The first thing I noticed as I arrived in Australia besides the fact I’m in dire need of a tan, is how expensive it is. (Zoo entry: $44, a guided walking tour $41, Hop On Hop Off $36) Since I am an Australian who hasn’t been home in almost a decade I decided to be a tourist in the city just a short drive from my hometown. I made it a point to visit only the quintessentially Australian gems among the heavily overpriced tourist traps and create an experience and not a pricey weekend away.
I started the day by relaxing at the Traditional Chinese Garden of Friendship at Darling Harbour. ($6) Instantly calming in the centre of the manic city, the waterfall and traditional chinese architecture were both relaxing and soothing and definitely worth exploring. I then caught the ferry from Darling Harbour to Circular Quay which gives you the cheapest and best views of the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. ($5.40 one way) I strolled along to The Rocks Markets (free) which are smaller compared to some others in the area (Manly /Bondi are good) and you need to have a bit of a bulging wallet to buy anything but the atmosphere of the most historical part of Sydney is quite amazing. (The Rocks is the area developed by freed convicts from the nearby Hyde Park Barracks)
I walked a few blocks up to the Hyde Park Barracks which is now a World Heritage Listed museum ($10 entry) The original barracks house artefacts from convicts (1819) such as shoes, utensils, clothing and even some rat skeletons from the 1800’s found in archaeological excavations. I then walked across to St James and visited the enormous Westfield at Pitt Street, wandering through high fashions stores such as Mulberry and Chanel down to the ground floors urban themed shops and hip new designer collection displays.
After being lost in the land of materialism for a good 6 hours (I know, terrible!) and purchasing Jurlique and Aesop goods (Australia has amazing organic skin care products) I headed to High Tea at the Sydney Opera House. Famous Australian Chef, Guillaume Brahimi created a Sydney style teas, pastries and petit fours for us while we sat in the world heritage listed building drinking tea and listing to Opera. (Fortnightly on Wednesdays at 2-4pm, $145) While pricey, this is the quintessential Sydney experience.
I had a quick bite to eat and a hot chocolate at a Darling Harbor overlooking the water and watched the fireworks then headed back down to The Rocks through Pitt Street for the Ghost Tour of the historical and oldest part of Sydney. The tagline: “Macabre tales of murder, suicide, hangings and hauntings in the birth place of Australia.” The 2 hour walking tour (by lantern light!) did not disappoint. ($42)
By the end of the day, ‘touring’ the lovely city, I realised I had been to 2 World Heritage Listed Sites and seen 3. The things I chose to do in Sydney were carefully selected and are now memories I will revisit forever. High tea, fireworks, museums, shopping, historical museums and a ferry ride under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a ghost tour and markets: could the day have been any better? I think not.
What do you like to do when you visit Sydney?