Sometimes it’s important to take a step back and realise if all what we’re doing is really happening. This week has been an unforgettable one.
I’m so glad we’re able to share the next couple of weeks with my Mum, who has flown all the way around the world to travel with us from Sydney to Melbourne, before then jetting off to do a 16-day guided tour of New Zealand with Gold Medal.
Em and I have found some great things to do along the way including climbing, hot air ballooning and possibly even sky-diving (if I can persuade them both)…
Day 40 – Tech repairs
We had one night in Sydney before my Mum arrived, but most of that time consisted of getting my phone and laptop fixed. Honestly, we must have spent over six hours in Apple over the past week.
I ended up with a new iPhone because my original had water damage having taken it into the sea at Moreton Island and a wiped MacBook, because for some reason it had become stuck in recovery mode.
Day 41 – Mum arrives!
After a long 20-hour flight from Manchester to Sydney with a short layover in Dubai, Mum appeared at the hotel front doors late on 9 Oct. We were both overcome with emotions with not seeing each other in over six months.
I speak to her almost every day but we had so much to catch up on. She must have been running off adrenaline because she spent the next few hours with a glass of wine in hand nattering away.
Day 42 – Sydney sightseeing
The capital of New South Wales lived up to my high expectations. I really liked how all of the main attractions in the CBD (Central Business District) were within walking distance of one another.
Em and I find one of the best ways of exploring a city is by taking a ride on a hop-on, hop-off with the Big Bus company. We’ve done this in a lot of cities around the world including the likes of Barcelona, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York and Paris.
Operating between Thursday-Sunday, a Classic 1-day Ticket cost just $59 (AUD) / £33 p/p which enabled us to do both The City and Bondi Tour if we so wished.
We decided to pick up the Red Route (City Tour) from Chinatown near our hotel. It didn’t take us long to hop off at our first stop of the day – The Rocks, a neighbourhood area with markets, street food and handmade clothing shops. It also gave us our first glimpse of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Later in the afternoon, we paid $25 / £14 p/p to go to the second highest viewing platform in the Southern Hemisphere – the Sydney Tower Eye at 268m high for amazing 360-degree views of the city before then finishing off the rest of the Red Route.
Day 43 – Manly Beach & Sydney Opera House show
One of Sydney’s most popular experiences is to get the 30-minute ferry from Circular Quay over to Manly costing $10 / £6 p/p.
Before arriving at Manly Wharf, we cruised past the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, Kirribilli House (official residence of the Prime Minister), Bradleys Head and South Head.
Once docked, we ambled down The Corso – a strip with a large variety of pubs and eateries and then walked 1.3 miles along the oceanfront from Queenscliff Beach (where Em checked out the ‘Manly Wormhole‘) past Manly Beach to the protected marine reserve of Shelly Beach.
After people watching on the beach for a couple of hours, we then returned back to Sydney on the ferry at 17:30 PM because we had booked to see Chalkface tonight at the Sydney Opera House.
Described as being ‘A mashup of The Office and Teachers‘, the 1hr 45 minute production told the story of two primary school teachers who had to put their differences aside to stand up for what was right.
One was a teacher who wasn’t afraid of voicing her opinions who had the opinion that all kids were terrors and the other was a teacher fresh out of university with ambitions of changing the world.
It wasn’t what I was expecting, but we all really enjoyed the show. The city skyline, Harbour Bridge and Opera arguably all looked even better at night.
Day 44 – BridgeClimb Sydney & Royal Botanic Gardens
Not many people can say they’ve scaled the Harbour Bridge, but now we can with BridgeClimb Sydney!
At $328 / £184 p/p the Original Summit climb wasn’t cheap, but it was worth every penny. Our phones, watches and even Mum’s hair grips all had to be locked away beforehand, so we purchased the photo bundle afterwards for an additional $70 / £39.
We were all up for the challenge of climbing 1,332 stairs along the upper arch to get unparalleled 360 degree views of Sydney Harbour at 134m high. In the end, the ascent was relatively easy because we stopped for so many rest breaks.
The views when we eventually reached the top after 90 minutes were extraordinary.
With our legs feeling like jelly, we scoffed down pancakes at Guylian’s Belgian Chocolate Café and then headed to the heritage-listed Royal Botanic Gardens where we enjoyed more extraordinary views of the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and city skyline from Mrs Macquaries Point.
Day 45 – Bondi Beach
This morning we picked up our Toyota RAV4 hire car from Ace near the Airport and then drove to Bondi Beach.
Emily and I have been to a lot of beaches in Australia and in my opinion, this is the most overrated in the country. I was expecting much more given it’s renowned as being one of the countries most iconic beaches.
Surprisingly, we all enjoyed the relaxing vibe of Manly much more. Don’t get me wrong there was a lot to like – especially the surfers riding huge waves (bigger than Byron Bay) and 7.5 mile clifftop Bondi to Coogee Beach Coastal Walk, which we walked a few miles of.
However, the highlight of the day was taking a dip in Bondi Icebergs Club against the sea wall. This was the coldest swim of my life. Look how choppy the ocean is in the video below!
Leaping into the Glacier pool in Wrangell-St Elias National Park had more of a shock to the body though. Read more about that here!
Day 46 – Blue Mountains National Park
This morning we left Sydney behind us and headed 62-miles inland to the town of Katoomba bordering the World-Heritage listed Blue Mountains. This rugged region spanning 11,400 km² (over twice the size of the Grand Canyon at 4,926 km²) encompasses bushwalking trails, forests, steep cliffs, and waterfalls.
Not wanting to waste any time, we parked up at the Wentworth Falls Conservation Hut and hiked the Lyrebird Lookout via Overcliff Track, merging the walk with Isabelle Falls and Queen Victoria Lookout for spectacular views of the valley.
This evening we ate at Elysian Restaurant & Bar – a newly opened tapas eatery opposite our AirBnb. Our view of the Blue Mountains from across the road of our AirBnb wasn’t half bad…
Day 47 – Scenic World
One of the most popular way of seeing the Blue Mountains is by visiting Scenic World in Katoomba. The Unlimited Discovery Pass costing $50 / £28 p/p meant we could ride the Scenic Cableway, Railway, Skyway and Walkway.
To begin with, we descended 310m down into the valley on the world’s steepest passenger train at a 52-degree incline and then walked through ancient rainforest in Jamison Valley.
We then returned via the Skyway where we glided past ancient sandstone cliffs whilst enjoying more amazing valley views before then boarding the Cableway past the spectacular Katoomba Falls, Orphan Rock and Three Sisters.
Once on the other side, we walked to get a better vantage point of the Katoomba Falls and then part of the Prince Henry Cliff walk back to the car.
Gradually making our way back to our AirBnb, we then stopped off at Echo Point in order to get a closer look at the Three Sisters sandstone rock formation.
As always, if you’d like to keep up-to-date with our adventure, you can either enter your email at the bottom of this article to receive instant notifications every time I post a new blog; click the Follow ‘Al’ Around The World link, or drop me a follow on Twitter at @AlecW95 or on Instagram at @AlecW95 or @alatw95.
Alternatively, you can follow Emily on her travelling TikTok account at @emstraveladventure.
Thanks for reading, until the next time…