Sydney. I’ve been here a few times over the years, and I even lived her for two years when I was younger. One of the perks of my job is quite a few days of leave, and I used a week of it to spend a few days across the Tasman.
A quick 3 1/2 hour flight west, and the sunny NSW coastline appears. I was quite pleased to be able to fly both ways on a Boeing 767-300 aircraft, as these will soon be gone from the fleet. Today I was on ZK-NCG, the oldest in the fleet at 23 years. In days gone by, this plane used to wear a Lord of the Rings special colour scheme.
After clearing customs and border security, I picked up my car - a (not so) sporty Toyota Yaris. When I was looking for a car to book a few weeks ago, I realised that the insurance excess is nearly $4000 Australian if you have an accident. That’s a lot! I ended up booking through a third party site that refunds the excess following a mishap. Peace of mind. I’m not the sort of person who will go on holidays and sit around relaxing - I want to be going out and doing things. With this is mind, I booked a cheap hotel. Somewhere with car parking, and air conditioning.
Sydney is a busy city, and I prefer quiet places. On the first day I was in Sydney I went for a drive to the South Coast. Along the way there is the Royal National Park. That looks neat, and it’s on my list of things to look at next time I visit. The coast itself is a couple of kilometre stretch between the steep hills and the surf beaches. It was sunny, and 28ºC (82ºF). Sunblock on, then jump out to take some photos.
On day two I started out early. I knew it was going to be a hot day, so I decided to get some walking in before the temperature was too hot. The plan was to take the motorway from the hotel out to the Blue Mountains. The GPS initially sent me in the wrong direction, and instructed me to make U turn. It was a busy road in morning traffic, a U turn was not going to happen. I continued on in the direction I was going, adding 20-30 minutes onto the trip. That’s ok though, it was a nice drive and I got to see some sights I hadn’t seen before.
I stopped at the Wentworth Falls. From the car park there is a walking track down to the top of the falls, maybe half an hour each way. The first comment: oh my god the flies. There are so many, and they are so persistent. They land on your ears, your nostrils, your eye lids. Waving them away gets rid of them, for about two seconds. A few minutes down the track the flies were less prolific, but still a big annoyance. There are scenic lookouts along the track, and these offer amazing views over the steep cliffs to the forest floor below. The falls themselves aren’t particularly spectacular in summer, but the surrounding views make it worthwhile. The track continues down the mountain via many stairs, hugging the cliffs. I continued down for a while, but decided not to go the whole way. Climbing all the way back up on a day that was going to be mid 30’s wasn’t my idea of fun!
I had some morning tea at the Conservation Hut, a cafe a bit further around the mountains. I wouldn’t recommend it. The food was fine, but considering how quiet it was, the wait time and customer service was poor. As you continue to drive from the Wentworth Falls area towards Katoomba and the Three Sisters lookout, there are some awesome scenes along the way. There’s even a model railway to check out if you’re interested!
By the time I had reached the Three Sisters lookout, it was late morning. Harsh light, lots of tourists, making it difficult to get reasonable photos. There are walks from here too, they go down to the valley floor, and down the famous Giant Stairway. Way too hot for that now!
After lunch, I started the 120Km drive back to my hotel near the airport. During the drive out in the morning, I had seen signs for a wildlife park, so I decided to check it out. I’m glad I did, I got to pet wallabies and kangaroos, as well as feed them. I even got a cliche tourist photo with a koala.
When I lived in Sydney for two years, I spent some of that time living near Maroubra Beach. I had some free time, so I went for a drive out there in the evening. The rock formations at the northern end of the beach are interesting, and the views offered are nice. It was still about 28ºC, but the brisk breeze made it comfortable.
Day three consisted of some aviation photography. I spent an hour or so at a boat ramp to the eastern side of the short runway. Lovely morning light for photos! But flies! Oh the flies. This blog doesn’t usually contain aviation photos, but you can see some of my shots on my Facebook page. After the morning photography, I went into town to do some shopping. I was hoping to find a nice Christmas gift for my wife, but nothing really stood out. I did visit HobbyCo though, and handed over a good wad of money to them for some lovely aeroplane models. While you can drive into town and park the car, I thought this would be more hassle than it’s worth, especially consider it was just over a week before Christmas. I acquired an Opal (transport) card, and took a train from Mascot. It’s really quite cheap, the return trip only costing around $5.
The last day I spent in Sydney was rather grey, with rain on and off. The cooler temperature was a welcome change. I did a bit of a drive around, met up with a friend, and took some aviation photos. In the afternoon I returned my car, checked in for my flight, and had a relaxing dinner at the Koru Club. It was only a quick trip, but it was an enjoyable one.