After a total of 19 hours in the air, about 3 of which were spent asleep, and around 24 hours of travelling (which began with an hour delay after one woman had a final destination moment and decided to get off the plane) we finally arrived at our hotel on Monday morning. We stayed in The 1888, situated just a short walk from Darling Harbour bridge. It was lovely! A quirky hotel that has been converted from an old wool mill, very stylish and unique.
I loved Darling Harbour. We spent a couple of evenings in a few of the many bars that line the water front. It is a hub of activity in the daytime and evening and there is a great choice of places to eat and drink.
Monday lunchtime we hopped onto a boat and sailed around the corner to Sydney Harbour. There is the Harbour Bridge! And there, up close and personal, is the Opera House! Wow! Well first off its cream, and tiled! Not at all the perception I had from photographs. It was surreal to see such an iconic building in the flesh! We wandered around in the rain (obviously Australia doesn’t come with the guaranteed sunshine and hot temperatures) before venturing back for a meal and much-needed sleep.
On Tuesday we met up with Beth, an old friend of mine who is currently living in New Zealand, after spending 12 months in Australia. We caught a double-decker train (too cool) into the Blue Mountains and jumped off at Katoomba to see the Three Sisters. It appears that every coach tour in Australia stops here so there was a bit of fighting with fellow tourists to try to get a glimpse of the view and a photograph without somebodies arm in it. But what a view! Breathtaking! The mountains really are blue, and vast woodland stretches as far as the eye can see!
We took the path towards the Sky Walk and quickly lost the majority of the white-trainer-wearing tourists (glad we went prepared in walking boots). Walking through woodland, across waterfalls and valleys, the views are stunning and the wildlife and fauna is so exciting. We saw lizards, cockatoos, lorikeets and rosellas. Then the pièce de résistance, we heard and then spotted a Superb lyrebird! The lyrebird is a bit of an icon in Australia and they are renowned for their ability to mimic other sounds. No one knows the true call of a lyrebird as they repeat all and any bird songs and sounds they have heard, including chain saws. We were so lucky to hear and see one, and further yet we watched a male displaying, tail feather shaking and all!
Wednesday we explored Sydney city, walking about 100000 miles! First we headed into Chinatown to Paddy’s Market for some souvenir shopping, then walked into Hyde Park, via the lucky pig on Macquarie Street, and stopped at the Anzac Memorial. Under the memorial is a free museum full of old equipment, artefacts, clothing and general items and information about the Anzac soldiers. It was very interesting to learn about the Australian input into wars such as World War I and II, a must stop if you are in the area.
From Hyde Park we walked into the Botanical Gardens and along towards Mrs. Macquaire’s Chair where there is a beautiful view of the Opera House with the Harbour Bridge in the background. Certainly worth the walk! We finished the day with ice-cold drinks in the harbour and a walk around The Rocks.
Thursday was beach day! We caught the bus to Coogee and chilled on the beach for an hour (wait is that girl topless?! Oh yeah, so is she as well) then took the coastal footpath past Bronte Beach to Bondi Beach.
I highly recommend the coastal walk! The ocean views are stunning and you get to see a variety of beaches and coves that can otherwise go overlooked. Plus its quite a sight to round the corner and see the full 1km of Bondi Beach in the distance.
We had some fun sunbathing and braving the big waves for a paddle in the sea. Maybe someone can tell me why the sea is so much saltier in Australia?! We weren’t the only Brits to notice this.
Our final day saw a spontaneous decision to venture back into the Blue Mountains, this time to Wentworth Falls.
We followed the Charles Darwin walk, through towering pines, lush woodland and past natural swimming pools until we dropped suddenly down and under the waterfall. Gosh! Spectacular! We stopped at a point where the water flowed into a pool and stripped off to our swimwear for a refreshing natural shower. Gotta be done right?!
Back along the Charles Darwin path, we saw more exciting wildlife, in particular lots of yellow-tailed black cockatoos! Majestic birds! Plus we accidentally interrupted a lizard during his lunch!
For our final farewell on Friday evening we walked across the Harbour Bridge in the dark for a last, breathtaking look at Sydney Harbour.
Onwards to Tasmania!