Exploring Sydney Harbour was going to be fun! And, cheap, I love cheap! And, with just a little pre-planning, it was both. Full of historical and cultural tradition, elegant and authentic buildings, and terrific choices of foods and drinks from around the world, Sydney Harbour was first ‘discovered’ (by a European, that is) when Captain James Cook, in 1770, first discovered its safe anchorage and spectacular beauty and named it Port Jackson.
With just one ticket on the Sydney Harbour Cruise, I spent an entire wonderful late spring (November in Australia) day enjoying history, recreation, cultures and critters! Using the Hop On- Hop Off feature of the Sydney Harbor Cruise, I spent a few hours at Taronga Zoo, an hour or so shopping ’til I dropped in Darling Harbour, and then back to Circular Quay and George Street, before wandering up the street to The Rocks, for a sumptuous dinner and people-watching.
I wanted to visit:
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Circular Quay, which is not circular, but is the main quay in the inside harbour
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Taronga Zoo, which I had heard from fellow travelers, was well worth a few hours and the entrance fee (and they were so right!) and the Sky Safari tram that would take me up the hill at Taronga Zoo, and back down to the ferry again.
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Harbour Bridge, called the Clotheshanger Bridge by the locals. I clearly saw why the nickname, when I saw the bridge from the catamaran!
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Darling Harbour, for lunch, some souvenir shopping (and don’t forget local pubs for lunch or a snack) and then back to
Ã¢Â?Â¢ The Rocks, where the first convict laborers started to build a town on the shores of this generally placid cove in 1788.
It would be a full day, and I made sure to carry along a daypack with a sweater (jumper in Australian), extra batteries and memory cards for my cameras, my wallet, and sunblock. I wore a broad brimmed hat, called an Akubra, that I had purchased earlier in my trip to Uluru. Most Australians, even the chic and gentrified, wear sun shading hats, to protect their skin and eyes from the intense rays of the Australian sun. I also had my small map and guidebook, that I picked up at the Travel Centre of New South Wales at the corner of Argyle and Playfair Streets, The Rocks in Sydney. The Travel Centre is also online, with a vast collection of activities, accommodations, sightseeing opportunities, and more; http://www.australianexplorer.com.
I had so much I wanted to see! So much I wanted to do. As a solo woman traveler, I needed to be aware of possible safety concerns, so I did a bit of online research and talked in a chat room with women (and men) who had visited Sydney. Then, the only thing left to do was experience everything I had on my list. I bought the Hop On Hop Off ferry ticket, boarded the Sydney Harbour Explorer, and was off for a full day of Exploring Sydney Harbour. It was perfect!
Arriving a bit early to board the ferry at 9 am, I walked around Circular Quay, just window-shopping and watching the harbour activity. After boarding, we took a leisurely cruise under the magnificent Harbour Bridge, to Taronga Zoo, where I disembarked for the most fascinating 3 hours of the day. Australia’s koalas, emus, numerous birds, and the charming kangaroos and wallabies were just some of the beautiful flora and fauna, including a few, such as the numbat, I had never heard of before then. Food courts at the Zoo offer a great variety of inexpensive foods and beverages. Then, back on the ferry, and a trip through the Harbour to Darling Harbour, visiting the Aquarium and one of several great museums right in the neighborhood, and making a mad dash through the Chinese Gardens. I also picked up a Aussie meat pie and a pint of stout, and then, picked up two more of the delicious and hearty meat pies for later! I decided on the ferry trip back to Circular Quay, that I would have to stay in Sydney at least another 3 days, if I wanted to see everything I missed. I also decided that next time, which turned out to be the next day, I would definitely go back and see more museums and take a more relaxed pace through the Chinese Gardens.
My last stop of the day was The Rocks. Great shops, great food, great peopleÃ¢Â?Â¦all in all – GREAT! I added The Rocks, again, to my itinerary for the next day and took my weary but happy self off to my flat to sleep the night away.