Follow along with our very own Wendy as she explores Australia and packs as much adventure as she can into her time down under!
Down Under, here we come! We (Wendy, Steve, and Skylar) departed LAX at 10:30pm on June 12th, and enjoyed the friendly Kiwi service aboard Air New Zealand to Auckland (approx. 12 hours) followed by a connection to Sydney (approx. 3.5 hours). I personally enjoyed watching the movie Australia on board the plane, since it featured Darwin in the 1930s, and we’ll be there in just a matter of days. Got me in the mood for some Aussie accents and stunning scenery!
Determined to make the absolute most of our time here, we hit the ground running. We were met on arrival by a friendly driver with Royale Limousines, who transferred us to our hotel, the Travelodge Wynyard. Great location, walking distance to many of the major sites! We have a large apartment style room, with a Queen bed, a rollaway, and a small kitchen area…perfect for 3 of us.
After freshening up, we headed to Circular Quay on foot. Within 15 minutes, we were on board the Sydney Explorer hop-on/hop-off double decker bus. Of course we sat up top for the best views and fresh/chilly air (it is winter, after all!). We connected out to Bondi Beach, and had Skylar join Let’s Go Surfing for a 1-hour private surf session. They have a great office location at the north end
of beautiful Bondi Beach, and Sky was standing up within about 30 minutes. Great instruction by Shannon, friendly service, and a fun time at the beach!
We had heard about Harry’s Café de Wheels through Anthony Bourdain, and had to try their meat pies “Tiger” style, topped with mashed potatoes, mushy peas, and gravy. Hit the spot!
Back on the Sydney Explorer bus (bundled up for the top deck, of course), for a sunset/night drive back to central Sydney. What a fantastic first day in Sydney! Tomorrow…Blue Mountains…can’t wait!
Early morning, up and at ‘em! We had planned to go our and grab a quick coffee shop / café breakfast, but quickly learned that Sydney likes to sleep in on Sundays. I hate to even admit that we ended up at a McCafe, but what are you going to do? The ham & cheese croissant actually turned out to be a good start to our day.
We met our driver from AEA Luxury, Scott, at the lobby of our hotel at 7:15am and boarded our comfy van that would be our home for the day. On board was a mother/son pair from Alabama, who were at the end of their trip, after visiting their daughter/sister, who is studying abroad on the Gold Coast. We made one more stop at the InterContinental to pick up a mother with her twin daughters, one of whom was studying abroad in Sydney and at the end of her term…poor thing, I’m not sure she was ready to leave Australia!
The Blue Mountains experience was really enjoyable. Although there is a lot of time in the vehicle, it’s very comfortable, and we made a number of stops that were well spaced out, and gave us plenty of time out in nature.
Our first stop was Featherdale Wildlife Park…a MUST, in my opinion! They have several animal enclosures throughout the park, but there are also wallabies and kangaroos wandering freely about, so you can get up close and personal! And of course the koala encounter is always a hit. In this part of Australia, you can take photos with the koalas and pet them, but not actually hold them like you can in the state of Queensland. The number of animals and birds in this small park was fantastic…well worth a visit.
From there, we made several stops to see the majestic, sweeping views from lookout points; walk to a waterfall, and enjoy a nice lunch at a golf club. The afternoon highlights were champagne and OJ at a rocky point, followed by a stop at a botanical garden. We were back in the city by 5:00pm, and bade farewell to our companions for the day.
Back on our own, we walked over to Darling Harbour for some exploration and dinner. Darling Harbour is a lively waterfront area with a number of day cruise boats, Madame Tussaud’s, an IMAX theatre, Sealife Aquarium, Wildlife Sydney, etc. A bit touristy, but still worth the visit.
All tuckered out from our big day out of the city. Tomorrow will be a busy one, starting with the Sydney Opera House, bike tour, and Bridge Climb. Making the most out of our time here, that’s for sure! Stay tuned…
Today was packed full! We did more than I would normally recommend for travelers in one day…starting with the first Sydney Opera House tour at 9:00am. What a fantastic hour of information and insight. Our guide, Steve, was our perfect ambassador as he guided us through the various theatres, and gave us the full history of how the Opera House came to be as it is today.
We then raced over to the Bonza Bike center in the Rocks area for our 10:30am Classic Sydney 4-hour tour. Our guide was Matt, a Sydney-sider bike tour guide / actor with a vast knowledge of Sydney factoids and recommendations. This tour is a great way to explore a large area of the city (17km in todal)…including the Rocks area, out to Dawes Point, Sydney Observatory, part of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Darling Harbour, Chinatown, Hyde Park, the Botanic Gardens, the Opera House, and Circular Quay…with a stop at the Lord Nelson Pub partway through (for an optional bite to eat and a beverage). It certainly didn’t hurt that it was a stunningly beautiful day!
We stopped at the Renaissance Patisserie, just around the corner from the Bonza Bike office, for a cappuccino and almond croissant that just melted in our mouths.
Next stop…the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb. We joined the first night tour of the day, which commenced at 3:55pm. After some prep time to get into the jumpsuit and don the gear, we joined our guide for nearly 3 hours on the bridge. The views are absolutely spectacular! We lucked out with a clear, crisp winter day, so we could see as far out as the Blue Mountains. But…it was windy as heck (or “blowy” in Aussie-speak), and pretty darn chilly. Of course we were prepared with fleece jackets and beanies, supplied by the Bridge Climb staff.
We finished up our climb at about 7:30pm, and were ready for a warm and cozy spot for dinner, so we chose The Australian, a pub-style restaurant and hotel. We put on our brave pants, and got a 2-sided pizza:
Side one: Pepper Kangaroo (marinated in native pepper with roasted capsicum & cranberries)
Side two: Saltwater Crocodile (marinated in spicy coconut cream & fresh Thai herbs with spinach)
We were really impressed…the two types of pizza were very different, but both incredibly delicious! Pair that with an Aussie brew and a local Shiraz, and it was pretty much a perfect meal. Skylar went for the not-so-exotic Caesar Salad, but sampled a bit of kangaroo, which she said tasted like pizza. Huh!
Needless to say, we are exhausted from our very full day of walking and biking, and ready to get some shut-eye. Tomorrow we head to Darwin to start our Northern Territory adventure.
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