13 May A Week in Sydney
Our next stop in Australia was Sydney and after our disappointing journey on the Ocean Road we had high hopes for this iconic metropolis – here’s what we got up to during our week in Sydney.
After over a month of staying mostly in hostels and moving on every couple of days we were extremely grateful to be staying with Andrew’s family in Penrith, one of the suburbs surrounding Sydney. It was a real relief to finally put our backpacks down and relax; staying with Janet and Graham really felt like a slice of home with lovely meals, a comfy bed and all the inside info we’d need about how to enjoy our time in Sydney.
The Blue Mountains
Our first stop in Sydney was the Blue Mountains. Although we found that overall Australia just couldn’t compete with New Zealand in terms of scenery, the Blue Mountains were an exception. As you can see from the pictures, the view from the top was incredible; towering peaks as far as the eye can see draped in a blue haze given off by gum trees which carpet the mountains. We were lucky to be there on a perfectly clear sunny day which made it all the more spectacular.
Featherdale Wildlife Park
By this point we’d been in Australia for over a week and still hadn’t seen a single kangaroo, so we took the chance to get up close to some Australian animals at Featherdale. Wallabies and kangaroos are left to hop freely around the park and were completely unfazed by the visitors. We marveled at the way they nonchalantly lazed in the sun and for a dollar we got to feed them some grassy snacks. We saw plenty of other weird and wonderful Australian animals; wombats and Tasmanian Devils, Echidna, Emus and the most iconic of all – the Koala, which has to be our favourite. Even though they sleep for up to 20 hours a day and spend most of their waking hours eating, we were hypnotised by these cute creatures and could have watched them all day.
After falling in love with Melbourne, we were doubtful whether we’d feel the same level of affection for Sydney. As expected, the attraction definitely wasn’t instant and as we wandered around Darling Harbour for the first time we weren’t feeling very inspired. We couldn’t understand why, but Sydney just didn’t connect with us in the same way Melbourne did; it didn’t have as much character or feel as multicultural and bustling; we just didn’t get that sense of being right in the midst of everything. On first glance even the mighty Opera House and Harbour Bridge didn’t excite us much, they both looked smaller than we’d imagined and the Opera House itself looked far from gleaming, in fact, it looked a bit grimy.
Fortunately, Sydney did grow on us. On our last day in the city we walked up past the botanical gardens to the park and watched the sunset over the harbor, which was truly beautiful. As darkness fell we walked back through the harbour – it was then, as the lights shone off the water, music played and people swirled all around that I finally started to get Sydney – at last I could see the true beauty and appeal of the city.
On the recommendation of Andrew’s family, we bypassed the famous Bondi Beach and instead caught the ferry out to Manly. We loved this bustling beach town and wished we could have spent another day there chilling out on the beach and checking out the ice cream shops. We spent all afternoon sat on the long, silky beach watching surfers ride the huge waves. It was especially fun to watch newbies taking their first surfing lesson and Andrew can’t wait to give this a go himself when we get to Asia where it’ll be much cheaper.
As our week in Sydney came to an end we bid a fond farewell to Andrew’s family and set-off for our next adventure – a three-week road trip down the East Coast.
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