A Land Down Under

Tripoto
17th Nov 2015
Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip

SYDNEY

One of the most visited cities of the world, Sydney is the largest, oldest and most cosmopolitan city of Australia. Blessed with dazzling beaches and a sunny climate, Sydney is among the most beautiful cities on the planet. The best time to visit is between December and February (that's when their summer is).

Photo of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia by Gypsea Trip

Royal Opera House - Sydney's most famous and iconic landmark. You can go inside for a tour, but we skipped this. There was a light show in the evening where they projected art and colourful patterns onto the building. We got lucky, that night there was a concert happening outside the opera house, and we got to watch Florence and the Machine perform live!

Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip

Harbour Bridge - Locals call it 'the coat-hanger'. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is the widest long-span bridge and tallest steel arch bridge in the world. You can use the pedestrian walk to go across, or if you are feeling adventurous, do the bridge climb! Warning - this is not for the faint of heart!

Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip

Royal Botanic Gardens - This is around the Opera house. We walked through the park to get there and its a nice peaceful stroll through green lawns and flowering plants.

Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip
Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip

Circular Quay - The area between the Opera house and the harbour bridge. Filled with high end restaurants, waterfront dining, a cinema, souvenir stores, gelato parlours and more. A great place to hang out and people-watch. A lot of ferries leave from this quay to go across to the islands. Pro tip: This area closes down early, all the shops shut at 5 or 6pm. Only the restaurants function late.

Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip

Watson's Bay - We took a ferry from Circular Quay to Watson's bay. It was once a small fishing village, as evidenced by the tiny heritage cottages that still exist.

Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip

The Watson's walking trail takes you past cannons and a rifle wall, you get some nice views of the city from here. The trail goes up to the picturesque South Head lookout, where we found the Hornby lighthouse.

Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip
Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip

The Rocks - This is a historic area behind Circular Quay, with a lot of pubs, boutique stores and art galleries. We came across a little market where you could buy souvenirs, jewellery, handicrafts from the stalls. It's an excellent place to pick up gifts.

Bondi beach - Sydney's most famous beach. We spent a few hours on the crowded sands, there were people swimming and surfing in the sea even though the water was freezing cold in November!

Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip
Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip

One thing you must do is the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk. It is 6km long with a lot of steps, but the views are magnificent. We didn't make it all the way till Coogee, but I liked Tamarama beach that had some cool cave formations.

Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip
Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip

Taronga Zoo - A great day out for the kids. From the Circular Quay, catch a ferry to Taronga Zoo. The zoo is built on top of a sloping hill, so most people start at the top and work their way down. You can take a cable car up to the top. Its a very well-laid out zoo with 350 species, and besides the usual suspects, you can get up close and personal with some of Australia's indigenous species - they have kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, and a tasmanian devil.

Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip
Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip
Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip
Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip

A wallaby is a cousin of the kangaroo, but smaller. You are allowed inside the enclosure with the kangaroos and wallabies, so there is no fence or glass or anything between you and them. They also have a great aquarium with acrobatic penguins, seals, and sea lions.

Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip
Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip

Last but not least, Taronga zoo has the best views of the city skyline.

Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip
Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip

Barangaroo reserve - We walked a lot when we were in Sydney. Another great walk is through the Barangaroo reserve. It is a 6-hectare waterfront park with a large man-made hill right in the middle. You can cycle or walk down the pedestrian route, there are parks along the way. It ends at Darling harbour. Pro tip: The only downside was, there were a lot of flies buzzing around, very annoying during our walk. Not sure if it was a seasonal thing.

Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip

Centennial Park - One of the green expanses in Sydney. We went here to watch the Red Bull Billy Cart Race. It was quite hilarious watching people roll down a hill in crazy contraptions and costumes. There are quite a lot of events that happen in the parks in the summer months, so do keep a look out in the local news and websites.

Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip

Stay - We stayed at Sydney Boulevard hotel at Woolloomooloo, which was a 15-20 minute walk to the Opera house. It had a convenience store just outside, which was good to pick up water and other essentials. There were a lot of restaurants in the same block as well.

CAIRNS

Australia is famous for the world's largest coral reef system - The Great Barrier Reef. It is the largest living thing on Earth, and even visible from outer space. 2300 km long, it is home to countless species of fish, corals, and creatures of the sea. One of the things on my bucket list was to scuba dive this natural wonder.

aerial view

Photo of Cairns City, Queensland, Australia by Gypsea Trip

Cairns is one of the cities from which you can visit the reef. I loved Cairns. The laid-back atmosphere, holiday vibe, all the shops were open till 11 or 12 midnight, and the centre is pretty small and walkable. Most of the bars and restaurants are clustered around the esplanade, where all the action is.

Scuba diving - We went on the Silverswift boat ( www.cairnsdiveadventures.com.au). They have a huge double decker catamaran that goes to the outer reef on day trips. I did 4 dives over 2 days. This was something I had been waiting a decade to do, but to be honest, the diving wasn't as good as other places I have been. There were not as many fish, and I didn't see anything special other than the usual suspects. I was hoping for a turtle, but nothing came along. Maybe it was just bad luck. Also, the coral reefs are bleaching and dying due to global warming and maybe this is the reason for less marine life. I recently watched the documentary Chasing Coral and it was quite devastating for someone who loves the ocean. You can watch it on Netflix here.

another tick on the bucket list

Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip

Lagoon on Esplanade - The esplanade is a walkway along the shore. There is a public saltwater swimming pool called the lagoon which has a sandy floor (how cool is that?!) Around it there are free barbeque tables scattered around in the park. Just bring your meat and fire it up!

Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip

Trinity beach - There is no beach in Cairns city centre. 20 minutes away, this northern beach is a beautiful place to spend the day.

Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip

Night market - This is on every night. A good place to buy clothes, boomerangs, souvenirs, kangaroo toys, fast food. You can be sure to find something amongst the colourful eclectic stalls.

Photo of A Land Down Under by Gypsea Trip

Stay - We stayed in two places: Doubletree Hilton Cairns, and Shangri-la Marina Cairns. The Shangri-la is closer to the pier, where all the boats leave. Doubletree is a 10 minute walk away from the centre, but we enjoyed the long walks along the esplanade.

That's the roundup of our trip to Sydney and Cairns! G'day mate!

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