After our 60 hours in Hong Kong was a more leisurely stay in Sydney, Australia.
Our lovely friends Jono and Anna were getting married, and we were invited, and so it was around this event that we organised our three destination trip (Hong Kong, Sydney and Tokyo).
Day 1: 31 December 2009
Jono and Anna kindly met us at the airport on the morning of New Years Eve, fed us, gave us tea, and access to a shower, in the hours before we could access the flat we’d rented in Randwick (a 15 minute walk from their place). It was a day of acclimatising, and light shopping at Bondi Junction, before welcoming in 2010 with Jono, Anna, Ash and Mitül and some wonderful Anna cooked food, and quite a few bottles of fizz, watching the fireworks from their sun-room.
Day 2: 1 January 2010
Our first communal (Jono, Anna, Ash, Mitul, Richard and I) task on New Years Day was to put together a basic plan for the rest of the week, making sure that Jono and Anna had all their pre-wedding commitments listed, so “The English”, as Richard and I and Ash and Mitül were collectively known, could sort ourselves out to do the more touristy bits and pieces on those days.
After all that planning, we were hungry and so stopped off for a bite to eat before spending time in the Aquarium, learning the differences between manatees and dugongs, looking at manta rays, crocodiles and a whole array of similar, and different, aquatic species.
Day 3: 2 January 2010
Whilst planning our days together, Jono had suggested a bit of light bush walking, doing the Spit Bridge to Manly walk. We all trooped off on the buses, with the five of us (“The English” plus Jono) getting off at Spit Bridge, whilst Anna and the children continued to Manly. The walk was a 10km-ish walk mostly along the coast, walking amongst trees, getting a chance to see lizards, and enjoying the warmth on our backs. Jono was a keen pace-maker, and we arrived in Manly after 3 hours and 15 minutes, ready for a sit down and a cool beer. Fortunately, both of these things were possible and we established ourselves at the Bavarian Bier Cafe just in time to watch a sudden shower empty the surrounding streets.
After refreshing ourselves, we caught the ferry back into the City, enjoying the views and having landmarks pointed out to us by our own tour guide (Thanks Anna).
Day 4: 3 January 2010
Ash and Mitul had previously booked to spend a couple of days in the Blue Mountains, so we opted to travel with them, but just do a day trip, so off we all headed on the train to Katoomba. As we got higher, the clouds got lower, and we spent the majority of the day in the clouds. This meant that we didn’t get to appreciate many of the great view points, but we did get to enjoy a wonderful walk through the rain forest and a trip on the Scenic Railway back to our starting point. We left Ash and Mitül here, and headed off back to Sydney by train, enjoying a lazy evening in the flat.
Day 5: 4 January 2010
A day wandering around bits of Sydney with Jono, he took us around some of the areas he lived in when he first arrived, and showed us the very lovely and photographically inspirational Paddington Reservoir Gardens before moving on to Centennial Park.
Day 6: 5 January 2010
Another day, another coast walk. This time from Coogee bay to Bondi bay on a well maintained route – a lovely way to get to see the different beach areas. The area around the Waverley Cemetery was especially beautiful.
Day 7: 6 January 2010
This was probably our most touristy day. We knew that we needed to be at the Opera Bar in the evening for pre-wedding drinks with Jono and Anna, various family members and friends, so we planned our day to take in some of the sights.
We met up with Ash and Mitül at Sydney Tower, and enjoyed our birds-eye view of the city. Over the years Richard and I have headed up many tall buildings as a way to get a feel for the extent of a place, so this suited us well.
Next up was a wander around The Rocks, and a look at the oldest surviving residential building in Sydney area (Cadman’s Cottage)
From here, we walked towards the Botanical Gardens and explored a bit before heading towards the Opera House, and the Opera Bar for drinks.
Day 8: 7 January 2010
As we’d done the Coogee Bay to Bondi Bay walk the other day, Richard and I decided to walk along a different patch of coast, so went from Maroubra to Coogee Bay, again part of the Coastal Walkway. This section seemed quieter, and the coast seemed a bit more rough, and in some ways a more pleasant stretch to wander along.
Day 9: 8 January 2010
Jono and Anna’s wedding day, the reason we were in Sydney at this time. The ceremony was late afternoon, so the rest of the day was spent just wandering around the local area, grabbing some wifi at a cafe, and generally just relaxing ahead of the evening. The ceremony was held in the open, with kookaburras joining in and was a beautiful occasion which we were delighted to have been able to present at. A lovely venue, with lovely people, and lovely food. Ahh, lovely.
Day 10: 9 January 2010
A very quiet day, attending the well named recovery barbecue at Anna’s Mum’s place on the North Shore and doing very little else.
Day 11: 10 January 2010
After packing up our belongings, handing the key back to the letting agent, and depositing the majority of our luggage at Jono and Anna’s place, we all (The English, Jono, Anna and Jono’s sister Lisa) piled into the people mover we’d hired and Anna, our designated driver, drove us out from Sydney to the Hunter Valley for a two night stay. We stopped for lunch at Hungerford Hill, and managed to do a quick bit of wine tasting before heading to Cessnock for supplies and finally reaching our accommation at the Lovedale Country Lodge
Day 12: 11 January 2010
A day of wine tasting in some of the boutique vineyards around the Hunter Valley. Richard blogged about this months ago, so I’m not going to repeat that detail here. The evening continued in much the same manner as the day, involving drinking some of the wines we’d bought, and making good use of the barbecue.
Day 13: 12 January 2010
A slow start to the day – probably related to the wine
tastingdrinking of the day before – meaning that it was lunchtime before we even left our lovely lodge. We stopped off at Wollombi on our way back for a spot of lunch and then trundled back into Sydney, and made camp at Jono and Anna’s place for our final night in Sydney.
Day 14: 13 January 2010
Ash and Mitül left first, heading off to the airport, and then on to Hong Kong for a few days. We returned to Paddington with Jono, getting to look around the Blender Gallery looking at the Pattie Boyd “Through the eyes of a muse” exhibition before walking across the road to the Australian Centre for Photography and the Montalbetti & Campbell “The Sensualists” exhibition. After meeting up with Anna and Lisa, we headed off to Watsons Bay for a last walk in the Sydney area before heading back to Jono and Anna’s flat, packing our bags and heading to Sydney airport for our overnight flight to Tokyo.
As with Hong Kong, we used an iPhone app as our main guide which turned out to be excellent and was based on the wikitravel Sydney information – see Richard’s post for information about which other apps we used.
So, two weeks in Sydney, and reading back over these notes it doesn’t feel like we saw that much, and we didn’t really venture into any other parts of the vast country that is Australia. But, we did get to go to Anna and Jono’s wedding, and spend time with them, their families and their friends, and that was why we were there. Walking along the coast was lovely, and was a really pleasant way to explore the coastline, and something I’d recommend to others to do. I’d also like to return to the Blue Mountains some time, and spend a bit more time there, hopefully being able to see something other than clouds 🙂