In Sydney we stayed at an AirBNB in an area called Surry Hills. It’s home to trendy shops, and great restaurants. While in Queenstown, NZ, we met a young woman who used to live in Sydney. She gave us some suggestions on things to do, places to go, and what to eat in the area. With so many great restaurants in Sydney, it was nice to have her to help narrow down the options! One night we got to try eating Kangaroo pizza at the Australian Heritage Hotel. It tasted better than expected – kind of like a less game-y version of venison.
Another food place we love was Gelato Messina! It came highly recommended by our Queenstown friend, and we agree! Both of the flavors we tried were excellent. Sam got the Coconut and Toasted Almond Sorbet, and Joseph got a mix of Raspberry, and Coconut Mango gelato. Perfect for the 100ish degree weather we experienced while in Sydney! (Sam almost melted…).
Australia Day & Manly Beach
In addition to all of the wonderful food, another unique thing we experienced was Australia Day: the official national day of Australia. Many people dressed up in the colors of the Aussie flag, and the whole day was loaded with activities and things to do around the city. On Australia Day, we decided to take a ferry to Manly, one of Sydney’s beachy suburbs. We heard the beach is less crowded than the more well known Bondi Beach, which sold us on the idea!
Our adventure to Manly and Manly beach began with Sydney public transit. They have an efficient system where you use an “Opal Card” to pay for fares for buses, ferries, and trains. Google maps had information about the stops and schedules we needed as well! Using our Opal cards, we took a bus to Circular Quay, and also used them to get on the ferry. You just tap your card to get on, and again when you get off. It’s really easy to navigate, and we were very impressed overall with their system!
Since we weren’t in a hurry, we took the slow ferry. Although the trip takes longer, we heard it is better for getting pictures of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge! Apparently you can actually pay to walk along the upper part of the bridge (with safety harness). In fact, we saw a few bridge walkers while we were on the ferry! We we opted out of because of our shared dislike of heights. Once the ferry docked at Manly, we discovered that it was a fun suburb, with a lot of people watching and great swimming!
Hyde Park & Fruit Bats
At night large fruit bats flock to Hyde Park to hang out in the trees and eat dinner! They are also known as flying foxes, and only eat fruit, nectar, and flowers. From a distance, they looked like birds, but when they got closer we saw unmistakeable bat wing outlines in the sky! This was a bit of a change from the usual large flocks of geese we’re used to back home.
We stopped at the park twice, because the first evening it was too late to get decent pictures due to low light conditions. The next night, we went back a little earlier while it was still light out. While it was still challenging to get pictures of them, since they moved so quickly and were high up in the trees, we managed to get a few good ones. Mission “get bat pictures” accomplished! Here are a couple of our bat pictures, and one of the central monuments in Hyde Park:
Royal Botanic Garden
Checking another epic Botanic Garden off of our bucket list! At the Sydney Royal Botanic Garden we saw a lot of interesting birds. This was our first “in the wild” Kookaburra sighting where we managed to get a picture! All of the other sightings were either in wildlife sanctuaries, or while driving. In addition to birds and flowers, we saw some gargantuan Orb Weaver spiders! While there are other, larger types of spiders in Australia, these were huge compared to the little Minnesota spiders we’re used to. Don’t worry, we only included one of the smaller spider pictures. It’s actually kind of cute…if you squint at it! 🙂