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How Many Days for Sydney?

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G'day,

I'm sure this is one of those questions that you come across time and time again, but here is some more information that may help you help me in answering it.

I'm in the beginning stages of planning a month-long trip to Asia and Australia for November of this year. I visited Australia for my first and only time in 2006, immediately fell in love (with Sydney in particular), and have been raring to return ever since. Opportunity knocks at my door this year, and I'll be combining it with visits to nearby Singapore and Indonesia.

A quick first draft of my itinerary follows:

Singapore - 4 nights
Yogyakarta - 4 nights
Bali (Ubud) - 5 nights
Darwin - 3 nights
Uluru - 3 nights
Sydney - 7 nights

Ideally, I'd like to spend a month in Sydney, but lacking the luxury, I'm thinking about a week in the fine city. During my time in Sydney, I'd like to revisit some of my favorite sights - the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, the Rocks area, Taronga Zoo, the Royal Botanic Gardens - as well as do some half-day or day-long walks in the Manly and Bondi area. Time permitting, I may go out to the Blue Mountains for a day as well. And I'd like some time for ferry hopping and lazying around a cafe near the Harbour.

Given my interests, do you feel I need a full week in Sydney or would 5 or 6 days be enough? What are some other hidden gems that you would recommend that may not be on a typical tourist's radar?

Thanks for your help.

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    Things that might not be on the tourist agenda could include Cockatoo Island. It is a great harbourside venue to have a drink as well as having an interesting convict history and industrial history: http://www.cockatooisland.gov.au/visit/places-to-eat-and-drink.html

    Visit Kuring-gai National Park, there are lots of great walks there and you often see goannas and wallabies as well as Aboriginal rock carvings: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/NationalParks/parkFacilities.aspx?id=N0019

    Visit the northern beaches: Whale Beach, Avalon etc. It can be done by public transport, although the bus is quite slow.

    If you are interested in modern architecture a visit to Rose Seidler house gives a sense of the begininngs of modernism is Sydney: Rose Seidler House http://www.hht.net.au/museums/rose_seidler_house

    Castlecrag is interesting to visit for similar reasons, the designers of Canberra, the Griffins, also left their mark on this suburb http://www.castlecrag.org.au/history/history.htm

    Some of the harbour beaches are also great places to swim: Neilson Park and Redleaf Pool.

    For a sense of multicultural Sydney take a food tour: http://www.gourmetsafaris.com.au/

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    I would second Cockatoo Island. We visited the island in October, and it is interesting. Amazing old houses and industries still maintained as well as the remains of some convict buildings. BTW - there are no cockatoos here now, although there used to be.
    Pleased to see you are going to Darwin - does this include a quick trip through Kakadu? And Uluru - try to fit in a day trip to Kings Canyon. It is incredible. DH did the rim walk and was overwhelmed by the grandeur of it - snd he's been to the Grand Canyon! I did the stroll to the Creek which was very pleasant.

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    Great timing Tripplanner - I've just unlaced the Scarpas after one of the nicest walks I've taken in years - and a local who walks a lot.

    A friend & I did the Rose Bay to Watsons Bay walk.
    Google it - I'm posting on my iPhone & can't post the link.

    We parked (you could take a bus or the ferry) on tje road just west of the Rosé Bay wharf (4 hour unmetered parking) and waited for the Sydney summer deluge to subside (today about 40 mins).

    With the clouds clearing, we pulled on our boots & day packs & headed east. Clinging to the coastline where we could ( it was high tide) and the streets of interesting houses, wonderful trees where we couldn't.

    The track leads through naturals & boardwalk pathways, up & down rock steps past lovely Heritage Buildings (Carrara being the first) and bays. Like Hermit Point & Milk Bay.

    Bring your togs.(swimmers) & a towel - we wished we had.

    Nielsen Park kiosk was our lunch stop - very good fish & chips and a better than average coffee, at the tables under the trees outside. There's a nicer cafe if you want to linger a little longer and have a more upmarket meal. We were just refueling.

    The water was SO inviting (the Harbour beaches are netted, so you don't need to worry about being lunch for a shark).

    Just behind the Nielsen Park cafe & kiosk is Greycliffe House, wonderful architecture and an interesting history.

    Pressing on, we bypassed Vaucluse House, because we'd both been many times before - but it's well worth a visit for anyone who hasn't .

    Winding out way through tree lined streets, we pass some wonderful houses, old and new - and a couple of "what were they thinking?" examples of more $ than taste.

    Topping a crest ( I'm exaggerating - it's not that much of a rise ) we see the familiar "T" intersection and there is Watsons Bay ahead. It's taken is just on 3 hours, including our lunch break. The guide says 4-4.5 hours, and you could easily spend that time if you took time to see Vaucluse & Elizabeth Bay Houses and have a dip at some of the bays.

    These Houses are owned by the National Trust and not all are open all the time - Google is your friend. Even if they are not open, it's nice to walk around the outside, read the history & peer in the windows. And don't forget to turn around & look at the view those people had in the 1800's.

    The Watsons Bay Hotel has new owners and they seem
    to be doing a great job. We only had soda & bitters, but the menu looks good, the service is excellent. A fresh look, new casual furniture & planter boxes & some jazz made for a very pleasant atmosphere - and an intention to visit again soon for a summer night dinner.

    Forget about Doyle's restaurant next door. It's overpriced, under quality and it's take-away on the pier does a better job at half the price or less. There are some world class restaurants in Sydney with stunning Harbour views. Doyle's isn't one of them. That said, if you accept it as a place to have a meal on absolute beachfront with an unbeatable gun-barrel view up the Harbour as the sunsets behind the Harbour Bridge - it might be just what you're looking for.

    We wandered up to the point in the Sydney Harbour National Park (possibly not the right name, but you'll work it out), back along Camp Cove and past charming little work men's cottages (Heritage Listed) that keep the feeling of the little fishing village that was Watson's Bay when it was settled.

    A quick ferry trip and we were back at our car- now looking extra clean. We'd had a great day. And you will too.

    There's another lovely walk of about the same length & time, with great views and swimming opportunities - the Spit to Manly walk.

    Or a shorter one - the spectacular Bondi to Bronte ( or Coogee) walk. If you're here in October, you might catch Sculpture by the Sea along this walk.

    Have fun - and yes, you can fill in a week here easily.
    When are you coming?

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    Thank you everyone for the wide array of suggestions you're providing me. I'll be sure to incorporate some of your suggestions into my itinerary.

    Bokhara, the walks including Manly and Bondi are definitely on my list of things to do. i plan on beginning my travels in mid November, which would put me in Sydney during the last week of November / first week of December - saving the best for last.

    Dottyp, I would very much want to experience Kakadu. Given that I'll be in Darwin during the Wet, I'm thinking about playing it by ear. If the roads are open, then I'll be sure to include it in my plans. If not, it's another reason to return to the area. Kings Canyon, I'm debating whether to go or not. Right now, I've allocated 3 nights for the Uluru area, and I'm thinking including Kings Canyon would require a 4th. How many nights were you there?

    Susan, thank you for the excellent links. I am very much interested in architecture and enjoy visiting homes from different times, so I'll be sure to include your suggestions in my travel plans.

    Thanks again for your tremendous help. I cannot wait to return to Sydney.

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