Sydney is home to around five million people, more than a fifth of the entire Australian population. With a bustling downtown area, very active nightlife, dozens of beautiful parks and protected areas and some of the most iconographic architecture in the world, it’s definitely a place worth going if you are headed to this part of the world. It is situated on all fronts of a bay whose name I can’t figure out, and much as the Bay Bridge connects west and east parts of the SF bay area the Harbour Bridge connects north and south Sydney to broaden city limits. Here’s the view from the plane as we approached.

As my itinerary called for ten days in Australia, and with half of them devoted to a scuba trip on the Great Barrier Reef, at a friend’s suggestion I spent the first half of my time in the city of Sydney plus a day trip to the Blue Mountains. I’m going to relate all of my Sydney adventures in one post because I just want to get it out there before I get on the boat for the next 3 days. Over the past month I’ve been in turbo-tourista mode to see as much of the south Pacific I could before meeting up with Kristof in Singapore, and since we have 6 weeks in SE Asia we’ll probably take it at a slower pace so my posts won’t be as long.

I played tourist very well here thanks to the help of my gracious couchsurfer hosts Michael, Diederik and Melissa who live in Westmead, about a 35 minute train ride from downtown headed towards the Blue Mountains. Here are some of the places I went:

St. Mary’s cathedral is next to Hyde Park downtown and demanded a visit.

The botanic gardens in Sydney are much more interesting than the last one I went to. There are bats everywhere.

When walking through I got lost for a while at the old government building in the middle of the park. I don’t know how I got lost but there’s only one way into this large fenced in area and it took a while to find it again.

My mom reminded me several times to visit the Sydney Opera House, as if I might forget about it. I lol’d every time she mentioned it. On the tour our guide said that almost 4 billion people on the planet are able to recognize this building, making it the most iconographic building in the world. The design and building history are pretty interesting and I recommend reading about it. I’m not going to get into it now because this post is long enough as it is.

From the OperaBar on the waterfront by the main building you can see spectacular views of downtown.

I also visited the museum inside the Harbour Bridge which also has an interesting history and which I will also not be elaborating about at this time.

While walking around I passed by some indigenous gentlemen playing really groovy didgeridoo techno beats. I bought a disc to support the local trade and got in for a quick jam session.

Diederik and Melissa, who are Belgian, recommended I check out the Belgium Beer Cafe in the Rocks neighborhood, and after over an hour of wandering through the area I found it. I had myself a tall one to slake my thirst.

The Sydney Aquarium is the biggest aquarium in Australia so I felt compelled to visit it. Here are some pictures.

Throughout the aquarium were giant Lego sea creature masterpieces. This is the Lego mural at the exit.

The Australian Museum is currently host to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award, and it was one of my favorite things to see in the city. Go to the website to see the pictures, they are phenomenal. Here is my favorite, coincidentally the winning photo:

At Aunt Nan’s suggestion I spent a day in the Blue Mountains. The train from Westmead only takes about an hour, during which I finished reading the last written noven in A Song of Ice and Fire. Only 5 more years to go before the next one…

Among the places I went was the tallest point in the Blue Mountains, called One Tree Hill, in the town of Mount Victoria.

This lookout is supposed to be of the Three Sisters, a series of notable rock formations. The misty was so heavy there was nothing to see.

“Her majesty stared into the abyss, and as it stared back at her with the impressive vast emptiness that only nothingness can produce, she said ‘yes. This… this will be my legacy.’”
- St. Bartholemew’s Accounts of the Royal Visits to Hither and Yon, 1991

I hiked the bushwalk trail from the Three Sisters in Katoomba to Leura Falls in Leura. It took about three hours and the best way to describe it is definitely “bushwalk.”

The walk has lookouts every couple hundred meters and I stopped at all of them to enjoy the views.

On my way back to the Leura train station a parrot squawked very loudly and scared the crap out of me. They are all over the Blue Mountains.

The Sydney Central station has 25 platforms and is very busy during the day. Here’s what it looked like at 3:15am as I waited for my train to get me to my 6am flight to Cairns:

Tomorrow morning I’m getting picked up at 6:15 and will spend three days on a boat sailing around the reef for 11 dives. It shall be the pearl of my South Pacific adventures.