The Old Fogies go to Darling Harbour in Sydney

 Although most visitors to Sydney congregate around the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, there are other delights nearby. We decided to walk into the city centre and on to Darling Harbour.

Darling Harbour is named after Lieutenant-General Ralph Darling, who was Governor of New South Wales from 1825 to 1831. The area was originally known as Long Cove or Cockle Bay until 1826 when Governor Darling renamed it after himself. The area was originally part of the port of Sydney including a large railway goods yard.

In the 1980s, when the area had become largely derelict, it was redeveloped as an entertainment and tourist area, the area came to global attention during 2000 Sydney Summer Olympic Games.

On the edge of the harbour is Chinese Garden of Friendship which you pass before entering the harbour. Rather strangely, dominating the harbour is the large Pyrmont bridge which connects the harbour to the city centre.

Darling Harbour is the location of the Australian National Maritime Museum, outside the museum is an historic fleet of 14 vessels that are docked at the museum wharves. The vessels include a replica of Captain Cook’s Endeavour, HMAS Onslow submarine and HMAS Vampire destroyer. There is even a lighthouse from 1874 which has been rebuilt here.

More modern attractions include Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, WildLife Sydney and Madame Tussauds.

For all its attractions, Darling Harbour is a great place to relax, unwind and watch the world go by. Cockle Bay and King Street Wharf  have a large number of cafés, restaurants and bars where you can sit and admire the scenery and people watch.

This is a bit of a problem with Sydney, it is so easy to enjoy the outdoor life that time seems to drift away and sightseeing plans are often sacrificed for a pleasurable meal and drink in wonderful surroundings.

We succumbed to temptation with a relaxing lunch before taking the Inner Harbour ferry back to Circular Quay.

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.

The Old Fogies go to Sydney City Centre

In many cities, the city centre would be the first point of call for visitors, however in Sydney this is not the case with many of the attractions on the waterfront. This does not mean that Sydney city centre or Sydney central business district (Sydney CBD) as it is known is not without interest.

Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia and the city centre is where you will find of the city’s most significant buildings.

Walking in the Sydney CBD, you become aware that it is Australia’s main financial and economic centre with many international banks and businesses located here. It is also full of shops, bars, restaurants and cafes. Standing tall above the city is the Sydney Tower.

The main streets are George Street and Pitt Street with Macquarie Street, part of an historic area that houses such buildings as the State Parliament House and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Sydney’s CBD features a mix of old and new architecture; two of the most grandest Victorian buildings are the Queen Victoria Building and the Sydney Town Hall. The Queen Victoria Building or QVB as it known is a shopping gallery with over 190 shops, it is considered one of the most beautiful shopping galleries in the world and it certainly does have an appeal all of its own. The Town Hall is a popular meeting place and is rather grand in a very English sort of a way.

Much of the greenery in the city centre is in Hyde Park which has a number of interesting features, dominating the park is the stunning Anzac Memorial which commemorates those Australians killed serving their country. At nearly 100 feet high, the inside of the memorial is reached up a number of stairs leading into a small exhibition.

Other features in Hyde Park are the Sandringham Gardens and Archibald Fountain and across the road is the impressive St Mary’s Cathedral.

The Australian Museum is nearby and if you carry on you can go to Paddy’s Markets where the local population go for a rather different shopping experience.

With such iconic sights on the waterfront, it may be if you are on a relatively short stay that you decide to ignore the city centre but that may be a mistake. Sydney’s CBD gives a glimpse of the past and a taste of its bustling commercial present with a number of attractions to keep you interested.

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.

The Old Fogies Go Racing at the Rosehill Gardens Racecourse in Sydney

When travelling, we are always on the lookout for experiences that are not always on the tourist wish list. We also enjoy a day watching horse racing and we were fortunate that our time in Sydney coincided with a race meeting at Rosehill Gardens which is one of the premier racecourses in Sydney.

The racecourse is around 22km outside of Sydney city centre and we decided that it would be nice to take the RiverCat ferry from Circular Quay up to Parramatta. We bought tickets for the meeting online and noticed that this entitled us to free transport to and from the course. This made the whole trip really good value for money and gave us a little more money to wager on the horses.

We boarded the RiverCat which slowly made its way up the Parramatta River stopping at a number of places including Balmain, Cockatoo Island and the Sydney Olympic Park before arriving at Parramatta.

The fertile land of Paramatta was important to the early colonists and it still has a feel of being well away from the city.

We were able to walk from the ferry terminal to the racecourse past the attractive houses and the odd strange poster.

Arriving at the racecourse, we were pleasantly surprised by its attractive exterior and joined the colourful crowd walking up to the entrance. The racecourse has recently had a $28 million refurbishment and is one of the more attractive racecourses from around the world.

Rosehill Gardens is home to a number of top races including the world’s richest race for two-year-olds; the $3.5 million Longines Golden Slipper. Although the racecourse is similar to many British racecourses, however there are plenty of umbrellas to shelter from the hot sun.

We sat in the stands so we could take a look around the racecourse, like many other racecourses outside of the UK, the course is rather flat.

Although the dress code was quite informal, many people had dressed up to enjoy a day at the races and were enjoying the various food and drink options.

One of the reasons we like to go to the various sporting events when travelling is that you can meet the locals and have a chat in pleasant surroundings and throughout the afternoon we enjoyed the social and sporting aspects of the racecourse.

Although not familiar with many of the Australian racehorses, we managed to make a small profit before making our way to the nearby Rosehill station to get the train back to the city centre.

If you are in Sydney for a few days and you would like to get away from the usual tourist trails, it may be worth taking a trip on the RiverCat and enjoying a day racing at the very attractive Rosehill Gardens.

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.

The Old Fogies go to Bondi Beach in Sydney

Whilst we were in Sydney, we thought that a trip to the beach would be nice, the only problem was choosing which beach. We narrowed it down to Manly or Bondi Beach and finally decided to head to Bondi which is one of the most famous beaches in the world.

Bondi Beach is located around 7 km (4 mi) east of the centre of Sydney, it is surprising difficult to travel too for a major tourist attraction. You can take a quite slow bus directly from the centre but we decided to take the train to Bondi Junction and then take the local bus the rest of the way. It was a Sunday morning, so we started off fairly early, by the time we had reached Bondi Junction we were happy with that decision because the queues for the buses were already quite lengthy. Eventually we boarded the bus to take the ten minute downhill to the beach. The packed bus was enjoying the ride until a sudden stop launched everyone forward and there were some shrieks of shock.  By the time we had got to the beach, everyone had calmed down and were looking forward to their day on the beach.

Some sources suggest that “Bondi” or “Boondi” is an Aboriginal word meaning water breaking over rocks or noise of water breaking over rocks and this is a great description because the sound of the wall of water hitting the rocks and the beach is surprisingly loud.

Bondi Beach is relatively small being around 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) long and is popular with walkers, bathers, swimmers and surfers.

Looking at the strength of the waves, we was glad we didn’t pack our swimming costumes and settled for a paddle as we walked along the beach, two surf clubs patrol the beach and keep people safe. This is a full time job because the water off Bondi beach has a number of hazards which trap thousands of people each year.

Bondi Pavilion has changing rooms and lockers cafes, a bar and a ice cream shop. Behind the beach, there are numerous food and drink options with more cafés, restaurants and designer shops on Campbell Parade.  

The beach changes from the more sedate northern end to the more turbulent southern end where surfers do their thing. It is part of the fun visiting the beach to sit on the rocks and watch the surfers getting wiped out by the Pacific Ocean.

We had timed our visit to coincide with the Festival of the Winds when hundreds of people fly their kites along the beach. It was an amazing sight when kites large and small filled the sky.

After our walk we decided to just relax and enjoy the beach life until the crowds began to get too large and then we made our way to the bus stop. Thankfully the bus journey back was without incident and we arrived at the Bus Station to see the large queues snaking around the bus station. Rather smugly we passed through the crowds and took the train back into Sydney, we both agreed that Bondi was one of the best beaches we had ever visited and is well worth a visit if you are travelling to Sydney.  

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.

The Old Fogies go to Sydney

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.