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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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…..
And then along came a patriotic 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.
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.
We eventually broke off from the group (we got hungry) and just in time to see an Indigenous Australian playing the didgeridoo!
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!
Cue the plethora of pictures with the necessary selfies….
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.
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.
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!
Stayed tuned for more on Australia and New Zealand – I couldn’t fit it all into one post!