G’day. How ya goin’? I spent the past two weeks exploring Australia. It’s an incredible place filled with modern cities, unique animals, beautiful landscape, great coffee, and welcoming people. As I like to do, I wanted to share some of my observations (I did something similar with recent trips to Japan and Costa Rica).  

For the past 14 days, I was largely disconnected from work, sports, and U.S. news. The time change (Australia is 15-16 hours ahead of the east coast) almost forced me to disconnect from the day-to-day news. I found it quite liberating and was a good reminder of how toxic the noise can be.

From a work perspective, the time difference made it easy to keep up with emails. When I woke up at 6am in Australia it’d be 4p in NYC. I could easily manage emails for a few hours as the day wound down at home. By 8a the email traffic slowed, and I could enjoy my trip, fully engaged in experiencing the local culture.

We started out with a few days in Sydney. The largest city in Australia (population roughly 5M growing 2% annually), Sydney is a modern metropolis set on one of the most beautiful harbors in the world (with the iconic Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge in every view). The city is easy to navigate, with a simple/modern bus and subway system.

Highlights of our time there included the Coogee to Bondi walk, Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb, the ferry to Manly Beach, and wandering around cool neighborhoods like Surrey Hills (if you’re ever visiting, we stayed at a great little boutique hotel called the Little Albion). What I found so unique about Sydney was its modern skyscrapers set directly on some of the most beautiful beaches in Australia. In a matter of just a few days you could experience a relaxing beach vacation while soaking up the cultural experiences of a modern city. My favorite building ha to be Jean Nouvel’s two-tower condo project, One Central, with a vertical landscape façade.

After a few days in Sydney, we headed off to Australia’s 2nd largest city, Melbourne (pronounced Mel-bn). The first thing you notice about Melbourne is modern skyscrapers and the crazy number of cranes dotting the skyline. Melbourne is Australia’s fastest growing city. Its population is expected to surpass Sydney’s within the next decade. From a geographic standpoint, Melbourne has no physical constraints so it’s growing in all directions. Driving the growth is a combination of international students (550,000 living and studying in Melbourne), an aging population and steady birthrate, and migration from Sydney seeking lower cost of living and a better lifestyle. One thing that stands out, is the growth of the Chinese population. Chinese (young, females in particularly) account for 16% of all arrivals in Melbourne.

While in Melbourne, we stayed with a good friend of mine from grad school. He lives in Toorak, a high-end inner-ring suburb just southeast of the CBD. Staying with a local is a completely unique experience. It provides an insider view of the city. While we did the classic touristy things such as wandering through the Botanical Gardens, walking down the graffitied laneways, and checking out the exhibits at the NGV, we also saw some other aspects of the city. We got a birds-eye view of the city from the 48th floor of his office tower, took a trip down the coast to Cape Schank to his weekend house, had dinner with his parents where we talked about art and politics, and toured a few of the many vineyards along the Mornington Peninsula (Pt Leo Estate was one of the more impressive ones).

Melbourne is constantly ranked as the ‘most livable city in the world’ and for good reason; great healthcare, education, and infrastructure. It feels like a city anyone could easily move to and feel at home right away.

On our final day, we took a road trip down the Great Ocean Road. Built by and dedicated to World War I veterans, this 151-mile stretch of roadway along Australia’s southeast coast boasts some of the most incredible views in the world. The highlight is the 12 Apostles, natural limestone rock formations in the middle of the ocean.

After a week of exploring cities, we were off to the northeast of Queensland to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef and explore the Daintree Rainforest. This area is particularly special because it’s the only location where two World UNESCO Heritage Sites meet. The Great Barrier Reef was particularly impressive and one of the coolest places I’ve ever been to. Just a 45-minute boat ride from Port Douglas, I was swimming in warm, crystal blue water among sea turtles and countless types of colorful fish.

On our final day in Queensland, we drove north into the Daintree Forest. The tropical ecosystem of the rainforest is one of the most complex on earth and dates back 110 million years. A highlight was spotting a few cassowaries (one of the worlds largest birds) along the windy roads.

We spent our last day exploring Brisbane, Australia’s 3rd largest city (population 2.4M). Brisbane is another modern city experiencing significant growth. We spent the day walking along the waterfront parks, in awe of the natural beauty of the city. It reminded me a bit of the Hudson River Park on the west side of Manhattan.

Notably, Brisbane was the only city which had electric scooters for rent (just Lime). They’re attempting to expand to other cities in Australia, but local laws don’t permit it.

Australia is a truly beautiful place. “God’s Country”, as my good buddy refers to it. The major cities are naturally beautiful, modern, full of culture, and easy to navigate. It’s no surprise that each is in the top 10 most livable cities in the world and growing rapidly.

However, what I find most attractive about Australia is the people. They enjoy life rather than just make a living. They travel, they know how to have a good time, and they don’t take themselves too seriously.  This is the mindset that I’d like to adapt and a great reminder that there’s more to life than your career.

Cheers!