May in Australia isn’t summer actually but it is summer in the Indian Subcontinent and most of South East Asia where I am based. In tropical Australia, the dry season from May to October has clear blue skies and sunny days. The temperatures are cooler. In May, the average daytime temperatures in Sydney are generally around 16°C and hardly fall below the average minimum temperatures of 12°C. The peak temperature of the month can reach a pleasant 20°C. Sydney in May is generally sunny and perfect for hitting the beach.
We had two weeks to spend including travel. We decided to distribute that between Sydney, Gold Coast, Melbourne and Stopover at Singapore on the way back. That gave us about 10 days in Australia itself.
We flew from Bombay to Sydney via Singapore on Singapore Airlines. We landed at Sydney where we were staying with friends and after a good nights rest we set off to explore the Sydney Harbour Area.
Where to Stay in Sydney
Sydney has a wide variety of accommodations to suit most budgets. Here are a few popular options.
Meriton Suites Kent Street
The Grace Hotel
Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney
Rendezvous Hotel Sydney Central
Bondi Beachouse YHA
Manly Central Apartment
Sydney Photo Ops
On my previous trip to Australia I had spent most of my time around Darling Harbour so tis time i decided to focus on Sydney Harbour area for my photography. The Sydney Harbour and Harbour Bridge create so may different photo ops I could spend a few days just coming back and capturing the different moods and vistas here. It is also great for street photography with so many people from all over the world visiting.
Specially during weekends the entire harbour area has a high energy feel to it. But on weekdays you can enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere conducive to landscape photography. Come her at dawn and dusk to capture the lovely vistas of the Harbour, Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Yes all these have been shot extensively already but you can enjoy the challenge of crating that unique image.
After the hustle and bustle of Sydney harbour we took time to explore the Urban Parks in Sydney such as Harmony Point . You’ll find many more gardens and parks to enjoy in Sydney. Centennial Parklands in Sydney’s east is popular for picnics, cycling and horseriding. The Chinese Garden of Friendship is perfect solitude in Darling Harbour and Sydney Olympic Park in Sydney’s west is great for outdoor activities and sports.
Take a ferry across the harbour to Neutral Bay and Nutcote, the charming home and garden of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie author and illustrator May Gibbs. Wendy's Secret Garden, a secluded oasis in nearby Lavendar Bay, is another living artwork that offers tranquility, winding pathways, views and lovely picnic spots.
For a delightful daytrip take a train or rivercat to Parramatta for Parramatta Park, a beautiful family park and World Heritage-listed convict site.
We also visited the Taronga Zoo which has a great collection of Animal life to view if that’s your thing. I was more interested in the views from the ferry and the island on which the Zoo is located. Taronga Zoo Sydney is located in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia in the suburb of Mosman, on the shores of Sydney Harbour.
It was officially opened on 7 October 1916. Taronga Zoo Sydney is managed by the Zoological Parks Board of New South Wales, under the trading name Taronga Conservation Society, along with its sister zoo, the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo.
Divided into eight zoogeographic regions, the 28-hectare (69-acre) Taronga Zoo Sydney is home to over 4,000 animals of 350 species. It has a zoo shop, a cafe, and information centre.
After a few days at Sydney we decided to head to the Gold Coast along with our friends. It was off season at the Gold Coast meaning flights and accommodation were cheaper than normal as long as one didn’t mind the less than perfect weather.
Where to Stay at Gold Coast
Meriton Suites Broadbeach
The Star Grand at The Star Gold Coast
Private 1 bedroom Carlton Apartment
The Ruby Collection
Surfer’s Paradise Beach
Colloquially known as 'Surfers', the suburb has many high-rise apartment buildings and a wide surf beach. The feature of the heart of the suburb is Cavill Mall, which runs through the shopping and entertainment precinct.
Surfers Paradise is the Gold Coast's entertainment and tourism centre and the suburb's high-rise buildings are the best known feature of the city's skyline.
Cavill Avenue, named after Jim Cavill, an early hotel owner, is one of the busiest shopping strips in Queensland, and the centre of activity for night life. One of the features of the area is the Surfers Paradise Meter Maids designed to build goodwill with tourists.
The "Gold Coast Nightlife Precinct" offers many after-dark activities for visitors. The precinct is considered Australia's nightlife capital and attracts close to 20,000 visitors daily. The area also hosts the largest Schoolies week event in the country, attracting tens of thousands of school leavers to the precinct.
Hot Air Ballooning (the highlight of the Gold Coast Trip)
SkyPoint located on top of the iconic Q1 Building, one of the world's tallest residential towers, takes you to the highest point above the Gold Coast and offers spectacular 360 degree views from the surf to the hinterland and beyond.
Q1 Gold Coast History
In 1998, the Anderson family acquired the properties on a central Surfers Paradise site bound by the Gold Coast Highway, Clifford Street, Hamilton Avenue and Northcliffe Terrace – the latter streets named in the late 1920s in honour of members of Australia’s champion Olympic sculling team. Some 139 lots were amalgamated and until 2002, when construction of Q1 commenced, the properties remained as they were.
The project to build the world’s tallest residential tower was officially launched on the 28th June 2002. Sunland Construction team began work immediately, with a workforce of 500 labouring for over 3 years, or a total of 2.5 million man hours. More than 2500 people were involved in the project. Q1 Resort and Spa officially opened on the 26th of October 2005.
The Q1 Spire
The Q1 Spire is one of the world's longest at 97.7m. It commences at level 75, is made up of 12 sections and weighs 87.2 tonnes. The oval shaped spire starts at level 76/225m high and extends 47m above the glass fin. Powerful arc lights illuminate the spire which can be seen from 200kms away.
Design of the Q1 Gold Coast
Q1 was designed by Atelier SDG. As the design process proceeded during the year of the Sydney 2000 Olympics, the desire to create something intrinsically Australian took hold. In its final form, Q1 draws inspiration from the upswept curves of the Sydney 2000 Olympics torch – which itself is reminiscent of the overlapping curves of the Sydney Opera House.
The Q1 Building Gold Coast
The Q1 Building is taller than the Chrysler building in New York City.
Q1 is one of the tallest residential buildings in the world.
Q1 is 322.5 metres high.
SkyPoint has one of the World's fastest elevators taking you from ground to Level 77 in 42.7 seconds.
Australia's only beachside Observation Deck .
Offers stunning 360 degree views of the entire Gold Coast, from the surf to the hinterland and beyond.
SkyPoint is 230 metres above sea level.
There are 1331 steps from the ground to Level 77.
Hot Air Ballooning
A great way to start your morning in the Gold Coast is to go Hot Air Ballooning. Float up to watch the sun rise over the rolling hills of the majestic Gold Coast hinterland; enjoy sweeping views of Tamborine Mountain, Lamington National Park and to the east see the shimmering tall towers of the Gold Coast skyline.
Melbourne and The Great Ocean Road
Melbourne is well connected Internationally by many major international Carriers including Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Scoot, Air Asia. It is also serviced by all the regional airlines such as Jetstar, Virgin Australia, RegionalExpress etc.
While it is easier and faster to travel between Sydney and Melbourne by taking a one-hour direct flight, driving has its own advantages with little trips and diversions that may be taken along the way. The most direct route is 874 km on the Hume Highway (M31), a dual-carriage highway. For those with time to spare, there is the Princes Highway which follows the coast for most of its length, a distance of 1,032 km (640 miles), although not necessarily within sight of the sea. Other alternate inland roads include the Olympic Highway between Albury and Sydney via Cowra and Bathurst, and also the Monaro Highway route via Canberra.
Where to Stay at Melbourne
Here are a few popular accommodations to meet most budgets.
Grand Hyatt Melbourne
Pan Pacific Melbourne
Flinders Street Apartments
Pars Apartments - Collins Wharf Waterfront, Docklands
Summer S Holiday Inn
Melbourne Beach Side Apartment
The Great Ocean Road is an Australian National Heritage listed 243-kilometre stretch of road along the south-eastern coast of Australia between the Victorian cities of Torquay and Allansford. Some of the attractions along this road are
The 12 Apostles-Limestone cliffs
Created by constant erosion of the limestone cliffs of the mainland beginning 10–20 million years ago, the stormy Southern Ocean and blasting winds gradually eroded the softer limestone, forming caves in the cliffs.
The caves eventually became arches and when they collapsed rock stacks up to 45 metres high were left isolated from the shore. View the 12 Apostles at sunrise and sunset as they change colour from dark and foreboding in shadow to brilliant sandy yellow under a full sun.
How to get there
The 12 Apostles are located 275 kilometres west of Melbourne, approximately a four-hour drive along the Great Ocean Road.
Be dwarfed by the 70-metre high vertical cliffs and marvel at Gog and Magog, the nicknames given to the giant limestone stacks rising up out of the sea. Weather permitting, make your way down to the beach via the 86 steps that were carved into the face of the cliff by local settler Hugh Gibson, who worked on the route originally used by the Kirrae Whurrong people.
Park your car at the Gibson Steps car park or make your way from the 12 Apostles and walk the one kilometre to Gibson Steps, departing from the back of the kiosk. The path passes under the Great Ocean Road near the Gibson Steps viewing platform and beach access.
Located just three minutes west of the mighty Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge is a treasure trove of natural beauty, coastal wilderness and maritime history. Take some time to wander the trails, exploring the blowholes, offshore limestone stacks and towering cliffs. Visit at dusk to watch the short-tailed shearwaters (muttonbirds) fly home. Hear the story of the Loch Ard shipwreck and learn about the rich maritime history of the area at the nearby Port Campbell Visitor Information Centre.
Melbourne Museum is a natural and cultural history museum located in the Carlton Gardens in Melbourne, Australia. Located adjacent to the Royal Exhibition Building, it is the largest museum in the Southern Hemisphere.
Melbourne Museum showcases Australian social history, Indigenous cultures, science and the environment. Located adjacent to the World Heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens, and home to IMAX Melbourne.
Major features of Melbourne Museum include celebrating Victoria's local Koorie culture in Bunjilaka, Aboriginal Cultural Centre. Explore Melbourne's rich history in the Melbourne Story exhibition; be immersed in evocative stories and discover the icons and personalities that have shaped Melbourne since the early 1800s.
See Phar Lap, Australia's legendary racehorse, in the flesh. Walk amongst skeletons of amazing animals from the past; from dinosaurs, flying reptiles and megafauna.
Take a close look at bugs, from stick insects to red-back and funnel-web spiders in Bugs Alive. Wander through a living forest with resident wildlife inside the Forest Gallery. Journey into the mind and explore a world of emotions, thoughts, memories and dreams in The Mind exhibition.
Visit the Museum Shops for a unique range of books, toys, games, as well as locally produced crafts and souvenirs you won't find anywhere else.
The Theatre Scene at Melbourne
From Big Budget Musicals to indie stage shows, Melbourne has it all. Catch theatre, comedy and musicals at this elegant theatre on Exhibition Street. Built in 1928, the Comedy Theatre has hosted local and touring shows for generations. Popular hits include Calendar Girls, The Rocky Horror Show, Avenue Q, Rock of Ages and Waiting for Godot.
The Melbourne Food Scene
Experience Melbourne's mix of cultures in its myriad restaurants, cafes, bistros and bars. Whether you're after modern, traditional, exotic or homespun flavours – Melbourne's eclectic dining scene offers a startling array of the world's great cuisines, from popular favourites to the truly groundbreaking.
Share a drink while snacking on high end tapas in a laneway eatery, take on a Szechuan chilli dish in Chinatown, or break out of the CBD and discover the city's specialist eating destinations – Richmond for Vietnamese, Carlton's 'Little Italy', Fitzroy for Spanish and Brunswick for Lebanese. The Melbourne food scene is so great that I think it deserves a separate culinary exploration trip to do it justice. Watch this space for updates on that. :)
What was in my Camera Bag for this trip?
For this trip I had carried with me my trusty Canon 5D MARK III and the classic combination of 3 Canon Zooms lenses namely the 17-40MM F4L, 24-70 F2.8 L and the superb Canon 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM II and a Canon G15 Compact camera as a backup.
I also had with me my Hasselblad H4D40 with 80mm HC lens.
Other accessories included
Macbook Pro 15 in Laptop
Lacie Rugged 1 TB external drive
SAN DISK and LEXAR CF and SD cards
Gitzo Tripod and Arca Swiss Ball Head
*Sources : Visit Melbourne, Visit Australia, Wikipedia
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