The Sydney Guide
May 2, 2017
by Denise Hofmeister
Sydney is one of the most famous cities of the southern hemisphere and often mistakenly called the capital of Australia, embodies the relaxed and easy-going way of life. Therefore, every year millions of tourists travel there to surf the wave and many of them never leave.
In Sydney I got a first feeling for the laid-back Aussie lifestyle. Of course, the first point on the checklist was the harbor. The opera bar (just next to the opera house) offers a great choice of fresh sea food and in combination with live lounge music and a glass of wine the opera bar is the perfect place to enjoy the colorful sunset over the harbor bridge. After that we were in to discover the vibrant nightlife. The club Ivy is one of the best ones we came along. It has several floors with world-class DJs. Although it is quite crowded with tourists, it has a giant pool on the rooftop where you can cool down from all the dancing. If you want to party there on a budget, visit it on a Thursday because the entrance fee is a lot less.
Beaches and BBQs
On the next day we went to one of the various beaches around Sydney to cure our hangover, Bondi Beach, the hot spot of surfing. We took our first surf lesson and after five minutes in the chilly water our hangover was gone. After successfully standing up on the board several times, we called it a day. We continued on the 6 km Bondi to Coggee Coastal Walk, which combines beaches, rockpools and stunning views of the shore. Moreover the headlands are known to be a great whale watching place. We stopped in Coogee to enjoy a traditional Barbie (BBQ). At many beaches in Australia you can find BBQ areas and on weekends families and friends gather there for relaxing picnics in the sun. Almost nothing is more Australian than hanging around at the grill, drinking beer with your mates and roasting meat. After enjoying heaps of sausages and burgers we lay on the beach and got tanned or let’s say sunburned.
For dinner we headed to Newtown. Newtown is a suburb of Sydney and it attracts with its unconventionality. It has a thriving music and theater scene and a wide range of designer boutiques, vintage stores and specialty shops. On Kings Street you find restaurants for every taste, from spicy Indian curries to Japanese Sashimi. We went to Thai Pothong and enjoyed some chicken stay and a tasty “chili hot basil chicken stir-fry“. The hip vibes of Newtown continue in the craft breweries, where you can try locally produced beer.
Unique Animals on sight
After a hearty start in the day at Kepos Street Kitchen with a ground-roasted coffee and kepos eggs benedict and avocado toast, we headed to Featherdale Wildlife Park. Although if you stay in Australia for a longer period or you travel to other places as well, you will see kangaroos quite often but close to Sydney the Featherdale Wildlife Park is your best option. It’s about an hour train ride from the central business district (CBD) but absolutely worth it. We could pet kangaroos and when I was allowed to hug one of the koalas, I was completely felt perfectly happy. At the Featherdale Wildlife Park you also find more than 270 species of birds and animals but my favorites were wombats, Tasmanian devils, dingoes and echidnas.
For dinner we headed back to the CBD to eat out in China town. The Asian settlement had a great impact on Australia since the discovery of gold in 1851. Therefore, Asian cuisine and culture is omnipresent and a must try in Sydney. We went to Kura, which is a small Japanese restaurant at the corner and its great value for Money.
To satisfy our sweet tooth at the end of the day, we went to Haighs chocolates, the oldest family-owned chocolate maker in Australia, which is located close to China town. The detail and passion they put in every single praline is simply amazing and you can definitely taste it.
The next day we were off to an early start of the day. We rented a car and drove to the Blue Mountains National Park. We hiked to the Pulpit Lookout where you have a stunning view across the whole park, after that we took the cable car to the Jurassic rainforest. The cable car is in about 500m height and you have panoramic views of the three sisters and Katoomba falls. At the exit of the cable car the scenic walkway starts which leads you through the magical rainforests. With the colorful flowers and hidden waterfalls it feels like disappearing into another world.
In the foothills of the Blue Mountains is the location of the Jenolan Caves and the spectacular river walk. The Jenolan Caves are limestone formations and consist of nine spectacular caves. To enter the caves you have to book a tour and it is recommended to book it in advance due to the limited capacities. Depending on the tour you will see underground rivers, still pools, amazing light reflections and limestone formations in different shades. Next to the Jenolan Caves you find the river walk. The walk starts at the blue lake and as its name indicates it is colored in a captivating icy blue. The lake is man-made and fed by the River Styx and Jenolan River. The view is dreamlike. The blue color of the water is a natural reflection of light on the limestones. Surrounded by palm trees and regional vegetation, you dive into another world full of magic and surreality. Follow the tracks through magnificent nature and even spot a local resident – the platypus.
All in all, Sydney simply has everything that makes your heart leap for joy. You can relax on the beach, sip cocktails and watch surfer boys riding the waves or you can hike in one of the many surrounding national parks and explore the natural habitat of many animals that are uniquely found in Australia.