Friday, May 11, 2007

Australia - Sydney


After the Blue Mountains I was ready for the city again so headed back on the train from Katoomba to Sydney central on Friday. My plan was to stay there until Wednesday and then catch a flight up the coast to Ballina. Luckily I knew a few people in Sydney and between meeting up with them and seeing the city I knew the time would fly in...

Firstly I headed out to the southern suburbs and met up with Barbara (FYI - the sister of my brothers' girlfriend). We met some of her friends and went on a boozy night out in Coogee. That was really great as I needed a bit of party atmosphere. The next day wasn't too constructive but Barbara kindly drove me into the city so I didn't have to deal with public transport. I checked into the YHA and dumped my bags. Then it was off down to Circular Quay and the Opera House to watch the sun go down. No better place to do this than in the Opera Bar, an obvious tourist trap that just had to be visited! There I had arranged to meet Steve and Liz whom I hiked the Inca trail with in Peru at the start of March (see older posts). In the meantime they had made it back to Sydney, so it was an excellent opportunity to meet up again. They explained a lot about the city, gave me tips on what to see in my time here, which was a great help. We went out and had a meal in Chinatown and then a beer in a dodgy Irish bar called Scruffy Murphy's. The next day I also managed to meet up with Juliana, a Brazilian girl living in Sydney, and who I knew from my time in Sao Paulo 2 years ago. So it was amazing to meet up with people that I knew from before. Thanks to all of you for making my time in Sydney so enjoyable, it was great to see you again.

The next few days were spent walking around the city and exploring and area called The Rocks, where the first British colony was set up in 1788. My self designed walking tour took me across the Harbour Bridge, around the Opera House, through the Botanical Gardens into the Central Business District and up to Kings Cross, which is fairly seedy but is worth a walk around. Another day was used to take the ferry out to Watson's Bay for outstanding views of the city skyline and all around the harbour. Apparently the best fish and chips as well. I took a walk around the headland to the lighthouse and back in the scorching sun. It had been unusually hot in the Sydney area for this time of year. Another trip took me out to Coogee again and I walked along the coast to Bondi beach, a beautiful coastal walk of 1.5 hours.

Harbour Bridge Climb

Apart from meeting everyone, the highlight of my trip to Sydney was climbing up an over the harbour bridge. This tourist attraction is expensive but very well organised and guaranteed to thrill. A guide takes a group up through the vast steel construction to the top and down the other side, providing informative radio commentary. In total there are 1439 steps to climb and some parts are quite airy so there is a good amount of adrenalin pumping. I decided to start the climb at dusk in order to be there when it got dark and the city lights went on. The tour itself takes around 3.5 hours from start to finish. When we arrived at the top the views of the city and the Opera House were just fantastic. Strangely enough, the height of the top of the bridge from the water is 134m, exactly the same height of the Bungy jump in Queenstown. Looking down, I was glad no one had a bungy cord set up there ;)