The sun setting over Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge

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.

We cooked a great roast for Janet & Graham

We cooked a great roast for Janet & Graham

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.

The Blue Mountains' Three Sisters, Sydney

The Blue Mountains’ Three Sisters, Sydney

The Blue Mountains with the Gum tree haze

The Blue Mountains with the Gum tree haze

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.

Amy's first encounter with a koala at Featherdale

Amy’s first encounter with a koala at Featherdale

Andrew got to feed the Kangaroos

Andrew got to feed the Kangaroos

City Sights

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.

The Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House

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.

The sun setting over Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge

The sun setting over Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge

Manly Beach

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.

Surfers on Manly Beach, Sydney

Surf’s up! for the students on Manly Beach

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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  • Patti
    Posted at 00:07h, 14 May Reply

    We fell in love with Melbourne as well, it has a great European laid back cosmopolitan feel to it, love the river area and the business district, all around a really fun place to be. Our son was an exchange student at the University of Melbourne for a semester and he “loved” it there. We actually really enjoyed Sydney as well but I think if you spend time in Melbourne first, which is what we did, it’s a bit of a shock because Sydney is very much a big bustling city, but there is so much to love there as well. My husband and son climbed the Sydney Harbor bridge and they said the views were spectacular. I will just have to trust them on that. I think the key is to break the city down into parts and explore each part independently and then you start to get the feel for what Sydney is all about. Safe travels ~

    • Amy
      Posted at 11:58h, 14 May Reply

      Climbing the Harbor Bridge must have been pretty cool! Good advice about breaking the city down, we were just starting to really like it when we left, so another week and would probably would have grown to like it even more – still not as much as Melbourne though I expect!

  • Mig
    Posted at 18:32h, 18 May Reply

    It’s nice to have a place to stay for a few days especially with family after always being on the go. I’ve been building in longer stays so that I can catch my breath at each destination and learn more about the culture. Good tip about learning how to surf in Asia since it will be cheaper.

    • Amy
      Posted at 04:41h, 19 May Reply

      Yes, it made such a difference having a home base for the week; we’re now staying in Bali for a few weeks to catch our breath again – travelling is tiring!

  • Louisa Klimentos
    Posted at 14:23h, 03 August Reply

    Just came back fron Blackheath,in the Blue Mountains.There are plenty of walking tracks near Blackheath,especially the Grand Canyon loop,which consists of sandstone cliffs ,diverse rainforests and canyons.There are beautiful scenic drives also at,take the turn off onto Benelong road and you are driving against forests and sandstone cliffs.Plenty of nature walks etc.The day we were leaving we decided to visit Mount Victoria ,but for some reason ,my husband decided to keep driving.Once you get passed Mount Victoria ,the Blue Mountains region ,becomes remote and besides a few cars on the road ,there is nothing but wilderness.Not even a shop in sight.I love remote places.After seeing beautful sandstone rock faces and forests for awhile ,we ended up at Bilpin ,which is at the back of the Blue Mountains .There is a botanical garden there .Cafes ,apple farms,where you can buy freshly picked apples,when in season and you can buy a beautiful home made apple pie that is yummy.we then headed home back to Sydney.Blackheath was rather cold because it snowed only 5 days before we arrived and that only occurs once in awhlie.If Amy and Andrew were to return to Australia,I like to see them explore the Blackheath and Mount Victoria region.Please don’t just do the east coast of Australia,please take some time to visit our inland national parks,because they are stunning .Just immerse yourself into the beauty of the Australian nature. Amy and Andrew have other travel plans at the moment and look forward to reading their travel blog.Can’t waite to read their travel blog on the US,when they arrive there

    • Andrew
      Posted at 22:03h, 03 August Reply

      We loved the Blue Mountains, although we didn’t drive into any remote places we did do some nature walks. Next time we head down under we’ll definitely explore more inland areas and probably try out the west coast too. Thanks for the tips. 🙂

      • Louisa Klimentos
        Posted at 01:39h, 05 August Reply

        You will find alot of nature ,like the Blue mountains in NSW.The West Coast of Australia is much more remote than the east coast and not as much infrastructure.The west coast is for an adventurest backpacker.Perth is one the most remote isolated cities in the world .Before the Govenment improved the road from Perth to Exmouth and they called it the Indian way,you had to let someone know where you were going incase you breakdown,then they can inform someone to come and help you. .Plenty of remote snow white sand beaches and very blue water and some amazing landscapes .You will think your in another country.Laura an ex backer who comes from Ireland has been to Western Australia was telling me about it.She had an amazing time.When will you be leaving to go to New England region of US,love to follow you travel adventure.If you show up with no expectations ,then you cerntainly won’t be dissapointed.Best wishes ,love louisa

        • Amy
          Posted at 16:01h, 05 August Reply

          Thanks Louisa. We will be heading to America on the 2nd September, not long to go 🙂

  • Louisa Klimentos
    Posted at 01:53h, 09 February Reply

    i recently visited Pierces Pass which is a walking track at the Blue Mountains in which the entrance runs off Bells line road.As i have mentioned before I find this road really scenic .You see the plateaus with it’s sandstone cliffs better than on the Great Western Highway side.I never thought that my husband and iI were going on a bush walk.We intially went to Bilpin to puchase farm fresh apples and decided to go for a drive.Anyway i had my platform shoes on and had trouble walking,so after a fifteen minute walk ,I had to stop because the descent was steep and i would have broken my ankle Well we had to turn back.You have a great view of the plateau,which is spectacular .It was very pieceful as we only saw one person.It felt like a form of meditation,because how pieceful it was.There is no fencing,so it is not child friendly.You can take the hiking trail to Victoria falls .Approximately 2 to 3 hours and you can take the hiking trail to the Blue gum forest.They are graded as a hard walk but if you are very good at hiking,give it a go.I loved it and the scenery is beautiful,love louisa

    • Amy
      Posted at 18:28h, 10 February Reply

      Sounds lovely, shame about the shoes though! Glad you didn’t continue and break your ankle though.

      • Louisa Klimentos
        Posted at 00:48h, 12 February Reply

        You are so kind and caring.I am so lucky to have the opportunatey to read and write comments on your travel blogs.I love all the countries you have been to so far.It keeps my mind off stress,which can cause your adrenal glands to burn out like what recently happened to me.So when you feel stressed about things,Amy,I will always give you hope and support.Send my regards to Andrew,love Louisa

        • Amy
          Posted at 16:56h, 12 February Reply

          Sounds horrible Louisa – I hope you’re better now. Thanks for reading!

  • Louisa Klimentos
    Posted at 01:31h, 02 June Reply

    A couple of weeks ago there was alot of back burning happening around Sydney ,to prevent major bush fires.So me and my husband thought we would escape from Sydney to get some fresh air and went to Kangaroo Valley ,which is a 2hr drive South West of Sydney.We drove along the Princes hwy,until we reached Berry,a cute little country town with shops and cafes,nestled amongst beautful green country side .Just after Berry there is a sign that says Kangaroo Valley Tourist drive and you turn right onto that road You will drive past valleys,rainforests and Morton National Park,with its beautiful plateau mountains,waterfalls ,lakes and rivers.You can go hiking or kiyaking if you want to.It is quite a scenic drive Kangaroo valley has a small village with shops and cafes.When comming back to Sydney get back onto Princes Hwy and after you pass Wollongoing take the turn off that says Bulli Pass and folow the road and then turn left,Keep driving ,then you will drive on the Sea Cliff bridge and you will see the beautiful cliff line to the left and the ocean to the right.There are also sea side villages eg Thirroul ,Austinmere.You will then head for Royal National Park ,with beches ,cliffs ,river and temperate rainforest.
    Last week me and my husband went to Blackheath,with in the Blue Mountains region ,We took a turn off which led us onto an unsealed road ,that led to Anvil Rock .What you get is a 360 degree view of the sand stone plateaus and temperate rainforest and a hand full of locals and tourists.There is also a walking track Perry’s track which is graded as a hard walk ,with no fencing.It is very pieceful there.There is alot more to the Blue Mountains than the famous Three Sisters .There are rivers ,lakes ,waterholes ,lagoons , waterfalls ,canyons and gorges.Look forward to reading your travel blogs,because the whole world is a beautiful place,love louisa

    • Amy
      Posted at 11:12h, 03 June Reply

      That sounds like a perfect day of sightseeing Lousia. Next time we’re in the area we’ll have to check it out. 🙂

  • Louisa Klimentos
    Posted at 05:31h, 04 June Reply

    Sorry for all my typing errors .My relatives from the UK are coming out to Australia in September .They are doing the East coast from Airlee Beach to Brisbane ,including Fraser Island and spend 6 dys with us in Sydney and will take them to some hidden gems.i will also will encourage them to see the inland National Parks eg Canarvon Gorge in Queensland approximately 700km north west of Brisbane.There is alot more to Queensland than the agricultural regions that seem to go miles and miles.They are also going to South east Asia which they have been before.i told them next time to visit New Zealand which is similar to Norway ,Iceland Alaska,well the South island anyway.looking forward to reading your recent travel blogs and i hope ,if you return to Australia that you will visit the places that i have mentioned and really like or love them,regards Louisa

    • Amy
      Posted at 12:57h, 04 June Reply

      No worries Louisa 🙂 Wow, I hope you have a great time with your UK relatives, you have some great local knowledge to share with them. We will definitely ask your advice if/when we return to Australia!

      • Louisa Klimentos
        Posted at 02:46h, 05 June Reply

        I hope you do come in the future to Australia.There are some great You tube videos on beautiful National parks in NSW ,with in a couple of hours drive of Sydney.They are worth going to see and always Lou

        • Amy
          Posted at 10:15h, 07 June Reply

          Thanks Louisa, I’m sure we’ll make it back there one day 🙂

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