Making the Most of Sydney
Day 113 Bondi and Coogee
Bondi beach today. Well we couldn’t come all the way to Sydney and not visit this famous stretch of sand. We could go by bus but don’t fancy lugging body boards, swim wear and towels on public transport. The drive takes about half an hour but the traffic is very busy entering Bondi. Our first sighting of the beach is through a throng of people swarming along the front.
Finding parking is a nightmare. There is nowhere to park on the street as every parking meter is in use. Mark drives round and round and eventually we find a Woolworths underground car park. We are just across the street from the Bondi Pavilion and are soon on the beach, which is packed with surfers, swimmers, sunbathers and joggers.
We all express our surprise at how small the beach seems; it looks much bigger on the TV programme about the lifeguards we have seen whilst in Australia. The beach is a crescent of beautiful, golden sand; soft and fine on the feet.
We walk the length of the beach from the northern end to the Bondi Icebergs, one of Australia’s oldest swimming clubs. Although most swimmers are keeping between the red and yellow flags others are not and we see two people including a child rescued by the lifeguards. It’s not surprising as the waves are huge and very powerful.
After a couple of hours, we make our way back to the car and drive down to Coogee, which is linked to Bondi by the 6km coastal walk. Parking is free everywhere and we find a space right on the front. We are pleased to see a beach which is less busy than Bondi.
This is a great beach with lovely surf and a laid-back atmosphere. There is some seaweed at the southern end but we don’t see any in the water. We unpack our bag, lay out our towels and settle down for the rest of the day.
Mark and Marcus take the body boards and catch some waves to come back to shore on. It looks quite rough and when I join them, I am knocked clean off my feet. One of the body boards snaps in half due to the power of the waves. There is an announcement from the lifeguard station for parents to supervise their children as the waves are very strong. I watch a toddler paddle in the shallow water with his parents, he loves the water and is really enjoying the experience.
Later in the afternoon Marcus and I leave mark reading his book and walk to the northern end of the beach and the coastal walk. Children are rock pooling and others are snorkelling. As we round the headland, we find steps up the cliffs to the path towards the pretty Gordons Bay.
Walking back towards Coogee beach we arrive at a memorial in the old bath’s portico to the 88 Australian victims of the Bali bombing in 2002, 43 of whom from New South Wales. The memorial carries the names and photographs of the 20 victims from the eastern suburbs of Sydney. A little further is the Bali statue tribute to the Australian spirit of courage and endurance.
The beach front is made up of shady parklands where people are having BBQ’s and picnicking and backed by historic buildings reminding us of British seaside towns like Scarborough. Marcus and I drink milkshakes in a café looking out to sea.
Returning to the beach we join Mark and spend the rest of the afternoon sunbathing, swimming and reading. Late afternoon we pack up and drive back to Sydney.
Day 114 Walking Sydney
We wake to beautiful blue skies, a lovely day for a walk around Sydney. We set off up Harris street calling at a repairer to have the strap on my bag fixed. Coffee while we wait sat on the street watching the world go by is very pleasant.
As we near the end of Harris street we realise that we have walked in the wrong direction and need to retrace our steps. Never mind we’ve seen some of the lovely Victorian terraced houses in Pyrmont.
At the back of Darling Harbour is the Chinese Garden of Friendship which we decide to visit. This was built to Taoist principles and is an oasis of tranquillity in the middle of construction sites. We walk the route around the gardens which interweave pavilions, waterfalls, lakes, paths, rocks and lush plants. The lakes are full of large Koi fish and we also see lizards, other fish, exotic birds and insects.
As we leave the gardens, we pass through the tea room which is beautifully decorated and a display of Bonsai trees at the gates. What a pleasant way to spend an hour or so in a city. We have all enjoyed our time here.
Finding Liverpool Street, we head for Hyde Park which we passed on our way back from Bondi yesterday. This formal park has manicured gardens and large mature trees which provide shade on a hot sunny day.
Standing in front of the steps of water we admire the beautiful art-deco Anzac memorial built in 1934 to commemorate the soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who served in WWI. Last year a new Hall of Service was added to the memorial which has soil from every town in NSW and from every country where Australians have been deployed since the Boxer Rebellion. We also look around the museum which has memorabilia from different conflicts.
Upstairs the dome is studded with 120,000 stars and contains the sculpture sacrifice which are fenced off but can be viewed easily. Exiting at the other side of the memorial we see the large square body of water, the Pool of Remembrance which fronts the building.
At the northern end of the park we stop by the richly decorated art-deco Archibald Memorial Fountain and St Mary’s Cathedral. Both impressive structures worth a look at.
We continue down Macquarie Street to wards circular Quay passing many of the old historical colonial buildings including Hyde Park Barracks, The Mint, Sydney Hospital, Parliament House and the State Library.
With the Botanical Gardens to the left we follow Circular Quay East to Sydney Opera House. What a fantastic sight, the sun and blue sky make such a difference to the building. The roof is white today and stands proudly against the sky. At the other side of Sydney Cove is the Harbour Bridge and we are able to see groups walking over the arch.
The area is buzzing and the crowds are making the most of the good weather and better air quality. A carnival cruise ship is just about to leave and we watch it make a three-point turn, an impressive manoeuvre for such a large ship.
A drink in a bar and an ice cream whilst we walk round circular quay help us to cope with the crowds and the heat. Walking through the Rocks and then under Harbour bridge we are able to better appreciate this feat of engineering. Opened in 1932 and spanning the harbour at one of its narrowest points it is known affectionately as the ‘coathanger’.
The Wash Bay has nine piers which have been redeveloped to include apartments, restaurants, bars and businesses. Most of the restaurant tables on the water side are reserved for the evening sitting. At the end of this bay is the major redevelopment of a commercial port called Barangaroo. It is now a reserve on the headland with wonderful harbour views, looking towards Goat Island and Balmain East.
Walking along the shore we walk through the construction site of Barangaroo which is on the East side of Darling Harbour, these sky scrapers are going to vie for the position of the highest in Sydney. Restaurants and bars line the foreshore alongside the sea life aquarium and Madam Tussaud's. Looking inland from Darling Harbour we can appreciate just how much construction work is taking place in Sydney, cranes as far as the eye can see.
Our feet are certainly feeling the strain now and we are happy to be heading back towards Pyrmont and home. Reaching Harris Street, we are surprised to see that the Christmas tree has already been taken down. The preparations for New Year’s Eve are well and truly under way.
Day 115 Sydney Harbour
The light is that strange hue again this morning with a pink sun due to the bush fires. It is very hot but smoke is hanging in the air and preventing the sun shining through. This has been the case for weeks in Sydney and we have been lucky to see blue sky most days.
We have planned to travel by ferry to Manly today, spending some time on the harbour. As it is our last day, we are unable to postpone till later and so set off regardless. We walk to Pyrmont Bay to catch the city ferry to Circular Quay. As it is Sunday the cost is $2.50 to travel on public transport all day. This along with the fact it is the main holiday week has certainly brought out the crowds.
We are some of the first onto the ferry and bag a seat outside at the front with fabulous views. We stop to pick up and drop off at Darling Harbour, Balmain East, McMahons Point and Luna Park before passing under Sydney Bridge with the Opera House in front of us. What a spectacular advantage point, those on the boat make the most of this taking photos and selfies.
Getting off at Circular Quay we join a melee of crowds and I feel totally claustrophobic – I decide I don’t like cheap Sunday’s in Circular Quay. We make our way to the pier for the Manly Ferry and luckily this is more organised with barriers and queues.
We manage to get onto the ferry which is very large and find a seat upstairs on the inside. The journey takes about 30 minutes and is quite rough particularly as we get further towards Manly and we are glad of the protection of the inside.
What a beautiful harbour with many convoluting inlets. It is huge and offers a plethora of different views. There are small islands with houses, some historical and colonial. The coastline is dotted with sandy beaches, thick woodland and sandstone cliffs.
On arrival at Manly Cove we get off at the wharf on the harbour side of the resort. We walk to the ocean beach at the other side which is what Manly is famous for. What a lovely beach; golden sand stretches for 2 kms fringed by Norfolk Island pines. Here it appears the life guards are volunteers; every age and level of fitness seems to be represented. Surf schools are dotted along the beach and there are many enjoying learning how to surf.
We walk the whole length of the beach, Marcus paddling out and managing to be caught be quite a wave. The surf is really good here. At the Northern end of the beach is a sea water pool where people are catching what rays are managing to penetrate the sun. None of us fancy braving the murky looking water.
After an hour or so we decide to make our way back to the harbour for a look around. Setting off back down a different street we manage to get lost again. We end up way west of Manly near Spit Bridge and have to turn back (we’ve been walking in circles). A ten-minute walk ends up taking us nearly two hours, however we do manage to see some lovely country side and a colony of flying foxes. These large fruit bats are so named because they have fox like faces and red fur. They are really noisy and there are hundreds of them, it’s hard to believe that they are endangered.
The ferry ride back is rougher but the trip is worth it for the experience of being on the famous harbour. It seems every man and his dog has taken to the water, with boats large and small. We see a cable car making its way up a steep wooded hill and other ferries calling at different stops.
Once back at circular quay we are just happy to catch the next ferry to Pyrmont and make our way home. What a fabulous last day in Sydney spent on the water. Visiting Manly was worth visiting for the ferry ride alone, but the beach was splendid too.