We left Byron Bay on our last Greyhound, an overnighter to Sydney. Neither of us got much sleep at all on the 13 hour journey so we were shattered when we arrived at 6.30am in Sydney Central. Fortunately, all the trains were running and it was surprisingly not busy at all. We got Opal cards (like London’s Oyster cards) to use whilst we were in the city, they are free, you just have to top up and its apparently cheaper than buying individual tickets. Though to be honest, even though we’ve left Sydney now, we genuinely haven’t a clue how the train fares work, they seemed to vary a lot, though on the whole, very reasonably priced! Anyway, it was easy jumping on the train a couple of stops to Parramatta where we would be staying for two nights. It was Dave’s 26th birthday on the 24th of June so we were a bit spendy and stayed at Meriton serviced apartments. It was definitely a good time to pick a fancy place because even though we arrived at 8am, they let us check in straight away and we went up to the 28th floor to the most beautiful apartment either of us had ever seen, yet alone STAYED in, it also had a balcony with a city scape view of Parramatta. We decided that we would have a couple of “homey” days. We just went straight to do a food shop, ready to haul up in the apartment for the next 48 hours. We bought all the bits to cook a roast chicken extravaganza as Dave’s birthday treat. This was the first time we’ve had access to an oven, so we may have got overexcited and went all out with food we could just throw in the oven; sausage rolls, baked camembert, chips etc (don’t judge us, okay?) The apartments also had a pool and steam room, so we went for a little dip there too. Overall, Dave said he had a good 26th and was happy to stay in and get to watch the Lions v New Zealand rugby in peace!
After our bubbled 2 nights, we caught the train back in to central and went back to backpacker reality and into a 6 bed dorm. We dropped our bags and went straight back out to meet my friend Flavia from university and her boyfriend, Alex. It was so great to see a friendly face! We got the train to Bondi junction where Alex and Flavia picked us up and we drove closer to the beach ready for the Bronte to Bondi beach coastal walk. We had a lovely time chatting with them both as we strolled along Sydney’s beautiful ocean backdrop. Though we only saw the spray, we technically had our first ever whale sighting! So this was our first proper impression of Sydney. How ludicrously amazing is it to get the train 15 minutes from the bustling city centre to a row of glorious beaches! What other city has that?!
The next day we did a free walking tour with the hostel around the city. The guide was very sassy and not particularly informative though it was still a nice way to get to grips with the centre. We started off by walking to the Anzac memorial situated in Hyde Park. We walked through to the large central fountain that stands in front of St.Mary’s Cathedral, the oldest in Australia. Next stop was the Botanical gardens, not too much there in terms of plant species but it does have a viewpoint which gave us our first glimpse of the Sydney Opera house and Harbour bridge. Though undoubtedly iconic, it wasn’t as impressive as we’d imagined, perhaps it was smaller than expected or we were expecting too much of what essentially is a functioning arts building. We still did our typical tourist snaps and learned a few things, like it was originally meant to take 6 years but took 16 to build and it ended up being 1,457% over budget. We stopped for lunch with the group just past circular quay and then bailed when we got to the shopping area. The tour was basically finished anyway and they were heading back so we decided to have a look around for some warmer clothes and got a couple of thermals socks from uniqlo, riveting, I know.
Our next day in Sydney took us to an area that we had not yet been, Darling Harbour and we walked through China Town to get there. We went to the Maritime museum specifically to see the Wildlife photographer of the year exhibition. It’s the exhibit that’s borrowed from the Natural History Museum in London and I’ve been three years in a row (often multiple times) because I love it so much! It was a smaller exhibit than I’d seen previously but still so inspiring and makes me excited to see even more different species over the next 7 months of our trip. In the evening, I was thrilled yet again to see another friendly face, Olivia who I met working in London and her boyfriend Jay. They literally only moved a few days before (having never been to Australia!) and had already started working, sorted a place to live, opened bank accounts etc amazing humans! It was lovely chatting to them whilst simultaneously stuffing our faces with hummus at a Lebanese restaurant.
We decided to head to the Blue Mountains for a few days before coming back to Sydney for just one night before our internal flight to Melbourne. We just had a chilled last day in Sydney having a potter around the city and meeting up with Flavia again for lunch and an afternoon chat. We absolute loved the Blue Mountains and it deserves its own post, so join us next time for our time in the Bluies!
Sophie & Dave