Saturday dawned bright and clear, a perfect day for some city exploration. Donnie and I got ready and jumped on the “fast ferry” to Circular Quay. There are several options for getting to Sydney from Manly Beach, which is where we are currently living. There are two ferries– a regular one and a fast one. We pay a little more to ride the fast ferry ($17 for a return ticket/person) because it is nicer, takes half the time as the other ferry, and you can sit on the front of the boat to enjoy the view and the occasional sea spray. You also get a killer view of the skyline as you come into the harbour.
Once we disembarked, we headed beyond the Opera House to the vast Royal Botanic Gardens. These gardens are beautiful, with all kinds of exotic and endangered plants and trees, as well as flowers, statues, and sculptures. We meandered through the gardens with the goal of visiting the Government House and then continuing to a rock formation known as Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair.
Well, we ended up a little lost, and the building we thought was the historical Government House was actually an InterContinental Hotel. We ventured back into the garden to find our way. We discovered a beautiful section of flowers and Donnie found a map, so we were well on our way.
The sun was out in full force. I put on sunscreen (or suncream as they call it here) but conveniently forgot my face. Oops. We finally made it to Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair. This sandstone bench was carved by convicts in in 1810 for the then-governor’s wife. There are some of the best harbour views from this point.
There was a lovely breeze and lots of shade, so Donnie and I took a little break by the water to soak in the sights and sounds. There is something utterly peaceful about the sound of water punctuated by Aussie songbirds. You can also see my lovely sunburn setting in.
After our little rest, we headed back to Circular Quay to find a Hop On-Hop Off bus. We still hadn’t seen much of Sydney beyond the harbour and we wanted to understand how things were laid out.
While buying tickets for the tour bus, one of the teenage girls working the ticket booth asked Donnie where we were from. When he said Nashville she exclaimed, “Ah! I watch that show all the time! I feel a little starstruck.” Hah!
We hopped on the bus and enjoyed a narrated tour through the CBD. We learned that we’ve basically been pronouncing everything wrong: Bondi is Bond-eye not Bond-ee, Macquarie is MahCory not MaKerry, and I still can’t say Woolloomooloo, though we learned that it’s an Aboriginal word for “baby kangaroo.”
After our tour we felt like we had a much better handle on the city, and we’ve planned several trips to different areas for future weekends. I’m really excited for Chinatown yum cha (what we call dim sum in America) and taking my picture with a koala at the Sydney Wild Life Zoo.
After our busy day, we were happy to grab some gelato and hop back on the fast ferry to Manly.
Do you have any suggestions for things to do in the Sydney area?
Best sunscreen that doesn’t make your face break out? (This is becoming a daily necessity.)