As my time in Sydney and Australia slowly draws to a close, I’ve already started reflecting on my life here. All in all, it’s been an absolutely incredible and memorable year, full of wonderful highs as well as some heart-breaking lows (which usually involved me having to say goodbye to some of the amazing people I’ve met out here). I came to Sydney straight from travelling South-East Asia for 8 months, knackered from non-stop moving about and not entirely convinced that setting up in a city on the opposite side of the world from London, my home, was really a great idea. My friends I was travelling with were going back to England, and due to some health issues I had towards the end of my trip I wasn’t really in the mood to start afresh and make new friends.
Yet the opportunity was there, and I didn’t want to have any regrets so I swallowed my doubts and powered on. Turns out it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, I’ve met some really incredible people and my year here has been one of the best ever. And as I write this, I feel slightly sick to the stomach that soon I’ll be leaving this beautiful country.
Sydney has been my home in Australia for 10 months and I’ve absolutely fallen in love with it. The city is full of lively suburbs, incredible beaches and memorable spots that I will always hold close to my heart. Here are some that really stood out for me.
The Sydney Opera House
I know, I know, the opera house being a favourite spot in Sydney is a bit of a cliché. But, the architecture is truly remarkable. I remember the first time I saw it, on a mild winter’s day last August, which was my first day in Sydney actually. I was pretty underwhelmed to be honest, but I grew fonder and fonder of it the more I saw it. The best time to see it I think is at night, when it’s lit up and luminous in the distance. It’s a beauty for sure.
I may be biased towards Coogee Beach having lived so close to it for the majority of my time in Sydney, but wow what a place. Not only is it beautiful, but the atmosphere is amazing. I look back fondly on boiling hot summer days in December and January where I’d spend my weekends with my housemates celebrating a birthday (or maybe just the fact that it was the weekend) with barbeques and lots of daytime drinking. It really came alive at the weekend and we all had so much fun together. And not too far away are the gorgeous Wylie’s Baths, a natural swimming pool that’s considerably more chilled out if you fancy more of a low key day. I feel so lucky that I have lived only 20 minutes away from Coogee Beach and was able to call it my local.
Royal Botanic Gardens
Another spot that I was at first surprisingly underwhelmed by. ‘But it’s not too different from parks back in London’, I had said, when first roaming through the greenery. Turns out, the beautiful botanic gardens are a fair bit different from the parks back home. The plants, for one thing, are incredibly diverse and exotic-looking. And the animals! It was incredible to see the variety of colourful birds fluttering about, and there were lizards scuttling everywhere. Once more, the botanic gardens are situated right in the heart of the CBD, next to the opera house and circular quay (where you catch ferries to other places in Sydney), so it’s definitely easily accessible if you are touring the city.
A short walk from Manly beach, Shelley beach is a lovely little spot. The tiny stretch of sand is beautiful, and the water is nice and flat for snorkelling. We also managed to spot a very large lizard here as apparently they are quite common in the area.
Pirrama Park, located on the edge of Pyrmont is a favourite spot of mine for personal reasons and it offers absolutely incredible views of the city. It’s not as well-known as some of the more popular parks in Sydney such as Hyde Park, so you’ll find it isn’t too crowded either. The sunsets can be pretty awesome and it’s a beautiful picnic spot – many evenings were spent filling up on wine, bread and cheese. What more could you want eh?
Royal National Park
A hugely expansive area, I feel like The Royal National Park is a spot in Sydney you can visit again and again, for there are so many different walking trails to take. I myself have been twice, and I had an amazing day each time. The most popular place to visit in the park are the beautifully photogenic Figure Eight Pools – but prepare to endure a strenuous trek as you are unable to drive straight to the pools – the quickest way will take at least an hour and that’s only if you are driving. Me and my group caught the train so our journey was substantially longer, but completely enjoyable and definitely worth it! Other places to see are the Wedding Cake Rock (best-looking rock I’ve ever seen) and Marley beach. I was even lucky enough to spot a snake and a wallaby in this park!