After our Tassie adventure we drove along the Princes Highway from Melbourne to Sydney. The coastline drive includes temperate rain forests, secluded lagoons, surf beaches, world-class fishing, National Trust villages, 100- year old cheese factories, historic villages and wildlife viewing areas.
Our arrival in Sydney was breathtaking - we viewed the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House from Darling Point Road before making our way to our home for two weeks at Double Bay, known affectionately as "Double Pay", which is "a place of high fashion, beautiful people, an upmarket cafe society and grand residential homes". We've probably lowered the property values since our arrival!
On the day of our arrival the clocks in Australia fell back, signifying the autumn equinox. How odd that the clocks where all of you are sprung forward, signifying the spring equinox. Spring, Fall - depends on where you are in the world. A bit difficult to get your head (and watch) around!
Highlights of our Sydney experience:
History Buff Stuff:
It was at Sydney Cove, where the ferries run from Circular Quay (the city's transportation hub) that Australia's first European settlement was established in 1788 on a rocky spur of land.
"The Rocks" was Australia's first 'village'. Convict tents were pitched here in 1788 and the area developed into an important site with the nation's first fort, windmill, hospital and wharves. The Rocks later became a slum, and the domain of thieves, drunks and prostitutes. It was almost demolished after an outbreak of bubonic plague in 1900 and again during the development-crazy 1960s and 1970s, but thankfully much of this historic and picturesque area has been preserved and restored, including Cadman's Cottage, the oldest building in Sydney (1816) and also the oldest surviving cast iron urinal in Australia!
The Rocks forms part of the colorful promenade from the Sydney Harbor Bridge to the spectacular Sydney Opera House.
Culture Vulture, Iconic Structures and Architectural Marvels:
No other building on earth looks like Sydney Opera House with its glittering, sail-like roofs which stands at the end of Bennelong Point. Prior to its construction between 1959 and 1973, there was an unattractive tram depot on the site but the New South Wales government had the foresight to create an iconic Opera House on the already glorious harbor.
Its birth was long and complicated - many of the construction problems had not been faced before, resulting in an architectural adventure which lasted 14 years. Today it is the city's most popular tourist attraction as well as one of the world's busiest performing centers.
We did a behind the scenes tour of the Opera House and got to see some of the inner workings of this fantastic attraction. The Opera House project was fraught with technical and political problems including the resignation of the Danish architect, Joern Utzon, prior to its completion in 1966. Utzon died in 2008 and never did see the completed building. In 2008, The Sydney Opera House was designated a World Heritage Site.
We learned the 3 out of 5 people in the world recognize the Sydney Opera House - the most recognized building in the world.
We also enjoyed a concert at the Opera House during our stay. We saw an Australian singer-songwriter, LIOR, complete with an unusual shadow puppet performance in the background. We are anxious to hear more from this talented singer-songwriter (had never heard of him prior to this trip).
Since 1932, The Sydney Harbor Bridge has connected and defined the picturesque harbor city of Sydney. The Bridge is a truly awe-inspiring sight and is Sydney's most photographed landmark. At over 2,800 tons, it's the largest single-span, steel arch Bridge in the world - with its summit towering a majestic 450 feet above the Sydney Harbor. It was built by 1,400 men over 8 years, with 6 million hand driven rivets and 53,000 tons of steel, at a cost of $6.3 Million (in 1932). It is fondly known by locals as "The Coathanger".
Rebecca did the 3 1/2 hour bridge climb which was an unforgettable adventure. The first hour of the climb is spent getting into the gear and learning about the climb. The climb was not for the faint-hearted or anyone with a fear of heights. The view from the top of the span was worth the effort where the guide took the photos below. 1,437 steps later, I would recommend the climb if you are ever in Sydney.
Other Great Observation Points:
The Sydney Tower, which is the highest observation deck in the southern hemisphere, was completed in 1981. About 1 million people a year admire the stunning views from the tower. We couldn't get any great shots from the tower due to the reflection in the windows but did enjoy 360 degree views.
For those with an aversion to heights, Mrs Macquaries Chair is a carved rock seat which sits at the end of the scenic Mrs Macquaries Road in the city's Royal Botanic Gardens. The seat offers impressive panoramic views of the city and the harbor.
Best Way to Get Around:
The Travel Pass which gave us unlimited trips on Sydney Ferries and Buses. We loved traveling around the area by ferry and bus to avoid parking and traffic.
For more than a century, Sydney ferries have been a picturesque as well as a practical feature of the Sydney scene. Traveling by ferry is both a pleasure and efficient way to journey between Sydney's various harbor suburbs. We walked a block from our apartment to the ferry which took us into Circular Quay within 10 minutes.
A nocturnal visit in our third-floor, city apartment (city of 4 million people) by a possum at about 3 am on our second night in Sydney was truly frightening and surprising. Unfortunately, we left our tiny window open to get some fresh air and we were woken to the blinds moving noisily - when Trevor got up to see what it was, a possum had started to come in through the kitchen blinds. Trevor shoo-ed the animal away.
About 10 minutes later we heard the blinds on the opposite window hitting the wall and when we turned on the light the possum was on the table, frozen in fear (couldn't have been in as much fear as we were) on the desk in the living room.
Trevor kept a cool head and stared the possum down - the animal then turned around and exited the same way it got in. Needless to say we've kept the windows closed and the air conditioning on since that incident. We've been worried about the critters in the Outback but never imagined we'd have to think about it in Sydney!
Sydney's 65 miles of coastline means there are numerous beaches and harbors in the Sydney area.
Darling Harbor was the New South Wales' bicentennial gift to itself. This imaginative urban redevelopment, close to the heart of Sydney was opened in 1988, complete with the National Maritime Museum and Sydney Aquarium and lots of shopping and restaurants. We were in Sydney for the 4-day Easter break and enjoyed a local event hosted in Darling Harbor called 'Hoopla',(celebrating the harbor's 21st birthday) which consisted of outdoor entertainers, a circus, and lots and lots of people enjoying the long weekend.
Manly Beach, which is 'seven miles from Sydney, a thousand miles from care', where surfers enjoy world class surfing.
Watson's Bay which is a place to eat great seafood (if you care for that sort of thing!) and people watch.
Bondi Beach, a kilometer long beach, known for surfing, trendy seafront cafes and cosmopolitan ambiance.
Double Bay, our home away from home for two weeks.
One day we drove to the Northern Beaches which are about 25 miles from the city. The beaches there include Newport Beach and Palm Beach (we thought we were back in the US) and are surrounded by some of Sydney's most desirable residences (film-star and artist country).
We are just about to leave Sydney for a trip westwards to the Blue Mountains before making our way south west to Adelaide and further adventures - provided that we can get our car back on the road! As you can see from the following photograph, we had a slight accident when a stone chipped the windshield . Once we get that fixed we'll be on our way!
(It's a joke!!! This is actually sculpture would you believe?)
Trevor & Rebecca