After our long drive from Cairns, in early December we finally made it down to Sydney to see what the city had to offer. After living on Fitzroy Island for the previous six weeks, we were very excited to experience the busy city life again.
We opted to stay at Surfside Bondi Beach, as it was the cheapest option we could find with parking available. We were disappointed to find out that the parking the hostel had advertised was in fact on-street parking around a 15 minute walk away, however we were lucky to find a spot we could leave our car for the week, and travelled around the city by bus instead.
The accommodation itself, for the price per night (up to $42 on peak nights), was absolutely not worth the money. There was no air-con, and during a summer heatwave in a 12-bed dorm this is a recipe for disaster. The room was unbearable to get ready in or even just sit or sleep, and the whole hostel shared just four toilets and six showers total. On one occasion, we tried to sit in the communal area late at night, only to find that the hostel owner had charged some backpackers a nights stay to sleep on the sofas! I’m fairly certain this is illegal practice, as is considered overcrowding. I was disgusted by this, and left very disappointed at the quality of this accommodation for the price. The Lazy Duck in Cairns was better quality for only $15 a night!
As I mentioned, we travelled to all attractions around Sydney by bus. Bondi beach is located around 30 minutes outside the city. You can pickup an Opal Card in newsagents for free, provided you top it up at the time. You can then top it up in various locations around the city, wherever you see the Opal sign. This made travelling around really easy, as it was a simple tap on, tap off process, and not too expensive. The bus service operated all night, so we even used this to get to and from nights out! They also offer a handy phone app you can download which tracks your journeys, shows your balance and allows you to top up.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Sydney without seeing the famous Opera House. At the heart of Sydney harbour, there are a few different locations you can visit for a variety of excellent views. At the far end of the Botanic Gardens, there is a point called MacQuarries Chair. This gives you a clear view right over the harbour, and is a fantastic spot to grab a few pictures. You can also, of course go right up to the Opera House itself and enjoy a drink in the Opera Bar (I had a glass of the house rosé – I wouldn’t recommend. Splash out a little!). Finally, you can hop on the boat at Circular Quay bound for Darling Harbour, which takes you around the harbour, under the bridge and past Luna Park, for only $2.10. This was a nice option, albeit a little windy, as it allowed you to sit back and relax on the boat while you checked out the views!
As for other tourist attractions, we took a nice stroll through Hyde Park, and saw the stunning Christmas projections onto St Mary’s Cathedral, as discussed in my previous blog. We visited the Museum of Human Disease, a very small but fascinating exhibit at the University of NSW. We also went to the Museum of Contemporary Art for a browse. I was sadly disappointed by the Art museum, having really enjoyed what was on offer in the Brisbane one. However, the collections change regularly, so I wouldn’t rule out visiting again.
Staying in Bondi Beach, we also of course made time to head down to the beach to sunbathe, and take a stroll along the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk. This was a pleasant walk, and an activity I’d definitely recommend for a sunny afternoon. You could stop at one of the various beaches along the way, or nip into a pub for a cheeky pint as we did!
One big attraction we (sort of) missed out on was the Blue Mountains. We chose to drive there one day, not realising quite how bad the weather would be up at that height. It was so foggy and rainy, it turned out to be a completely wasted trip. We did however get to see a pretty cool Shipwreck called SS Aryfield on the way, so at least that’s something.
Finally, there is of course dining out and nightlife to discuss. Sydney nightlife aint got nothing on Melbourne, and we weren’t very impressed with our experiences here. The lockout laws are extremely strict, and after queuing for what felt like a lifetime to get into a club that was at capacity (operating 1 in, 1 out), we gave up on that and opted to try a different club, which we weren’t allowed into as it was too late, despite it only being midnight. We were shocked by this, and left disappointed and headed home. Our other night out, at Scubar, we attended to see some more toad racing after enjoying it so much in Port Douglas, only to arrive at 9:30pm and it was almost finished! But who even goes into a nightclub that early?! In saying that though, we did have a great night here despite it being small and packed so I can’t really complain.
In terms of eating out, we had a far better time. Stitch bar was an amazing “hidden” bar, located in Central Sydney. The entranceway is an unnamed doorway, with sewing machines covering the walls. Upon entering, the place has an amazing underground jazz bar type atmosphere. We ordered steak, mac n cheese balls and a delicious cocktail each. All of which came with amazing table service. We also headed to another “hidden” bar called Ramblin Rascal, though the bouncer standing outside the entranceway was a pretty big giveaway. Here we just got a couple of drinks; it was very rowdy inside for a Wednesday evening, so seems a popular choice for after work drinks. Finally, we also visited Bondi Toni’s Burgers in Bondi Beach. All I can say is that it was incredibly delicious and you should definitely go.
That’s all for Sydney from our one week flying visit. I’m looking forward to getting the chance to return, to explore more at a slower pace and really get a feel for the city. While we managed to do a lot, we were on the go every day and I definitely feel you need a lot more time to see it all!