Fifteen Days in Australia
A Trip to Sydney, Cairns, Melbourne, and Diving the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea
- United Global First Class Lounges – Washington-Dulles and Los Angeles
- United Global First Class Los Angeles to Sydney
- Sydney: Days One and Two (Arrival, Walking Tour, Manly Beach, and Darling Harbour)
- Sydney: Days Three and Four (Sydney Opera House, Taronga Zoo, The Rocks, Bondi Beach, Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens, Woolloomooloo, and the Sydney Fish Market)
- New Year’s Eve at Sydney Harbour
- Virgin Australia Economy Class Sydney to Brisbane to Cairns
- An Evening in Cairns and a Flight to Lizard Island, AU
- Spirit of Freedom Live-aboard Dive Trip (4-night Coral Sea and GBR)
- Qantas Economy and Business Class Cairns to Sydney to Melbourne
- Two Days in Melbourne and the Park Hyatt Melbourne
- United Global First Class Sydney to San Francisco
The Sydney Opera House
After another quick breakfast at McDonald’s, we made the familiar walk from the Sheraton on the Park towards Circular Quay and Sydney Harbor. We checked the times for the ferries and saw that we had plenty of time before the next boat left for the Taronga Zoo, so we decided to walk out to take a closer look at the Sydney Opera House. The Opera House is just an impressive sight to behold on the outside.
We walked around the base of the massive Opera House and inquired about the New Year’s Eve event being hosted there, but it was a bit out of our price range. We then proceeded to walk around and zap some great pictures of the iconic building.
Neither of us were interested in doing the full tour of the Opera House, but we were able to pop our heads in a few times for some pictures. After about an hour of walking around the Opera House, we headed back to the ferry terminal where we caught a ferry over to Taronga Zoo.
The Taronga Zoo is about a twelve-minute ferry ride to the north side of Sydney Harbor. We’d heard great things about the zoo, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Though I’m not usually a fan of zoos, I was relatively sure that this would be my only opportunity to see some of the wildlife native to Australia, such as kangaroos and koala bears. These animals along with many others were all at Taronga. Probably the most impressive part about Taronga Zoo is the setting. Perched on the hilly banks of Sydney Harbor, the zoo boasts an absolutely beautiful view of the Sydney skyline, including the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge. I feel a visit to the Taronga Zoo is well worth the trip if you have a few days in Sydney. We purchased a Taronga Zoo Combo pass, which included a round trip ferry ticket and admission to the zoo for AUD $55.
Lunch in The Rocks
We ferried back to downtown Sydney and headed to the Rocks in search for a happy hour spot and a late lunch. We stumbled upon the Lowenbrau Keller — a Munich style beer hall right in the middle of Sydney. The thought of some German food and a few liters of beer really sounded good, so we spend an hour over some pork knuckle, brats, schweinebraten, schnitzel, and a couple liters of beer. It gave me a little taste of Munich — where I make an annual pilgrimage to Oktoberfest. At this point, my dad was getting pretty worn out from all the walking around and the massive meal, so we decided to take it easy the rest of the day by lounging around in the room and watching a movie, “American Hustle” at a theater a few blocks away.
Bondi Beach and the Bondi to Coongee Beach Walk (sort of)
Today the plan was to visit arguably the most famous beach in Australia – Bondi! We took the 380 bus from a stop across from the Sheraton on the Park straight out to Bondi Beach. The trip took about 50 minutes by bus, and cost next to nothing — it was very cheap. We arrived at the beach in the late morning with once again – fantastic weather. We decided to walk the coast of Bondi Beach past the Bondi Icebergs Club towards Coogee Beach. Apparently, one can make this walk in couple hours, as it is one of the most famous and scenic walks in the country, but we stopped after walking a little less than an hour and just enjoyed the wonderful vistas of the Australian coastline south of Bondi.
We returned to Bondi to explore the town and again decided on a burger for lunch at Moo Gourmet Burgers in Bondi (yes, I love burgers and eat them way too often). The burger here was quite good, but I still do not understand the Aussie obsession with adding beetroot to the burger. That’s just… strange. The egg; however…. that, I encourage!
Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens
After a leisurely lunch, we hopped the bus back to downtown and chilled out for a little while in the hotel room. We then set out to explore the Woolloomooloo Bay area, but stopped first to walk through the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens. I’m not a huge Botanical Garden fan, but they were pretty impressive. At this point, we realized how crazy New Years Eve may be the following night, because there was already a line about 200 people deep, armed with tents and ready to overnight in the park in order to grab shore-side seats along the harbor in Mrs. Macquarie’s Park.
Harry’s Cafe de Wheels
Once we were tired of looking at a crazy assortment of plants and palm trees, we continued walking towards Woolloomooloo, and finally stopped for dinner at the famous Harry’s Cafe de Wheels. Here, we enjoyed some traditional pies (the Harry’s Tiger was fantastic), and they were pretty darn good. We walked back to the hotel through Hyde Park as it was getting dark, and called it a night.
Sydney Fish Market
At this point, we were both pretty exhausted from the endless walking we’d been doing around Sydney. Since we planned to be out extra late for New Years’ Eve, we took it easy in the morning, and then headed to the Sydney Fish Market for lunch. This was the only mild disappointment of our time in Sydney. I guess I was expecting more after visits to other markets around the world, but I found this space to be entirely too crowded and not all that impressive. We did eat a decent lunch at one of the many restaurants fish market nevertheless. We spent the rest of the afternoon packing our bags for our flight to Cairns the following morning, and resting for the big New Year’s Eve celebration!