From Nepal we decided to head down to the southern hemisphere to see Australia in full spring bloom. While we knew Australia is a big country, we still had ambitions to drive through a good part of it to see the highlights that we had always heard about. Luckily, during our tour in India and Nepal all four individuals in our group were either Australian, or at least lived there for many years (talk about good timing!). They slowly talked us out of this idea as it would take days to cross some parts of the country, and often this would be with little to no signs of civilization for many miles in any direction. They also had fun telling us about many of the cases where people have gone missing in the outback, as well as many of the venomous animals that we could expect to see which really sealed the deal. In the end we opted to spend around a week in each of the following locations (Sydney Region, the Outback, and Cairns Region) and fly between each to save time.
This post is dedicated to our first week in the Sydney region of Australia. We really enjoyed our time here and seeing all it had to offer.
The week we spent in the Sydney region gave us ample time to visit the city itself as well as the surrounding areas. After a few days in the city, we decided to rent a car and visit some of the surrounding areas. Sydney offers a number of great day trips, and we did not want to miss out.
- Strolling Around Sydney Harbor – We spent the better part of a day just walking around Sydney Harbor, and exploring a bit of downtown. We walked one of the more famous walkways which hugs the harbor front for a great distance, and provides absolutely incredible views of the downtown, the Sydney Opera House, the bridge, and so much more. We had perfect weather during our walk, so naturally joggers and cyclers were out in droves. As the walkway neared the towering downtown, all manner of restaurants with amazing waterfront views began to spring up. We finished our day having a bite to eat and watching the sun go down on the bustling city.
- Sydney Opera House – This is easily the most iconic building in the city, and it did not disappoint. We stopped in for a visit, but did not see any events scheduled during our stay that caught our fancy enough to buy tickets. The building sits prominently on a peninsula in the middle of the Sydney harbor which allows it to be seen from many vantage points all over the city. We must have snapped over 1,000 photos of this building from all the various angles during our stay.
- Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb – There is a climb that is available to those who want to adventure up to the ‘summit’ of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. While we were trying to determine if we wanted to do this very climb, we decided to walk across the bridge and stumbled upon the Pylon Lookout which provides visitors with an overview of the bridges construction and an amazing view of the harbor from one of the bridges 4 major pylons. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and loved the views of the city!
- Hostels – We landed late at night and went straight to the first hostel that we booked in the middle of the city. While we loved this hostel and many of the subsequent hostels that we stayed in over the next few weeks, we did notice that they were like something out of a movie and more stereotypical than most others we had stayed at. This was due to the number of people that were always ‘hanging out’, the ferociousness at which any free food was devoured, and the party that seemed to take place each and every night. After a while we determined that this seems to be due to the high number of people that come to Australia to work work for the high minimum wage offered, and stay in these low cost housing options on a long term basis. This atmosphere was definitely a bit of a shock to us at first, but with such friendly people it became a fun part of the overall culture in the country.
- Love of the Outdoors – From the very first day we noticed the Australian’s love for the outdoors and everything fitness. Even though it was rather cold when we arrived many people were swimming in outdoor pools, running through the park, and playing soccer even at 2:00 PM in the afternoon on a work day. We had always heard about the work culture in Australia, but it was interesting to see first hand.
- Royal National Park – Royal National Park is only a short drive from the city and offers an array of different options. There were too many choices to pack into the one day that we allotted, but we were able to complete a number of scenic hikes. During our day trip we visited multiple picturesque beaches and cliff lined coasts. We also saw 2,000 year old Aborigine Engravings and watched a family of whales frolic off the coast line. Andy also believes that he spotted a wild porcupine. This happened to occur while we were whale watching, so while everyone else was looking out at the ocean, Andy was the only one crawling through the bushes on the other side of the path…
- Blue Mountains – Next we headed west to see the Blue Mountains. These mountains were truly majestic; however, after just seeing the Himalayan mountains, we realized that the Nepali people would probably call these hills. We really enjoyed our time and did a number of hikes around this area which included a number of epic cliff walks, visits to waterfalls, and also several well known rock formations such as “The Three Sisters”. The Blue Mountains were aptly named as in the morning the entire valley had a blue hue as we looked across it.
- Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach Walk – We returned back to the city, but opted to stay at the beach for the last couple of days. Here we did another famous walk that starts in Bondi Beach and finishes in Coogee Beach. The walk is right along the coast line, and is truly spectacular throughout.
While we wish that we had more time to spend in this region, we were really excited about our next flight to where we would start our adventure in the outback!