Australia, home to stunning coastal cities, gorgeous beaches, the outback, kangaroos and koalas. A land so vast it spans five-time zones, three climatic regions and is home to some of the most diverse wildlife on earth. For many Australia is a place to retire, or somewhere to visit long migrated family, for us, it was a continent of adventure, of exploration and of driving one of the worlds most epic journeys. Sydney to Darwin via the great ocean road, and the outback.
You can drive directly from Sydney to Darwin up across Queensland, but we decided to go via Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Uluru and Alice Springs with lots of other places thrown in for good measure, and, just over the region of 3000 miles.
We rocked up into Sydney off a red eye from Singapore. Car hire was a breeze, just £750 for a Toyota Camry hybrid for the month and unbelievably with no deposit to leave. Just me and 4 kids, we strolled out of the airport wearing shorts, rocking t.shirts and sandals and showing off a decent pair of sunglasses. We hadn’t stepped a foot beyond the doors before we all looked at each other and began dramatically shivering. It was freezing cold. We had arrived into Australia in the middle of winter, and the blue skies had lied. It was just 7 degrees.
Sydney is the launch pad for most people heading to Australia, the largest city in New South Wales, and is easily one of the hippest, most relaxed cities in the world. Everyone looks either high or retired, and no one really gives much of a damn about anything too serious.
This write up is not to tell people what to do, or to advise, different people like different things and so this guide is really what we did by way of giving you a jumping off point, somewhere to start with your own adventure. Nonetheless we spent a lot of time walking in the city, sure we hopped on and off the city trains from time to time, but generally Sydney is a very walkable city. An absolute must is the walk from from Macquarie’s chair through the botanical gardens to the Sydney Opera house. From there you can bounce across the harbour and mooch through the Rocks, which is the place British convicts turned up a couple of centuries ago. Walking around the area feels surreal, rich in history, yet shadowed by the huge iron harbour bridge with glimpses of the opera house dotting the eyeline.
Whilst in Sydney try and catch a footy game (Rugby League) at the stunning ANZ stadium. Don’t bother trying to sneak alcohol in, all bags are checked.
Everyone heading to Sydney wants to feel a slice of Bondi beach, and unless you’re a surfer, or hardcore till you die sun-seeker, you’ll be disappointed in winter. The beach is empty, waves huge and most things closed. This offers up a fantastic opportunity though. From Bondi beach is arguably the cities most famous walk ‘Bondi to Coogee’. A walk of around 4 miles, it meanders the coast on well trodden pavements taking in many bays, cliff edges and finishing in quirky Coogee. The walk took us about 2 hours, and in all honesty, it felt a bit ‘for the sake of it’. Worthwhile, but not life changing.
Beyond Sydney is the blue mountains, which looked green to me, and a number of other cities, namely Manly and Cronulla.
We did visit a few museums, and I realised very quickly that Sydney can become yours, there really is something for everyone and its easy to understand why some folks come, and struggle to leave.
I must point out our favourite restaurant whilst there, ‘Friggitoria’ a gorgeous little Italian place with a small menu serving up some of the best pasta I’ve ever tasted. If the kids are fussy, theres a Dominos around the corner shelling out reasonable sized pizza for $5 a pop.