
1. Explore the heart and soul of Australia
The start and end cities are the largest and third largest cities in Australia; they both easily accessible to all parts of the world.
Sydney is very beautiful and feels inspiring. Just walking along the Darling Harbour and watching the seagulls sitting on their perch whilst the rush of mankind melts into the CBD is bliss.
Another great way to see the unseen side of Sydney is to take an Urban Adventure tour. I did the Eat, Drink and Walk Sydney tour and I was pleasantly surprised by the hidden treasures of Sydney’s CBD, in less than four or five blocks. I won’t spoil the surprise, but you should check it out; your evening would be well spent.
Brisbane, on the other hand, sits pretty on the Brisbane River. With its South Bank and culture, you know you’ve hit the perfect balance between the hustle and bustle of a big city and the laid-back Queensland charm. You can walk over to Queens Street for some lip-smacking grub and then take a long walk over the Story Bridge and along the river until you hit the Wheel of Brisbane, a 60-metre-high Ferris wheel.
2. Experience the pristine natural beauty of Australia’s coast
This trip covers a lot in just a few days, so there are some early starts. But it’s worth getting up early, as there are some places where you’ll need that extra time to take in the natural beauty, especially along the coast. The tour heads along the coastal road between Newcastle and Brisbane for most of the tour, except for a small detour near Dorrigo, so you would have your pick of the beaches of northern New South Wales. From white pristine sand, to rocky cliffs and water that’s a bit rough, take your choice. The best one in my opinion is the Port Macquarie’s town beach. Glad I had a paddle while I was there.
3. Meet the awesome fauna that call Australia home
We also see a lot of wildlife on the trip, like kangaroos, wombats, and those sleepy little teddy bears that aren’t actually bears, koalas. Fact: koalas are named after an indigenous word that means ‘doesn’t drink water’. Koalas eat and sleep most of the day, so that makes them my spirit animal. We visit the world’s only koala hospital, which is run completely by volunteers. It’s so good to see people coming from across the globe to help these animals.
Also make sure you go kayaking in Byron bay searching for dolphins. It’s an out of the world experience.
4. Learn about First Nations Australians, the true custodians and owners of the land
What’s Australia without the culture and the history? We get a bite of the lifestyle of the First Nations when we do an indigenous experience in Valla Beach. We meet with the Gumbanyggir people and understand the story of Australian heritage long before European settlers arrived. It’s an emotional experience, but also very enlightening.
I was shocked to find out that in 250 metres of my surroundings there was more than enough life sustenance, from food to medicine to fuel. If it was just in that region and just in that locality, it’s mind-boggling to imagine the quantum of the entire continent.
5. Enjoy the food that makes you go G’day
There’s a particularly decadent day on the tour – in the Hunter Valley – where you sample chocolate, cheese and wine AND visit a distillery, all on the same day. Most of the breakfasts you’ll have are local in cafes and it’s such a delicious way to start your day (don’t be surprised if you put on a few pounds…). The barbecue dinner in Byron Bay, which is a part of a farm to plate experience, is one of the most divine meals of the whole trip.
6. An ode to small town Australia
Nestled between Sydney and Brisbane is a multitude of small towns, each one competing to be the most attractive. There’s the wee town of Maclean, with its Scottish Gaelic signboards and its bagpiping music, and Bellingen, which has more writers than anywhere else in Australia. Then there’s the riverside town of Forster and its twin Tuncurry, where pelicans wait patiently for morsels of fish while fishermen gut their catch of the day. Each town along the coast has a completely different lifestyle. Word to the wise: when you’re in Maclean, try the fish and chips. You can thank me later.
The pub in Dorrigo is a great example of what the accommodation on this trip is like. It’s very Australian, with rustic charm; maybe have a pint of pilsner and a game of pool while you’re there. All the other hotels are comfortable, well maintained and centrally located, so you can walk off the chicken parma you had for dinner
7. See Australia the local way with Intrepid’s awesome leaders
Intrepid’s tour leaders make the trip much more fun. Driving around 1000 kilometres (621 miles) in seven days can be a bit tiring, but not once was I bored. The leaders are ambassadors of the #beintrepid motto. When you are called mate and made fun of (light-heartedly, of course!) you know you have made friends for life. Thanks, Jason for introducing me to Coopers Beer and just being the best 😀
When I am next in Australia, I will complete the trip from Brisbane to Cairns. I know it is for me.”
Explore Australia’s beautiful east coast on Intrepid’s 7-day Sydney to Brisbane Northbound adventure. Trip details here. (Explore the rest of our Australia range here.)
As an Australian-owned business, we acknowledge the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures, and to their Elders past, present and future.