Land Down Under – First Stop Sydney!
Join us (Steff and Ells) as we blog about our travels through Australia. We’ll be heading to Mardi Gras in Sydney, diving on the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns and road tripping it down to Brisbane! Stay tuned, for stories, tips and just pure banter.
Arriving in Sydney on Thursday evening after a gruelling 24 hours of flying, we had the pleasure of staying with two of Steff’s friends, Hannah and Lee. Might I add, she knows them from Potato Head in Bali when she offered to share her daybed with them, a few years later, they returned the favour (understatement!) and put us up for a couple of nights in their spare room. Isn’t travelling a beauty?!
Our first actual day was full on and we powered through the jet lag like troopers. Waking up to 27 degree heat was a massive change from the -6 degrees that we left back home in the U.K. – taking full advantage of that, we did the Coogee Bay to Bondi Beach coastal walk, highly recommended by Hannah and Lee and now highly recommended by us… And here’s why.
Walking from Coogee Bay to Bondi Beach realistically only takes around 2 hours, depending on your pace. You really could spend the whole day doing it if you wanted to, there’s plenty of spots to stop along the way to have a picnic, swim in the sea or even put a couple of burgers on the BBQ in the parks. Nice.
There’s quite a few stairs but it is well worth it! Also, if you’re one of those people that enjoy a good picture of you standing on the very edge of a cliff (don’t show your parents!) then there are heaps of places to do this.
There is so much more to this coastal walk than meets the eye. After walking for two hours in the blistering heat (literally, my head blistered) we couldn’t have been happier to see the Bondi Iceberg pool. Famous for it’s frequent visitors in the winter! It’s located at the end of the Coogee to Bondi coastal walk and built off a cliff and lapsed on to the sea. Basically the ultimate infinity pool. We paid $7 AUD to go for swim – and that includes access to a sauna, massage facilities and a bar (additional price).
FACT: The walk is approximately 6 kms (that’s just under 4 miles of stunning cliff top views!)
In the evening we went for drinks with Hannah & Lee in the city, this was our first glimpse of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge but it was worth it despite costing an arm and a leg for a round of drinks in O-Bar (situated perfectly between the Opera House and Harbour Bridge).
We thought it may be best after that to return to Coogee, where you could get more bang for your buck! With a bucket of (amazing!!) chicken wings and a few schooners of cider we spent the rest of the evening meeting Hannah and Lee’s friends and having a good ol’ laugh – Aussie style.
First day in ‘Straya – complete. And a pretty amazing day for two backpackers with jet lag.
Day three was pretty full on… considering we landed at 9pm only 2 nights ago and had been non-stop since, this wasn’t about to change! Having booked an AirBnB in the city (Ultimo) ready for us to get our gay on and celebrate 40 years of Mardi Gras and the first year of same-sex marriage being legal within Australia, we headed into central (looking like burnt ninja turtles may I add) to find out accommodation.
Once we got to our AirBnB we pretty much crashed, as this was the first time we were on our own and the first time we had actually stopped for more than 5 minutes! BUT Mardi Gras was the WHOLE reason we had decided to come traveling early, so we couldn’t miss it. Regardless of how bloody tired and delirious we were… we powered on and glittered up!
Ella’s best Aussie friend (Louise) was meeting us for the parade and was staying with friends in Surrey Hills so we hopped in a Taxify (new taxi company which actually works out cheaper than Uber!!!! – use this code for $10 off your first trip) and headed over to Surrey Hills, where Steff finally got to meet Louise and her partner Trudy!
After introductions to everyone were made and our first few drinks, we headed out to the streets to make our way to the parade! Louise’s friends actually had a friend who was having a roof top party with an awesome view of the parade, so we headed straight there, and this is where we spent the rest of the night. The best thing was, the views were so perfect – to one side of the rooftop was the most magnificent sunset over Sydney City and to the other side was the Mardi Gras Parade and fire works display!
After the parade had finished and everyone was suitably wasted, the guys headed on to the after party (we decided against buying tickets considering they were $150 each!) we headed down onto the streets in search of some bars and to also meet up with a traveling friend Steff had met in Bali last year.
After drunkenly trying to find our way around, we finally found Maggie and her friend for a good catch up (even if we were all slurring by this point!).
For a couple of backpackers we haven’t half done bad these last few days!
Well… this was an interesting day. After making it back to our AirBnB at 4am from Mardi Gras, without water or any form of drinkable liquid we woke up with mouths dryer than… well we’ll let you finish that sentence off… so we decided it was probably best that we just got up and left, hunt down some breakfast and quench our thirst (plus, we didn’t actually realise, but we had to be out of our room by 10am… killer!)
We hit up the café on the corner of our road, which was pretty damn good! It was called U Bean Grounded. After refuelling with a Pineapple and Coconut Bundaberg and some smashed Avo on Toast (obviously) we felt somewhat better, so we heaved our bags on and set off for Central station – it was time to head out to the suburbs and find Engadine, which is where Ells’ Mums’ best friend lived and who we’d be kipping with for the next 2 nights! We were very much looking forward to a chilled few days by the pool and catching up with Jacintha.
When we arrived at Jacintha’s, did all of the hellos and catch ups, we immediately crashed. FINALLY a bit of chill out time (as much as possible anyway – considering we were the 9th and 10th edition to an 8 person household!)
So much for our chilled out pool day!!! The weather was bloody rubbish – grey, over cast, windy and actually a little bit cold.
We were absolutely shattered as the first 4 days were finally catching up with us and the weather just made our moods worse. We decided, that as we couldn’t sunbath by the pool, we’d try and lift our spirits and head into the city, with a plan of hitting up Luna Park.
Being a Monday, Luna Park was deserted. It was a very strange experience being in a Coney Island themed theme park and there being all but 3 people there… it was massively over priced and kind of creepy so we just had a wander round and made use of the opportunity to take some pretty cool pictures whilst no one was around. After our mini photo shoot we decided that we’d take the catamaran (that went from Milsons Point) to where ever looked the most fun. Watson Bay looked the most interesting so off we went.
Whilst on the boat it decided to chuck it down and by the time we arrived at Watson Bay the weather was even worse and we were hungry (always!) so we decided to stay on the boat back to Circular Quay and sniff out a Thai!! This wasn’t a complete fail, as the boat took you all round Sydney Harbour and provided some pretty awesome views of the Opera House, plus, we forget to tap our Opal Cards when we got on the boat – so ultimately we had a free tour round the harbour! RESULT!
Once at Circular Quay, we spotted a Chat Thai directly opposite, it turned out that it was situated in an awesome food court with so many different kinds of street food and restaurants, if we hadn’t of been so dedicated to having a Thai I think we would have had a hard time choosing what we wanted to eat!
The food was pretty banging and satisfied our needs… even to the point that our moods were lifted. Funny how a bit of food can turn your mood around!! On the way back out of the food court there was an enticing ice cream parlour, so we thought we’d treat ourselves to two scoops of pretty banging ice cream that we shared. After overloading on sugar we decided it was time to head back home to Engadine to spend our final night with the family.
Once again, we pretty much crashed out as soon as we collapsed on the sofa.
Once the kids had all disappeared to school, we were invited by Jacintha to brunch with her and few of her friends. With the offering of brunch at just $12 each, we couldn’t say no!
We headed out around 11am to The Bird Cage, which is staffed by people with learning disabilities. It was a lovely little place and can I just say the food and coffee was so bloody good. Again we went for the smashed avo on toast and poached eggs, we even splashed out a bit and added some bacon. It was a very pleasant morning and really nice to spend some alone time with Jacintha!
We headed back to the house (which by the way is actually beautiful! A big open plan kitchen/dining area/living room and a massive swimming pool in the back garden) packed up the last of our bits and waited until the kids got home from school before we said our goodbyes. Not going to lie, I think we’ll definitely miss the kids… quite a lot! We only spent a little time with them, but they’ve certainly made an impression on us. We’ll be sure to pay another visit in the near future!
For our last night in Sydney, we decided we’d book ourselves into a hotel/hostel so that we could be close to the airport as we had a morning flight. After spending a few hours trying to find somewhere to stay the night before and being absolutely horrified at the price of even just hostels we finally decided on Wake Up! Sydney Hostel which was basically opposite Central Station – perfect!
This hostel was massive! In what looked like an old converted office block of some sort there were at least 8 floors, a coffee shop, a restaurant and bar/club. And they weren’t crappy either!
When we checked in the reception gave us a welcome pack which included some discount vouchers… a pizza and a beer for $12, you can’t really go wrong! So we headed upstairs, dumped our bags and headed to the bar for our bargain pizza and beer! There was a Mean Girls Trivia Quiz going on, but this soon made us realise just how old we were and that actually, we had forgotten most of the important stuff (if you can call it important) from the movie!
Jet lag is really taking its toll on us, particularly Steff, as when we headed back up to the room to chill out Steff had crashed out within like 10 minutes (this was at 8:30pm!!!) and snored her head off…
In the welcome pack and amongst the vouchers was another discount for a Bagel and coffee for $10 down at Roy’s Café – so we took advantage of this before heading off to the airport. By the way – make sure you know where you need to go and what platform you need at the station, as its not all in one place and is super confusing!!!
Today we’re off to Cairns, heading up north to better weather (hopefully) and to tick off Diving the Great Barrier Reef off our bucket list… stay tuned…