Sunday, February 11, 2007


At the end of my travels around Australia I had a week in Sydney. At one stage when I first started researching my trip to Australia I had considered flying into Sydney and then flying out of Darwin. I'm glad that I didnt do that. For starters I would have missed out on some of the best parts of the trip. Places like Uluru and Melbourne would have been flying visits, if I had gone to them at all. I would have missed out on other places like Cober Pedy and The Simpson Desert. Also if I had gone with my original plan I would have flown from Sydney to New Zealand at the start of the holiday and probably wasted 2 weeks rushing blindly around New Zealand leaving me with way too little time in Australia.

So now I was back in Sydney, my third visit to the city, and this time I was with a group of friends. My first visit was 5 years earlier when I visited a friend and while we spent the 3 weeks backpacking around close to Sydney and it is different to be with a group. On our first night in Sydney we all met up in The Gaff pub where we joined in and won the pub quiz. Pub quizes may seem dull to some, but The Gaff is a backpacker bar so the questions are all about Australia from a bakcpackers perspective and the rounds of questions were broken up with pub games. Our group won the quiz, thanks in no small measure to the assistance of our bus guide Joel who as an Oz Experience driver is an encyclopedia of backpacker knowledge. The prize was a one hundred dollar drinks voucher which was quickly converted into jugs of beer and guranteed a good night. Later as 4 of us walked home at 3am down Oxford Street one of the group suddenly ran over to 3 people walking the other way. It turned out she knew two of them. It took a second for me to realise I knew them too. I had travelled with Simon and Edward through part of the East coast and had completely forgotten they would have made it back to Sydney by now. It really is a small world.

The next few days were then spent travelling around Sydney with the others. Some of them had not been to Sydney before so it was really nice to bring them around the city, seeing the sights with them and visiting places that I probably would not have visited again if I had been on my own. The Opera House, the Harbour Brigde, the Rocks, the Botanic Gardens, Kings Cross, Darling Harbour and Centerpoint. Centerpoint was probably the only place I'd not visited back in October but I had been there back in in 2001. These places are spectacular, world famous sights, so they are worth multiple visits.

One of the new places I visited was Hyde Park Barracks. A museum dedicated to the penal colony history of Australia it is one of the better historical museums I visited in Australia. There are several rooms each covering different aspects of penal life in Australia with lots of interactive displays and stories of individual colonists and convicts.

On another occasion we went to the Minus 5 bar on circular quay. For $30 dollars we got about half an hour in the ice bar plus one drink. Everything in the bar is made of ice, glasses, tables, chairs, sculptures. The temperature was aroung -15C so we had to wear jackets and gloves. It's a novel place to visit but I dont know how many people visit twice. Another day we took the ferry to Manly Beach. It was a bit cold and windy but we still went for a swim. I thought it was a nicer beach than Bondi, but not in the top beaches I'd visited in Australia. We did stop in a bar selling German beers and had a couple before taking the ferry back to the city center.

I spent a week in Sydney and it's still my favorite city. Compared to Dublin, it's beautiful, clean, modern, great public transport. Everything Dublin should be and should have if it was managed properly. The one thing that I have to say is worse in Sydney than in Dublin is the Airport. Twice I've flown out of Sydney, and twice I've spent three hours in queues and just made my flight. I thought they may have improved things over the last 5 years but it is exactly the same. If I ever take a flight from Sydney again I will aim to get to the airport at least 4 hours in advance.

So that was the end of my time in Australia. 2 and a half months was no where near enough time. I saw so much, met so many great people and learned so much. But no need to be sad, I'm going to go back. I still have to visit the West coast. It may be a few years but I will go back.

Sydney: 10-17 December
More photos on Flickr


ciaran said...

Comparing Sydney with Dublin is not really fair. They are poles apart and have their own charms that aren't set up for comparison.

Best of comparing Sydney with L.A or San Diego or Nice!

Declan said...

Your right, it is not fair to compare Sydney to Dublin. After all when you think about it, 200 years ago Sydney was a penal colony on a remote and hostile land and Dublin was the second city of the British Empire so Dublin should be way ahead of Sydney :-)

ciaran said...

And it is!!

Or, If you think it isn't, then you know where to book a one way flight!


Declan said...

If only :-)