TNL Travels – Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Finally – I had made it to Australia. After years of the two of us talking about and planning this, there I was in Sydney with my friend Sidney! (I don’t think we’ll ever get tired of that). Not only had we made it there, but I was staying in my first hostel (review to follow). The trip was shaping up to be amazing already. Talk about marking things off the bucket list. We were only there for 5 days so with that we tried to do and see as much as we could before we left for New Zealand. Oh yeah – I went to New Zealand as well! No biggie. I have so much to share, so let’s get started.

Our first order of business was to take in a tour to see as much as we could in a few hours. There is a couple who loved their history so much they started hosting daily free tours at 3 different times. I’m Free Walking Tours of Sydney & Melbourne rely on how much people tip them to make their money. Our tour guide was a wealth of knowledge and we learned things we would have never known had we wandered around alone. We just had to arrive at the meet up location on time (we went for the 10:30am tour) on George Street and look for the bright green t-shirt.

I'm free walking tours, australia

The tour started in front of Town Hall Square which is across the street from the Queen Victoria Building (or QVB). Most of the town hall is covered in construction at this time.

Part of Town Hall
Part of Town Hall

The QVB (a shopping centre) looks like the traditional 19th century building with the interior redone to look a bit more modern and is complete with shops. There is a statue of Queen Victoria in front of the building which Australia received from the Irish in the 80s but I was more interested in the statue of her dog, Islay, who also has a voice (and bark!) done by a famous radio presenter named John Laws, urging people to make a wish and donation in the wishing well underneath him. We were happy to hear the money collected is donated to help deaf and blind children.

The Queen Victoria Building

 Inside the QVB

We walked through the underground and emerged above ground to continue on our tour, taking in the to St Mary’s Cathedral and Hyde Park where there is a statue of Governor Macquarie that was recently mounted. Macquarie is a prominent figure in Australian history as he was one of the founders who shaped many of the buildings and streets seen there today.

St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney
St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney

Hyde Park, SydneyStatue of Governor Macquarie in Hyde Park

From there, we walked past the Hype Park Barracks Museum, which at one point provided lodging for working male convicts and later on a female asylum until it was converted to a museum in the early 90s.

Hyde Park Barracks Museum Hyde Park Barracks Museum

I was enjoying the architecture and missed a lot of what the guide was saying because I was too busy taking pics! Oh, hi Sydney Tower!

Sydney Tower

And while passing by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, I was reminded that it was Canada Day…. What does she ever mean? There I was clicking away…..

Commonwealth Bank of AustraliaCommonwealth Bank of Australia

And then along came a patriotic Canadian….

A proud Canadian

I really loved a laneway called Forgotten Songs, Angel Place that had a variety of bird cages hanging while the different bird sounds played. It is meant to symbolize the different types of birds that may have inhabited the area before it was developed.

Forgotten Songs, Angel PlaceForgotten Songs, Angel Place

Forgotten Songs, Angel Place Forgotten Songs, Angel Place

We also stopped by The Customs House, where the tour guide advised we’d see a very familiar symbol that held a different meaning – the fylfot.

The Customs House, SydneyInside the Customs House, SydneyThe Customs House, Sydney  The Customs House Fylfot, Sydney

We eventually broke off from the group (we got hungry) and just in time to see an Indigenous Australian playing the didgeridoo!

Indigenous Australian playing the didgeridooWe stopped in the Museum of Contemporary Art although we were really itching to walk over to the Sydney Opera House since it was in plain sight.

Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney

We visited all four floors and scratched our heads at some of the art – but after all it is contemporary (I am more of  a traditional gal when it comes to art). Upstairs from patio we got a beautiful view of the Opera House and decided it was time to make our way across the harbour to see it up close and personal – Finally!

Sydney Opera House

Cue the plethora of pictures with the necessary selfies….

Sydney Opera House Sydney Opera House   Sydney Opera Houseconcept behind the Sydney Opera House concept behind the Sydney Opera Houseconcept behind the Sydney Opera House

Outside the Sydney Opera House
We made it to Sydney Opera House!

Sydney is the typical big city crawling with people and lots to see and do. There is never a dull moment. Coming from a big city myself, I was still overwhelmed by how many people were everywhere at any time of the day.

The streets of Sydney, NSWThe streets of Sydney, NSW The streets of Sydney, NSW

Granted, Sydney’s population is MUCH higher than Toronto’s but wow. Their transit system is awesome and I couldn’t get over how clean the buses were. It may be because you aren’t allowed to eat or drink while on board – what a concept! The shopping was also great and we admittedly purchased a *few* items – my most favourite find being this wonderful NEON LEOPARD scarf (Australia knows what’s up). Oh TNLers – the joy I felt finding this on sale for dirt cheap in Australia.

Neon Leopard scarf

On one of the days, we stopped over at Darling Harbour to enjoy the gorgeous weather the city was having. Winter, you say? What a BEAUTIFUL day it was!

Darling Harbour Darling Harbour Darling Harbour Darling Harbour Darling Harbour Darling Harbour

Stayed tuned for more on Australia and New Zealand – I couldn’t fit it all into one post!

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6 thoughts on “TNL Travels – Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

  1. Love this!! I had an awesome time when I went but I didn’t see nearly as much as you!!! Looking forward to more pics and posts 🙂

    1. It was all thanks to the free walking tour, Erica! We would have missed a lot as well, but this certainly did enhance the experience! I can’t wait to share more 🙂

  2. This is amazing. I feel like I was there with all of your wonderful pics. Love the one of you at the customs house.

    I love that there is a free tour option. So glad that you got to take advantage of it, I wish all cities had something like that. I love to hear that their transit system is good, and clean. Travelling on nyc subway gave me a new appreciation for the fact that I dont feel like I need to soak in sanitizer after a subway ride in our city.

    How meant to be is that neon leopard scarf? I LOVE it. See? TNL is global.

    Thanks for a fantastic snapshot of this amazing sounding city!

    ps. Going to Sydney with Sidney will never get old. It’s gold.

    1. The transit system is awesome – cameras (operable) with monitors and everything. No graffiti OR garbage. But you’re right; NYC subway also makes me appreciate the TTC. I am so glad we did the free tour as well, because I would have just snapped away and not appreciated a lot of what I saw. The 19th century architecture is beautiful. I can’t wait to share what else I saw!

  3. I so enjoyed this post! The pics are great! I hear you on the contemporary art front – I always feel the need to visit a gallery if I’m in a new city, but if it is contemporary art I usually don’t get it! There were so many cool and interesting and unusual places on your tour – I think my favourite from your descriptions is the Forgotten Songs, Angel Place. It seems eerie and beautiful, sad and uplifting all at once. Thank you for your armchair tour!

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