Prior to some island-hopping in the South Pacific, we had a couple days transiting through Sydney and Brisbane. Our original plan was to connect through Brisbane and spend a couple nights in The Solomon Islands. Unfortunately, weather delays in Brisbane had us overnight there and rearrange the next leg of the trip. If you’re planning a trip to any of the island nations in this region, you’ve got to be flexible. Many of the flights here are only scheduled once or twice a week, so if any number of factors throw that off, your plans can get pretty screwed up. For us, we had to miss our Solomon Islands stop. In exchange, we got an unplanned day in Brisbane and an extra day in Vanuatu, so not a big deal so far.
We spent one day in Sydney and did the most straightforward touristy stuff we could. We headed over to the Opera House area and took a stroll around the harbor. We had managed to get a cheap first-class upgrade for the flight in from L.A., so we were actually pretty well rested and ready to face the day on arrival like normal human beings. For this trip, we brought a small drone with us (The DJI Mavic). We’ll try to get some good shots with it whenever it seems unlikely to have authorities descend upon us. I was actually surprised to learn that almost all of Sydney Harbor and surrounding areas are considered “Restricted Airspace” (as in, the same as airports). It seems that the helicopter tour companies over the harbor have that business on lockdown. You can see on their Facebook pages next to advertisements for overpriced helicopter tours the public service announcements about drone regulations. Pretty lame IMO if you’re just interested in flying at a reasonable altitude out over the water. We checked out the maps though and found an area in Farm Cove that proved a good (and legal!) vantage point. Even still, Australia seems to have an affection for uniformed busybodies that rivals even the Germans, so we made haste regardless with the flight and exit from the area.
Our first impressions of the food in Sydney and Brisbane were a bit unexpected. I’m actually not quite sure what I pictured ahead of time. Really, I might not have given it much thought. What we encountered though was just a huge selection of East-Asian fare: Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese. Also, a lot of Asian-fusion food. It makes sense from a proximity standpoint, it’s just not quite what I imagined. We had a few dishes that would have been perfectly appropriate in Tokyo and Saigon. All of the food, including the fusion offerings, were superb.
For our unplanned day in Brisbane, we took a ride over to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. We both really really enjoyed that place. If you like animals, it might almost make a trip to Brisbane worthwhile by itself. The only place I’ve seen that rivaled the amount of interaction with the animals might be the (now closed) Tiger Temple in Thailand. This place was a real gem though and has been around for almost a century. Our next stop on this trip is Port Vila, Vanuatu.