Somewhere Over The Rainbow While this Oz may not have munchkins and wizards, Australia can be where honeymoon dreams really do come true.
By Melissa Varnadoe
Photo by Melissa Varnadoe
Well worth the trek to the other side of the world, Sydney offers honeymooning couples all the excitement of an international city with the relaxed and friendly Aussie attitude.
Best Time to Visit: With its sunny summers and mild winters, anytime is really a great time to visit Sydney. Just keep in mind the seasons are reversed Down Under, so if you have a winter wedding, you can have a summer honeymoon in Sydney. If you’re honeymooning in February and March, you can join the festivities at Sydney’s fabulous gay pride celebration, Mardi Gras.
LGBT-Friendly Factor: Rights vary by states in Australia, but all six offer some sort of recognition to same-sex couples. Sydney is home to a large and vibrant LGBT community and rainbow flags fly high and proud in the gayborhood on Oxford Street.
Sydney Sheraton on the Park Overlooking the majestic fig trees of Hyde Park and St. Mary’s Cathedral, this modern hotel offers guests a restful stay in the heart of Sydney’s central business district. Their prime location puts all of Sydney’s best within easy reach. You’ll be just a 10-minute walk to both Sydney and Darling Harbors, mere steps from Sydney’s finest shopping district and directly across the street you’ll find the bus that will take you out to Bondi Beach.
Cairns Hilton Cairns Located just at the Cairns Marina, this recently renovated Hilton is a perfect launching pad for your Great Barrier Reef adventures. The hotel is walking distance to all the wonderful restaurants lining the harbor or you can stay put and enjoy their onsite dining at the waterfront Mondo Café for casual seafood fare or the more exotic flavors of the Orient at Hanuman.
Hunter Valley Elfin Hill You won’t find a warmer welcome in the valley than the one extended by owners, Marie and Mark, at this charming Pokolbin accommodation. Take advantage of their excellent knowledge of the area with booking tours, renting bikes and restaurant recommendations. Enjoy a lovely breakfast out on the lawn each morning and don’t forget to keep an eye out for wild kangaroos down the hill. Their studio villa is a perfect hideaway for honeymooners.
Ayers Rock Outback Pioneer Hotel This hotel offers guests a simple but friendly oasis in the middle of the Australian Outback. Take a dip in the pool after a long day exploring Ayers Rock and the Olgas, and enjoy live music each night while grilling your own steaks on the barbie at their Outback BBQ.
Wine & Dine:
Sydney is home to a large number of Asian immigrants, which means a plethora of excellent Japanese, Chinese and Korean restaurants. Most can be found in the Haymarket and Chinatown area. Stop by Chinese Palace Restaurant and feast on a myriad of beautifully executed dim sum dishes, slurp up delicious noodles at the casual Ajisen Ramen, or play chef at Dae Jang Kum as you grill up your own tasty Korean barbeque.
No trip to Sydney would be complete without a cruise of Sydney Harbor. Captain Cook Cruises has a host of cruise options including a Sunday breakfast cruise around the harbor or a romantic evening cruise serving a delicious three-course meal and local wines under the Australian stars.
Sushi and seafood lovers will not want to miss the Sydney Fish Market. A feast for the eyes as well as the stomach, you won’t find fresher seafood anywhere. It’s a great place to get takeaway and enjoy a private meal along one of the harbors or in the Botanical Gardens. Those who love to cook can even take classes at their own Sydney Seafood School. Classes fill up fast so book well in advance.
Enjoy the sparkling lights and calm waters of Cockle Bay while dining waterside at Nick’s Seafood Restaurant where specialties include grilled fish and other fresh seafood dishes. You can also visit its other location in Bondi at Nick’s Bondi Beach Pavilion offering some of the best views of the famous beach.
Homemade pasta dishes and crispy pizzas can be found tucked away in The Rocks at Caminetto Italian Restaurant. Friendly service and great alfresco dining only adds to the appeal of this cozy little restaurant.
See & Do:
Hit the beach It’s only a quick bus ride over to the famous Bondi Beach where you can swim “between the flags.” Bondi is a popular surfing spot and a great place to watch riders take on the Aussie waves. If you want to join in the fun there are plenty of places to book lessons along the beach. You’ll find ferries leaving all day from Sydney Harbor out to beautiful Manly Beach. This northern beach has all the “fun in the sun” activities you’d imagine at a seaside destination and is known for its wonderful selection of seafood restaurants.
Sydney Opera House After snapping a few dozen photos of yourselves in front of Sydney’s most famous landmark, be sure to sign up for a tour of the equally impressive interior. Culture loving couples should grab a couple of tickets to whatever show is running and get the true operatic experience.
Taronga Zoo Get up close and personal with some of the Australia’s cutest natives after a quick ferry ride to Taronga Zoo. From the dock take the sky tram up for sweeping views of Sydney Harbor. Get a photograph with a koala, walk amongst the wallabies and kangaroos in the bush area or sneak a peek at the shy little duckbill platypus swimming around his darkened tank. The zoo offers a number of keeper talks and informative animal shows throughout the day.
Bridge Climb Take your love and devotion to new heights with a guided (and harnessed) climb to the top of Sydney’s famous Harbor Bridge. The climb can be done at dawn to watch the sunrise over the city, during the day or in the evening to see Sydney in all its twinkling glory.
The Royal Botanical Gardens Pack a picnic for a romantic afternoon amid the stunning array of flora in these lovely and expansive gardens. Learn more about the history of the area and even taste some “bush food” on their weekly Aboriginal Heritage Tour or take a free guided walk with one of their delightful volunteers.
Side Trips You’ve come all this way so why not really get the full Aussie experience with a trip outside of Sydney.
Blue Mountains It only takes an hour to get there, but you’ll feel like you’re a world away from the hustle bustle of Sydney in the cool elevations of the Blue Mountains. Smattered with quaint mountain towns and stunning natural beauty, Sydneysiders have long visited this area as a reprieve from warm summer temperatures. Put on your hiking boots and enjoy one of the many bush walks available in the area and be sure not to miss Echo Point to enjoy the impressive views of the Three Sisters rock formation.
Hunter Valley- Home to some of Australia’s best boutique wineries, the Hunter Valley region is just a three-hour drive from Sydney. Wine tasting is only one of the many activities available in the valley: Take a hot air balloon ride over the vineyards, stroll through gardens, see wild kangaroos on horseback or get your thrills sky-diving or riding in an actual fighter jet.
Great Barrier Reef It’s one of the world’s 7 Natural Wonders and the world’s largest structure built by living organisms on the planet. It’s comprised of over 3,000 individual reef systems and home to more than 1,500 types of tropical fish and 400 different coral species. Base yourself in Cairns and take one of the many available snorkeling and deep sea diving tours out to explore the underwater wonderland that lies just beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean.
Melbourne You can find a flight from Sydney to Melbourne almost any time of the day and in just over an hour you’ll find yourselves in a different city with a much different vibe. Known internationally as a hub for arts and culture, Melbourne has a more European feel with its small lanes filled with al fresco dining. Architecture fans will be in awe of the Old World charm sharing blocks with ultra-modern glass and steel structures. Plan for an extra day here and rent a car or book a tour of the Great Ocean Road. Built by returning WWI soldiers and dedicated to those lost, the Great Ocean Road is the ultimate scenic highway and the best way to see the beautiful Australian coastline. When you’re not gazing at the ocean be sure to look up in the trees because wild koalas can be spotted along the way.
Ayers Rock Take a trip into the real Australian Outback to see one of the most photographed places in Australia at the Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park. Ayers Rock, or Urulu, is an Australian icon and both it and the neighboring Olgas, or Kata Tjuta, are sacred Aboriginal sites. These imposing rock formations will leave you in awe as they glow red and orange with each sunset and sunrise. You can book a guided walk or visit the park’s Cultural Center to learn more about the cultural significance to the traditional Aboriginal owners of these sites, the Anangu.
Perfect for Couples Looking For: Surf and sand, adventure, romance, wineries and cute marsupials.
Days to Stay: Coming from the States is no small feat, so you’ll want to stay at least 10 days to enjoy some jet lag-free days. Two weeks would be ideal if you’re planning on doing some side trips.
Oh, and By the Way: Renting a car Down Under is easy, but don’t forget they drive on the left side of the road.