We had a quick flight from Melbourne to Sydney and took the train into town to meet up with my Mom and sister who were going to be joining us for the next three weeks. The reason we met in Sydney was because it turns out we have a ton of relatives there who we’d never met before.
Bondi to Coogee Walk
We stopped at Bondi for lunch one day while driving around Sydney with one of my Mom’s cousins. She recommended we do the walk from Bondi to Coogee. Alana, my sister, and myself decided to give it a go, though before we did we went down to Bondi beach to get our feet wet. This was when I had my first encounter with a dangerous Australian animal. I had just finished posing for a picture with Alana when she pointed out something stuck to my foot.
I looked down and saw what I thought was a string, until I followed it and saw the blue jellyfish at the other end. I tried to shake it off, but it was stuck to my foot. It was around this time that the pain started. It wasn’t as bad as I was expecting given everything that I’ve heard about Australian wildlife. As far as my own experience goes I’d put it somewhere between a bee sting and a wasp sting, though there was a whole line of them across the top of my foot.
Foot still burning, we set off down the path. Fortunately the pain subsided after twenty minutes or so, and I was able to fully enjoy this amazing walk along the coast. The walk followed along the coast moving from one beach to the next. We ended up having a bit of an accidental bouldering session when we ran into a dead end and Alana really didn’t want to retrace our steps. Lots of scrambling up, over, and around large rocks just above the water ensued. We were having a great time of it, though my sister, who doesn’t get out as much as myself or Alana, was a bit frightened and angered by the suddenly increased difficulty of our walk.
As time went on she began to enjoy herself more, even though she kept up the angered facade in front of myself and Alana, refusing to give us the satisfaction of knowing that we were correct in thinking all of this rough and tumble adventure was fun. This little detour added a bit of extra time on to the trip, but we still made it to Coogee in about two hours. It was definitely one of my favorite things we did in Sydney.
By this I mean the area around Circular Quay and the Opera House. This area was always bustling and there was plenty to do in the area. We spent one day walking around the Royal Botanical Gardens. It was really hot and sunny, but the flowers were beautiful to look at. I think the rose garden was our agreed upon favorite. Alana discovered she likes petunias.
We also had a wander around the Rocks market. The market was pretty large with a lot of stalls selling good souvenir type items. Alana and I got a magnet for our collection that we’re going to put on our refrigerator when we one day live in a place of our own for long enough to have our own fridge. After buying the magnet I was just about all shopped out for the day, but the rest of our group was just getting warmed up. I followed them around for an indeterminate amount of time, likely upwards of several hours, before they had visited each stall several times and were content with all of their purchases.
After shopping we had a pretty good lunch at Pancakes on the Rocks. I’d heard a lot of hype about this place, and who doesn’t love good pancakes, so I was pretty excited going into it. It was good, but I’m not sure what all the hype was for. Coming from the US, it reminded me a lot of IHOP. I’m not too familiar with the Sydney pancake scene (much to my regret), so I just have to speculate that there aren’t that many options to choose from.
That night we had a pretty amazing little family reunion at the Opera Bar. This is a large outdoor area just under the Opera House that serves drinks and food. It was packed, but the views of the Harbour Bridge were excellent. We all had a great evening meeting and chatting with the Sydney side of our family. Going to new places is always an exciting part of traveling, but meeting new people is possibly even more so, especially when you have a connection as instant and deep as being family.
Symbio Wildlife Park
We didn’t have a chance to go to the Sydney Zoo. We really wanted to see some koalas and kangaroos though, so we took a family trip out to the Symbio Wildlife Park. It was relatively small, but that just meant we got to get a closer look at the animals. We got there just in time to hear a presentation about their efforts to mate two koalas. The female koala was really working it, but the male only wanted to stuff himself with leaves. Eventually, in true koala fashion, they both just went to sleep.
The other cool part of the zoo was the kangaroo petting zoo. No, not the giant, roid raging, body building, golden glove kangaroos. These kangaroos were pretty small and calm. You could buy food to feed them, but even if you didn’t have any food they were totally ok with a few pets on the back. There was another variety in the enclosure as well. They looked a little different and were much more energetic, hopping around after one another on turbo drive. We guessed they might be wallabies.
We also got to see a wombat, which was a bit of a treat as they are typically nocturnal.
Of course the day we decide to go to Manly, home of one of Sydney’s many famous beaches, happened to be the coldest, cloudiest day of our whole time in Sydney. There was a storm blowing in and by the time we got to the beach it was so cold and windy that none of us really wanted to get in the water. Alana eventually decided to brave the uncharacteristically cold temperatures and went for a dip. After that we had all just about had enough and headed home.
Newtown, the area in which our AirBnb was located, was a very hip, artsy suburb that would have fit right in in Melbourne. Much to my delight, there were more vegetarian restaurants than you could shake a stick at. There wasn’t much in the way of attractions or things to do there, but we had some really great meals at places like Golden Lotus, Lentil As Anything, and Newtown Pies. There were also heaps of cafes in the area, so if coffee is your cup of tea then this would probably be a fun place to hang out. At the time, traveling around every day as we were, I was drinking plenty of coffee.
After about ten days of exploring Australia it was time to return to New Zealand for a few more weeks of South Island adventures.