As my time in Sydney, Australia slowly draws to a close, I’ve already started reflecting on my life here. All in all, it’s been an 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 moved to Sydney, Australia straight from travelling around Southeast Asia for eight months. I was knackered from the non-stop moving about, and I wasn’t entirely convinced that setting up in a city on the opposite side of the world from London, my home, was a great idea.
The friends I were travelling with in Southeast Asia were going back to England, and this also made me feel a bit funny about the move. Plus, I had some health issues towards the end of my trip. All these factors together meant I wasn’t in the mood to start afresh in a new country and make new friends.
Yet the opportunity was there, and I didn’t want to have any regrets. I swallowed my doubts and powered on.
It turns out it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve met some special people and my year here has been one of the best I’ve ever had. 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 ten months now, and I’ve fallen in love with it. The city is full of lively suburbs, dreamy beaches, and memorable spots that I’ll always hold close to my heart. Here are some of the places that stood out for me.
1. The Sydney Opera House
I know, I know, the opera house being one of my top spots in Sydney, Australia is a bit of a cliché. But, the architecture is remarkable.
I remember the first time I saw the Sydney Opera House. It was on a mild winter’s day last August, which was my first day in Sydney. I was pretty underwhelmed, to be honest. But I grew fonder and fonder of the building the more I visited over my year in Sydney.
The best time to see the Sydney Opera House is at night when it’s lit up and luminous. It’s a beauty for sure.
2. Coogee Beach
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 Coogee Beach beautiful, but the atmosphere is amazing.
I look back fondly on hot summer days in December and January where I’d spend my weekends with my housemates enjoying birthdays and other celebrations with barbeques and lots of daytime drinking. Coogee Beach came alive during the weekends, and we all had so much fun together.
Not too far away are the gorgeous Wylie’s Baths, a natural swimming pool with a relaxing and chilled vibe if you fancy a low-key day.
I feel so lucky that I’ve lived a 20-minute walk away from Coogee Beach and was able to call it my local.
3. Royal Botanic Gardens
The Royal Botanic Gardens is another spot that I was at first underwhelmed by.
‘But it’s not too different from the parks back in London’, I had said to my then-boyfriend, when first roaming through the greenery. It 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. When it comes to wildlife, it was incredible to see the variety of colourful birds fluttering about, and lizards were scuttling around everywhere.
The Royal Botanic Gardens sits right in the heart of the central business district (CBD), next to the opera house and circular quay where you catch ferries to other places in Sydney. That means the gardens are easily accessible if you’re touring the city.
4. Shelley Beach
A short walk from Manly, Shelley beach is a lovely little spot. The tiny stretch of sand is stunning, and the water is calm and flat for swimming and snorkelling.
On our visit, we spotted a large lizard. They’re quite common in the area.
5. Pirrama Park
Pirrama Park, located on the edge of Pyrmont, is a favourite spot of mine for personal reasons.
The green area offers incredible views of the city. Pirrama Park isn’t 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 are dreamy, and the park is a lush picnic spot. Many evenings were spent filling up on wine, bread, and cheese. What more could you want, eh?
6. Royal National Park
The Royal National Park is an expansive area, so I feel like it’s a spot in Sydney that you can visit again and again.
If you like hiking, there are so many different walking trails to take. I’ve visited the Royal National Park twice, and I had an amazing day each time.
The most popular place to visit in the park are the Instagram-worthy Figure Eight Pools. But, prepare to endure a strenuous trek as you are unable to drive straight to the pools. The quickest route includes at least an hour of hiking and that’s if you have a car.
My group and I caught the train so our hike was longer. But, I found it enjoyable and it was definitely worth it.
Other notable spots to visit in the Royal National Park are the Wedding Cake Rock and Marley beach. I was even lucky enough to spot a snake and a wallaby when hiking this park.
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