A long-overdue first trip to Sydney

Somehow I managed to make it to 30 without ever seeing Sydney. For an Australian who travels a lot, this is pretty rare and not a little embarrassing when you have to admit to new friends overseas you’ve never seen the one city they know in Australia. Like so many Brisbane-ites I have always preferred Melbourne for my inter-state sojourns.  However, the time had come when I decided I wanted to see our harbour city and so for my recent birthday, my husband booked us a long weekend in our nations’ most well-known city.

Self with Sydney Opera House on a perfect day.

Typically, when I am going on holiday I do a lot of research. I like to know where I’m going, what to do when I get there, insider tips and the best places to eat and drink; information I gleam from guides, blogs and local inhabitants wherever possible. After all, locals always know the best places to go.

Unfortunately, in the two weeks prior to the trip I began a new job and moved house and researching what to do in Sydney completely fell by the way. I did however get some excellent tips from a couple of friends and with the maps provided in the mini-guide that was part of my birthday present, I had enough time in the 1.5 hour flight from BNE-> SYD to plan a couple of days.

My first sighting of Sydney harbour and it’s landmarks was rather underwhelming. It had been raining all day and the evening was overcast and blustery, so our first ferry ride to our hotel did not show Sydney off to its best advantage. Lucky for me, the rest of the weekend brought sunshine and blue skies that showed off the beauty of the harbour at its best.

Sydney Harbour from Circular Quay, looking its best in the bright sunshine.

The place we stayed was a strange place in a great location. Fellow residents included backpackers young and old, hen’s night parties and couples with cars wanting to stop inner-city on their way down the coast. The appeal for everyone was the reasonable price for a clean bed near the centre of the city. Not an easy thing to find in Sydney. The motel was squeezed a converted house, split into more bedrooms than it could reasonably fit. our room was tiny and next to the kitchen, which was not pleasant, but worse, or funnier, depending on how you look at it, our room key opened every door in the motel – front door, back door, the room across the hall. It was…worrying.

With only a few hours to enjoy Sydney after we landed close to 6pm local time on Friday night, we hit the town. Dinner was at the Nippon Club – a strange hybrid between an RSL and international clubs one finds all over Australia, with their old carpet, slightly dingy if loved surroundings but cheap and tasty food. After that, we headed out just for a few start-of-holiday drinks. Home by midnight to be fresh for our one full-day of Sydney fun.


Saturday was a perfect day – bright sunny, warm without baking your skin. The perfect day to see the beautiful side of Sydney and to change my opinion about the harbour.

Taking advantage of the glorious weather, we spent all of Saturday walking all over the characterful inner suburbs, my favourite way to experience a new city. After brunch in Surry Hills with the rest of the young Sydney crowd, we trailed through parks and monuments before a pint at the Lord Nelson, the oldest hotel in Sydney, where they brew their own including my delicious Lady Emma’s Apples cider, and lunch at the Rocks Markets. A little more strolling around before heading home to get pretty for our night on the town.

St James’ Church.

The Lord Nelson, the oldest Hotel in Sydney.


On our last day in Sydney we were out bright and early to make the most of it. Unfortunately, we woke up rather earlier than the ferries but fortunately the café at our ferry stop – Thelma and Louise – opened at 8am to serve eggs and muffins to fools such as ourselves.

Thelma and Louise, Neutral Bay Sydney.

Sunday was our big tourist day as we headed around to Darling Harbour to visit the Sydney Aquarium and the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Husband and the Harbour Bridge, a wonder of engineering he marvelled at every time we sailed past.

A little piece of history on the ferry ride to Darling Harbour.

The Aquarium was a wonderful place to visit. Really geared towards children and learning, it was nonetheless fascinating as an adult to see the strange and wonderful sea life that inhabit our shores and most of us will never see in the wild. There is a special thrill to see so many reef fish and sea dragons, sawfish and of course, the two resident dugongs which are so unique in captivity.

Tropical fish and corals at the Sydney Aquarium.

Husband and Sawfish, Sydney Aquarium.

The incredible Japanese Spider Crab, Sydney Aquarium.

One of two resident rescued Dugongs at Sydney Aquarium

A few little tips if you are planning to visit the Aquarium, and it well worth the entrance fee;

  1. Go early in the morning. We stopped past again after lunch and it was crawling with families. However, if you get there around 9:30, there will be significantly fewer people and you are in perfect time for the morning feeding shows.
  2. If you live in Queensland and are an RACQ member, you can get a discount on your ticket.
  3. The aquarium has lockers that you can hire for $6 for 8 hours. Perfect for storing luggage on those days when you are flying out and don’t want to go back to your hotel.

A Grey Nurse Shark in the shark tunnel.

The Australian National Maritime Museum on the right.

The Australian National Maritime Museum, across the Prymont Bridge from the Aquarium is also worth a visit. You can choose  either to see just the galleries or pay the extra fee to climb aboard a battleship, a submarine and the reconstruction of Captain Cook’s HMAS Endeavour. We spent an enlightening couple of hours clambering all over these vessels, experiencing however briefly the cramped and unwelcoming conditions of life at sea.

The HMAS Onslow at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Ahoy there, Sailor.

I couldn’t resist the opportunity to be a Victory Girl.

Playing the ropes on the HMAS Endeavour.

On board the replica HMS Endeavour at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Less than comfortable conditions onboard the HMAS Endeavour.

I had a wonderful weekend in Sydney and would like to say thanks to my Husband for organising it all and my friend who gave their recommendations.




3 thoughts on “A long-overdue first trip to Sydney

  1. Pingback: A weekend of wine tasting in Stanthorpe – arrival | sunshine and gin
  2. Pingback: Our Top Ten Long Weekend Getaways from Brisbane |

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s