A brief stopover in Sydney

Sydney gets around 340 sunny days a year. Typically, we arrived in the midst of a torrential downpour; our first night in the city saw us sprinting to the restaurant nearest to our hostel and then begging to be seated next to the heater so we could dry out our soaking clothes.

The following morning most of the puddles had dried out and we were able to see Sydney in all its glory.

Obviously the first place we headed to was the harbour, to get the obligatory snaps of the Opera house and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

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We also took a walk around the city centre, pointing out some quintessential Aussie symbols like this kangaroo and emu statue.

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Our wanderings took us through the lush Botanic Gardens: one of the best city parks I have ever seen.

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Another lovely walk was around the coast from Bondi Beach to Coogee.

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Now we are nearing the end of our travels, Mark and I have been looking back over the places we have visited and debating which has the best scenery, food, beaches, and so on. Sydney wins “place with the most beautiful people” hands down. It’s easy to see why: the mild weather year round means active leisure is a way of life (not counting the rainstorm on our first day, the “winter” days we experienced were more than 20 degrees).

The Australians are rather literal people; place names in Sydney tend to avoid poetry or obscure references and describe at face value instead. For example, The Rocks is an area which is quite…rocky; the Snowy Mountains nearby are…snowy mountains.

We learnt that Manly, an area of Sydney which must be accessed by ferry, was so named because one of the early European settlers was impressed by the local Aborigine muscly physique.

Manly was a picturesque place to watch the sun set.

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The ferry gives you some great views of the famous landmarks, particularly after the sun goes down.

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We couldn’t leave Sydney without saying hello to some kangaroos, wallabies and koalas so off we went to Featherdale Wildlife Park. I was in my element; I couldn’t believe how friendly the animals were.

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It’s not possible to cuddle koalas in New South Wales; you’ve got to go to Queeensland for that. Although they seem cute, fluffy and docile they have pretty savage claws so a tentative stroke was enough!

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This baby kangaroo was being handed around so it would become comfortable around humans.

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Food wise, we indulged in a Sydney institution, a “tiger” pie from Harry’s Cafe de Wheels. The iconic food cart in the Woolloomooloo area (which incidentally is probably the most fun place name to say) is plastered with loads of pictures of Harry’s celebrity fans eating their pies.

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A “tiger” is a meat pie topped with mash, proper marrowfat mushy peas and gravy.

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We couldn’t visit Sydney without spending a morning having brunch at one of Bill Granger’s legendary cafés. The eggs lived up to the hype.

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An even better treat was being able to catch up with friends on the other end of the globe – this lovely lady is Clea, who I used to work with in London.

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PS – Although we don’t have photographic proof, Mark and I both did skydives in Sydney! The plan was to skydive in Queenstown, New Zealand, but bad weather stopped play. My instructor was so fun and enthusiastic that I was seriously considering a major career change until Mark pointed out I was probably just still high on adrenalin. Fair point!

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