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Australia & NZ: The Highlights Reel

by Marian Schembari on October 27, 2011

If you’re just tuning in, on 1 August I bought a one-way ticket to Melbourne, Australia. The next two months were filled with exploring the East coast of Australia, couchsurfing, farming and being a tourist. It was, hands down, one of the best, scariest trips of my life. But because I’m crap about chronicling anything, I can’t really give you a play by play. Nor would you actually want one.

That said, I feel like my memories are slowly slipping away. Not only did the time I was backpacking fly by, but the month I’ve been back has sped past as well. So here you go… Two months. Australia. New Zealand. The Highlights Reel.


My first stop was Melbourne and I immediately fell in the love. The city is funky without being pretentious. Friendly without being too small. Basically, it’s everything I love in a city and I spent my three weeks there drinking coffee, being a tourist, couchsurfing, sitting in cafes and meeting some incredibly lovely people while drinking more coffee.

The Highlights

Coffee. Food. Coffee. Laneways. Naked for Satan and Grind in the City as recommended by my Auckland bud Kim. I spent most mornings reading a book, sitting in Grind and getting distracted by awesomeness of Centre Place.

Visiting the Abbotsford Convent Market followed by cheapo vegan lunch at Lentil As Anything with my Twitter friend Jayne.

Lots and lots of street art.

Couchsurfing. I stayed with five different couples/strangers during my time in Melbourne and did everything with them from cook Thai to watch dolphins at the beach. I officially fell in love with couchsurfing here and if you’ve ever for a second wanted to try it – stop thinking. Go.


Sydney was a little “meh” for me. I feel like the city didn’t have much personality and I had a harder time meeting people, BUT there were a few pretty awesome highs.

The Highlights

The drive from Melbourne to Sydney where I hitched a ride with Elsa, a fellow couchsurfer who I didn’t realize was partially deaf and without hearing aids until four hours into our drive.

A 13km (roughly 8 miles), uphill hike rewarded with hours spent on the most incredible beach with a random group of European exchange students I met through couchsurfing.

My first view of the Sydney Opera House from the roof of my hostel. Fireworks were involved. Unfortunately, my camera didn’t do it justice so here’s a view from that time I walked over the Harbour Bridge.

A walk around Manly Beach (does no one else think this is a hilarious name?) with a new friend on a sunny Sunday afternoon.


You’ve already gotten a glimpse into life on the farm in Queenstown, and while nothing truly exciting happened, it was a great way to unwind and really get my nature on.

The Highlights

Views like this every day.

Hiking the Routeburn.

Looking out the window of the plane as we descended into Queenstown and seeing an effing MOUNTAIN peeking through the clouds. Hellooooo Mount Cook.

Aaaaand I’m realizing this is the 21st century equivalent of having your friends over and harassing them with vacation photos on your projector.

My apologies.

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  • Henry Lee

    Marian, I’m glad to have found and read your update, and that you generally have had a great time wandering out and about.

    I like being “harrassed” with vacation photos on a projector – I want to relive a little bit of the ups and downs, highs and lows of anyone’s trip. It puts a big grin on my face. :)

  • Melissa Breau

    No apologies necessary. As Henry said, it’s good to see that you had a good time. And I’m loving that you’re back to blogging more frequently :-D

  • Marian Schembari

    Australia & NZ: The Highlights Reel

  • Henry Lee

    RT @MarianSchembari: Australia & NZ: The Highlights Reel

  • Sarah Pearson

    I never go anywhere. I LOVE seeing friends vacation pictures :-)

  • Lucy Smith

    I’ve been looking forward to a post about Aussieland – I like both Melbourne and Sydney, but for different reasons.

    Don’t apologise for showing photos, sounds like everyone else wanted to see them!

  • Sarah P.

    Miss your face! Love the pics.

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