“There’s nothing like traveling more than 9,000 miles away and still feeling like you’re at home.

My daughter, Kiah, and I arrived in Sydney, Australia, surprisingly well-rested from our 18-hour flight, and ready for the adventures that lay ahead of us. As we stepped into the lobby of Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific Sydney, we were greeted warmly by the smiling desk clerk, who confirmed that we had separate beds as requested by my daughter. I immediately had the feeling that we would be in good hands throughout our one-week stay.

We arrived a little early and were informed that our room was still being prepared, but were encouraged to explore the surrounding area while we waited. The concierge quickly offered to hold our bags in a secure place while we went on our first adventure to find food. She pulled out a list of restaurants with everything from Malaysian cuisine to breakfast spots and circled her recommendations according to our desired tastes that were within walking distance. She also showed us the closest grocery store on a detailed map, which would later become our best friend as we navigated the Sydney streets. When we returned from our meal and checked into our room, we found it to be equipped with everything needed to make our stay comfortable.

The resort was located at the heart of the city, which we quickly learned was convenient for traveling on foot. From the harbor where we would catch our boat ride across to Manly Beach to Hyde Park where we would have an impromptu photo shoot with my selfie stick, everything was easy to get to without the need for public transportation.

Our experience with Sydney started off with a bike tour of the city. Our tour guide, with his excellent Aussie humor, quickly became what felt like our personal photographer as he captured photos of my daughter and me in picturesque locations around the city. Although we traveled in the middle of Australia’s fall season, the weather was very comfortable. It was too cool to take a dip in the blue waters, however, we were able to walk along uncrowded beaches and take in the beauty and peacefulness of the surrounding area.

We couldn’t leave Sydney without seeing some of its famous inhabitants. On our wildlife tour, we headed out to ‘the bush’ to see some kangaroos, koalas, and wombats in their natural habitat. Along the way we stopped in the little town of Berrima for a traditional Aussie meal of meat pies and Lamington cake at the Farm Gate Café. On a separate trip to the Blue Mountains, we fed and took photos with koalas and wallaroos, and then continued to Scenic World, where we took a cable car ride over the rainforest for panoramic views of the mountains and the Katoomba waterfall.

Our trip to Sydney was nothing short of amazing, and although I can officially mark Australia off of my bucket list, I know that I will be returning again.”

Maranda McBride

Greensboro, North Carolina