• Spike

Sydney - Australia

Australia was never on the top of my list of places to visit. It's usually the number one destination for backpackers, but I'd never considered it to be a place rich in history or culture.

I'd always considered it to be similar to UK culture but in a hot climate, so it didn't interest me so much as more diverse countries.

As I was heading to New Zealand, I decided to fit in a short visit to Sydney over New Year, as ringing in New Year by Sydney Opera House would be quite a spectacular thing to do.

From the little I saw of Australia, I really loved it! There was a great feeling in Sydney, the people were friendly, the pace of life seemed much calmer than British cities and the weather was glorious!

I think the real draw to Australia is the landscape and nature of the country, however being in Sydney I didn't see so much of this.

I'm happy to say that this short trip changed my opinions about down under. I'm very keen to return to Australia and will spend much longer exploring the country on my return. Sydney was a great city, but as my time was limited I saw very little, but what I did see was great!

Sydney Opera House

The most famous landmark in Sydney is of course the opera house. Hang around the harbour to get a nice view of the opera house, or get closer up and chill out on the steps leading up to it.

Obviously there are likely to be many other tourists here, but you can avoid the crowds if you visit very early.

Most people come here simply to admire the stunning exterior, but why not see if there's a performance on which you'd like to attend?

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Next to the Sydney Opera House you'll find Sydney Harbour Bridge. This bridge is huge! It's so much larger than I'd ever imagined!

If you take the bridge from the harbour it leads to North Sydney, where you'll find a beautiful waterfront park, and a nearby amusement park "Luna Park".

It's possible to climb the bridge as part of a excursion with "BridgeClimb Sydney". I would love to have tried this if time had permitted. It's quite expensive at around 200 Australian dollars, but it looks like an amazing experience. If you're scared of heights though, I'd not recommend it!

Wild Life Sydney Zoo

I'm not really one for zoos, as I don't agree with keeping animals in cages that don't need to be in cages. Am I hypercritical to have visited such a place? Yes.

Being in Australia, I wanted to see some of the local wildlife. I couldn't visit Australia and not see a kangaroo! So my only solution was to visit a zoo. I did some research and found another place with many kangaroos which can be petted, but there was many negative reviews stating the animals were malnourished and mistreated.

Wild Life had consistent positive reviews, and I have to admit as zoos go, it is one of the better one's I've visited. There was a fair amount of space for the animals, however I still felt a little guilty being there.

You'll see all of the popular Australian animals such as kangaroos, duck-billed platypus, crocodiles, Tasmanian devils and wombats to name but a few.

It's also possible to book a ticket in advance for a photo with a koala. It's better to book as early as possible while the koala is awake, as they sleep for most of the day.

Overall it was a positive experience, but I still don't believe that zoos are needed unless it's to help procreate endangered species.

Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach Trek

Bondi Beach is probably the most well known beach in Sydney, so you'd be crazy not to check it out. It was a nice beach, and although it was crowded I much preferred it to the beaches in Kuta, Bali.

I'm not someone who can sit on a beach all day, as I feel there's so much more I could be doing. So I decided to hike the Bondi to Coogee trail.

You'll pass several other beaches in between, and there are some beautiful views as you hike along the cliffs. You'll also pass through a graveyard, which although it may seem morbid, is actually quite beautiful.

The route is clearly laid out so there's no chance of getting lost. It's said to take about two hours to complete the trek, but it only took me an hour, although I do walk fast. I guess that by walking slower you'll take in a lot more.

The only real tips I'd give is to make sure you're protected with sun cream and stay hydrated, as the heat especially in the summer can be quite extreme.

New Year in Sydney

The main reason I visited Sydney was to ring in the new year.

There are various options if you want to see the fireworks over Sydney Opera House.

The cheapest is to pitch up first thing in the morning, but you have to stay there all day to keep the spot, and it may not be the best view. I decided to pay for a view at the Royal Botanic Gardens, right by Mrs Macquarie's Chair, which I honestly think was the best view possible.

The Royal Botanic Gardens had various events, and the one I chose had chilled music and unlimited food, but I had to pay for the alcohol.

There was a livelier party going on nearby, with music that seemed more my vibe, but I think if I'd have attended that event, I'd not have had such a good view.

I paid a few hundred pounds for the event I attended, but it was a once in a lifetime experience, so I think it was worth the money.

Another option is to buy a ticket for a boat party, but these can be very very expensive, especially if you choose to buy a ticket for one of the illuminated boats which feature in the parade. Still, I imagine the view from a boat would be pretty impressive!

At around 1:30am, the bars and clubs stop allowing people in due to a lockout law. So if you plan to go somewhere after viewing the fireworks, you need to be quick.

I found myself rushing through the crowds in an attempt to get to a bar before last entry. Whilst doing so I met a group of locals attempting to do the same. They had been stamped for a bar so they could walk straight it, so I used my Sharpie marker to smudge what looked like a faded stamp onto my wrist. This fooled the doormen and I gained entrance.

So, was it worth it? Celebrating New Year in Sydney? Absolutely! I had a great time, even though it was fairly chilled for most of it.

I'm not much of a fan of fireworks, I tend to feel that once you've seen a few firework displays, you've seen them all. But I actually really enjoyed the fireworks in Sydney, there was something about it all which felt truly special.

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