Countdown to Australia Trip: 20 days to go

Panoramic view of the Sydney Opera House by Christian Mehlführer, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:MC_Sydney_Opera_House.jpg, used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5

Sydney

When you find a website or look at a book about Australia there is going to be a few things mentioned. The Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, and the Sydney Opera House.The Opera House is one of Australia's iconic symbols. Most people can tell you what and where it is without blinking an eye. I'll definitely be having a closeup look at this place while I'm down there. It is where I land and where I'll leave from.Their official website is http://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/ and has all the good information about shows to see and how to get a guided tour.The City of Sydney also has their own website with tons of information of things to do and how to get there, http://www.sydney.com/ . I'm particularly interested in the outdoor part of things, which they've got lots of destinations to choose from.

National Parks

Sydney and New South Wales ( the state Sydney is in) have numerous outdoor areas and national parks. Blue Mountains, Barrington Tops, Dorrigo and Mungo are just a few of the parks that have many trails open for guided or non-guided walks through them. The beautiful scenery makes getting outside high on the list of things to do for many travellers.

Mountains around Sydney

Mount Warning is very close to Australia's eastern most point, Cape Byron. Being a fair bit higher than the surrounding area makes it the first place in Australia to get hit by the sun each day. From what I've heard, the sunrise from the summit is quite spectacular.Mount Kosciuszko is Australia's tallest mountain. Relatively short compared to the tallest mountains on other continents, hikers can reach the summit in the summer in a couple hours from the trailhead. My trip takes me to this area around the middle of the Australian winter so it will be hard to tell if  trail runners alone will take me to the top. Summiting this peak is definitely on the list of things to do but might take more preparation and gear than I'll have with me.  Australia in the summer will be have to be added the adventure list!Lord Howe Island

Lord Howe Island

Lord Howe Island has to be one of the most picturesque places I have ever seen in photos. Some places look completely different in real life but I'd imagine this one looks exactly as amazing and beautiful in real life. The only issue with travelling there is that it's a little out of the way. It requires a plane ride from Sydney or New Zealand and is not exactly cheap.  Getting to the island is only half the battle. Because of the fragile ecosystem and the number of rare species of birds and plants on the island, camping is not permitted. Accomodations start at about $130 a night and go up from there. Not what I call backpacker friendly! Check out http://www.lordhoweisland.info/ for info, pictures and contact info.Quantas offers daily flights from Sydney for $336 - $620 depending on the time and date.   http://www.oxleytravel.com.au/lhi/23.html often has deals on to get to Lord Howe Island from Sydney and Brisbane. These are probably your cheapest bet but check out the prices for flights and accomodation and then see what the deals are like.   Flying from Auckland in New Zealand will cost ya $700-$900 depending on the deal you find.~Ross- always an adventure -