Tag-Archive for » Bondi «

A Few Quick Trips: Blue Mountains, Sculptures and Hunter Valley

The Three Sisters and the Jamison Valley in HDR

Like most major urban areas, Sydney has plenty to do within the city limits, but there’s lots more to see if you’re willing to travel a couple hours away. Sydney has several popular day trip destinations, two of which we got to visit on consecutive weekends: the Blue Mountains, which I’ve already written about in a previous post; and the Hunter Valley, Sydney’s most prominent wine region.

This trip was Kristen’s second to the Blue Mountains, as she had visited when her parents were in town. I had never been though, and the opportunity to go with several of Kristen’s classmates came at the right time. Unlike the last trip, which was on a bus, for this trip we chose to take the train, which doesn’t take a whole lot more time and is a lot cheaper. We arrived Saturday morning and spent the afternoon touring via the hop-on-hop-off bus before meeting the rest of the cohort for dinner.

Boardwalk through the Jamison Valley rainforest

In addition to being rich in coal mining history, the Blue Mountains are also part of a large national park filled with hiking trails. We unfortunately arrived a bit late to join the rest of the class on a longer hike, but there are plenty of trails of varying lengths catering to all sorts of schedules. Given limited time, we chose one of the shorter hikes that took us along the boardwalks near the base of the mountains, where informational placards and prominent maps guide even the navigationally-challenged tourist from point A to point B past interesting sights.

A giant faucet, part of Sculpture by the Sea

After riding the Scenic Cableway back to the top of the ridge, we hopped back on the hop-on-hop-off bus and headed back to Katoomba, where we met the rest of the crew for an Italian dinner in the town before retiring to the Katoomba Town Centre Motel for the night and leaving the next afternoon.

The following weekend, the class planned a bus trip to the Hunter Valley, but before heading north to the vineyards, we stopped by Bondi Beach for a large outdoor art exhibit known as Sculpture by the Sea. Installed on the coastal walk between Bondi and a smaller beach called Tamarama, the exhibit included dozens of larger-than-life pieces of art, often constructed out of everyday things like tires and scrap metal. There were plenty of stunning pieces and even the occasional meta-art sculpture, but the most popular was easily the giant faucet. Seeming as though it might let loose and hose an unsuspecting child, the faucet sat prominently on a hill overlooking Bondi, encouraging visitors to engage in a hands-on experience despite frequent signage discouraging such things.

Lindeman's Wines in the Hunter Valley

After braving the crowds through the sculpture installation, we heeded an early wake-up call the next morning and caught a cab to UNSW to meet the bus that would take us to four vineyards and a spot for lunch. Though the bus driver didn’t seem to know where he was going and refused to go faster than 50mph on the freeway, we made it  to the Valley and started our tour of Sydney’s winemaking region. Though its primary export is coal, residents of the area began importing vines in the mid-1830s and was thriving soon after.

Our tour took us to four vineyards: Tulloch, Brokenwood, Lindeman’s, and, um, considering we tasted several wines at each vineyard, things were a bit foggy by the end of the day so I don’t remember the last one 🙂 It was a great trip though, and a great chance to catch up with the classmates who would be leaving for exchange programs for the following term.

There are plenty more pictures from our trip on Flickr: Blue Mountains and Sculpture by the Sea.

Kristen and Ryan and Bondi Beach at night

Pictures from Australia: January to April 2011

As you might expect, especially if you’re familiar with my itchy trigger finger on the camera, we take far more pictures than you see on the blog. If you’d like to check them out, you can find them on my Flickr page. I’ve recently uploaded a bunch of sets for your viewing pleasure… the shots from the Power Plant Exhibit are particularly cool. Finally, if you use Flickr, you should definitely add me as a contact!

Darling Harbour – January 2011

Bondi Beach, Sydney Harbour, Manly – January 2011

Sydney Harbour, Coogee Beach, Chinatown – January 2011

Symphony in The Domain – January 2011

Lunch at the Scarborough Hotel – January 2011

Australia Day – January 2011

Sydney’s Hyde Park and Botanic Gardens – January 2011

Power Plant Exhibit – January 2011

Chinese New Year in Sydney – February 2011

Sydney Miscellaneous – February-April 2011

Sydney’s Royal Easter Show – April 2011

Day 2 in Sydney: Bondi Beach, Sydney Harbour and Manly

Despite waking up at around 3am, Day 2 (Sunday, January 9th, for those of you keeping track) was poised to be much more productive. After a solid night’s sleep (if at odd hours), we were much better prepared to take on the day. We made plans to meet up with Darren, Amanda and their three kids for brunch, so we got moving early, if you count 9:45am as early, and drove over to Centennial Parklands Dining in Centennial Park.  Afterward, Darren and Amanda kindly gave us a tour of the eastern suburbs before dropping us off near Bondi Beach, one of Sydney’s most popular tourist destinations.

Kristen at Bondi Beach

After soaking in the sun for a bit (and finding some cheaper ice cream!), we boarded a bus back into the city. We had originally planned to just check out Sydney Harbour from Circular Quay (pronounced “Key”), but upon reviewing the ferry schedules, we found that there was a Manly ferry every 20 minutes, and if the sign says it’s famous, how could we miss it?

If the sign says so, it must be true

We picked up tickets ($13.20/person round trip) and hopped on the 2:40pm ferry for a quick 20 minute ride over to Manly. We quickly found out why the ferry is famous. Not only does it take you to a great destination (which we’ll get to in a minute), but you get some fantastic views of Sydney Harbour, the Harbour Bridge (which you can actually climb), and the Sydney Opera House. Cool!

Yep, we made it!

We arrived in Manly and, after a quick walk through The Corso, a pedestrian-only street lined with restaurants and shopping, we found ourselves at what is currently our favorite beach in Sydney. A retaining wall near the beach provides ample shade for yours truly and the sand and surf are fantastic. Should you come visit (and you should), you can bet that we’ll be sending you to Manly Beach to get you out of our hair for an entire day. You won’t regret it!

Manly Beach

We spent a couple hours at Manly, dined on some excellent fish and chips (the seafood, as you might imagine, is top notch), and then realized that we forgot the sunblock and decided to call it a day. You can bet we’ll be back though, and I’ll be sure to take some better pictures.

On the way out, I found a candy stand in the ferry terminal, which, at $3.50/100g ($16/pound) is a little steep, but great in a pinch. Expect a more thorough review of the candy stand soon 🙂

For those of you interested in all things gummy and chocolatey

Given that we were running on a full night’s sleep, today was much easier to handle, and though we still went to bed early, if we were more ambitious we could have pushed it (although I’m naturally an evening person anyway). If you’re aggressive about it, you can probably overcome the jet lag in 3 or 4 days, although it’ll still probably take close to a week before you’re feeling comfortable on the Aussie schedule.