I wrote a little piece about my trip to Sydney for a travel blog. Here it is.
Sydney and the surround areas within New South Wales offers what almost feels like an overload of beauty- if such a concept could be real. What I found on my recent, and first trip, to Australia’s largest city was not just spectacular beaches and a lively and vibrate urban scene, but, surprisingly, a journey packed full of adventure at a very low cost. In a place where breakfast can cost upwards of $18 for eggs and toast alone, and the expense of traveling halfway across the world already making your pocketbook feel lighter than usual, I was thrilled to find that Sydney can be enjoyed for little more than the cost of a rental car, if you are willing to forgo expensive restaurant dining for cheaper eating options and are up for beach hopping and nature walks in the great outdoors.
Sydney at first glance
Sydney is a bustling city that reminded me at first of L.A.- fast, lively, and full of tourist and local enjoying the abundance of busy restaurants and culture attractions. I started by visit off in the Newtown neighborhood, visiting Young Henry’s Brewery. After enjoy a few rounds of locally crafted brews, my host insisted that I couldn’t miss seeing the Sydney Harbor and the Opera House, and our preferred method of inexpensively getting to our destination- walking through town.
Our stroll through Sydney took us through open parks and green spaces full of happy couples and groups of school children, all excitedly enjoying their break for the summer holiday. Monuments were brightly lit, like the Sydney Towner, or the Anzac War Memorial in Hyde Park, or the Cenotaph, highlighting the countries rich history, heritage, and architectural feats, as well as the bustling cultural art scene. My favorite attraction - Sydney’s longest moving walkway, the Travelator, located at the Domain Car Park. Even if you are not traveling by car and using the car park, it is worth every penny (free!) to ride on the walkway to see the mural that covers the 2 km of wall space, all underground.
The Sydney Opera House is more spectacular that I could have ever imagined, especially at night. The entire building glowed over the harbor as Opera attendants poured out into the evening, spilling into the many restaurants and bars that line the water. Even without having plans to go inside to see a performance, it is well worth the walk around the harbor to view the ships passing by the Sydney Harbor Bridge and to see the panoramic view of the harbor.
Getting out of town
The next day led us out of the city, with a quick detour right off the highway to see Sublime Point Lookout, which offers a gorgeous view of the Pacific Ocean. Before we reached our destination, 45 minutes outside of Sydney, a stop at a grocery store to purchase food for a picnic was easy on my wallet, and made for the perfect addition to an afternoon of hiking to Jump Rock Swimming Hole at the bottom of Macquarie Pass. The trail starts right where the car park is, and leads you through the woods to a beautiful waterfall, which offers small pools for wading, and then jumping off points for thrill seekers who want a little more of a challenge.
On our way back into the city, we stopped to visit Lawrence Hardgrave Memorial Park for a spectacular view of the coast and Sea Cliff Bridge, a stunning roadway along Pacific Grand Drive. If the view of the bridge isn’t enough, continue on the highway and park and walk (or bike) the Sea Bridge yourself to get closer view of the ocean.
Beautiful Beaches around each corner
Our next day in Sydney took us to local beaches, which were plentiful- more than one can visit in a day. Gordon’s Bay is lined with aluminum boats; the skeleton of the boat docks right on the beach exposed in the hot sun make for a rustic, classic feel for this popular spot. The choppy water meant that most visitors stayed on the rocks to sunbath, but that didn’t keep the beach from being a crowded.
Our next stop, Bondi Beach, offered a wider beachfront, calmer waves, and a more traditional boardwalk, where we ordered fish and chips from a food stand – an inexpensive way to have a meal among friends. After purchasing our lunch, we took a seat in the park, and spread out our grease-stained wrappers and dumped our fried feast onto the paper and happily ate while overlooking hundreds of beach umbrellas lining the sand.
Our final stop took us to the most magnificent swimming option of my trip – the Mahon Pool in Jack Vanny Memorial Park. Steps lead into the pool, cutting into the sides of natural rocks, which then create an enclosure that makes it safer for swimmers to wade in the water away from the crashing waves of the ocean, which sometimes swell to an alarming size. Mahon Pool was family friendly in all ways, from the pool, to the easy access to the water, to the fact that it cost nothing to visit. From the free admission, free parking, and the freedom of summertime, Sydney is a great place to vacation.