After a 15 hour flight from Los Angeles, I arrive in Australia’s largest city, Sydney (which located in the state of New South Wales) at 9:00 am in pretty good shape. I breeze through customs and meet my driver who is waiting to take me to the Menzies Hotel. The driver is a friendly chap from South Africa who gives me a brief tour through downtown Sydney.
When I arrive at the hotel, I discover that I don’t have a reservation. After a few tense minutes, the hotel clerk books a room for me. I quickly drop off my bags and head outside to explore the city.
I walk to an area called Circular Quay (pronounced key) and book a Sydney Harbour Catamaran Cruise (from $25.91 USD). The one-hour cruise takes me past major harbor attractions such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House, Fort Denison, Watson’s Bay and Taronga Zoo. I love architecture and I’m amazed by the beauty of the Opera House. Opened in 1973, the Sydney Opera House is the most recognizable symbol of both the city of Sydney and the country of Australia, and is also considered one of the 20th century’s great buildings. The building was designed to resemble a ship at sea with its roof appearing as a billowing white sail.
I decided to take a break from the cruise and visit the zoo. The first public zoo in NSW, Taronga Zoo officially opened in Sydney in 1884 on a site known as Billy Goat Swamp in Moore Park, operated by the Zoological Society of NSW which was founded in March 1879. Since the zoo is located on an island with a steep hill, I take the Sky Safari up to the entrance. The Sky Safari gives me an excellent aerial view of the zoo and I can’t wait to get inside to see the wildlife. The zoo features over 100 animal species from six continents, but I’m most intrigued by the native Australian wildlife such as kangaroos, crocodiles, wombats, and koalas. I spend about an hour at the zoo before returning to the cruise ship.
The Streets of Sydney
On my way back to the hotel, I notice an outdoor market and decide to stroll though. The market is full of vendors selling Australian arts and crafts. I visit with a boomerang vendor and he gives me a lesson on the ancient weapon. He explains how they were originally used by the Aborigines for hunting and warfare. There are also many types of boomerangs, some are designed to return and some are not. I purchase one of the boomerangs for my son and proceed with my market tour.
A few steps ahead, I encounter a man playing the didgeridoo. The music sounds so exotic with it’s mix of melodic notes and rhythmic beats. He gives me a short lesson on how to play, but my didgeridoo skills are severely lacking. I thank him for his time and head over to The Basement for lunch.
Later on, I venture into the city and visit an Aboriginal Art museum. I immediately notice that the art is very similar to some of the art that I saw in Indonesia. It makes sense that the cultures would be similar considering the proximity of the two countries.
Walking through downtown Sydney I notice a few things:
- Homelessness is a big problem (especially among Aborigines)
- Everything is very expensive
- Burger King is called Hungry Jack’s (where you can get an Aussie Burger with Beef Patty, Bacon, Egg, Cheese, and Beetroot)
- People drive on the left side and steering wheels are located on the right side.
- Many of the residents are quite stylish and fashionable.
Later that night, I have dinner on the boardwalk on Darling Harbour at a restaurant called Niko’s. The boardwalk is full of tourists awaiting their dinner cruises. At the restaurant, I consider having some kangaroo, but I think better of it. The food is okay, but I enjoy sitting outdoors enjoying the view of Sydney.
The next morning, I visit the Sydney Aquarium ($34.99 AU adults & $17.99 AU kids) It has a large range of marine life including sharks, seals, tropical fish, and penguins. The coolest thing about this aquarium is the network of tubes that allow you to be surrounded by the marine life. The only thing that separates you from a shark is about an inch of plexi-glass.
My favorite exhibit is the Northern Oceans which features many of the tropical fish the inhabit the Great Barrier Reefs viewed through a floor to ceiling window. I see vibrant clown fish darting past anemones, sea stars, sea cucumbers, wildly colored triggerfish, beautiful lionfish, and sleek tropical sharks.
When I walk over to the Northern Rivers exhibit, I encounter a massive saltwater crocodile. The Saltwater Crocodile, also known as the Indopacific or estuarine crocodile, is the world’s largest living reptile. It is found in tidal coastal rivers right across the tropics of northern Australia. Although I’ve seen many alligators in my life, they did not prepare me for this menacing beast. I definitely would not want to encounter one of these hungry crocs.
As I mentioned earlier, I love architecture. Therefore, I a taxi to Old Sydney to admire the buildings and old world charm. I visit St. Patrick’s Church and the oldest house in Sydney, Cossit House. I We walk through Old Sydney to get to the restaurant and I take in the architecture. After my walking tour, I go to Mr. Chow’s Peking Restaurant for lunch and have a smorgasbord of Chinese dishes. I must say that this is the best Chinese food that I have had in my life.
I return to Darling Harbour to enjoy the waterfront. After spending several minutes watching the tourists and the cruise ships, I have dinner at The Meat and Wine Co. I order the Monte Select Ribeye (medium rare) and a glass of Australian Shiraz wine. The meal is exquisite and the service is fantastic. It is a fitting end to my trip to Sydney.
Join the conversation: Share any of your experiences in Sydney, Australia. I’d love to hear about them.