Sunday, 30 December 2012

The Land Down Under - Sydney

The view from Mrs. Macquaries Chair

A very short visit to Australia in May 2010. A perfect relief from scorching Manila.

Autumn in Oz is just wonderful. It took us a few days to get used to the very cold weather but we managed and loved it.

First stop ---- SYDNEY

Day 1: After check-in, and armed with a map, we did our own "walking tour".

First stop was Darling Harbour. Sydney's major destination for leisure and entertainment with so many bars, restaurants, cafes, cinemas, museums and parks. I can stay here for days trying to check out its nooks and crannies.

Darling Harbour

Next is SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium in Darling Harbour. 14 newly-themed zones that includes Dugong Island, the Shark Walk and the amazing new tunnel walk-through, Shark Valley.

Sydney Aquarium

Then we walked back to Sydney Tower to marvel at the beauty of Sydney as far as the eyes can see. The East's version of The Space Needle. 

Sydney Tower
Yup! the highest Mailbox in this hemisphere
The view from the tower

And of course, we had to see the Sydney Opera House. THE venue for performing arts in Sydney, it's unique design has become Australia's icon. We toured the insides of the Sydney Opera House and learned about it's colorful and interesting history. 

Sydney Opera House
Day 2: Grand City Tour--whole day tour of Sydney and suburbs including Bondi Beach, Manly Beach and the exclusive Vaucluse and Double Bay areas.

  • Spectacular Darling Harbour
  • Sydney Entertainment Centre
  • Chinatown
  • Sydney Aquarium and the Monorail
  • Sydney Opera House
  • The Rock's - Sydney's birthplace
  • Conservatorium of Music
  • Parliament House
  • Hyde Park
  • St James Cathedral
  • St Mary's Cathedral
  • Art Gallery and the Domain
  • Visit Mrs Macquaries Chair - superb views of the harbour and city skyline
  • Royal Australian Naval Base at Garden Island
  • Kings Cross - Sydney's 'hot spot'
  • Exclusive Double Bay and Vaucluse
  • The Gap - stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the Heads
  • Visit Bondi Beach - Australia's most famous surf beach
  • Historic and trendy Paddington
  • Sydney Tower
  • Grand Sydney Tour
  • Sydney Town Hall
  • Stunning views over Sydney Cove and Circular Quay
  • Sydney Opera House
  • Cross the Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • Milson's Point - panoramic views of the bridge and skyline
  • Cross the Spit Bridge
  • Magnificent views from Seaforth Lookout over Middle Head and Pearl Bay marinas
  • Arabanoo Lookout - a superb panorama of the rugged Headlands and Manly
  • Tour through the northern beaches of Freshwater Bay and Curl Curl
  • Stop at the seaside resort of Manly, noted for its famous surf beach and Norfolk pines

After the full-packed day and to complete our Sydney Opera House experience, we capped it by watching Australian Ballet's "Coppelia" at the Sydney Opera House and meeting some of the ballerinas after the show.

Coppelia @ Sydney Opera House
Day 3 - Free Day

No tours. Just DIY sightseeing and shopping for us.

Walked the length of George St. from the Sydney Town Hall on our way to the Queen Victoria Building (QVB)--- a 19th-century building, now a shopping complex with high-end brands as tenants.

The building, aside from it housing the most expensive brands, is known for its inner center glass dome, its glorious glass-stained windows and two large mechanical clocks: The Royal Clock  shows scenes of English royalty,  and the Great Australian Clock, with 33 scenes from Australian history.

The 19th-century Queen Victoria Building
A relaxing vibe inside

The colorful glass center dome

One of its beautiful glass-stained windows

The mechanical Great Australian Clock

Crossed the street to Bloch Store -- a haven for ballet students and dancers. After purchasing some necessary stuff, we walked to Darling Harbour to take the Harbour Cruise to Taronga Zoo.

The cruise gave us a very good view of Cockle Bay, Walsh Bay, Circular Quay, Farm Cove, Wooloomoloo Bay,  passing through Clark Island, Shark Island, Vauclause Bay--the most affluent suburb in Sydney and with its many yachts, Watsons Bay with its famous Doyles Restaurant that serves what they said is the best Fish & Chips in town, and Manly Harbour.

Harbour Cruise sights
We alighted at Taronga Zoo - a 21-hectare zoo that is home to over 2,600 animals. It has a very unique view of the Sydney Opera House from where the giraffes are.
Taronga Zoo
A very nice view from here isn't it?
After Taronga Zoo, we boarded the ferry again to check out Luna Park --a classic old world amusement park in Milson's Point. Unfortunately, the park was closed for the day but the caretaker was kind enough to let us in just to have a quick look-see.

The iconic face of Luna Park
Then a walk to Sydney bridge, back to Darling Harbour for shopping at the Harbourside and monorail to Paddy's Market.

shops just below the Sydney Harbour bridge

@the walkway of Sydney Harbour Bridge
Darling Harbour @night

Day 4: Blue Mountains and its environs

A drive through the Great Eastern Highway (the longest road to the mountains). First stop was along the Napean River for tea. A very relaxing place to enjoy your morning tea. How very English is that!

Napean River

We then proceeded to Wentworth Falls passing through an Aboriginal site. When it is  flowing, it is the most scenic waterfalls in the Blue Mountains. It was not barely there when we visited because Australia has had 5 years of no rain, they say. 

Wentworth Falls

We then proceeded to Leura Village for Lunch. A quaint small town near the Blue Mountains. Steep with old world appeal and vibe.

A very nice place to seat, yes?

After lunch we proceeded to Katoomba Falls before proceeding to the Blue Mountains lookout. Another scenic  waterfalls in the area but we were not so lucky. Just like Wentworth Falls, it is best to visit after heavy rains.
Katoomba Falls
Autumn colors in Leura Village

The view of the Blue Mountains from the lookout. Beautiful! Part of the Greater Blue Mountains area and a  world heritage site, it consists of 7 national parks and a conservation reserve. It got its name from the characteristic blue haze over the mountains.
Beautiful view of the Blue mountains

@ the Blue Mountains lookout

We rode the scenic skyway in order to catch a glimpse of the legendary 3 Sisters -- a rock formation in the Blue Mountains that was formed by erosion but has an Aboriginal story behind it.
The commonly told legend of the Three Sisters is that three sisters (Meehni', 'Wimlah' and Gunnedoo') lived in the Jamison Valley as members of the Katoomba tribe. They fell in love with three men from a neighbouring tribe (the Nepean tribe), but marriage was forbidden by tribal law. The brothers were not happy to accept this law and so decided to use force to capture the three sisters. A major tribal battle ensued, and the sisters were turned to stone by an elder to protect them, but he was killed in the fighting and no one else could turn them back. This legend is claimed to be an Indigenous Australian Dreamtime legend.   - Wikipedia
3 Sisters

After seeing the 3 sisters, we toured the rainforest of the Blue Mountains and Euroka Park-- a popular picnic area and camping site,  before taking the ferry back to Circular Quay.

Food food food
Sydney is one place I would like to go back to more often. It has an unhurried vibe to it that I like. Add to that the natural wonders  it has in its neighboring suburbs, and its refreshing  array of food despite its huge servings. 

Check-out my other posts on Australia:

Day 2 in Melbourne - Going for Gold!

Day 1 in Melbourne - Of wombats, koalas and penguins

The Majestic 12 Apostles of Victoria, Australia

Through the New South Wales countryside

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