I used to live in Sydney many moons ago, so I have seen all the sights there are to see which Sydney is famous for – the silly looking Opera House, the coat-hanger Harbour Bridge and I’ve ventured up the Sydney Tower for the view.
So what does an ex-Sydneysider do when returning to their old home? A lot of catching up with friends, but on a lazy Friday I did something alittle different.
8am: An early rise and out the door to have a light breakfast at Blue Cafe in Woolloomooloo. I then stroll through The Domain – which is a large inner city park – and catch the free bus on Macquarie Street to Circular Quay to the CBD ferry terminal.
10:15am: The day is bright and sunny and I’ve decided to spend the day on Sydney Harbour. But I’m not interested in the overpriced boat tours and trips. It is much easier to hop on and off the local transport ferries. First up it’s the 30 minute ride to Manly. (Tip: purchase the MyMulti Day Pass which gives you unlimited travel on trains, buses, ferries and Light Rail services instead of the MyFerry Day Pass which costs the same).
11am: Manly is a suburb and surf beach on the North side of the entrance to Sydney Harbour. A short walk from the ferry wharf, through The Corso street mall and you arrive at the beach. The beach was very popular with the surfers fighting for their place on the three-metre swell.
Sydney has a thriving pub culture and at the Steyne Hotel & Pub I order for lunch a slab of cow with potato mash, side salad and a beer. A bargain for only $10.
1:45pm: Back on the ferry to Circular Quay. The Manly ferry is a non-stop service so back to start. Along the way there are good photo opportunities of the harbour-side suburbs and expensive homes, Fort Denison which sits in the middle of the harbour and of course the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. There is a lot of hello-waving going on I notice. From shore, small boats, ferry-to-ferry, islands or cruise ships. Australians are a friendly lot.
2:30pm: Next is the Neutral Bay ferry which goes directly across to North Sydney and passes the Australian Prime Minister’s Sydney residence – Kirribilli House. Not that you see much as it is shrouded in native trees. The flag is up so they must be at home. I do a round-trip without getting off. The trip takes you to little coves where sail boats are parked and fisherman dangling a line off small jetties.
3:50pm: It’s getting late in the afternoon, amazing how time flies when enjoying scenic views. There is one ferry I want to catch as I have never ridden it before. The River Cat which travels up the far end of the harbour to the western suburb Parramatta where I once lived.
On the way we stop at every stop, including one curiously called ‘Kissing Point’. There is a park next to the wharf so that must be where the “lover’s lane” is at night. We go past the Olympic Stadium built for when Sydney held the Olympics in 2000. The harbour narrows and becomes Parramatta River. Unfortunately the tide is low and the ferry cannot go all the way. For the passengers who want to continue to Parramatta they must take a 12 minute bus ride from the Rydalmere terminal. I choose to catch the next ferry back into the city.
5:45pm: Leaving Rydalmere with three of us as passengers, the first stop is Olympic Stadium and a pack of tourists jump on to returning after their tour. Thankfully the ferry is now an express all the way back to Circular Quay. We cruise past Cockatoo Island, populated with Army tents for the Backpackers camping area. Looks like a great place to stay next time.
Arriving back at Circular Quay 30 minutes later, there is a traffic jam of boats. The P&O Cruise ship ‘Arcadia’ is moored nearby taking up much needed peak-hour space.
7:00pm: Last ride for today is a quickie around to Darling Harbour. The ferry goes under the Harbour Bridge and first stop is at Luna Park – an old but traditional theme park. I get off at Pyrmont Bay, which is the closest to Darling Harbour and walk to Chinatown. My last destination for the day is to check out the Asian Street Market in Jenkins Street, Chinatown for a dinner of burnt animal on a stick while meeting up with yet another old friend.
Thank you Sydney for the dose of sunburn. I missed you.