We need to start with a confession here. I have never really been a city girl.
In the 1109-page epic tome that is Lonely Planet’s guide to Australia I read about a place high on a hill where the plains stretching out beneath it are so vast and the sky so huge you can actually see the curvature of the earth. Sounds pretty good to me. Especially if there are kangaroos and emus and maybe the odd camel bounding free across those very plains. I must go back and find out where that spot is as part of the planning for the next trip.
But concrete, noise, the sheer volume of people that typify any city on earth? Not so much. And of course our timing for this particular city visit was just about perfect wasn’t it. New Year. When the resident population swells by upwards of a million extra souls. (Yes Janna, you were right!)
So, in spite of everything, did Sydney manage to win over even this committed country bumpkin? The fireworks, as you saw, are truly spectacular. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. But Sydney has so much more to offer than that.
The Opera House. Who knew that those iconic sails are actually made up of a mosaic of tiles? Beautiful.
And being built around a glittering harbour, you don’t have to wander too far in Sydney to come across a glorious view. This one from the zoo. For most people, other than me of course, travelling by ferry or water taxi is one of the principal ways of getting around.
And then this city is so green..
The Botanic Gardens nestle under the skyscrapers of the central business district and provide an oasis of calm at any time of year.
The Meadow Garden
If I end up living anywhere I can grow frangipani I will die a happy girl.
From a garden that could almost be made in England..
To something a touch more exotic. I did love this tapestry of foliage colour and form.
But there was one thing impressed me particularly about the Botanic Garden. And that’s how they’ve managed to get the wildlife on board. Clearly I am missing a trick.
Mulch spreading and weeding. Straight ahead of you mate.. yep, you got it.
Deadheading the containers
Daily fountain inspection.
Body language could possibly be improved.
The rose garden
And then of course there are the beaches.
On one of the cooler days in Sydney we went for a walk along the clifftops, the well trodden 6 km (3.7 mile) route from Coogee Beach to Bondi.
Contained within the city suburbs for the whole of its length it makes for a fascinating walk. Urban development on one side with some uber contemporary homes I just couldn’t keep my eyes off. On the other side, fabulous coastal views and dramatic rock formations.
The path follows the coastline through a series of sandy coves. It’s hard surface all the way although the undulating nature of the terrain does necessitate the scaling of a few sets of steps. Not the sunniest day and the wind off the sea wasn’t taking any prisoners. Of all our time in Australia, this was the only day I got seriously burned. And that with the sky mostly covered in cloud!
Shark Point, just north of Clovelly Beach, the result of wind and salt spray erosion.
It’s a short stroll off-piste from the path for those with a good tolerance of heights. From that edge, a sheer drop down to the sea. Bracing it most certainly is. No danger of cobwebs here.
Did I mention the wind?
Our first glimpse of Bondi off in the distance..
Zoomed in and you may just be able to make out the faint line of people on the headland centre left. Look for the boundary between the rock and vegetation. It really is a breathtaking walk.
The famous Bondi pool. In seas like this the waves break right over the top of it.
Moving swiftly on…
Wait for it.. wait for it..
Yo.. catching the wave.
Just in time for lunch. (Maybe another Pinot.) And for the clouds to finally clear!
How about it then chaps. Time to hit the surf?
Er..OK, maybe not then.
Only in Australia..
Catching the bus back to town.
Maybe all cities aren’t the same.