There is no better way to approach Sydney than by sea! It is one of the most picturesque harbors in the world. We sail pass sandy bays, harbor side suburbs, lighthouses and unspoiled bush land. Kayakers and small boats dot the water. From afar Sydney looks like any other large city but then we see the white “sails” of the Sydney Opera House. The most recognized landmark of urban Australia stands stately overlooking the harbor. Nearby we sail under another Sydney landmark, the Harbor Bridge. Built in 1932, it is still the widest long-span bridge in the world. We berth at Darling Harbour. Bagpipes and drums greet us at the dock.
We are on our own in Sydney. We disembark the ship and catch a free shuttle over to the Rocks district so named because of its rocky shoreline. It was here that Sydney was founded in January 1788 when the eleven ships of the First Fleet brought convicts, soldiers and a handful of other settlers from England to establish a remote new penal colony. The many Georgian and Victorian buildings that line the Rocks’ narrow streets reflect the early years.
It is Saturday so the Rocks Market is in full swing. On weekends, local artisans come to sell unique designs of jewelry, clothing, and handicrafts. After checking out the market, we walk along Circular Quay. This is the ferry hub of Sydney and it is bustling on a Saturday. We stop along the way to watch Aboriginal dancers display native dance performed to the music from a didgeridoo. A didgeridoo is a stick that has been hollowed out by termites. It is played by blowing in and out from one end of the stick.
Along Circular Quay East, we stroll past waterfront bars, cafes and shops. We find the menus to be very expensive but finally choose to stop for lunch at the Opera Bar. It is like being seated along a “fashion runway” as we watch men, women and children walking to the Opera House for an afternoon performance.
After lunch, we head for the Royal Botanic Gardens to view some of Australia’s beautiful flowers, shrubs and trees. This free waterfront garden provides a tranquil haven right in the heart of Sydney. We particularly enjoy the flowers on the grounds of the Government House. Next we walk down to the park’s restaurant for a refreshment stop. As we relax we suddenly hear a horrible screech. It is the “flying foxes” --- local bats that have been aroused from their sleep in the trees.
There is so much to see and do in Sydney. An extended stay must be planned in the future.