Places Ive Been: Sensational Sydney
by Guest Author
Forget the Sydney Opera House, Bondi Beach and even the thrill of being in this stunning city during the famous New Years Eve fireworks. Its a celebrity sighting that got my daughters vote.
Ive just seen Stretch from The Fantastic Four and he said hello! she beamed, hardly able to contain her glee at seeing her first real celebrity face to face. I have to feel a tad sorry for the said celebrity (Ioan Gruffudd is his name for those out of the loop). Here he was, innocently enjoying the spoils of Oz on a remote little hideaway only accessible by boat, and he comes face to face with a fan. In the flesh, I have to say, he passed for any other fun-loving tourist pumping up a tube for his young sons to be towed behind a boat and to his credit, he was amiable and appeared quite happy to be accosted by yet another star struck female.
Earlier, there had been another celebrity sighting at the infamously trendy Bondi Beach of the television show, Bondi Rescue fame. My three children were certain they spotted Dean Deano Gladstone talking on his mobile phone. Bondi, incidentally, was pretty bleak compared to the tree-lined beauty of other beautiful Northern beaches. Give me Manly or Balmoral any time. But spotting Deano saved the day. Celebrities aside, Sydney has much to offer even though it comes in a tad more expensive than our hometown, Brisbane. A former Sydneysider friend once warned that you pay for everything and I understand why. Perhaps its because there are so many beautiful recreational spots to maintain. Paying for parking at every beach we went to was par for the course.
Our whirlwind week saw us take in The Rocks where the First Fleet landed and which now houses a stylish assortment of restaurants and high end shops. Our walk through the historical area coincided with the colourful Saturday and Sunday markets. Then it was on past Circular Quay, to the Sydney Opera House, and through the breathtaking Botanic Gardens where visitors are encouraged to walk on the grass and hug the trees! Further on was Mrs Macquaries chair an exposed sandstone rock cut into the shape of a bench (by convicts), on a peninsula in Sydney Harbour. The seat was believed to have been carved for the comfort of Governor Macquaries wife, Elizabeth in 1810 and folklore has it she would sit and wait for ships to arrive from England with much-needed letters from home.
Government House, in the north-west corner of the gardens, is quite spectacular. Built in 1845, its a grand example, apparently, of the Gothic Revival style. We missed out on the tours, but these happen daily for a fee. It was a long walk back to our friends home and our Sydney base, in Neutral Bay but worth returning on foot. Views from the bridge are sensational and allow one to take in the beauty of the harbour. The walk also enabled a perusal of the quaint federation style homes along the way.
New Years Eve saw us take to the streets again. The crowds were out in force so we were recommended a Bradleys Head vantage point below Taronga Zoo (worth a visit) in the posh suburb of Mossman. Die-hards parked in the suburb hours earlier, wheeling large eskies (cooler boxes) of food and drinks to a lookout spot with a view of the bridge. Some eager revellers were already tightly packed on the beach overlooking the bridge, intent on sitting out the some eight hours before the much anticipated fireworks finale.
A jam-packed week interspersed with showers, included a trip into the city centre to view the ornate Queen Victoria building an opulent precinct occupied by designer shops and beautiful people.
We drove home along the New England highway through countryside saturated by much needed rain, and passed breathtaking rural scenes of green pastures and imposing oaks. While we drove through the night on the way to our destination, we opted for an overnight stay in the quaint little town of Gloucester to break the journey back, travelling via Thunderbolts Way bypassing Armidale, Glen Innes, Tenterfield, Stanthorpe and Warwick.
The journey was made all the more comfortable by the recent addition of a portable dvd player that kept three children uncomplaining for hours on end. A road trip without the are we there yet? is a successful road trip indeed.
Fish and chips under a giant Moreton Bay fig at Balmoral Beach
Daylight saving which sees beachgoers still enjoying the surf at 8.30pm
Flying kites and skim-boarding at Manly Beach
Boating through Pittwater
Picnicking at The Basin in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
Walking across Sydney Harbour Bridge in the early evening back to Neutral Bay
Watching a spray paint artist at The Rocks market
Seeing the New South Wales countryside drenched in rain
Old wooden bridges
Picture perfect farmhouses
A few things Lois wants to do on her next visit:
Walk from Clontarf Beach to Manly
Walk from Bondi to Coogee
Visit Paddington Markets
Peruse Sydney Swap and Sell Market, Flemington (Sydneys biggest garage sale!)
Indulge the senses at The Good Living Growers Market, close to Darling Harbour, first Saturday of every month
Visit Palm Beach and walk to Barrenjoey Lighthouse
Article courtesy of http:www.journonews.com