First Trip To Australia - Part One

Dream Come True

I have seriously wanted to visit Australia, more than anywhere else, since I was a teenager. I was a dorky kid that would check out books about Australia from the library, and would visit travel agencies to get brochures, then cut them up and make collages about Australia that hung on my bedroom walls. So suffice it to say, I really wanted to go there. My fascination started when I went to an INXS concert when I was 15. They were my favorite band after that and because they were from Australia, it piqued an interested in the land down under. The more I learned about Oz, the more I fell in love and just knew I would love it there.

Fast forward a few years, (OK, more like 20+ years) and I finally got my opportunity! My sister decided she was going to take her annual vacation in Australia. This was my chance! So with a little planning, we did it. We visited for a full week, which was definitely not enough but still sufficient to get to see some things and make the very long flight worth it.

My sister and I live in two different states, so we both flew separately and met up at LAX. I had never been there before and it is a big airport, but surprisingly easy to navigate and not too confusing. From LAX, we boarded our 15 hour flight to Sydney, in FIRST CLASS, courtesy of my sister generously using her credit card points to upgrade us. Let me tell you, if you have the option or budget or even rewards points or miles to upgrade to first class, for a trip like this, it is SO worth it. We flew coach on the way home, and it is totally doable - definitely don't be discouraged if first class is not in the cards.

This was the first time I had been on a flight that was more than 3 hours. Fortunately, we flew overnight - leaving LAX around 11pm, which means we could sleep most of the way there and land refreshed as it was morning, the day before, in Sydney. The time/date change was kind of confusing but it all worked out.

For a flight this long, make sure you bring a few essentials:
  • pajamas or comfortable clothes
  • warm socks
  • warm sweater, scarf, shawl, or throw blanket
  • toothbrush and toothpaste
  • makeup or cosmetics - whatever will help you feel refreshed and clean
Even flying overnight and getting there in the morning, jet lag is still very real so make sure you plan for that and don't try to accomplish too much the first day.

We arrived in Sydney, grabbed a cab, and headed to our hotel. We stayed in Circular Quay (Quay is pronounced 'Key' for some of you Americans, especially you southerners) at the Marriott, which was perfect for first timers. Circular Quay is not only where the Opera House is located, but lots of shops, restaurants, and it's a bustling area for catching ferries or trains to most other places around Sydney.

Our first day in Sydney, we spent walking around Circular Key, getting our bearings, getting our Opal card (public transit), and familiarizing ourselves with how things worked. Our first glimpses of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House were surreal and very exciting! We took a nap in the hotel room before heading out for our first evening in Sydney.

Meeting Icons

As I mentioned above, I have been an INXS fan since I was a teen and was completely enamored with them. They sparked my interested in all things Australian, so when I happened to see on Facebook that they were having a listening party for their remastered Kick album, in Sydney, on the day we got there, I knew I had to be there. I wasn't sure what to expect, other than it was at a movie theater, but to me, I just felt like it was something INXS while in Australia so it was fitting. 

Fast forward to sitting in a movie theater, only 3 rows up from the front, with members of the band sitting, chatting, and answering questions at the front of the theater, and other members sitting further behind us in the theater. After the initial interview, we sat in the dark theater, full of INXS fans and band members, just listening and enjoying the full Kick album, remastered. It was a really cool experience that I will remember for a very long time! 

Following listening to the album and a question and answer session with the audience and band, I was so thrilled to get to meet a couple of the band members - Kirk Pengilly and Andrew Farriss. These are men I admired and listened to, read about, followed for over 20 years. And much to my delight, they were just as friendly and gracious in person as I hoped they would be. 

We walked back to the hotel from the theater, completely excited and happy at our first night in Sydney, sneaking a walk by the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, looking forward to Day 2 in the land down under!

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