SydneyJanuary 21, 2017 in Australia
We flew into Sydney arriving at 10pm so went straight to our prebooked hostel via an uber. Pretty much straight to bed, although the room was sweltering hot so wasn't the best nights sleep, so we slept in the next day. We got our bearings and did some jobs in the morning such as laundry and going to a supermarket, how glamorous life is on the road!
About midday we got the train to go and explore the city. We walked out at Circular Quay station and it takes you right out onto a promenade area, with Harbour Bridge on your left and the Opera house on your right. Wow! It's very surreal to see such iconic buildings in person. We strolled down to the opera house and enjoyed taking it all in. At this point in the day it was 42 degrees and I'm not sure we've ever been in such heat, even the aussies were struggling.. so we had to keep stopping in the shade to recover. We walked on through the botanical gardens then back round to the harbour to head over to the famous bridge. We didn't realise how high the bridge is over the water, so we had to do a lot more walking up hill to get to walk over it. So we needed an ice cream stop then continued on.
We got to the base of one of the pylons that supports the bridge and you can go inside to a lookout at the top. On the way up was also a exhibition of history about the bridge which was actually really interesting. It took 8 years to build, is an absolute feet of engineering and had some interesting stories. It was here long before the Sydney Opera house and in a lot of ways we feel more impressive. We got to the windy top and had some amazing views across the city.
After this we strolled up Observatory hill behind the bridge, where there is a park that a lot of locals go to and it has a wonderful view of the bridge and city.
At this point we were exhausted and hot, so headed back to the hostel for a home cooked meal of pasta and sauce (cheap and cheerful).
After a very hot night we were up early for a tour to the Blue Mountains. It took an hour to get to one of the mountain towns where we stopped for a breakfast bite to eat, then we went off to our first valley stop with an amazing view. We then proceeded to do a mild hike down into the valley and up over a waterfall. We'd walk through overhanging rock faces and through the bush, every step another fantastic view. It was hard work as it was still 40 degrees but we took it slow, taking pictures and chatting to our leader Rod. Phil and I were at the back leisurely enjoying the surroundings, when Phil suddenly raced up to me saying he'd just seen a snake off the path staring at him. We described it to our leader and thankfully it was 'just a python' not one of the very poisonous ones... great. It was a beautiful walk, then we headed back to the bus for our next stop.
Another amazing valley and another great walk to a smaller but higher waterfall and up through the bush a bit more. Our group did go very fast rushing through areas so Phil and I would hang back to enjoy the views and scenery more.
Our next stop was lunch. Much needed by now after the heat and walking. We went to a local park and we had a buffet style make your own wraps station we made up. Rod our leader had a wrap with ham, cheese, salad, tomato, beetroot, pineapple and thousand island sauce. I thought this looked weird but he told me to be less British and try something different ha! And would you know, it was actually nice. Who would have thought.
A few wraps later we went onwards to a secret viewpoint of the three sisters, the most famous viewpoint in the blue mountains, and there wasn't a soul there. It definitely was a secret spot and a fab view. After this we went to the main viewing area of the three sisters which was of course full of foreign tourists. Great to see it up close though.
Finally we went to our last spot, another secret area which was our favourite. A huge rock outcrop that you can walk out on and you have a 360 degree view all around of the vast valleys and mountains. Stunning, and again only a few other people there. I was a little nervous as it was quite a drop, no barriers and windy, so I didn't venture too close to the edge. But sat and enjoyed the view all the same. It was now a little cooler and therefore able to enjoy the vast views and blue skies more.
We got back to the city for around 5:30pm and was buzzing from such a great day, and just the type of relaxed, active, less touristy tours that we enjoy (check out the Happy Coach company Sydney if you are there and want to go). After another supermarket dinner at our hostel, we started to chatting to some french guys also staying there and ended up chatting and drinking til 1am. They were lovely and we had some great laughs as we tried to perfect their English and we attempted their accents.
Our next day in Sydney we were slow getting up again after our late night. But once we got going we headed out to the coast. We went just south of Coogee beach to an ocean pool which I'd read about called Mahon pool. Which is essentially a giant rock pool that you can swim in. They are all over Australia, but this one was very quiet and had beautiful clear water, as well as surrounding impressive rock areas to sit and relax. It felt chilly at first, as it was subsatinally cooler that day and slightly overcast, but still very refreshing, and quite exciting having the waves wash over into the pool. After awhile we got out and enjoyed a picnic lunch on the neighbouring rocks. Definitely a lovely way to spend a Thursday morning! After we hopped onto a bus to Coogee beach to do the coastal walk from there to the famous Bondi beach.
We went walking around bay after bay, and enjoying each small area along the walk. It takes roughly about 2 hours to do, although for us it was more like 3 as we were very tired and kept stopping for breaks and to look around. Each bay was full of surfers who are mesmerising to watch. The waves are not tame here and warnings everywhere about rip currents, and yet they are so graceful and in control, we loved watching them.
Twisting between two bays was a large rocky outcrop with deep holes in the rock so we even had a natural 'stone sofa' with back rest which we sat in to watch the surf.
One of the beaches we walked across was covered in small blue bottle jellyfish, we certainly weren't going to be swimming there (there was still people in the water though, crazy). Along the coastal walk there is a huge graveyard facing out to sea, which we ended up walking through, as the path was diverted through there because of coastal path damage. It had very elaborate grave stones and possibly one of the largest sites I've ever seen.
Eventually we turned the corner and saw Bondi, the largest beach yet. We had a little stroll round there but then hopped on the bus back to the city, having had plenty of beach and sea time that day.
After dinner at the hostel we decided to go see the city at night. So we went to Opera bar which is situated at the base of the Opera house and with a perfect view of the bridge and city skyline. It was all very beautiful lit up at night. We sat on the edge of the water, cocktail in hand and listened to some live music. Pretty perfect way to spend the evening.
On our final day we woke to heavy rain. Undeterred we went to the city centre to get a ferry to the area of Manly. The ferry have some wonderful views so we enjoyed the 30 minute ride. Once there we walked to the main Manly beach and got very wet! Thankfully we found a picnic pavilion so could get cover while we had our sandwiches for lunch. Suddenly the rained stopped and the sun came out, just in time. We wanted to go to the Q station, now a museum and resort but was once the Quarantine station for all ships if people were suspected of carrying illness, so as to stop it spreading to Australia. We missed the bus by 30 seconds so waited with a delicious ice cream for an hour for the next one.
Once we got there we walked down through the different areas (originally third class, second and first class areas, and asiatic class were segregated). Of course first class had the best sea views. The area led down onto a private beach which is the same one quarantined people would have played on. Sometimes the quarantine experience was like a mini holiday if they weren't ill, and just had to wait out some time to ensure they weren't incubating illness. We went round the museum which was fascinating with great detail, personal accounts and artifacts. It talked about all the pandemics they managed to control spreading through Australia because of quarantining like the bubonic plague and Spanish influenza. There was also also a large rock face just outside which was covered in "grafitti" of people who had stayed there with messages of remembrance or poetry of their time there. Quite an amazing pocket of history there.
We were there a lot longer than expected so had to get back asap to get ready for our evening plans. Missing the bus again by 30 seconds so we weren't getting very lucky!
However we got back, freshened up and headed out to Bondi to meet my good friend Katie who I used to work with, and moved out to Sydney nearly 6 months ago. We sat on a lovely restaurant veranda and ate delicious food while we had a major catchup. It was so great to see her, for her to meet Phil and to hear how she was getting on down under. Loving it of course. We went on to a bar for another drink and really enjoyed chatting away and exchanging stories. It really was wonderful to see her.
Next morning we were up early ready to continue north up to Brisbane and leave the bright lights behind.