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Beauty in Diversity: Adventuring in Australia 

Australia, the land of kangaroos, Vegemite, and some of the most diverse landscapes under the sun. This April, my husband and I had the great fortune to spend three weeks in this fantastic country. I had a business conference to attend in Sydney and our daughter lives on the Gold Coast, so we were very excited to make the trip “down under”. 

If you’re contemplating whether it’s worth the 16+ hours of flying to experience Australia, I’m here to tell you IT IS!! Whether you’re into luxury vacations or “roughin’ it” with your backpack, this diverse continent will satisfy all your travel desires. We were fortunate to experience both luxury and simplicity. Which did I prefer, you ask? First let me tell you about the diverse experiences of our trip, and then I’ll share with you where my heart lies… 

Four Seasons on Sydney Harbour vs. Caravaning Under the Stars 

Our trip began in Sydney. We spent five days in this lovely cosmopolitan city. Our home base was the Four Seasons on Syndey Harbour where my conference was being held.  We were spoiled with views of the Harbour and the Opera House. The room was lovely and the breakfast buffet each morning had a mouth-watering array of all the treats we could hope for. Dinners were filled with culinary delights including a very special evening at the architecturally-amazing Opera house. A feast for the stomach and for the eyes (especially if you’re a designer). We did a historic walking tour, rode the ferry, explored the Aquarium, and walked the Bondi to Coogee Beach Trail. 

After some luxury time in Sydney, we ventured out in our Jucy van. What’s a Jucy van??  Jucy is the caravan rental company of choice for those looking to hit the road and see the sites of Australia’s coast. The camper vans are decaled in lime green and purple – you can’t miss them!  

Our house (tent) was on top of the van, so we could stop in camping spots along the ocean or beside a cow pasture, whatever suited us at the end of the day. We heard the sounds of the ocean and the songs of Kookaburras as we slept. (If you’ve never heard a Kookabura, Google it. It’s like a crazy laughing monkey, and quite the alarm clock!)  

The small kitchenette at the back of the van allowed us to break out a roasted chicken (“chook”, as the Aussie’s refer to it), tortilla wraps, and a bag of premade salad for quick lunches. We walked beautiful beaches, watching the sun rise and then set. We visited rainforests, and enjoyed SO many chai tea lattes from small local coffee shops. It’s a minimalist lifestyle that allows you connect with nature and local people. 

Touring a $50,000,000 Mansion vs. Exploring an Eco Village

Touring a $50,000,000 home in Sydney is like stepping into a different world. As a member of the international designer group, we were invited to tour one of the homes our Australian members designed. It was expansive, bright, beautifully appointed… and then there were the VIEWS!! Everything felt like luxurious and worthy of a photo-op.   

Then there’s the Eco Village in Currumbin, where the vibe is more “Mother-Earth-meets-modern-hippie.” Homes here are created with eco-friendly materials and powered with solar panels. The community is a blend of environmental-consciousness and camaraderie, where neighbors share meals, compost bins, and rainwater tanks. Domestic animals are not allowed, so that the local wild-life (Hello, Kangaroos!) can live in the community without fear. It’s a lifestyle that is easy on the planet and full of good vibes. 

The Splendor of Australian Beaches vs. The Majesty of Rainforests 

Australian beaches are what postcard and Instagram dreams are made of. Think Bondi Beach, Byron Bay, and the Gold Coast. We fell in love with a town called Lennox Heads, about 20 minutes from Byron Bay. It has golden sands, abundant sunshine, and a relaxed surfing life-style. The East Coast of Australia is the epitome of laid-back Aussie charm, the water is a clear, inviting blue, and the waves are world class! The small towns are filled with charming shops, fantastic cafés – and shoes are optional.  

In contrast to the beaches, Australian rainforests are the country’s tall, dark and moody cousin. Drive 45 minutes in-land and you enter a green cathedral, with rays of sunlight filtering through the canopy and the sound of exotic birds providing a live soundtrack. We spent an afternoon exploring Dorrigo National Park, a world heritage site with waterfalls and trees that date back 600 years. It is majestic, mysterious, and makes you appreciate how stately nature can be. 

Celebrating Diversity 

I promised to answer this question earlier… so here goes – When it comes to diversity in travel, do I prefer luxury or simplicity? I could sit on the fence on this and say both which is a fair answer, since I do appreciate aspects of each. But overall, I am a person of simplicity. I love quiet places in nature vs. bustling cities. Four Seasons, you are wonderful, but Jucy, you have my heart! I would,, however, take the culinary diversity of the restaurants in Syndey over a grocery store roast chicken (Sorry, chook). When it comes to beaches vs. rainforests… I would probably pick the beach, but that’s a toss-up, since both are beautiful variations of nature.    

What are my preferences when it comes to design, mansion vs. eco-village? Again, that’s a tough call.  I love homes that are built out of interesting materials with interesting stories and I love sustainability, so I’d choose the eco-village (says the woman who lives in a strawbale house, lol). I do appreciate luxury, and it’s very fun to design mansions, but they need to be more than grand for grand’s sake. 

What gets me really excited is when luxury and sustainability collide. Just because something is sustainable, does not exclude it from being luxurious. This is a combination that isn’t prominent in architecture today, but I’m passionate about pursuing it. And I think it may be my next blog post!  

Thank you for joining me on my journey through Australia. Come back next month when I discuss luxurious sustainability or sustainable luxury… either way, these contrasting concepts will unite. There is beauty in diversity! 

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