Hello new continent!! Landing in Sydney slightly tired after a 7 hour flight and not much sleep, I made my way over to the centre of the city to get myself settled in my hostel. Probably the easiest airport to accommodation of my whole trip, a fifteen minute train with the hostel slap bang opposite the station. I then had a cheeky nap (as you do) and went downstairs for a bit of a talk on what do to in Sydney (not just for the free beer included!), then remained in the bar for the rest of the evening performing admirably in the weekly pool tournament, by admirably I wasn’t close to winning but came top ten.
The next day (due to some more lucky timing) I made full use of the hostels free walking tour of the city, so saw the botanic gardens, some super friendly wild parakeets, these crazy looking long beaked birds that are really common here apparently, Sydney harbour bridge, the Opera House as well as some other sites around the city. I also was a typical tourist and posed with a very motionless bronze coloured gent on a bench. Having met a few people from the hostel by now we’d planned to try and go to an AFL game (Aussie rules, the biggest most popular sport in Australia pretty much only played here), but instead luck had it Ryan, a friendly Scotsman had managed to get some free tickets for a college American Football game being played the same day, so we all decided to check that out with a couple of Aussies from Perth who were going too.
The game was great and held in the old Olympic stadium from 2000. The colleges were California and Hawaii and we got the full show, acrobatic cheerleaders, college bands having a band off at the start, a cannon for touch downs, cheesy entertainment such as kiss cam and crowd karaoke, and of course the full first team players giving us a cracking game! After being chuffed to bits and managing to escape certain Rudolph nose sunburn by moving seats, me and one of the other Aussie guys Karsten, decided we still fancied a bit of AFL. So we got a cab (overcharged fare still being disputed…) over back to the city centre to the SCG (Sydney Cricket Ground), the home ground of the Sydney Swans AFL team. After much wandering around trying to find cheap tickets we eventually got some for the second half for 28 dollars each, which for 60 minutes of sport was pretty great. The atmosphere was brilliant (the fact that the home team were cruising it probably helped), but I was also amazed at how many families were at the game, loads of little kids all I’m Sydney Swans gear getting properly involved.
After an evening forming my passive aggressive politely English complaint to Uber I had a beer and burger then called it a night. The next day I ended up heading across to Manly. Now Manly isn’t somewhere where only butch men are allowed (my still developing beard wouldn’t have made the cut if so!), it’s the name of a seaside town a ferry ride away from Sydney. AND on Sunday’s all travel is $2.50 for the whole day, bargain. So we headed over around lunch and hang out around the beach for a bit, which had wifi… Beaches have wifi these days, and had a little wander and shop around the town. One of the best things about making this trip apart from the price is the views from the ferry as you can see above.
The following day after a change in plan for the evening I ended up visiting the wildlife centre in Darling Harbour and then because we changed plans from seeing a rugby league match I got my culture on by going to the IMAX. The wildlife centre was actually pretty cool, having been to Calgary zoo and the night safari in Singapore you might be wondering why the hell I would want to go see more animals. Well this place was Australia themed, so I saw Tasmanian devils, wombats, kookaburras, wallabies, kangaroos and koalas. Sadly the resident salt water croc Rex had recently passed away. The wildlife centre was really interesting and a great little insight into some Aussie wildlife. Apparently kangaroos are pretty safe as you could walk around without a fence between where they were and the visitors. As the museum of contemporary art was close by I thought I’d genuinely try and be cultural and check it out, it may have also been free… However I swiftly learnt after seeing: some rubber gloves floating over fans; some motorised rubbish; and a super creepy monkey baby thing which may haunt my dreams; that modern art still isn’t really for me. In the evening I went to the IMAX, now this was the biggest IMAX theatre in the world so I had to really. I went to see Ben Hur which although apparently it’s lost $75 million at the box office I quite enjoyed. That may just have been a combination of the insane screen size and Morgan Freeman’s soothing voice though.
The next day I’d booked a tour through the Blue Mountains, this is a national park just outside of Sydney. Firstly though they’re not actually mountains, it’s more of a canyon and the reason it’s called blue is the slight blue haze from all the eucalyptus trees. Anyway we went with a friendly Australian who took us not only to the tourist spots but to some ‘secret’ spots along the way too. Lunch consisted of kangaroo pie with breathtaking views and I’ll let the pictures do the talking. It was a great taste of a tiny tiny bit of Australian national parks and I’d highly recommend it if you’re in Sydney. I finished off the evening with a drink with an old uni friend who has moved out here, and also had some of the best pancakes in Sydney at a place near the bridge.
On reflection as I write this the night before I fly off to Fiji, although my trip here has been short it’s definitely been enjoyable. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s that I need to come back at some point to see all the rest of what Australia has to offer! To all my Aussie friends, sorry I haven’t spent longer here, but I’m sure somewhere down the line I’ll be back!