After a week of being cooped up in our Sydney office, I was really excited for the weekend. The weather forecast was perfect and I was ready to explore. On Saturday, I decided to take the Sydney Ferry System’s Manly Ferry across the bay to the town of Manly. Known for its long surfer-friendly beach, I also wanted to do some hiking in Sydney Harbour National Park.

The Ferry system in Sydney is really easy to navigate and cheap to ride. I hopped on the ferry to Manly and arrived 30 minutes later. There is a faster ferry, but I actually wanted to enjoy the ride so I took the cheaper and slower boat. Hanging out on the back deck, I got a great view of Circular Quay, the Opera House, and the Harbour Bridge on the ride.

Sydney Opera House from Manly Ferry
Sydney Opera House from Manly Ferry

When we pulled into the wharf at Manly, the crowd pushed towards the beach two blocks away. I turned away from the crowds and walked west along the shore. My plan was to walk a few miles of the Manly to Spit Bridge trail. It would take me along the shore past some coves, beaches, and eventually into Sydney Harbour National Park.

Manly to Spit Bridge Walk - so many beaches!
Manly to Spit Bridge Walk – so many beaches!

The day couldn’t have been more perfect. It was warm and humid, but since the trail ran right next to the water I was able to relax and dip my toes when the sun got a bit too hot.

Perfect toe-dipping conditions!
Perfect toe-dipping conditions!

After a couple of miles I crossed into Sydney Harbour National Park and the trail began to climb. It was hot and sunny, but I enjoyed my views of the Harbour and encounters with wildlife – especially the big Eastern Water Dragons.

These guys were everywhere - Eastern Water Dragon
These guys were everywhere – Eastern Water Dragon

At the top of the hill I was hot and sweaty and running low on water, so I decided it was time to turn back. I wanted to get back to some of the shaded beaches and cool down.

View from Debroyd Head in Sydney Harbour National Park
View from Debroyd Head in Sydney Harbour National Park

Back at the wharf, I stopped at 4 Pines Brewing Company for lunch. They had a really refreshing ginger beer that tasted great after my morning in the sun. Post lunch I wandered over to Manly Beach to walk in the sand and see what was going on.

Manly Beach
Manly Beach

The beach was super crowded and there were all kinds of events going on. On one end of the beach I watched a CrossFit style competition. Wandering down the beach, I found myself at the setup for the Australian Open of Surfing. There were no surfing events going on at the time, but there were lots of people enjoying the festival setup – giveaways, food, and music.

Australian Open of Surfing 2016
Australian Open of Surfing 2016

By 3 pm I was tired and worn out from all the direct hot sun and walking – I had gone almost 10 miles already. So I hopped back on the ferry and returned to Sydney. It wasn’t the end of my day, though! I wanted to keep exploring.

First, I climbed up through an area called “The Rocks”. There was an outdoor art fair going on so I purchased some gifts and souvenirs. As I kept walking, I decided I wanted to figure out how to get on the walkway on the Harbour Bridge.

Climbing out of The Rocks, looking for the way to the Bridge
Climbing out of The Rocks, looking for the way to the Bridge

I climbed a set of stairs and found myself at the base of the Sydney Observatory. It’s a free museum and I found myself geeking out about all of the equipment and astronomical history.

Sydney Observatory
Sydney Observatory

After the diversion, I followed paths that got me to the base of the bridge pedestrian walkway. It’s a short bridge, so I walked out halfway to get the classic view of the Opera House. Above me, I saw groups doing the Bridge Climb.

Opera House and Circular Quay from the Bridge
Opera House and Circular Quay from the Bridge

It was almost 6 pm and I was exhausted. My feet had taken me to a lot of new places, and they still had to get me back to the hotel, about a mile away. Luckily, I found a brewery with good pizza on the way.

The Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras festival was going on that night and I really wanted to go see the parade. I thought a quick nap would revitalize me, but I never heard my alarm and slept through the night. I’m disappointed that I missed it, but I think I covered a lot of ground for one day. And I still had one full day left – coming in the next post, Sunday at Taronga Zoo!

Sydney, Australia (02.28-03.07.2016)
103 photos
  • Day 1: Fighting jetlag by walking around Darling Harbour. This is looking back at my hotel (white building) - the Four Points Sheraton
  • Lots of groups and celebrations for Mardi Gras!
  • Walking around the harbour and looking back at the city
  • I wandered around the outside displays of the Australian National Maritime Museum.
  • Looking up Darling Harbour from the base towards Pyrmont Bridge
  • White Ibis wandering around like a seagull
  • I continued my walk through Barangaroo Reserve and made it to the Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • And eventually caught sight of the iconic opera house
  • I kept walking to stay awake, enjoy the views, and take in the beautiful weather. In all, I probably walked 10 miles on this first day in Sydney.
  • During the week I had to work, but my colleagues still took me to some great places like the Sydney Opera Bar
  • Watching sunset and the lights on the Opera House during dinner was pretty cool!
  • I had to try it. Ick.
  • Even during the week I managed to get some good views in - here's the view from the office I was working in.
  • On Friday night I decided to do some shopping in the Queen Victoria Building
  • The Great Australian Clock in the Queen Victoria Building
  • Glass in the Queen Victoria Building dome - this is much nicer than American malls!
  • McDonalds is testing Cadbury egg McFlurrys in Australia right now. I had to try one - even if it meant stepping into a McDonalds.
  • Friday night beer with colleagues at Darling Harbour.
  • I stayed through the weekend to enjoy the city. On Saturday I hopped on a ferry to Manly from Circular Quay.
  • Heading out of Circular Quay - this is the third cruise ship I've seen this week.
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge from the Manly Ferry.
  • Sydney Opera House from the Manly Ferry
  • Approach Manly - View of South Head
  • I walked the first part of the Manly to Spit Bridge walk.
  • Yoga on Paddleboards in Manly Cove
  • Pool in Jilling Cove
  • Jilling Cove
  • Looking across the cove to a part of Sydney harbour National Park
  • Pool at Jilling Cove
  • Watch out for spiders and lizards - I'm pretty sure everything here is supposed to kill me.
  • Low tide at the cove - lots of dogs playing in the water.
  • Walking into Sydney Harbour National Park
  • One of the countless beaches I passed
  • View from Dobroyd Head
  • Looking out at South Head and out to the Tasman Sea beyond
  • Looking back at Manly and the wharf where I came in on the ferry.
  • I walked up to Arabanoo lookout and saw some smoke. I think it was some controlled burns.
  • Walking down the trail here reminded me of hiking in Point Reyes or Big basin
  • Oh hai mr lizard. I saw these guys all week - Eastern Water Dragons
  • There were so many people and dogs out enjoying the beautiful day
  • I took many breaks to dip my toes in the perfect water.
  • I turned back after about 3.5 miles so that I would have time to visit Manly beach
  • The Yoga-paddleboarders were still out. The water was just getting more beautiful.
  • Next, I walked over to Manly beach after lunch at a local brewery.
  • Manly is a famous surfing beach but it was relatively quiet today.
  • I was there in the middle of the Australian Open of Surfing. I hoped the waves picked up for that afternoon's competition!
  • A bit sun-drenched and weary, I picked up a 3 pm ferry back to Circular Quay.
  • Despite being tired, I wanted to use all the time I had in the city and wandered toward and area called The Rocks. Above the rocks i the old observatory.
  • The astronomy major in me geeked out at the equipment and history of the observatory.
  • My only regret is that I didn't get out of the city to enjoy the southern hemisphere night sky.
  • The Sydney Observatory
  • The Sydney Observatory
  • The observatory helped keep passing ships calibrated.
  • The Sydney Observatory dome interior
  • The Sydney Observatory exterior with the gold ball that drops at 1 pm.
  • View of Sydney Harbour bridge from the Observatory
  • Next, I walked out the pedestrian walkway on the bridge to get the view of the Opera House and Circular Quay.
  • Opera House, Circular Quay, and a cruise chip.
  • Zoomer on the Opera House.
  • Pedestrian Walkway on the Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • In celebration of Mardi Gras, I got some cash from a GayTM.
  • On Sunday morning I got on another ferry. The ferry I'm looking at here is the one I rode to Manly on Saturday
  • Waiting to pull out on my ferry to Taronga Zoo
  • I head the Zoo in Sydney was great so I decided to check it out. After all, I didn't want to leave Australia without seeing a Koala and Kangaroo.
  • Walking to the zoo entrance from the ferry.
  • I started at the low entrance and had the park to myself for almost 1/2 an hour. First stop - red panda!
  • This guy was not in a cage - just another giant lizard running around.
  • The seal was having fun playing with toys
  • The Taronga Zoo definitely has the best views of any zoo I've visited! It's on a hillside, so as you climb through the different exhibits you get peeks of Sydney across the Harbour.z
  • They have a successful elephant breeding program, and I watched this one year old blow bubbles in the water. Too cute.
  • Baby elephant blowing bubbles.
  • Elephant
  • Monitor Lizard chilling on a branch
  • Hey I saw a kangaroo.
  • California Sea Lion. I came all the way to australia for this guy?
  • California Sea Lion
  • They also have a successful gorilla program and have two little ones!
  • Baby gorilla and mama
  • Curious baby gorilla, mama, and the silverback (to the left)
  • The other mama and her less curious baby.
  • Sleepy wombat. That is all.
  • Cassowary - beautiful bird.
  • Lemurs were hanging out in the shade. They looked like they were waiting for someone to bring them a cocktail.
  • Koalas look like grumpy old men.
  • Koala
  • Koala
  • Koala
  • The giraffes definitely have the best view in the park
  • Giraffe with a view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • Giraffe
  • There were also baby chimpanzees clowning around.
  • This one was playing with kids on the other side of the viewing glass.
  • Pygmy Hippo
  • I can't remember what this animal is called, but it was described as a 'bearcat'. Good enough for me.
  • Green sea turtle
  • Ferry back to Circular Quay = more pics of the Opera House
  • Ferry back to Circular Quay = more pics of the Opera House
  • I decided to wander closer and take a look at the opera house
  • Up close, the roof tiles reveal a pattern
  • Glazed white granite tiles make up the roof

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