At last we made it, and at last I completed this short story after more than a year later.We visited Sydney in month of February 2011, it is not for our wedding anniversary but is just for a little break from works.
This 'journal' is for friends and friend of friend who want to visit Sydney and has very little knowledge about Sydney. Hope information below are useful.
We were planning to go to Sydney in 2008 for our wedding anniversary but then the plan was diverted to Lombok – Indonesia to have a reunion with my ex work collages when I was working for PT Koba Tin - Indonesia. You can find my short story of the reunion in: http://haryanto-wa.blogspot.com/2008/09/reunion-at-lombok-island-indonesia.html
Depart from Perth on Friday the 18th with a budget airline and we arrived in Sydney on the same day. The sky was cloudy, feel it a bit humid when I got out of taxi. On the way to the hotel, the traffic was getting heavier and soon there was traffic jams, it’s rush hour and it’s Friday. My taxi driver (Chinese- China) has to maneuver to get a better position for queuing to the next traffic flows.
The hotel is located at York St, Wynyard. The city map that we grabbed from the hotel showed us that we were staying on the strategic area, we were close or still at a walking distances to the tourist attraction that our friends recommend i.e. Sydney Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay & Opera House, Botanical Garden, City Centre, Darling Harbour and even to China Town. There are plenty of hotels/hostels around the CBD area that you can stay.
So, without wasting our time we stroll along the York St toward the city after checking in and dropped our luggage in our room. It’s about 6pm local time, the pulse of the city still very hectic. Cafés, restaurants and pubs were very busy with their customers whom passionately waiting for their orders to be served. There were buses, taxis, private cars queuing bump to bump along the street. Some drivers lost their patient and start honking, some of them honking because a bit irritated by the pedestrians whose keep crossing the road although the crossing sign becoming red……oh..la..la………
Anyway, we continue walking and only crossing the road when the crossing sign become green. We noticed the buildings along the street lot of them are old building, I can say it by the look of the detail sculptures outside building. Most of the materials used for the building seen on the outside are sandstone which is come from the region. The “Queen Victoria Building” a famous shopping block in the city also used the sandstone material on the outside. No idea when this shopping block was build, but it was there when I came to visit her and bought a ladies bag for my wife in 1990. Here are some photos of the building. I noticed there are some electric escalators added into this building.
Photo 1 - Queen Victoria Building taken from a far
Photo 2 – Queen Victoria Building taken from inside
Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair
The following morning at around 8 am we’re ready to explore around the Circular Quay precinct. It only takes a few minutes by feet from the hotel into this area, not long at all. For your information, CQ is a transportation hub that connects train, bus and ferry from/to Sydney CBD from/to other suburbs. It is a busy area. Anyway, it is not about the transportation hub that interested me but from here you can see the Opera House on your right and on your left is the iconic structure of Australia/Sydney. Yes, the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Photo 3 – Circular Quay – Ferry Station & Opera House at Bennelong Point
Our first round today was walking along east side of the quay up to the Bennelong Point where the Opera House is standing. Don’t stop when you get to the Opera House, keep walking (you can come back later) toward to another point called Mrs. Macquaries point or Mrs. Macquaries Chair. The view from this location is outstanding, Opera House under the Sydney’s Harbour Bridge. It’s a bit unfortunate on that day the sun a bit shy, so the pictures taken a little bit dark and not adequately contrast.
Photo 4 – My wife with the magnificent view at the background.
Photo 5 – Opera House taken from the Sydney Harbour Bridge
The Opera House
The next round we walking back to visit the Opera House, this unique building designed by Jorn Utzon a Danish architect. He’s a winner of the design competition which was selected among 230 or more participant. The kick off for the construction was March 1959 and expected to complete in 1963 with the budget of approximately $A7 millions. But as you know, the project finished in 1973 or ten year later and the cost blown up to approximately $A102 millions or nearly 14 times than the budget. So you can imagine the drama, the tension between client and the design team on that time. Anyway, the building is so unique and it serves the purpose as large building for theatrical production. We pay visit her again on the following day, and went for a tour inside building and you can see the structure of the roof……wow. The roofs (shell alike from the outside) are supported by big ribs running from roof top down to the floor.
Photo 6 – Ribs system supporting the roofs
From the Opera House we walk back and pass the Quay and keep walking to the west side of the Quay to the Rocks precinct. This suburb is quite old, according to Wikipedia this town was developed in 1788, as reflected by the building that exist there. In here you will see the street performer quite often, we were enjoying their actions. There’re another activities on the weekend and only in the weekend, the Rock Market. There’re hundreds of small stalls selling start from knickknack up to pearls and gold jewelry. My wife said to me let’s go, so we’re strolling along and look at our left and right to see if there’re any interesting objects. Of course there were lot of interesting stuff and she finally bought some knickknack for her friends. At the other end of the stall I found a man selling a type of ice drink and remaining me when I was a little 50 year ago. A plastic glass or bowl filled with shredded ice and compacted then poured with colorful syrup…..yum….
We continue walking and up to the street above. It’s a bit tricky to go up to the Cumberland St, we look at the map we have and confused. We went back and forward on the street leading to the Cumberland St but we couldn’t find it. Finally we realized that the street was above us, we were busy looking at intersection and miss the little sign showing direction to the Cumberland St…….oooh hh dear……. So we follow the alleyway and climb up the steps and then here we go……..
Why do we needs to find that street? Because we want to book to climb the historic bridge by tomorrow, their office is located in this street. Luckily the office is not far away from the end of the alleyway. After finished the booking, we went back to the Rocks Market and we bought take away dinner from the food stall in that market…..smell nice and yummy. That’s the end of our journey to day. And if you interested to read more about the Rocks here is the link:
Climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge
Today we planned to go to China town and Darling Harbour after climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge, both locations are at the opposite direction of the bridge.
First to Sydney Harbour Bridge, our schedule was at 9.30am. We left hotel at about 9 am walking toward to the Rocks and turn left half way before the Rocks, climb up the steps to get to the Cumberland St. We wait for several minute before our group was called. There were 7 couples including us, 2 from US, 1 from Canada, 3 from UK. Because of the risks involves in climbing this bridge, prior embarking to the bridge the tour leader and his team train everyone on how to use safety harness; checking the breath test for alcohol level and also several procedures. He’s also asking everyone if anyone have problem with scare of height. My wife raise her hand, I know that for sure. Her leg wobbling everytime we’re crossing the road using bridge crossing. But she determined to do it, she said this will be a life time experience. The tour leader was very good and assuring, so my wife (and myself) become a bit relax, he put her in third row and I am on the forth. Yes there was another person that has similar problem…scare of height.
After approximately 45 minutes to one hour being drilled and trained, everyone of us were cleared and allowed to go to outside onto the bridge…..yooohooooo!!!!!.
In order to keep you free from your stuff/belonging that will affect your movement, your glasses/spectacle need to be secured, and also prohibited to bring your own camera. So….we only have a limited pictures of this experience. However you can come again (after the tour) and walking along the bridge from one end to the other end, and also visit the bridge’s museum which is located at the bridge i.e. inside pillar support.
Anyway here are some of our pictures; hope it will tell a bit more about the bridge and surrounding area.
Photo 7 - on the way up of Sydney's Bridge
We catch a taxi to China town, that’s because we not sure where is China town is. It turned out also not for away from where we stayed. Anyway, we not sure to expect when we planned to go there, we walk and walk and end up we have a lunch in one of Chinese restaurant then stroll inside the market. My wife bought a pair of sandal to replace her shoes, than we decided to slip out to the Darling Harbour by foot. It’s not far away, well….may be for us.
Photo 8 - the corner of the market city in Chine town
The map that we have was a tourist map that we grabbed from the hotel, so it was not a proper map. So it’s take a while before we finally found the location. It’s a big area and ideal for family picnic, having fun with all of the attractions found here at the darling harbour. Start from just sitting down and play with your children, go to the water theme park, go to museum, walk along site seeing or sit down at café or restaurant for a cup of coffee and have a bite. The weather was nice, hence we just walk along and stop at the café as I mentioned above and the walk again.Below some photos we took while we were exploring the area.
To The Blue Mountain
The following day early in the morning we’re ready to go to the Blue Mountain, we wait outside hotel to be picked up by tour provider “Oz Trails”. We book this tour on the next day after we arrive, and luckily there was a place for both of us. It cost about A$90 all up including 2 passes and a ferry ride back to Circular Quay at the end of the tour. We have had a very nice tour leader and he’s also good bus driver.
First stop was at the Sydney Olympic Stadium/Complex, it’s faraway out from the CBD. Not sure why he brought us there, but it seems just letting us relax and go to a loo before heading to the next stop. So my wife and I quickly get out from the bus and enjoy the scenery of the Olympic Stadium. After a few minute then we all back again into the bus.
Next stop was for morning tee and registration fee; the stop area was quite nice it’s at the bank of the river. I can’t remember what the name of the river is, but it seems the place is dedicated for rest area/picnic. While we’re waiting for our turn to pay, we sip our coffee or tea and bite the nibbles which were provided, yum…….. In the group there were a couple from France, family of 3 from Canada, 4 teenagers from Japan, 2 couples from America and a single from German.
Photo 10 - Flat Rock, Blue Mountain
The first area of the Blue Mountain we step in was FLAT ROCK. Not sure how to describe this place, is kind of rock outcrop positioned naturally at high above. From here you can see the valley below and you can look straight down below where you stand if you dare, it’s very deep; our tour guide said it’s about 140m to the lowest valley. However, be mindful though…..there was no safety rail…..
The next area was Wentworth waterfall, before we cross the valley to the other side by a cable car. Not much waterfall you can see in this time of the year (summer time), but look what we found during our walk back up to the car park. I haven’t seen this one before….is a bush ‘devil’….
Photo 11 - bush devil
Obviously there are more tourist attractions on the other side of the valley, there are old inactive coal mine, devil railway with very steep decent, and from there you can also see three big sisters too…..
Here is some photo for the rest of our tour. Hope you enjoying the short story of my trip.
Photo 12 - Three sisters