Australia is filled with adventure, culture and enormous diversity. Lindsay Mosher spent 3 months living in Sydney, Australia and shares her Top 5 city must-do’s with us here:
Sydney, Australia is the perfect combination of old meets new and has a variety of attractions to please every kind of traveller. The city slickers can wander among the skyscrapers and shop in the historical markets. Beachcombers can hit the waves and soak in the rays on Bondi Beach. With so many attractions and adventures available, it is often hard to decide where to spend your days. Here is my list of my favourite Sydney activities and must-do activities:
1. Sydney Bridge Climb
Adrenaline junkies unite. The Sydney harbour bridge climb is by far my best memory from my trip to Australia. Climbing up the bridge, emerging over the racing cars below and looking out to the beautiful Sydney harbour is something that will undoubtedly stick with me for the rest of my life. At the start of your experience, they get you fitted into a climbing suit, harness and headset (so you can hear your guide over the wind). They take you through a brief educational introduction about the bridge’s history and most importantly, how your harness works as well as the necessary communication cues (stop, go , look over there, etc.)
The climb itself starts inside the building. Exiting through a large tunnel and walking onto the lower scaffolding bars of the bridge, in a single-filed fashion, is daunting at first as you can see and hear the cars racing below you. Your guide leads you step by step up the bridge while entertaining you with fun facts and history about the bride and the events surrounding it. At the top of the bridge, there is time to stop and take in the beautiful 360 degree view of the Sydney Harbour. Your group leader takes group pictures of your entire group before you cross over the top of the bridge and begin your descent. The climb back down the bridge was truly a test of my fear of heights. The descent is a combination of ladders and small platforms. Don’t get me wrong, it is 100% safe, but it took a lot of my courage to take my first step onto that ladder rung, especially as it began to rain. The bridge climb truly is a must-do when you’re in Sydney.
Although it is a little pricey, and due to its popularity, you may have to book well in advance, the experience is worth the expense. It is a great activity for families as well- children ages 10 years and older and taller than 1.2 metres are eligible to climb!
2. Sydney Harbour
Everyone can identify the iconic Sydney Opera House situated in the Sydney harbour at first sight. What many don’t know is that the harbour is home to many other interesting sights and attractions.
The Circle Quay is the hub of Sydney Harbour connecting the south and north sides of the harbour with an open-air walkway riddled with small shops, restaurants and street performers. The south end is home to the Opera House and Royal Botanical gardens. The harbour bridge rests on the north side. The Circle Quay is also situated at the foot of the Central Business District and the older historic end of Sydney. This is an extremely vibrant and bustling portion of the city, and where you can catch a number of ferries taking you to different parts of the harbour. Everyday is a new adventure.
The Rocks market is located along the north side of the Circle Quay. The market was first established after the colony’s formation in 1788. Now, locals and tourists alike wander down the quaint cobblestone laneways to find urban, local artwork, fashion and food. I ventured around this market many times and found beautiful canvas paintings, handmade dresses, jewellery, and of course fun souvenirs. The food in the market was spectacular. You can find everything here from street food to chic boutique restaurants. You could easily spend a sunny Sunday afternoon here.
3. Bondi Beach
Australia’s most famous beach! Only about 30 minutes away from the city centre by public transit, Bondi is something that can’t be missed. It has everything from white sands, blue waters, amazing surfing waves to fine dining and a buzzing nightlife. If you’re interested in swimming, make the trek up to the northern end of the beach. The south end has a strong rip tide and a lot of surfers; you wouldn’t want to get run over! Regardless of which end of the beach you choose to set up camp for the day, GO EARLY! Bondi is a famous beach and has amazing surf waves – this means that locals and tourists alike will all trying to secure a spot for their towel on the white sands. To make sure you get a good spot, go early and don’t forget your sunscreen!
The sun is extremely strong is Australia! You can’t lay out in SPF 4 or even 10 like you would in North America or Europe. Australian’s know this and therefore lower SPF sunscreen is difficult to find. I had a very nice and concerned Australian woman go out and buy me a large floppy hat and SPF 60 upon seeing my pale skin tanning out on the beach. Be sun wise and protect yourself in the sun!
Travel Tip: If you’re looking for surf lessons, I would recommend going to one of the more secluded beaches to get smaller starter waves and a WAY better price!
4. Australian Reptile Park
Another great family activity is a quick ride out to the Australian Reptile Park. Although a little farther away than taking a ferry to the Taronga Zoo, the Reptile Park is a completely hands- on zoo! If you have a rental car, the park is roughly 1 hour north of Sydney, near the city of Gosford. There is also a shuttle that leaves from the Sydney Central Business District, or you can take the train to Gosford and catch a quick cab to the park (as I did!).
Snappy Hour is from 11am-2pm and when you can get up close and personal with a giant Galapagos tortoise. Have a photo taken holding a huge python, Tasmanian devil or a koala! You can also hand-feed kangaroos and Emus. There are also deadly spider and crocodile shows, as well as frog, bird, snake and spider exhibits to explore! Although you can see more animals at the Taronga Zoo and still get the chance to hold a Koala, there are fewer opportunities to meet and get up close and personal with the animals. I say go to Gosford if you can!
5. Footy Game
If you have the chance, check out a footy game while you’re in Sydney. A Footy (a.k.a. Australian Football, a.k.a. Aussie Rule Rugby) game is such an exhilarating experience. Like hockey to a Canadian, Australians take footy very seriously and the fans go all out! The crowds are loud, energetic and love to shout, sing and dance around. You can join in the antics and even increase your local status by trying some local beer and a crocodile or kangaroo meat pie. Even if it is only an exhibition game, the intensity vibrates through the stands.
There is something for everyone in Australia. These are just my recommendations for Sydney! Every city has its own unique appeal and set of activities available! What are you waiting for? Get yourself to Australia and explore the world down unda!
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