Exploring Sydney- Get the full experience
Updated: Dec 31, 2018
When one thinks of Sydney, Australia, the first thought is the Opera House and Kangaroos. Australia in general is a hub for wildlife, fast moving cities, international cuisine and everything else in between. Sydney was one of the places I explored, and to my surprise it was richer than I thought it would be.
After two days of fighting the 16-hour time difference jet leg from Florida to Sydney, I went on my first Australian adventure: The Blue Mountains National Park. Though this was the main stop of the day, a visit to a working farm/sanctuary on our way made for the first close encounter with the Australian wildlife and set the tone for a perfect day.
First stop, the Calmsley Hill working farm, home to Kangaroo, Wallabies, Emu, Wombat and Koala. While we didn't see the animals in the wild, this experience allowed us to interact with them in a safe environment and more than that, gave us insight on how rural areas operate: How the locals treat their animals, their concern for animal welfare and the workings of the farm itself. This was when I tried the delicious Lamington cake for the first time (an Australian cake, made from squares of butter or sponge cake coated in a thin layer of chocolate sauce and rolled in coconut flakes).
After hand feeding and selfies taken with the wildlife at the farm, we headed to the Blue Mountains National Park, one of seven national parks that make up the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. With so many lookouts, it's hard to pick just one, but Eaglehawk Lookout, made my list as a favorite: the perfect view of the famous 3 Sisters. If you are lucky to have blue skies with moving clouds, you will see the light change on the 3 sisters and reveal a truly remarkable rock formation. Then off to Evan's Lookout where our hike began to end at Govett's Leap.
We started our 3 mile hike. It was About 10 steps into a fairly clear path when a baby snake crossed our path. What looked freshly hatched, no color, turns out to be one of the extreme venomous snakes in Australia. Due to being young and not able to dose the bite yet, one snatch can be fatal. We proceeded. I removed my sunglasses to ensure I could see clearly, watching every inch of the ground where i stepped.
In times of silence, weird eerie noises under the dry still heat were heard. Surrounding us on the corners of the steps and the bottom of the trees were deep holes about 1 inch in diameter. Snakes, spider holes or who knows what else. We passed tall 6 feet mounds of termites, one or two small pieces of tree branch along the path that looked like it had blood material on them. Then a huge bumble bee about about 2 palms from my forehead. I could hear the wings and see colors for a split second. I screamed like a little girl and climbed about 10 steep steps as if i wasn't already beat from the hour long hike.
And hour and a half in, all steps steep upwards. My water was almost empty. My vision tired from trying to see though the thick flora, my feet hurting in more places than one, and the straps of my backpack were moist with sweat clinging to the back of my shoulder. We made it. I love hiking. It's endurance, empowering and it makes you stronger physically and mentally. When you're surrounded by fatal species of spiders, snakes and bees among other things, its a whole different ballgame. There's no room for immature stupidity in the mountains of Australia.
Back in the city, after you have walked around the tourist infested surroundings of the Opera House grounds, be sure to check the Royal Botanical Garden. I stumbled upon this gem as I was trying to capture the different angles of the Harbor Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. There was a an exhibition on the carnivores plants which was very exquisite.
Interestingly enough the Opera Bar at the bottom of the Opera House is a place where tourists and locals gather. It sponsors moderate prices with a breathtaking views. But don't miss the other side of the harbor, the historic Sydney's neighborhood called "The Rocks" featuring Sydney's truly oldest bar "Fortune of War" since 1828. The chicken Parmesan dish is truly delicious- Australian style