We found a rideshare to reach the big city, after 10 hours of driving and a first experience of running out of petrol, we discover Sydney, its neighbourhoods and its postcard harbourfront. Let’s see if Sydney is as charming as Perth, as cosmopolitan as Melbourne, a mix of both or completely different!
Capital of NSW
Sydney is the capital of the state of New South Wales. Originally a penal city where convicts were sent from all over the UK, Sydney was the first European settlement in Australia. But since the mid-19th century, the city transformed from a colonial outpost to a major cultural and economic capital and developed its structures. Walking around the city today, we can still admire its architecture and buildings, some of them being listed in the world heritage.
We can feel the British influence in its victorian constructions, the Queen Victoria building and could imagine ourselves in Europe while wandering in one of the many lovely arcades and alleys.
Listening to the choir in that scenery, we tend to forget it is 30 degrees celsius outside and feel like Christmas time at home! Jingle bells!
But Sydney is also the most populous and one of the biggest cities in Australia (if not the biggest one). Despite this fact, its layout is a mess as it was developed without planning, but what better way to discover a place than getting lost in its streets… We enjoy wandering around the CBD where modern glass skyscrapers share the space with classical buildings, it feels like an architectural walk through time…
Sydney harbour, Port Jackson, was originally designed for commercial purposes and was the port of arrival of European migrants. During WWII, it was the city’s wall against Japanese submarine attacks but nowadays, it became the symbol of the city as the Sydney harbour bridge and the famous Sydney opera house can be found here.
The docks have been renovated and it is very lovely to walk in the harbour area, passing under the very impressive steel bridge (the most courageous ones can even climb it), looking at locals fishing from the dykes and enjoying the view on the opera house.
The Sydney opera house was built in 1973 by a Danish architect and is a Unesco world heritage site since 2007. Made of concrete shells, it looks like a sailboat whose giant bright white sails would be inflated by the wind.
But the closer we approach, the more details we can see and we are surprised to note that the shells are made of a complex design of glossy white and matte cream tiles, perfect texture for Oscar’s pictures!
Trendy beaches destination
After long walks around the CBD and the harbour area, it’s time to relax, and Sydney has a lot to offer beach-wise! To the East, we discover Bondi, which is the most famous beach of Sydney, where locals and tourists work on their tan while surfers try to tame powerful waves.
We cannot stay too long roasting under the boiling sun, we’d rather walk the coastal path, from Bondi to Coogee beaches, enjoying the beautiful views of the ocean and stopping by at the many cool beaches on our way! We even walked through a cemetery, whose bright tombstones stood out in the blue sky, whose occupants are eternally appeased by the waves lullaby.
Manly beach up north is also a must see. Take the ferry to get there and enjoy the view of the harbour/opera fading away in the distance, reach the lovely (and wealthy) city of Manly, and stroll along its beautiful beach where locals do the show!
Port Jackson, the CBD, Sydney beaches… we’ve been pretty efficient checking the destination bucket list out, but one thing is missing: we need to feel the local atmosphere and get out of the beaten path.
We discover small hidden alleys where Asian restaurants create a charming atmosphere, marks of former shopping arcades now transformed into company offices, little churches on small streets’ corners… No need to go too far from the city centre to find local gems.
The areas of Redfern and Newtown are nice discoveries – sure there are many other cool neighbourhoods in Sydney but since we are staying in that part of the city… Full of little cafes, small shops and galleries, they are little cities within the city with their own atmosphere and rhythms. Very cool.
And if we need some ‘green’, Sydney centennial park is perfect: huge grassy areas to lay down, big ponds, alleys of centennial trees… the ideal place to spend a lazy afternoon!
Visiting Sydney is a way to finish our trip on a high note. We loved this city even if our first impression was that its layout was weird and impersonal, we then discovered its many lively and charming neighbourhoods. Close beaches and coastal walks are obviously a plus, and we felt in love with the harbour area that completed its seduction process on us at night, adorned with golden lights…