Backpacking around the world on a budget: Sydney Part 8

Our RtW trip in 2008 was going well. Leaving the forests and sweeping bays of Tasmania behind us, we journeyed to the East Coast of Australia to land in Sydney. From the grand Opera House to the Bondi bubble, the harbour city metropolitan is a hub of opportunities

RTW Pt09

We landed in Sydney in the early hours, exhausted from an early morning flight from Hobart and having little sleep from a car seat. Catching the mini bus into town, we looked forward to seeing the Opera House and Harbour bridge.

The minibus stopped, and we exited onto the busy, bustling Darlinghurst Road. Catherine and I were staying in Sydney’s red-light district of Kings Cross in a very cheap hostel called the Globe. £15, got us a bunk in a 4-person dorm, with shared bathroom and breakfast.


Our first port of call was to the world-famous Bondi beach, where the sand is gold and the surfs are high. Catching the T4 Metro line and changing at Bondi Beach Junction for bus no.333, we finally made it to this fine beach.


The sweeping white-sand crescent was fantastic with lots of people appreciating the waves and soaking up the sun. An obligatory ice cream was enjoyed as we relaxed on the sand.

After a quick dip in the sea, we were back on the bus to Sydney’s centre, making a beeline for the Sydney Tower Eye. With its fantastic views over the city, you could spend all day up there.


Moving on to a general walkabout around downtown, we passed town hall and the Queen Victoria building with its impressive dome and incredible detailed façade.


When we made it down to the harbour, we caught a Sydney Ferry to Cremorne Point Wharf to catch a glimpse of the front of the Opera House.


This was well worth the ride as it gave unparalleled views of one of the most iconic buildings in the world.


As the night closed in, Sydney lit up and it looked magical with all the reflections in the water. A quick metro ride back to the Globe and we were off to sleep ready for the new day.

There is always a lot of tours advertised in hostels and the one that caught our eye was the Blue Mountains, so after breakfast we rang up and booked two seats. Today was all about the Opera house. Catherine and I headed north and ended up in the Royal Botanic Gardens looking for butterflies.


The gardens were beautiful, and we were sad to leave, but we were getting excited as we could see in the distance the domes of the Opera house.

Sydney Opera House.jpg

Catherine and I had been recommended the tour by Ruth who we stayed with in Melbourne. She had said it was a must and she was spot on. The inside to this amazing building was in some ways more impressive than the outside. The wood panelling mixed with the concrete columns was an unexpected site.


Our busy day continued as we then got suited up to climb over the Harbour Bridge. This was a once in a lifetime moment with the Opera house one side, harbour all around and traffic below us it was an unforgettable experience.


After our descent, we moved to the waterfront as we needed to cool down and so Catherine, very appropriately, chose the ice bar for a drink.


Dressing up in massive fur coats we could only stay for 20 mins, due to the freezing temperatures, so we had our quick cocktails and promptly left.


A few days later, it was an early start in the morning. The tour van had come to take us to the Blue Mountains. On the road, the tour guide gave us an itinerary checklist, stopped halfway to watch kangaroos and we ate the breakfast he had provided.


We were heading to Katoomba, where we would catch the world’s steepest railway to the Echo Point viewpoint to see the Three Sisters rock formation. This impressive mountain range is located in New South Wales, Australia.


The region’s foothills start just 31 miles (50 kilometres) west of centre of the state capital. And you can see why it’s so busy as the views are spectacular.


Lunch was on the cards after all that walking, and the tour guide dropped us of in the middle of Katoomba to grab some food and refreshments at Zest’s on Megalong Street.


As quickly as we came, we were off back to Sydney. With a quick photo opportunity at the Olympic Village, we were then dropped off at Abbotsford Wharf, where we caught the ferry back into the city underneath the famous Harbour Bridge.

Sydney Olympic Stadium
Sydney Ferry

This was such a nice way to finish the day and our time in Sydney.


In the morning, waiting for our minibus to Sydney International Airport, a fellow hostel resident was returning from a night out. He asked us where we were going to. When we mentioned that our last leg was in the US and we would be low on money, he sprung into life. “Amtrak” he blurted out.

Now I knew about the American train network, but not very in-depth, and certainly not about their tickets. He started talking about a month long, off-peak ticket for non-Americans citizens. For £300 we would get unlimited travel on the Amtrak trains and buses. This sounded too good to be true (perhaps the ramblings of a drunk man) and equally if true, a great opportunity.

As the minibus parked up, we thanked the man (who by this time was nearly asleep on the steps) and headed for Sydney International Airport. Christchurch was our next port of call and the lady from Alice Springs awaited.

For more information on Sydney, click here.

Trip details:

Hobart International Airport to Sydney International Airport 1.50 hrs

The Globe

Things we did:
Blue Mountains
Harbour Bridge
Opera House
Royal Botanic Gardens
Red Light district
Tower Eye
Echo Point
Olympic Village
Abbotsford Wharf
Bondi Beach


Getting around:
Walking, boats and buses

Click here for Part.9.

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