Around Sydney, AUSTRALIA
Our last days in Sydney were spent outside of the city, and unfortunately, complicated by rains and heavy downpours resulting in riding the Hop On Hop Off bus to cover this enormous city and the sights we wanted to visit.
Luckily, our day at Bondi Beach started with fairly gray skies and little rain, but within a few hours, the winds and rain prevailed. Hip, trendy, and full of outdoor enthusiasts, backpackers, shops and cafes, this is obviously one of Sydney’s most famous, and popular, beaches--even during rain--life goes on.
The beach itself is massive and deep, but one of my favorite features was the 1.5 mile hike along the cliffs and rocks to Bronte Beach—again, prepare to climb stairs and move up and down the hillside to experience the surroundings! Fantastic views!
Before leaving, we trekked through one of the side streets to find a highly recommended organic cafe, Brown Sugar, for brunch. The picture does not do their food justice--I had one of the best quinoa tabbouleh salads with pomegranates, parsley, roasted almonds and Za'tar dustings topped with a poached egg and a lemon-tahini vinaigrette.
One of the best things about traveling is discovering new flavors, spices and variations on foods—incredibly exciting seeing the creativity of regular foods combined in novel ways, but delicious nonetheless!
Bondi Beach could have easily been reached using our OPAL public transit pass and buses, but itinerary and weather dictated otherwise.
Don't miss it should you visit Sydney!
Another rainy day in Sydney prompted us to play it by ear and utilize the ferry for a visit to the Taronga Zoo. Like the rest of Sydney, Taronga Zoo is extensive, beautifully laid out and a great work out hiking up and down the hillside, through the exhibits, and participating in various close-up encounters like ‘The Squirrel Monkey Walk-Through Experience’.
A ‘Lemur Walk-Through Experience’ also exists, but apparently, the lemurs were not in the mood that day citing fatigue to their handlers.
An incredible ‘Wild Ropes’ Course (which would never be found in any United States public zoo) is available through the tree tops...without a guide--for both children and adults. Unfortunately, I got distracted and missed the last appointment at 3:00 pm.
Overall, Taronga Zoo is a nice alternative to museums or shopping or sitting in a hotel when the weather is gloomy and wet!
Katoomba was an incredible find...through Fodor’s Recommendations. In hindsight, I wish I had known about the shear possibilities of this quaint little community located in The Blue Mountains. I would have spent one or two days here alone to experience the endless options of trails and hikes available in this region!
Katoomba is an easy 2 hour train ride from Sydney’s CENTRAL Station via the NSW Intercity Train which runs around every 30 minutes until 4:21 pm after which it runs on the hour. It drops you off in the middle of town crawling with locals, tourists, backpackers, shops, cafes, pubs, and restaurants. Cost: $8-10 one-way from Sydney using the OPAL card...again!
The OPAL card works in Katoomba on all buses as well, but since we were limited on time to hike and see some of the surrounding highlights we utilized the Hop On Hop Off bus for the day!
We headed up to Honeymoon Look-out and hiked part of the Prince Henry Cliff Hike to ECHO POINT (main area), also bustling with amenities as well as stunning views of the blue mountain range. At this point, you can access the Giant Staircase (900 stairs) along the Three Sisters boulders (seen above). The microscopic white spec at the first boulder is a person crossing the Honeymoon Bridge. Views from this point below are simply stunning.
Additionally, we stopped at Leura Cascades, but after hiking around ECHO point for several hours not only did my energy fail, the sights were a little anti-climatic. That said, I only hiked to the Lower Cascades—a small trek in and of itself—but did not go to the Upper Cascades which may have very well been mind blowing.
Katoomba had several places I would have like to try, but the two we settled on were fantastic:
- Doner Kabab—immaculate little shop with incredible wraps right next to the bus stop and perfect for our hike. (forgot to take pics of the food, but trust me on this)
- Station Bar—superb little pub before you hop on the train back to Sydney (or, should you miss your train). We intentionally ordered food to miss the 5:21pm train just to stay a little longer. Icy cold beers and cocktails.
Discovered a new favorite: 2 Birds Brewing TACO--A Hoppy Zesty Ale With Fresh Coriander, Lime and Corn--one of Australia's first female owned breweries.
Great days! Great week in Sydney!
But, excited to be in Port Douglas and experience the rainforest and Great Barrier Reef!