Being reminded of the works of Melina Marchetta and the late Bryce Courtenay can definitely get one started on a second draft of a Sydney post… or even visit the place itself, which was a friend’s reason for going not long ago. Definitely a place that leaves an impression on the memory, there’s a lot of animosity shared between Sydney and my home of Melbourne (which a lot of us like to have fun with) but that doesn’t stop us from making a few trips.
My first was a drive-through back in 1999 in which I’d hoped to see the Harbour Bridge, but I was left feeling disappointed afterwards.
Me: When are we seeing the bridge?
Mum: We just crossed it.
That moment was annoying me for a time.
So, in 2011 (long gap, I know) I made the decision to stay in Australia’s biggest city (established on the 26th of January, 1788 and still not its capital) for a few inexpensive days when I was coming down from Queensland. When having my first real look at the skyline I felt a bit overwhelmed by the size and had a flashback to ‘the city on the water’ in Inception; that being said, I felt like I should’ve spent less time here, but that shouldn’t suggest I didn’t find something to enjoy. Everything I did can easily be fitted into a single day if you’re on the go.
Should the weather be behaving itself, take a walk and see Darling Harbour (where I was to meet up with a friend I’d met on my travels); being from Melbourne my tolerance for the cold is pretty high so I was walking around in my thongs (flip flops) to the ‘concerned’ stares of the natives, but if the sun’s out it really adds a lot to the setting.
It’s in Darling Harbour; hated by locals apparently, where you’re awarded all the best shots of the city skyline you could ask for. You’ve got ready access to eateries, shopping locales and the Sydney Sealife Aquarium (the highlight for me was the dugong and the Lego displays) and Wild Life Sydney Zoo which I enjoyed, but by that point of my travels I’d seen plenty of the animals on their own turf; visitors are able to see both in a ‘package deal’ which should save a few dollars.
It was at Darling Harbour where I hopped on the monorail also, but it’s since been shut down. Annoyed grunt! Once you’re done here, keep walking and you’ll be looking up at two of Australia’s biggest eyesores.
Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, both exclusive enough to be taken over by Oprah and her goons, are certainly worthy of your camera’s SD card. Tourists are able to climb the bridge but a girl at the hostel told me the cost was too much, so I’d plan for this in advance. Speaking honestly, I wasn’t completely overwhelmed, unlike when I’d just swam with the world’s biggest fish or seen Joss Whedon speak, but it was still rewarding to stand in sight of two of my country’s most renown structural icons. It was cloudy when I was there but it wasn’t a let down whatsoever.
Now, like other destinations I’ve visited I had an objective in coming to Sydney; I wanted to go out on the water. Speed boat rides are a plenty, but I wanted to go traditional and ride a ferry. My reasons stem from a picture book I read as a child where a group of ducks waddled around the wonders of the city, and one of said wonders happened to be the ferries.
So, I found one that was going out and managed to get the top deck to myself for most of the time. People below me were eating a buffet lunch or something but I didn’t care if I was missing out on the luxuries. Looking out at the water, going under the bridge, passing Luna Park and so on were my rewards. It was something good to end my travels with.
By the time all of the above is done, you’ll probably want to finish up. If you can manage it, and I recommend you do, walk back to your accommodation through Hyde Park. The place is quite pleasant and offers a balance of urban nature and art; I was drawn to the statues depicting Greek mythology which is always a winner for me. The bats were out also but they didn’t bother anyone.
Much like my wanting to ride a traditional ferry, my favour for Hyde Park stems from a ‘book related’ reason also. As I walked through the overhanging trees I was looking up at the buildings in the hope of seeing a statue of Trim, the pet cat that belonged to Matthew Flinders, looking out of the window of the state library. It’s a small excuse but these have taken a many wanderers so far. Bryce Courtenay wrote about the fledgling and contemporary Sydney in Matthew Flinders’ Cat and the idea to look for the statue myself was the plan, which didn’t succeed unfortunately. All in all, the walk wasn’t a bad decision. You’re even taken out of the city landscape at several turns.
For those coming from overseas, Sydney is usually the first place backpackers will start with, so, on the advice of a Londoner I travelled with in Thailand, I recommend the group OzIntro. They’ll show you a first great week in Australia and help get your living situation sorted out i.e. sim card, bank account, job interviews and so on. Some of the places you see include Bondi Beach and the Blue Mountains if I’m not mistaken.
And with that all said, I think I’m done.
Sydney wasn’t my number one stop, but it wasn’t the worst so give it a try.
Links: www.sydney.com, www.wildlifesydney.com.au, www.sydneyaquarium.com.au, ozintro.com