A few weeks experiencing the spectacular Sydney and the sights it has to offer
Only a hop-skip-and a wee plane ride away from New Zealand is Australia! Being an Emirates flight we enjoyed all the luxuries of a hot hand towel and a three course dinner as we stretched out and enjoyed a film. No wonder the airline can charge so much for flights, the service really is brilliant and between the cabin crew they can speak about forty different languages! We arrived in Sydney in the evening and we made our way to Crows Nest where we were couchsurfing with a guy called Adam who we ended up staying with for nearly three weeks.
Sydney is a lovely city easily accessible by trains and busses. We travelled into the city over the Harbour Bridge and caught sight of the Opera House with the crystal blue waters shimmering in the sunshine. We went to Circular Quay and took a trip to see the Opera house up close and personal- from a distance the Opera House seems white but once you get close to it you realise it’s more cream/grey in colour, this is simply because if the tiles were white with the glare from the sun, nobody would be able to look at the building- the ‘off white’ means that it still appears white until you get really close. As well as the building being a piece of art, the beautiful surroundings of yachts gliding across the scrumptious blue waters of the harbour is enough to make anyone keen for a piece of Sydney lifestyle. The cafes and bars all around are elegant and offer a wonderful selection of fresh foods, obviously lots of fish, and beautiful cakes and refreshments. The atmosphere is fasted paced and busy- tourists grabbing photos from different angles, business folk in suits, exercise fiends dressed in vibrant colours jogging along the harbour and the city folk on the phone or out walking the dog- it really is everyone’s city.
The Royal Botanical Gardens are a short walk behind the Opera House. The grass is perfectly cut and a healthy shade of vibrant green and the delicate flowers sit neatly in the beds. Whilst a path winds between the gardens and the harbour, there are signs encouraging people to sit on the grass- an absolutely perfect spot for a picnic. From the gardens there is a perfect of the Opera House underneath the Harbour Bridge with a foreground of the boats in the harbour and a background of skyscrapers and blue sky-depending on the weather!
As of yet we haven’t climbed the Harbour Bridge but we did walk up atower which gave a spectacular view over the city from a similar height over the south side of the bridge. We paid the small fee of around $15 to enjoy these views and we learnt about the design and construction of the bridge- amazingly only 16 people died during the 8 year build, considering there weren’t safety standards like nets if they were to slip it’s a surprisingly low figure. To climb the wonderful bridge will cost from $200 and not having done it I can’t comment as to how much better the views are- all I can say is $15 seems like a bargain!
We went on a day trip to the Blue Mountains which was a couple of hours drive away from where we were staying in Sydney. We walked down and caught the mountains at different angles and got to see the never ending landscape filled with greenery, water tumbles down the rock face and you suddenly realise you are in fact stood near the rock edge looking down. We saw the rocks of ‘the three sisters’ and walked down the 800 steel and stone steps called ‘the great stairway’ to see them up close. It is a common legend that three sisters from one village fell in love with three brothers from another tribe. In those times marriage was forbidden by tribal law, the brothers not being happy with this law captured the three sisters and in a tribal battle an elder turned the sisters into stone to protect them. Unfortunately the elder died during the battle and no one else was able to return the sisters to their human state- hence the ‘rocks of the three sisters’
Our trip to the Blue Mountains was picturesque, beautiful and everything you could want in a nice walk, however after coming from New Zealand a couple of days before I have to say that the Blue Mountains of Australia did not quite have the same wow factor, I will admit to being a wee bit spoilt for views in New Zealand though!
We spent a day at ‘Featherdale Wildlife Park’ which contains Australia’s most unique critters! We held koala bears and saw the little babies clinging onto their mothers- they really were adorable! The kangaroos bounce around freely all over the park and quite happily sit and pose for photos, plus we got to hold a Joey wrapped in a blanket. We saw the Tasmanian Devil, Echidnas which are basically ant eaters, penguins, pelicans, emus, dingos and their beautiful little pups, plus we saw crocodiles, snakes, bats and other reptiles. The park was nice and definitely a good day day out.
We took the 40 minute ferry over to the island of Manly for a day. Manly is pretty much full of beaches, surfers and seagulls- the town is quirky and modern and every other shop is a surf shop. Being a surfing place the people around are pretty chilled out and everyone was wearing shorts despite the cold weather. We enjoyed lunch, ice cream and walks along the seaside.
We ended up with access to a car for a week, I don’t think I have ever been so frequently lost in the same area- we didn’t have a sat nav so literally every time we drove the car, no matter the length of the journey, we got lost. We drove to the famous Bondi Beach where Kayleigh got to live out her Bondi rescue fantasy by pretending to drown to get rescued by a buff lifeguard racing down the beach on a quad and launching himself into the fierce ocean waves to pull her up in his arms and rush her to rescue- unfortunately for Kayleigh she woke up and realised this had been just a dream. We did spend a day on Bondi beach and yes, Kayleigh did show us all the Bondi Rescue ‘hot spots’. I look forward to seeing it in the summer as the beach was very quiet when we were there.
We also took a road trip to Wollongong for Kayleigh to do her skydive. Wollongong has beautiful coastline and we enjoyed a nice breakfast whilst taking in scenery that reminded us very much of home. After Kayleigh’s successful landing we spent the day exploring the area- a nice little day trip.
We got up bright and early one Sunday morning and spent a day sampling wine and chocolate at the Hunter Valley. We went on a tour of the First Creek winery where we got to see the science behind wine in the laboratory, we learnt how the wine is made and the expensive and detailed process that goes into the production. The warehouse was full of enormous steel barrels that towered up to the roof whilst stacks of expensive oak barrels were stacked neatly on brackets. We went to five cellar doors and sampled the beautiful wines they had to offer as well as sampling Australian sparkling wine and samples they had on offer at the chocolate shop.
We spent about three weeks in Sydney sampling the shops, sights, bars and life that this infamous city has to offer. In many ways it is very home-from-home with the old English inspired buildings and statue of Queen Victoria sitting proud of place along the main street. We found when talking to people that most of them were out in Australia on a visa so strangely it didn’t feel like we actually met that many Australians during our time in Sydney. Overall Sydney is a beautiful city with something for everyone, after three weeks here we were very much ready to leave and continue our adventure in Perth.