You have a full weekend in Sydney, Australia’s largest city. What to do? Based on Brett’s Tour Guide, let’s have a go. Saturday morning, stroll the farmer’s market at El Alamein Park. Take in the aromas, different cultures, items one does not usually see in the U.S., then enjoy a croissant, Portuguese custard pie, or veggie quiche, and your flat white coffee.
With the sun shining, walk to the Botanic Gardens, and enjoy the flowers and flora. Mrs. MacQuarie’s “chair” is an exposed sandstone rock cut into the shape of a bench, on a peninsula in Sydney Harbour. It was hand carved by convicts in 1810, for Elizabeth Macquarie, the wife of Major-General Lachlan Macquarie, Governor of New South Wales.
Then head to the “Rocks” district. Originally where the first convicts landed in the 1880’s. They worked and built small stone houses in the area, the foundations of which are still visible. It has evolved into an “in” neighborhood of businesses, clubs, shops, restaurants, pubs, and the frequent street markets. Now is a good time to stop by Australia’s oldest registered hotel, the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel, for a refreshing half-pint of one of the house brews. On the walls of the Nelson are stones hand cut by the convicts; however, these stones show the count marks that each convict chiseled to keep track of his production. They are all unique.
Observation: I have never seen so many New York Yankee and Los Angeles Dodgers hats and jerseys and in so many colors; however, most tourists go to either New York or LA. So I guess that makes sense.
After slaking your thirst, walk over the Circular Quay (key) near the cruise ship dock. This is “ferry central” for Sydney’s many ferries that crisscross the harbor carrying commuters, tourists, and beachgoers to various destinations in the Sydney metro area. Here, catch the 30-minute ride to Manly, a beach suburb with all the requisite restaurants, coffee and souvenir shops, and other tourist-oriented businesses. If the weather is nice, get a seat up front and outside.
When you arrive, look at what’s available, then grab a veggie burger or salad at the Hold before walking along beach. Watch the surfers and swimmers, look at the beachfront residences, and breathe in the fresh sea breeze. The afternoon might hold a rain shower or two that cools things off. As you make your way back to the ferry, stop at the Four Pines Brewery for a taster of their seasonal brews. The return trip in late afternoon will provide some special lighting for pictures.
On Sunday, take the easy-to-navigate public transportation (it has the “tap” on and off fare feature for credit and debit cards as well as the transit cards) to Bondi Junction and the bus to Bondi Beach. The beach was the site for the 2000 Olympic beach volleyball competitions. A walk to the end of the beach, which is wide and long, takes you along more beautiful oceanfront residences. Bondi Beach is also the setting for the Australian reality equivalent of “Bay Watch,” because of the rip currents that occur. The guarded swimming area has beach and boat guards, but plenty of surfers, boogey boarders, and swimmers are along the entire expanse.
In the afternoon, plan to spend at least a couple of hours to visit the ANZAC (Australian New Zealand Army Corps) memorial in Hyde Park. It honors the New South Wales (NSW) service men and women of the all wars but focuses mostly on World War I. “Your greatest offering is silence,” conveys the persistent reverence and respect that Aussies have for their sacrifices. BTW, virtually all states and most towns/cities have ANZAC memorials. The exhibit has a wealth of artifacts and exhibits. It also contains a selection of oral histories and stories from service men and women.
Wind up the weekend with dinner at world famous Harry’s Café de Wheels in Woolloomooloo. It is a kiosk that specializes in different types of pot pies, not just chicken, since 1945. Celebrity photos festoon all four sides of the kiosk. An after dinner walk around the wharf and in the park atop the nearby parking garage provides a view of numerous lorikeets, which are colorful and noisy birds, similar to parakeets.
Then it will be time to head to the airport in the morning for the next leg of the adventure in the Land of Kiwi.