Sydney, the capital of New South Wales is not just picture-perfect and glitzy, but has infectious energy all around says Sushmita Biswas.
As the plane lost height and I caught the sight of the panoramic Sydney Opera House, I whipped out my camera but the results were hardly satisfactory. I was on a Virgin Australia flight from Gold Coast to Sydney. Sydney had been on the top of my list for a long time and I had to literally pinch myself to believe that I was just a few minutes away from Sydney, the second-most photographed cities in the world.
The 20-minute long bus ride from the airport to Barangaroo (located on the western harbour foreshore and a latest recreational centre) offered a glimpse of the city’s relaxed vibe with people lounging about in street-side cafes and restaurants on a weekday evening. After checking into Adina Harbourside Apartment Hotel on King Street Wharf by Darling Harbour, we set out for an evening walk down the harbour, dotted with chic restaurants, bars and family-friendly attractions like Madame Tussauds and Sea Life Sydney Aquarium. A hearty Turkish meal later, and after a long night’s sleep, I was ready to explore the many sights of Sydney.
1) Close Up With Furry Friends: Taronga Zoo
It is said that the best time to explore the spectacular scenes of this Australian city is during spring – September to November. More than anything else, the mild climate (ranging from 12 degrees at night to 20 degrees during the day) makes the popular walking tours enjoyable. No wonder the saying is that when in Australia, do what they love the most – enjoy the sunny outdoors! Therefore, I opened my Sydney innings on a crisp spring morning with a visit to the Taronga Zoo (in the suburb of Mosman). The best way to visit the zoo is to catch a ferry to Circular Quay. I hopped on to the ferry from the Darling Harbour along with my guide Julie and once at the Taronga Zoo Ferry Wharf, a quick cable-car ride from the ferry terminal took us to the zoo plaza.
The buzzword in this natural abode is ‘interactive’, with helpful volunteers taking us around to be up, close and personal with Australian animals. It’s said that at Taronga, the giraffes and the elephants have the best views of the harbour – the amphitheatre provides photo ops of Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House. At any given point, the zoo is jam-packed with screaming children and families and tourists eager to pat grumpy koalas, feed lazy kangaroos and play hide-and-seek with native Australian marsupials. And if you are not a zoo person, feel free to bring a picnic basket and enjoy lunch with views of Sydney Harbour.
2) Icon Of Australia: Sydney Opera House
No visit in Sydney is complete without a tour of the iconic Sydney Opera House. My next stop was an hour-long VIP tour of the multi-purpose performance venue designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon that opened in 1973. At the start of the tour, headphones were handed out by our tour guide who took us around the drama halls and stages (I even caught a glimpse of the rehearsal of My Fair Lady by Julie Andrews at the majestic Sutherland Theatre). Hungry after the hour-long tour, I settled for a hearty lunch at the Opera Kitchen.
3) Best Panorama: Pylon Climb Of The Harbour Bridge
Still, the dormant adventure side in me wanted some more kicks. I left the best for the last —the Pylon climb of the Harbour Bridge. No, I did not climb atop the iconic bridge (that’s for brave hearts to do) but instead, took to the 200 stairs inside the South-East Pylon to the Pylon Lookout for sweeping views of the Sydney Opera House and the harbour around. On the way up there are exhibits that celebrate the construction of the bridge and the men who built it.
4) Brush With Nature: Royal Botanic Gardens
Next on the list was a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Mrs Macquaries Road, to soak in the diversity of Aboriginal culture and tasting of Bush food. The gardens are laced with leafy walkways, harbour lookouts and a herb garden. A must visit is the Lady Macquarie’s Chair, carved out of a rock ledge as Elizabeth (then Governor Macquarie’s wife) was known to sit there and enjoy the panoramic views of the harbour.
5) Bondi Beckons
Sydney abounds in many white-sandy beaches from the north-side Manly to Cronulla in the south. But perhaps the most famous and funky is Bondi with its designer stalls, glitzy bars, surf shops and farmers markets. At Bondi, every day is a Sunday – usually flocked by sunbathers, surfers and tourists. My gastronomic journey also took me to Bondi Icebergs, a casual bistro that offers not just an amazing seafood platter, but also breathtaking vistas of the beach and the azure sea.
Like all good things come to an end I had to cap my Sydney sojourn by a tranquil 90 minute twilight sail with Sydney by Sail (a sailing service). As the cool sea-breeze tickled the skin, the boatman explained the techniques and tactics of manning the yacht. The peace, tranquillity and views left me speechless.
A tranquil end to my holiday Down Under!
Fact File On Sydney
Location: Sydney, Australia
Official Language: English
Currency: Australian dollar
Food & Drinks:
Time zone: UTC+10:00
Visit Australia Now!
About The Author
Sushmita Biswas is a media professional and loves meeting new people and doing creative things. She is all game for good food and great interiors. A mountain lover she plans to do Leh-Ladakh someday with her family. When she is not decoding lifestyle trends she keeps a tab on Bollywood and interviews well-known personalities.