Sydney 26th September – 8th October

Sydney 26th September – 8th October

(The whole of Australia’s blog posts are very delayed… sorry! My iPad is beginning to die on me making it harder to write and I’ve not be very well for a lonnnnng time now and the blog was always lowest on my priority list!)

I successfully made it to the land down under after landing at 5 pm Hawaiian time and it suddenly being 1pm the next day, Sydney time thanks to the international date line. While waiting in Honolulu airport for my flight, I was amused talking to a couple who had found in the past that they hadn’t booked somewhere to stay on their first night after getting confused while crossing the date line! Thankfully, no hiccups from me so far.

I’m staying with a friend, Rachel, who I met in Berlin 2 years ago on my very first solo travel trip. Had that trip not been such a success, I probably wouldn’t be doing my own circumnavigation right now.

Rach and I

At the time of landing in Sydney, I had nothing else booked or even planned. I knew I wanted to head north along the coast and then probably fly into Singapore from Cairns before starting the Southeast Asia part of my trip but for the time being, nothing was planned, except a place to sleep for a few nights in Sydney. I therefore used some of the more miserable weather days to come up with a plan for the next part of my travelling.

As with any new place, my first few days were filled with a lot of exploring the city on foot. While meandering vaguely in the direction of the botanical gardens for a good view across the harbour towards the opera house, I found myself in some really lovely gardens which were in fact the gardens I’d been searching for. I wandered down towards the waterfront and over to one side to get a look back towards the Opera house. I found a lovely shady spot to enjoy the view and listen to my podcasts for a while. I then walked over to the opera house. When up close, I realised that it is actually quite a weird building. Maybe it would make more sense if I explored inside as well to see how it is all put together but I haven’t bought a ticket to see anything this time.

Anzac Memorial, Hyde Park. Complete with a “bin chicken”. Real name White Ibis. Very weird scavenger birds.
Views from across the harbour while clearly amused by something!
Symbol of Australia! Hopefully see some up close later in my trip.

Walking from Brontë to Bondi beach was definitely a highlight as Rachel and I had just got breakfast together (I finally had an açai bowl and it was just as amazing delicious as I’d been told) and then we ambled along the coast line making sure we were all caught up on each other’s lives. At Bondi we wandered into the markets and found an amazing hand made jewellery stall where I bought some earrings (of course!).

Bronte beach

Watson’s bay, just a quick ferry ride from the city centre, was an amazing bay to wander around and relax on the beach after a lighthouse walk. On my ambling around here, I was listening to Tom Hanks’s desert island discs from BBC radio 4 and a great quote he said was “solitude should be sought after but loneliness avoided”. I felt like this really resonated with my 4 month solo travel trip. There are times when I feel a tad lonely, other times when I feel at peace with my own company (or happy with listening to loads of podcasts), and other times when I have a whale of a time with people I meet along the way. Thankfully, much more of the latter two things than the first. On the ferry back across the bay, the weather had begun to turn and it was very windy and a bit chilly which I wasn’t prepared for. By the time I got back to where I was staying in Paddington, I had to curl up under a blanket for quite a while before I warmed up again! Sydney is genuinely cold!

View of the bay
View back towards the city CBD
Opera House view on the journey back towards the city center.

A day trip up to the blue mountains was a welcome break away from the city for this old country bumpkin! However, I didn’t go as prepared as I think I should have done. Even though nothing bad happened, had something happened, I think I’d have been in a real pickle as I hadn’t told anyone which walks I was doing nor had I brought my first aid kit with me. I was there nice and early but because of this, the paths were very empty with steep drops off down the side of the mountains. Not to mention all the wildlife/bugs which I’m sure many of them had pretty nasty venomous bites/stings given its Australia…! On the first walk down the Giant Stairway (they got that very right!), I was clinging onto the banister as I walked down the stairs. Before I was even half way down, my legs were shaking and felt like jelly as the staircase was never ending and uneven and very steep and my legs just aren’t used to such terrain. It was such a relief when I got to the bottom, apart from the fact that I knew I’d have to walk back up the same distance later in the day when it was undoubtedly going to be quite a bit warmer.

The three sisters. The giant stairway starts just to the left and goes all the way down into the valley.
Jungle paths

The next walk I did was around Leura cascades and Katoomba falls. This was a very different walk and it felt like walking through a jungle at certain points with very overgrown paths and tropical plants all over the place with vines cascading down through any clearings. From this walk, I went over into the next village to get the train back to Sydney.

While here, I took the opportunity to see people I know in Sydney. A childhood friend from prep-school days is out here as an au pair so, despite not seeing each other for about 12 years, I messaged her and we met up for a pub lunch and a walk along the coast. A very nice afternoon reminiscing and catching up on everything in life!

Views from the coastal walk

I also had a couple of drinks with a friend I met during my study abroad in Rochester so that was also a really nice afternoon filling each other in. I tired to meet up with a few other people but unfortunately they didn’t work out.

On my last day in Sydney, I tried to find Wendy Whitely’s secret garden which took my longer than it should have done! That was a picturesque, secluded little area with loads of different colourful plants and birds and was a very enjoyable spot to enjoy the early afternoon before I headed over to Darling harbour to catch a boat to go whale watching. It was a rough day at sea but thankfully, I came prepared with waterproofs, jumpers, and knowledge about how to avoid seasickness (as well as good sea-legs from my mother’s seafaring family!). I can’t say that all the tourists on the boat were prepared… some in just shorts and a vest, commenting on how much fun the “waves” were but they hoped it didn’t get any worse (all said before we’d even got out of the harbour)! I don’t think they had the best trip to sea.

We did see quite a few whales, mostly mother and calf pairs but no breaching. It would have been amazing to see that but it was still very cool to see the whales nonetheless. Hopefully something to see next time.

Mother and calf
My new favorite bird – the Kookaburra. I think they’re quite sassy little things and their call sounds like a slightly demonic laugh!


  1. Victoria Hellyer

    Were you in a bay when you tool the picture of the mother & calf? It doesn’t look like very rough seas ….

    • Jess

      This was as we were coming back in and it was definitely calming down

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