After the high humidity of Hong Kong, it was with some relief to arrive to clear blues skies in Sydney. We arrived in early morning and the short train journey from the airport bought us to Circular Quay which provides wonderful views of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.
We thought we would take a wander around the Royal Botanic Gardens and have breakfast before starting our day sightseeing. We found a café in the gardens and settled down to enjoy our breakfast, Mrs Nice was tucking into a muffin when I noticed a large bird perched on a chair behind her. ‘Big pigeons they have here’ I said nodding to the bird, Mrs Nice nearly dropped her muffin and let out a small shriek. The bird it turned out was a Australian White Ibis which are popular scroungers around the outside eating places in gardens and the nearby Domain.
The weather was quite warm in the day but at night the temperature dropped considerably and was quite chilly. One of the pleasures of Sydney is that it is an outdoor city where you can sit and watch the world go by. The array of bars cafes and restaurants near the Opera House did good business and provided a good variety of food and wonderful views of the harbour. The only downside was the legions of seagulls that hovered looking for food and would often swoop for a tasty morsel. Many regulars do not sit on the tables near the front, we learnt the hard way when a seagull perched on Mrs Nice’s head.
With so much entertainment around the Sydney Harbour, we decided to explore this area first, from the Circular Quay we made our way to the Rocks. Both the Circular Quay and The Rocks are historically interesting being where the First Fleet arrived in 1788 and where the first British colony of New South Wales developed. Thankfully the violence and disease that the Rocks were infamous for over 100 years ago have been replaced by cafés, bars and restaurants with an eclectic market every weekend. After walking around The Rocks, we decided to take a closer look at the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Climbing up the roadway that goes across the Bridge, the traffic was racing past but it is possible to walk across the Bridge along the pedestrian paths. Walking over the Bridge, you can really admire the engineering of the ‘Coathanger’ as it is known to the locals, the views over the Opera House and the harbour are spectacular, although wire fences which have been put up to deter would-be suicides ruin the effect a little bit.
During our stay, we explored the very attractive Darling Harbour which is full of cafes, restaurants and attractions including Madame Tussauds, Sea Life Aquarium, Wildlife Sydney and the Australian National Maritime Museum which has a fleet of interesting historical ships in the harbour.
Unlike most cities, the city centre is not the first port of call for visitors but still has a number of interesting sights including the Sydney Tower, the Town Hall, the poignant Anzac memorial, the Victoria Shopping arcade, St Mary’s Cathedral and the Australian Museum.
We thought we would have a day out of Sydney and travel to Paramatta on the River Cat ferry. The fascinating trip up the Parramatta river illustrates how many people live near the water and have boats to enjoy the waterway. The ferry stops at a number of places including the Sydney Olympic Park. Another reason for going to Paramatta was that it is close to Rosehill Gardens Racecourse where we enjoyed a day at the races.
Thinking we could not come to Sydney without visiting one of the famous beaches, we packed our swimwear and headed to Bondi Beach. Surprisingly it is quite difficult to get Bondi Beach, you have to take the train to Bondi Junction and then take a bus that snakes down to the beach. We went at the weekend and the queues for the buses were quite long even in the early morning, later in the day, they were all around the bus station.
When you do arrive, you are stunned by the scene, Bondi Beach is famous for its bathing, swimming and surfing, the size of the waves are enormous which forced us not to practice our non-existent surfing skills. An added bonus was the annual Kite flying festival was taking place with hundreds of kites of all sizes filling the skies.
We had high expectations of Sydney and were not disappointed, the laid back approach to life was illustrated by the numerous cafes and coffee shops dotted all around the city. If you would like to hear more of our Sydney adventures, read the upcoming Sydney articles on the blog.
Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.
Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.