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We wondered, what is the magic of Sydney? Now we know … It’s not just about the city itself, the iconic buildings and the cool, hip atmosphere. It is also about those beautiful beaches nearby, about Sydney Harbour where your take boat for half an hour and end up in a completely different world, about some of the most legendary (surf) beaches in the world and so much more!
Our house and car
After all that camping and, let’s face it, many bad nights it’s a relief to stay in Sydney in an Airbnb. We have two rooms with everything we need in a beautiful house in the beautiful neighbourhood of Summerhill. We can just imagine what it must be like to live here. The district is entirely in Sydney, but also feels a bit like a small village surrounded by the big city. It reminds us of Notting Hill in London. But we can immediately stop dreaming, prices are excessive here! Oh well, the Airbnb is just within budget. Though it is a lot more expensive than budgeted, it feels good to have a bed, not waking up in the wind and rain, and to work and teach without any hassle. By train, we are in downtown Sydney within 30-40 minutes!
Bye bye Cody
Meanwhile, we put the car on sale. We still have a few weeks left in Australia, but only have to go from Sydney to Brisbane. In Brisbane, we are 2.5 weeks in a house so we don’t need a car there. We just wanted to be sure we would have time enough to sell him, so don’t want to take any risks. And guess what, after one day and after meeting the first potential buyer, we already sold it! We drove him together with the buyer to a mechanic nearby, who proved him totally OK. What a relief and thank you again, Patrick! After the car troubles and the extra cost of registration, we are delighted that we recover a lot of money. Which resulted in travelling relatively cheap these last weeks here in Australia in terms of transport.
But anyway, we are here to visit Sydney! So we start a walk we found in the Lonely Planet, that brings us from one city district to the other. We enjoy a delicious lunch in the central park of Sydney, but then the weather changes and it starts to rain very hard!
Because of the bad weather, we decide to walk around in some of the most famous shopping streets. As it turns out, those are an attraction in themselves. We explore the Queen Victoria Building, a beautiful Victorian building, beautifully decorated on the inside. And it’s almost Christmas, so huge Christmas trees and lights everywhere! Being so far away from home, Mom is excited to see all these Christmas decorations. Dad can do nothing else then undergo… Even the shopping windows are works of art in themselves!
The Harbour Bridge and the Opera House
The next day the weather is better and we go on with the rest of the walk. We leave the train at Circular Quay this time and walk toward the Harbour Bridge! What a beautiful piece of architecture and we are so happy to see it because it’s such an icon. When we tell the kids that within 3 weeks, on New Year’s Eve, they will launch one of the most famous fireworks in the world from this bridge, it all becomes even more interesting. Especially since we see preparations for NYE going on everywhere.
After some beautiful warehouses, we pass the oldest pub in the city. It is really worth it to go inside! Just a pity that any consumption is so expensive here in Australia. We do have a drink and some chips for the girls however while enjoying the great pub! After that, we continue our walk through small streets and along beautiful old buildings until we reach a lovely small Christmas craft market. And then finally, we head over to the Opera House, another iconic landmark of Australia. It feels special to walk around here, although it would have been nice to catch a performance inside.
We walk past the Botanic Gardens, and then, there it is! The view of Sydney! The opera house with the bridge in the background! After a small photoshoot (Mom sees pictures everywhere, the kids and Daddy however are starting to get hungry 😅) we head back to our house. Those little feet got very tired after this long walk but it was totally worth it!
During our walks through the city, we came rather by coincidence past the Australian Museum. There was a large banner hanging outside of a whales exposition, so the kids were immediately intrigued. fortunately, we were just too late to see them in real life here in Australia but they still like to know everything about them. Especially Yuna who tries to find out where they occur, what they do … And as it was still raining, let’s go to the museum then!
En we moeten zeggen, we zijn superblij dat we dat gedaan hebben! Wat een prachtig museum! De walvissententoonstelling was heel interessant, maar niet het enige waarvoor je moet komen. Er zijn gigantische hallen met dieren van over heel de wereld, stukken over de Aboriginals en ook een hele ontdekkingshoek voor kinderen. Het walhalla voor Yuna en Hanne dus! Ze mochten alles aanraken, onderzoeken, onder de microscoop leggen, lades opendoen, … Een leuke namiddag uit en een echte aanrader, dit museum!!
And we have to admit, we are very glad we paid the museum a visit! What a beautiful place! The whale exhibit was very interesting, but not the only thing you should come for. There are huge halls with animals from around the world, all kinds of artefacts from the Aboriginals and also a discovery corner for children. The mecca for Yuna and Hanne! They were allowed to touch anything, investigate, put things under a microscope, open drawers, … A fun afternoon out and we highly recommend this museum !!
The nice thing about Sydney is that it is not just a city. It is situated next to the sea, in a protected inlet (the harbour). So you can take a ferry to explore all the different beaches, islands, … One of these beaches is Manly beach! We take the boat and sail past the Opera House. The trip to Manly Beach, through Sydney Harbour, is already a highlight on its own. After 45 minutes we arrive at Manly.
We notice immediately when we arrive it’s a popular place. There are many tourists, boutiques, souvenirs and especially a lot of surfers! We do like that Australian surfer’s vibe! But the weather is not on our side. We get some showers over us, true cloudbursts! At some point, it is pouring rain and the sun shines at the same time!
As a result, we have to shorten our visit a bit, because the girls get a little wet and cold. But we are here long enough to appreciate the nice atmosphere of this place!
On our way back with the ferry, we are treated with some more rain. But it stops just in time to get a nice view and picture of the opera house and the bridge by nightfall. What a fantastic place, we love Sydney!
Discovering Bondi Beach
On our last day, we want to visit another icon of Sydney, Bondi Beach! Known for surfing and the rich and famous that like to hang out here. We want to walk from Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach, a walk during which we will encounter different rockpools, something we would love to see. Rockpools are typical for this area, as sharks and jellyfish are frequent visitors and the sea is rough with high waves. Ideal for surfers, but not for swimmers. That’s why they built rock pools at different places. Pools next to the sea, some even formed by natural rocks. A beautiful sight, especially from the air with our drone!
Our trip from our house to Bondi Beach is a bit of a setback. We must change from a train to the bus and stand there for 45 minutes in the waiting in line! According to bystanders, including one lady who lives at Bondi Beach for almost 20 years now, this was very unusual. Probably just bad luck.
Anyway, we finally get to Bondi and the view is immediately fantastic!! Because time has learnt we better eat before starting a walk 😉, we go to one of the many fast food restaurants on the dyke. By the time we come out and want to start the walk, there is a strange smog hanging over the sea. We go up the hill to Iceberg pool, one of the most famous rock pools, and enjoy the magnificent view of Bondi Beach and the surfers in the sea!
Walk from Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach
But when we want to continue our walk, the smog has formed a thick fog layer. What a pity, especially since the views of the beautiful beaches and cliffs are one of the main reasons to do this walk.
We continue our walk anyway and reach Bronte Beach. And we are lucky after all, by the time we are there, the fog begins to disappear. We have missed some views, but we can continue to enjoy the rest of our trip! At Bronte Beach, there is also a rock pool, and we decide to go for a swim. What we had not counted on was that the water was freezing!! But still, we all took a dip! Even sitting on the edge of the pool with the waves crashing on the rocks behind us and the water flipping over the edge of the pool sometimes, is absolutely worth it!
After the last bit of hiking, we arrive tired but happy at Coogee Beach. Jurgen takes some drone footage of the rock pool there (really calm water between large rocks), while the children play on the beach. They’ve earned some play time after a long walk!
Luckily, the way back is a lot smoother and after a long day, we come home. The next day we leave Sydney for Brisbane, where we are going to have our first house sitting experience! But more about that in our next diary!