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!

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