Getting there…

a short train trip or taxi from the airport (note: at times traffic can be heavy in Sydney) or in our case we travelled by train from Canberra (Australia’s capital city) to Sydney.  

Where we’ve stayed near the harbour:

(separate post to come on other stays around Sydney)

stayed at a hotel close to Darling Harbour and from there it’s possible to walk into the CBD & many other inner city areas of Sydney or take the ferries to various destinations &/or harbourside villages.  On our numerous visits to Sydney over 40 years (before that we lived there), we’ve stayed in various places (circled on the map below) that can be accessed by ferry – some of our favourite Harbourside places to visit &/or stay have been in Balmain (where my grandparents’ lived…see photo below);  Milson’s Point/North Sydney (near the Olympic Pool on the harbour + Luna Park);  The Rocks (historic area);  Watson’s Bay (see photos below);  Manly;  Rose Bay…to name a few.  Another favourite Harbourside beach is Nielsen Park, Vaucluse (see photo below)…during cooler seasons we’ve taken ferry to Watson’s Bay & walked (30 min).  Lovely nature reserves at all the places listed above – so perfect for a picnic or there are numerous cafes and in some places, restaurants eg. Doyles Seafood at Watson’s Bay (photo below).

Watson’s Bay – above & below…20 min by public ferry from Circular Quay Sydney (Wharf & Railway Station).  Adults $5 

Neilsen’s Park Reserve and Harbour Beach (below)…accessible by bus from the city or ferry to Watson’s Bay (above) & walk 30 min or bus 7 min.

Sydney Opera House – if you’re visiting Sydney for the 1st time try to view the Opera House during the day & night + from the land and the water.  The walk around to the Botanic Gardens (also on the harbour) is also recommended.  More posts to come.

Seaplane like the one above is also popular with cashed up locals or tourists…Harbourside Eastern Suburbs of Sydney is a very affluent area (as can be seen from yachts & mansions in the background here…near Rose Bay).  However, the ferries are fabulous for everyone!…if you avoid peak/rush hour as many people commute from Harbourside suburbs to the inner City.  This photo was taken near the Rose Bay Wharf…a place we’ll explore on another visit as, from the ferry, it looked like quite a walk to Harbourside beaches/cafes etc??

Not a great photo of us but does show how Sydney Harbour sparkles in the evening with the Bridge & Opera House in the background.  We took the ferry from our hotel on Darling Harbour to a restaurant near Circular Quay (13 min on ferry/30 min walk) where we met up with my family – on this return trip there were fireworks near the Bridge/Luna Park (I’ll post more photos in kids’ section)…major fireworks occur for special days eg. New Year;  Australia Day on 26 Jan but these “mini” ones apparently happen quite often – even mid week (I think this pic was taken at 9ish on a Tuesday night).  The ferries & harbour experience helped to make our evening out even more memorable and so much easier than trying to find a parking spot near Circular Quay.

Restaurants around both Darling Harbour and Circular Quay:

Like most high tourist areas around the world, can be v expensive + the quality of food so variable of course.  At Circular Quay we enjoyed The Spice Room (Indian) – no views but authentic/tasty Indian food at mid range prices for this area.  Around Darling Harbour we’ve had some good & very bad food experiences…this time we tried some smaller Asian eateries along Sussex Street (a block back from the harbour) – we used the Good Food Guide/Trip Advisor etc + our own judgement once there to decide on places.  We much preferred that way of deciding on places rather than our decade++ old methods of wandering around reading menus etc…like we did prior to Net!  Anyway, if it’s a special occasion &/or you’re not on a budget like us (saving for our next trip!) of course there are so many top end restaurants in Sydney;  we find Australia Gourmet Traveller is often a good resource when looking for a special meal to cook at home + good tips for fine dining experiences.  Many Art Galleries and Museums also have excellent restaurants and cafes…we enjoyed a light lunch at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (photo below);  we’ve taken the bus to this part of Sydney from both the CBD & Darling Harbour although it’ts not too far to walk if the weather is OK.

The photo above was from our last/recent visit to Sydney in early January.  If you’re from Northern Hemisphere it’s worth noting that January can be hot in Sydney but if you stay near the harbour, get around on ferries and visit air conditioned museums etc. it’s usually an excellent time to visit.  Good thing is that hotel prices are often lower around the CBD in early January as so many Sydneysiders take time off in the school holidays &/or travel away…so added bonus is that the inner city isn’t as crowded.  Living in Canberra, “the bush capital” has turned us into small city lovers with visits to big, vibrant cities like Sydney during quieter times sometimes preferable to us…we find heavy traffic no fun!  Of course we coped with that (as do so many commuters every day) when there were sick family to visit or if there’s a special family get together (happened more often when my parents lived there) or we want to see a concert, theatre/dance production etc.  However, the ease of getting around in some of Australia’s smaller cities is definitely a bonus & one worth considering when planning travel.  Be aware that distances in Australia (unlike the 3-4 hr drive/train trip from Sydney to Canberra) can be huge – Rome2Rio is an App we constantly use when planning our trips.  This brings back a memory from many years ago of a young, overseas tourist asking us if it was possible to drive from Cairns to Sydney in 1 day!  Australia is a massive country – I’ll put an interesting map in the kids’ section which compares it’s total area with that of Europe.  

Sydney – Canberra (Australia’s Capital):

If planning a trip to Sydney try to head a few hours inland & spend a few days in Canberra (I’ll do a Sydney-Canberra via train post soon) especially if you’re interested in politics (& history) like us…or walking/bike riding around Lake Burley Griffin or the many beautiful hillside trails or…the list goes on (more in a new post another day).

Back to Politics…the Museum of Democracy at Old Parliament House gives an overview of Australian Politics sometimes in a humourous way eg.  Behind The Lines Exhibition…the best political cartoons from the year before.  From Canberra it’s a 2 hr drive to the beautiful South Coast & then another 3 hours up the coast to Sydney (many stunning beaches, lakes, even vineyards, restaurants etc. to visit along the way)…one of our favourite road trips that we do often.  Mollymook Beach (historic little town of Milton next to Mollymook) is a place we usually stay – many have heard of Rick Stein’s Restaurant there.  Of course there are many other restaurants and eateries in the area too including in/near the larger Harbourside town of Ulladulla (maybe try the Oyster Bar??).   More about that in another post.