Sydney: Part 1: The Royal Climb

This post is definitely going to be a big one, so I think I am going to split our adventures in Sydney over two different blog posts. We have done an unbelievable amount of fairly cool things and seen some brilliant sights while we have been here. To edit them down to fit in one post would be a) a travesty, and b) decrease the jealousy I can evoke. Just kidding.

Day One:

On your first (full) day in Sydney, the last thing you want to be doing is driving out of the city to sort you leaking camper van out. We really liked Draco, he has travelled thousands of miles with us, he has been warm, and was nice to drive. And then he leaked in my face at 5:30am and that was it, I went off him quick. Once the leak stopped, the clothes were cleaned and dried, and the patch job were completed in Coff’s Harbour, we only had changing the van left as an option.

When we woke up early on Wednesday morning, we had phone message saying we could no longer exchange the van at 10am and would have to wait until 12:30. This was annoying because we had to take more time out of our day and our plans to get it sorted, and because their promise of ringing us was once again not followed through. We decided to arrive at 10am, or as close to as possible, anyway.

We arrived with lowish fuel tank, all our stuff piled in the car, and unhappy faces. They did quickly see to us, and there was someone out doig the inspections on Draco pretty quickly. Apart from an issue with the fuel and cleaning (that were both sorted, and benefitted us) Draco was removed from our custody and replaced with Space Race fairly easily.

The people at Spaceships also refunded a night’s accommodation (that they had said they would do) and also returned two days of the rental fee to us. This was an added bonus that we weren’t expecting, which paid for two nights accommodation on Lane Cove National Park caravan site. Not too bad after all. ow if they could just sort the temperature that would be great.

Our net task was to get back tot he site, and then into the city via public transport. We knew there was a train line just 10 minutes from the park, so w walked up there, and discovered getting an Opal Card (Sydney’s Oyster card) we could travel cheaper. And so we could, so off we went into the city, pursuing an Opal card, and intent on getting our first glimpses of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. As it turned out, the train we were on went into the city via the bridge, a not to shabby entrance in the end.

Our first stop was the bridge climb office. Jade has been set on climbing the bridge since we first decided we were coming to Sydney, so we booked that for Friday evening. We hd a little look at the bridge and the opera house as the sun was setting. We decided to get something to drink and get some internetto see if there was a cheaper place to stay than Lane Cove, but settled on returning there. We also buffered a load of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D ready for a catch up session, and set all our internet affairs in order.

Despite the dropping temperatures and the wind chill, we decided to brave walking across the bridge when peak time ended and our WiFi time was over. It didn’t seem as high as I was imagining, but it ws fairly awesome to walk over such an iconic landmark. The Opera House was lit up below, we could see lighthouses on the shore spinning round, and could see ferries and boats crossing the harbour. It was worth getting cold for.

Day Two:

Space Race may have lots of benefits, but I am pretty sure that the duvet is smaller. It’s cold, I’m waking up early shivering, and I’m a little tired. Everyone feel sorry for me! We made full use of the amenities on the campsite before we left in the morning. Originally, our plan had been to make our way to Bondi beach and do the coastal walk, but when we found out that Prince Harry was going to be at the Opera House, we decided to head back into the city instead.

When we arrived in the city, we got off at Milson’s Point on the North Side of the bridge, and walked over the bridge in the light this time. It’s strange how different a view can be in the day and the night. We raced across the bridge to make sure we were at the event, and stood in front of the Opera house as his entourage arrived. We didn’t see him walk into the Opera House, but we caught a glimpse of him waving from his car on the way out. It’s not a bad thing to say we saw at the Opera House on our trip down under.

It was nice to see the Opera House up close. It is a very impressive building. We definitely can’t just claim this as our visit there though, with all the security, and gates, and cordoned off areas.

We were there longer than expected, so we made our way to McDonalds at circular quay for a wrap deal lunch. Once we left, we opted to return to the campsite before peak rush hour prices began. We holed up in the (not really actually) warmer TV room and caught ourselves up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D; we’re now just one episode and the unreleased finale away from the end of season 2. It was nice to have a slightly lighter day knowing how busy our weekend is scheduled to be.

Day Three:

After our relatively quiet day, we woke up (ridiculously) early to face a very busy day ahead. Once again, the cold woke me up before 6:30am, not the greatest start to our busiest day. With miles of walking, tons of stops, and a bridge climb planned, we couldn’t afford any wasted time. We had a lunch packed in our bag, and we left just after peak time ended to get the train into the city.

Armed with a list of the top things to do in Sydney, and the list of must-sees Jade’s Dad had compiled for us, we set off first for Darling Harbour. Tucked behind some of the CBD inland from the Harbour bridge is Darling Harbour, with the Star Casino, Madame Tussauds, Wildlife centre, and the IMAX theatre with the world’s largest screen situated around it and Cockle Bay.

We didn’t pay to go in any of the attractions, we just wandered around and over the bridge. It was a nice harbour, much smaller than Sydney Harbour and circular quay, but I wasn’t sure I thought it was as amazing as the internet had described it to be. We took a detour through a small shopping centre, and looked for boomerangs and other souvenirs in the gift shops we passed along the way.

Our next stop was the Chinese Garden of Friendship. I don’t really know what I was expecting when we arrived at the pavilion style entrance to a secluded garden in the middle of towering buildings, but the serene calm of the gardens was pretty nice. I did like the lakes, and artwork, and everything about it, and I liked the juxtaposition with the surroundings, I just didn’t get why it was there. Either way, it was still a nice, and unexpected, thing to see.

When we left the garden, we continued our nature tour of Sydney in Hyde Park. Much smaller than it’s London equivalent, it sat in an area of the city we hadn’t yet seen much of. It was really nice to walk past the Anzac monument and see some of the older buildings in Sydney such as St. Mary’s Cathedral.

After walking through Hyde Park, we made it to the Botanical gardens. They were preparing for a half marathon, and there was a group of lads playing an informal gae of cricket on one of the fields. As lovely as the gardens were though, there weren’t the reason for our stroll. Mrs. MacQuarie’s point sits at the far end of the park and overlooks Sydney Harbour. It’s location affords it a spectacular view of the Opera House in front of the bridge (and on a day like that, of the cruise ship parked between them).

We didn’t go to see the ‘chair’ that made the point famous, but we did take a seriously large amount of photographs and see some of the world’s most ignorant tourists. The view was picture postcard perfect, so we sat down and ate our lunch on a bench at the point. It is definitely a must-see place on any Sydney tourists list!

Our bridge climb was scheduled for late afternoon, so we went to the Opera House on the way to the bridge climb office. We walked around it and quickly realised that it was one of those places that as nice as it is to visit, it looks better and more impressive from afar. That said, it’s better to be able walk around it without the barriers than be kept back behind a certain line.

We had finally burnt enough time to make our way to the bridge climb centre. When we arrived at the desk, they gave us a second free pylon lookout voucher and told us to look around the museum and the cinema to learn more about the construction of the bridge itself. The history of the bridge was fascinating and all, but we were ready to get kitted up in our boiler suits and get attached to the safety line.

With the exception of the ladders, which were an insignificant section of the climb, the bridge climb was surprisingly easy to do. The views from the bridge itself was absolutely stunning. We had ordered a night climb, but on the way up were lucky enough to enjoy the sunset over Western Sydney. It was pretty awesome to see some of the view in both the day and the night.

We had deciced before hand to buy the photo package of pictures taken on the bridge. There are some pretty awesome shot of us woth the opera house, city, and river behind us, as well as our group at the summit of the bridge. It was definitely one of those once in a lifetime things to do.

After the bridge climb, we took a few minutes before following the bridge climb guide’s restaurant advise. Even though we were still dressed in clothes fit for the climb and not a meal, we went to a small italian in The Rocks called Zia Pina and finally got to enjoy some pizza. When we finally got back to the campsite, we were both ready to crash and rest our tired bodies.

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