I’m back from my trip to Australia and New Zealand and I’m already mentally planning my next trip to this beautiful part of the world. Sometimes after 2 weeks of traveling I start to yearn for ‘home,’ wherever that may be at the moment. But at the end of my 5 weeks on the road, I felt like I was just getting started. I could spend months traveling in New Zealand.
However, this story begins in Sydney.
Flying into Sydney Harbour is incredible. There are tons of coves and havens dotted white with boats and the water pulses with activity. And looking just outside the harbour you see the great expanse of the deep blue sea extending to the horizon.
I checked into my hostel, the Sydney Harbour YHA at The Rocks. The location is perfect-it’s close to Circular Quay, the Opera House, and the Harbour Bridge. Truly a tourist’s paradise! First stop on my itinerary: Sydney Opera House! It was SO hot, and several steps under the Australian sun already left me drenched in sweat. I was quite thankful to walk into the cool shade of the opera house. Fun fact: the opera house stairs are based on ziggurats. The entire Sydney Opera House is raised “above it all” and the stairs are supposed to evoke the feeling of rising above everyday life and entering the world of art (or in the case of ziggurats, the spiritual world). Strangely enough, the opera house was not well designed to show operas! It is currently undergoing renovations to become more opera-friendly. After the opera house tour, I walked to Mrs Macquaries Point for great views of both the opera house and the harbour bridge.
On my second day, I went for a little coastal walk from Bondi beach (pronounced BOND-eye) to Coogee beach. Tbh, I didn’t really think Bondi was that special. It’s kind of cool that there’s an ocean beach so close to the city, but I’m definitely a mountain girl rather than a beach girl.
In the evening, I met Jal. I met Jal and Andrew on a dive boat in Hawaii and Jal sent me a huge email on places to visit in AUS and NZ. She also invited me on a nature tour of the park for which she works. I met her and Tully (her German Shepherd) at St. Peter’s station and she drove us to Centennial Park. There’s a HUGE, lovely dog park right next to the Federation Pavilion, the place where Australia was officially united into a country. On our walk, we saw:
- Ibis, which are called “bin chickens” because they dig through garbage and get all up in the trash.
- Pukekos, which are NZ birds with really long toes. Their long toes help them distribute their weight enabling them to stand on lily pads. Australians sometimes call them lily trotters.
- These weird spiders (forgot their name) that can flatten themselves out to the thickness of a piece of paper!
- Lots of bats! Mama bats will leave their baby bats in trees at night to feed. When they come back, they find their own baby based on their baby’s call and smell.
- Paper bark trees, which have a distinct, fragrant smell. Crushed leaves act as a natural insect repellant.
After the tour, we met Andrew at Cow and the Moon for some gelato. So GOOD. Got their signature flavor, affogato (like a fancy coffee), and hokey pokey, which is a popular flavor from NZ that is vanilla based with honeycomb pieces.
The following day, Jal, Andrew, and I were supposed to take surf lessons at Manly beach, but they were cancelled due to a cyclone off the coast. Surf was supposed to be around 12-15 ft, which is great for surfing, but not for beginners. We went to Manly anyway and got breakfast. Tried halloumi, which is basically fried cheese. New favorite food?? Since the surf lessons were cancelled, we rented kayaks and kayaked in Sydney Harbour. Checked out the Art Gallery of NSW and I loved the painting “Milford Sound” by Eugene von Guérard. So peaceful 🙂 In the afternoon, I walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and enjoyed lovely views of the harbour and iconic opera house.
By my fourth day in Sydney, I was definitely ready to get out of the city. I took a ferry over to Watson’s Bay and did a little walk from the dock to the Gap. Saw Hornby Lighthouse, which is the 2nd oldest lighthouse in Sydney. From Circular Quay, I walked to Darling Harbour, which I was not a fan of. It’s kind of like the trashy, party sibling of hardworking, classy Sydney Harbour. Also tried Gelato Messina near Darling Harbour and GUESS WHAT!? I found an ice cream flavor that I DIDN’T LIKE. The macadamia nut was superb but the chocolate tiramisu turned out to be disgusting with a weird aftertaste. Back at the hostel, I did laundry and got ready to leave for my next destination! (Coming in the next post…)
Some other thoughts:
- AUSTRALIA’S MANGOES. These little pieces of edible gold are THE CATS PAJAMAS. I used to love FL’s mangoes before I tried Taiwan’s mangoes. Now I realize that all the previous mangoes I’ve eaten are nothing compared to Australia’s mangoes! So juicy, sweet, and mangoey.
- Peanut butter (or almond butter) is my life blood. A breakfast, lunch, and dinner staple
while backpackingfor life.
- Sydney is expensive! Like Switzerland expensive!
- Near the end of my stay in Sydney, I definitely felt tired of the city. I felt like a meaningless body floating around the city (an aimless jellyfish), and I missed having a purpose. I kind of missed having (dare I say) work, or at least something meaningful to do. That being said, I only felt this way in Sydney. While exploring all the Nature places, I never got that feeling.