Australia - Days16-20 - Sydney
Updated: Mar 21
The one with the Opera House
Once we arrived in Sydney the first thing we had to do was return the car. Because we’d “picked it up early’ in Melbourne (by half an hour, when the car was just sitting there waiting for us) we had to drop it off at 11am. This meant leaving Jervis Bay no later than 8.30 and it also meant we were a bit stuck until we could get into our apartment at 3.
We messaged the Air BnB host and they were really helpful, saying the cleaner usually finished by 1pm so we could check in anytime after that. We found a local shop that would store our luggage so we could enjoy some lunch and then check in.
Our apartment is in the CBD, really central and within walking distance of most of the big sights in Sydney.
Once we’d set the washing machine going and picked up some groceries we decided to take a walk down to the harbour. It was so exciting to see the Bridge and the Opera House, but we also learnt how unpredictable the weather can be here, as a huge weather front moved in and an thunderstorm erupted. The rain only lasted about 10 minutes though so we enjoyed a walk back to the apartment and a large glass of something when we got there.
Today we are meeting up with an old friend of Ian’s who has been living out here since 1988, when he got married, and Ian was his best man. That wasn’t until 4pm though so this morning we explored our nearer area, around Darling Harbour and Cockle Bay (yes that’s a real place). It’s slightly less manic there than the main harbour and a lovely way to pass a few hours. As we wandered past the Chinese Friendship Garden, an Australian family offered us a free pass they had received from the adjoining restaurant so we spent half an hour looking round that.
We had a fabulous evening at Ian’s friends in Coogee, and we now feel fully relaxed after our week of moving on every 48 hours.
It’s supposed to get up to 33º today, but we didn’t make an early start because unlike the past week we don’t have to be anywhere specific. From the apartment we walked to Barangaroo Reserve, which is a multi level park with over 75,000 native plants and trees in its gardens. It was so hot we were glad of the shade that the park provided and enjoyed the views over Darling Harbour, and then Sydney Harbour. The walk took us around the peninsula to the main harbour. The river was full of boats and ships of all kinds, including another massive cruise ship coming in under the bridge. They are truly vast, and we’ve seen three different ones here in the short time we’ve been here! After lunch we walked through the Royal Botanical Gardens but by this time the heat was too much for us so we decided to head back to the apartment and cool down.
This evening we ate at Aalia. The food was some of the best we’ve had anywhere, never mind in Australia. A meze of Khorasan pita bread, Lamb hawawshi (so good we ordered another at the end!), cuttlefish, prawn and quail skewers and a tomato and beetroot salad. The food wasn’t cheap but the wine was eyewateringly expensive (aimed at the business meetings that happen there we think) so we stuck with beer and gin. So nice to have so many good restaurants within walking distance of the apartment.
We made a bit of a school-girl error this morning as we had planned on getting the hop-on-hop-off ferry that would take us to Manly, Watsons Bay, and Shark Island except it turns out that only runs Wednesday to Sunday. So then we thought we’d get the Big Bus Tour to Bondi, but that was only one bus an hour. So we gave up and got an Uber to Bondi. Bondi is beautiful, and famed for its surfers, but when we arrived it was like a millpond. Once again the colour of the sea was just breathtaking. Eventually we did swim, and it was much warmer than our previous dip at Narooma. The whole vibe of Bondi is really laid back, so it’s no wonder it’s a must-visit for back packers and tourists from all over.
As it’s been such a beautiful day we thought we’d eat in the apartment then head over to Mrs Macquaries Chair and catch the sunset behind the harbour bridge and then do some night photography. We got an Uber as that’s a good 45 minute walk from our apartment. It started to rain on the way there, but we thought it would stop fairly quickly like it did on our first night. After standing for a good 15 minutes under the shelter of a local shop entrance we realised it wasn’t going to stop. When I say rain, I mean tropical storm rain, not the drippy sort we get at home. In the end we gave it up as a bad job and got an uber back to the apartment again. Will try again tomorrow.
It rained well into the early hours in the end so it was grey and miserable when we got up this morning. Our plan was to try again with the hop on hop off ferry and visit Watsons Bay and Manly. We arrived at Circular Quay just in time to get the 11am boat only to be told that they were running a reduced service, only stopping at Watsons Bay and Taronga, where the zoo is. So much for the website having live information! So we decided to take the ferry to Manly. It was dry enough to sit outside upstairs and we got some spectacular views of the harbour as we left.
Manly is another small bay town much like Bondi. It’s a little difficult to compare the two fairly given that we saw Bondi in brilliant sunshine, and Manly in drizzle, but I think they have a similar vibe. We spent some time watching the surfers and walked the length of the bay before the rain really set in again and we made our way back to the ferry. We’d noticed on the way over that the ferries going back were making very bouncy headway so we sat downstairs this time. We could hear the squeals from a bunch of schoolgirls on the top all the way back to the harbour!
After grabbing some late lunch in the food court near the Quay we trammed back to the apartment to dry out and do a final bit of laundry and packing before we fly to Cairns tomorrow.
As it stayed dry we went out to try and get some night photos again, with much more successful results this time.
We’ve had a bit of a mixed bag in Sydney, even the locals were complaining about the weather. It went from 33º on our first day to tropical storms on our last. We would also have seen a lot more of Sydney if we hadn’t had the issue with the hop on hop off boat tour. But we did as much as we could. If I had to state a preference I’d choose Melbourne over Sydney as Melbourne had a much more laid back feel, but that might also be to do with where in both cities we stayed. I’m definitely glad we came here.
Tomorrow we move on to Cairns...