Splendid Sydney: Top 5 Highlights From My Australia Holiday
Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, Australia, is not just picture-perfect and glitzy, but is filled with an infectious energy, says Sushmita Biswas.
As the plane lost height and I caught the sight of the panoramic Sydney Opera House, I whipped out my camera but the results were hardly satisfactory. Sydney had been on the top of my list for a long time and I had to literally pinch myself to believe that I was just a few minutes away from the second-most photographed cities in the world.
The 20-minute-long bus ride from the airport to Barangaroo (a recreational centre on the Western Harbour foreshore) offered a glimpse of the city’s relaxed vibe, with people lounging about in street-side cafes and restaurants on a weekday. After checking into my hotel on King Street Wharf by Darling Harbour, we set out for an evening walk down the harbour, dotted with chic restaurants, bars and popular family attractions like Madame Tussauds and Sea Life Sydney Aquarium. After a hearty Turkish meal and a long night’s sleep, I was ready to explore the many sights of Sydney.
1) Close Up With Furry Friends: Taronga Zoo
It is said that the spring months of September to November is the best time to explore the spectacular scenes of this Australian city. More than anything else, the mild climate (ranging from 12 degrees at night to 20 degrees during the day) makes popular walking tours enjoyable. No wonder the saying is that when in Australia, do what they love the most – enjoy the sunny outdoors! So I opened my Sydney innings on a crisp spring morning with a visit to the Taronga Zoo, in the suburb of Mosman. The best way to reach the zoo is to catch a ferry to Circular Quay. Along with Julie, my guide, I took the ferry from Darling Harbour to the Taronga Zoo Ferry Wharf, from where a quick cable-car ride from the ferry terminal took us to the zoo plaza.
The buzzword in this natural abode is ‘interactive’, with helpful volunteers taking us up close and personal with Australian animals. It’s said that at Taronga, the giraffes and the elephants have the best views of the harbour and the amphitheatre provides amazing photo ops of Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House. At any given point, the zoo is jam-packed with screaming children and families and tourists eager to pat grumpy koalas, feed lazy kangaroos and play hide-and-seek with native Australian marsupials. And if you are not a zoo person, feel free to bring a picnic basket and enjoy lunch with the view of the Sydney Harbour.
2) An Australian Icon: Sydney Opera House
No visit in Sydney is complete without a tour of the iconic Sydney Opera House. My next stop was an hour-long VIP tour of the multi-purpose performance venue designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon that opened in 1973. At the start of the tour, headphones were handed out by our tour guide who took us around the drama halls and stages (I even caught a glimpse of the rehearsal of My Fair Lady by Julie Andrews at the majestic Sutherland Theatre). Hungry after the hour-long tour, I settled for a hearty lunch at the Opera Kitchen.
3) Panoramic Views: Pylon Climb Of The Harbour Bridge
Still, my dormant adventure side was looking for something more. So I decided to try the Pylon Climb of the Harbour Bridge. No, I did not climb atop the iconic bridge (that’s for brave hearts to do) but instead, took the 200 stairs to the Pylon Lookout for sweeping views of the Sydney Opera House and the harbour. On the way, we saw exhibits that celebrate the bridge’s construction and the men who built it.
4) A Brush With Nature: Royal Botanic Gardens
Next on my list was a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Mrs Macquaries Road, showcasing the diverse Aboriginal culture and Bush food. The gardens are lined with leafy walkways, harbour lookouts and a herb garden. You should visit Lady Macquarie’s Chair, carved out of a rock ledge as Elizabeth (then Governor Macquarie’s wife) was known to sit there and enjoy the panoramic harbour view.
5) A Funky, Fabulous Beach: Bondi
Sydney has many white-sandy beaches from Manly in the north to Cronulla in the south. But perhaps the most famous and funky beach is Bondi, with its designer stalls, glitzy bars, surf shops and farmers’ markets. Every day is a Sunday at Bondi, which is usually crowded with sunbathers, surfers and tourists. My gastronomic journey also took me to Bondi Icebergs, a casual bistro that has an amazing seafood platter and breathtaking vistas of the beach and sea.
Like they say, all good things come to an end. I capped my Sydney sojourn with a tranquil 90-minute twilight sail with a local sailing service. As the cool sea-breeze tickled my skin, the boatman told us all about the techniques and tactics of manning a yacht. The peace, tranquillity and views left me speechless, which was a fitting end to my holiday Down Under!
Fact File On Sydney
Location: Sydney, Australia
Official Language: English
Currency: Australian dollar
Food & Drinks:
Time zone: UTC+10:00
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About The Author
Sushmita Biswas is a media professional and loves meeting new people and doing creative things. She is all game for good food and great interiors. A mountain lover she plans to do Leh-Ladakh someday with her family. When she is not decoding lifestyle trends she keeps a tab on Bollywood and interviews well-known personalities.