Saturday. After a lazy morning we spent Saturday afternoon exploring the local area. We were staying in a 2-bedroomed apartment in the Glebe neighbourhood. The apartment was homely with quirky decor and had its own laundry and parking space. We only wished all Airbnbs were like this one! Glebe itself is a quiet neighbourhood with tree-lined streets, close to the water, tram stations, shops, restaurants and a busy Saturday market.
Sunday. We walked from our apartment into Darling Harbour – it took longer than expected but it was a lovely walk along the waterfront, past the fish market and the maritime museum. From there we took advantage of the Sunday public transport deal – $2.60pp for unlimited travel on ferry, bus, train and light rail. We boarded the ferry in Darling Harbour to go one stop to Circular Quays. We didn’t realise that the ferry route was a circular route going in the opposite direction to where we wanted so we were treated to a fantastic trip around the harbour. We passed the replica of Captain Cook’s ship HMB Endeavour and Luna Park before travelling under the Harbour Bridge and stopping at the Opera house. It was a wonderful way to see the city and so many famous Sydney landmarks. We were particularly impressed by the opera house living up to its iconic reputation and the children enjoyed playing ‘spot Sydney tower’ which can be seen from almost anywhere. We stopped for lunch at a reasonably priced restaurant, considering its location in the harbour, then took a walk through the free botanic gardens to ‘Mrs. MacQuaries Chair’. We caught a bus from there into the city centre to the Queen Victoria Building and walked through the city past City Hall before catching the light rail back home. That evening we were invited to dinner with the Joseph family in the suburb of North Ryde and had a great time catching up with friends.
Monday. We drove out to Botany Bay, the place where Captain Cook first landed in Australia in 1770. There was a monument marking the landing place and an interesting information centre which explained the mission, recognised how important British colonisation has been for the country and had excerpts from Cooks journal. There was another monument called ‘the meeting place’ marking the site as a place of sorrow for the aboriginal people. It described how the events unfolded from their perspective and how the arrival of that tall ship and its crew was the end of life as they knew it forever. In 2008 the Australian government acknowledged the mistreatment of the Indigenous peoples and apologised in an effort to move forward and create a better Australia for all of its inhabitants.
That evening we visited Bondi beach. A popular surfing beach just 7km from Sydney. So popular in fact, they can get up to 35,000 people on the beach in the summer. After visiting so many beautiful and deserted beaches that was not an appealing prospect. However, we ate in the glass-sided Bondi Icebergs Club with spectacular views across the bay watching the multitude of surfers tackling the surf. After dinner we walked along the cliffs as the sun went down, a lovely way to end the day.
Tuesday. We drove up into the Blue Mountains National Park, 2hrs outside of Sydney. We stopped and walked the short trails at Wentworth Falls, Sublime Point and the Three Sisters rock formation lookout before heading (along with bus loads of tourists!) to ‘Scenic World’. Scenic world provides three ways to access the gorge and enjoy the views at Katoomba falls. A ‘skyway’ cable car takes you across the gorge, the worlds steepest railway takes you to the bottom of the gorge into the rainforest and a cable car brings you back up to the top. Aside from its cheesy theme-park title it was a fun way to see the spectacular scenery and to access the trails in the gorge. The area was previously mined for coal and the railway had originally been built to transport workers down and coal back up the mountainside. We walked a trail from the train to the cable car through the rainforest at the bottom of the gorge. There was interesting information about coal mining and the history of the railway along the way and how the vegetation has regenerated after years of mining. The trees were huge and thriving again and the noise from the cicadas was indescribably loud down there.
Wednesday. We visited the excellent aquarium in Darling Harbour. Highlights for us were watching the native Australian little penguins ‘flying’ through the water, the dugong (the manatee’s better looking cousin) and an octopus who was caught by the cleaners creeping out of his tank and into the crayfish tank for a midnight snack. Apparently Hank’s antics in Finding Dory aren’t too far from the truth! (Apologies if you haven’t seen Finding Dory!) James tried to identify the shark he had encountered when snorkelling in Cairns and was happy he hadn’t stuck around to take a photo at the time.
Thursday. We went to Manly to spend the day on the beach. We decided to drive as it was cheaper for the four of us than taking the ferry. Manly beach is another popular surfing spot with a good vibe about it and not quite as busy as Bondi. We had a picnic on the waterfront and the kids (James included!) enjoyed playing in the waves and building sand sculptures. The water was on the chilly side though – we’ve been spoilt!
Friday. After a busy week it was time to move on. We packed up and set off earlyish for the 3hr drive to Canberra. We had expected a week in Sydney to perhaps be too long, but there is still so much more to see and do we will have to go back another time…
Click here to check out the rest of our Sydney photos.