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Sydney for 3 days

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I am going on a tour of Australia and New Zealand for one month. I will be in Sydney for 3 nights and 2 days during the tour. We will have the city tour, a tour of the Opera House,Paddington, Koala Park and a dinner cruise in the Harbor. At the end of the tour, we fly from Aukland to Sydney, then to LA for flight home. I have decided to extend my stay in Sydney for 3 more days before flying home. I have been doing some reading and research on what I want to do on those days. I would like some advice and suggestions. I will be on the tour with a friend but on my own in Sydney. I have already booked hotel accommodations. The First day will be arrival and checking into the hotel. This will take up my morning but will have afternoon to begin exploring.So have 2 1/2 days to see the city and surroundings.

1). I plan on taking a trip to the Blue Mountains on the 2nd day. Can you recommend a good tour operator to take this trip with? I do not want to go on my own. Due to walking issues, I do want to hike unless its a short one of about one mile. I am more interested in seeing the mountains and area around it. I just want a day tour-no overnights.

2) I am thinking of going to the Sydney Zoo. Is this worth the time and expense? During my tour, there is an optional tour to the Sydney Aquarium that also includes dinner. I am not sure if I will do it with the tour or on my own. It is pricey. It may be cheaper to do on my own. If I do not do during my time in Sydney, I may do this on one of the half days that I have open.

3) Several people that have traveled to Sydney suggested taking the ferry to Manly for the day to tour, sightsee and shop. My reading have suggested there are also organized tours to Manly. Do you know of any good ones to look into?

4) What suggestions would you make for 2 days of sightseeing in Sydney to really get the flavor of the city. I am open-as enjoy learning the culture of a new city and country. I want to see as much of the city as I can-not sure I want to travel too much out of the city other than to the Blue Mountains.
Thank you,
Cathy

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    Hi Cathy and welcome to Sydney! Taronga Zoo and a ferry ride over to it is a great day out - lots of photo opportunities of the city / harbour and a really good zoo. However, it is quite expensive IMO so be aware of that. The zoo is on a hill, and you have to get from the bottom (i.e. the ferry) to the top to get to the entrance. A good way to do that is to take the cable car from the ferry.

    Manly is also a nice idea. There is a small oceanarium there (more manageable than Sydney Aquarium), and two beaches. They are linked by the Corso; one is a harbour beach and the other ocean. The Corso has lots of shops, many of which sell junk, but when you get near the ocean beach there are quite a few restaurants. You could potter about for a few hours there if the weather is nice.

    If you are doing Paddington, you might like the 389 bus ride, which is a ride through suburban Paddington (get on in Park St). It's a very pretty ride, and you could get off in Bondi Junction, which is one of our suburban centres (the Westfield shopping centre there is quite large, otherwise nothing special), and catch the train back to the city.

    I would also recommend a trip to Watson's Bay on the ferry. This is a former fishing village and the houses are all tightly packed in. Have fish and chips on the beach or at the pub, and see the Gap, which has spectacular views of the ocean and cliffs.

    Another thing you might think of is to do the cliff walk between Bondi and Bronte. It's been some time since I've been there but you basically follow the path between the beaches.

    You will probably also want to see the Rocks, which is where most tourists set foot. On Sundays there is a market which has for the most part good quality souvenirs. If you are looking for the cheaper end of the scale, Paddy's Markets (Haymarket) have the standard inexpensive trinkets.

    Lavandula

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    I think your plan to spend 2 days exploring Sydney and one day on a Blue Mountains day trip is excellent. I imagine the city tour you do will only give you a brief taste of what the city has to offer, so you could spend your 2 days exploring the sights in some depth. For instance, if you enjoy architecture and art, you could easily spend a couple of hours in the Queen Victoria Building(don't miss seeing the restrooms or the two clocks!) or do a Sydney Architecture Walk tour. If you enjoy horticulture, you'd enjoy a morning or afternoon in the Botanical Gardens. There are even free volunteer-led tours and Aboriginal tours of the Gardens. If you like history, you'll want to explore the Rocks and perhaps take one of The Rocks Walking Tours.

    The Taronga Zoo is a big expense, but it is a wonderful zoo with a good variety of native animals and amazing views of the city and Sydney Harbour. Some things to consider before deciding whether it's an expense you want to incur are: 1) Do you enjoy zoos? 2) Are you going to see native animals elsewhere during your tour of Australia? 3) Will your tour to the Blue Mountains include a stop at Featherdale Wildlife Park? (Many Blue Mountain tours stop here on the way, so this could negate the need to go to Taronga.)

    You may want to check the reviews of Blue Diamond Tours and Blue Mountain Tours on Trip Advisor to see if either would be a good match for you. I can't make a recommendation as both of my trips to the Blue Mountains have been done on my own (once on the train and once in my own car.)

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    Thank you for all of the great suggestions. I do plan to see the Botanical Gardens. I hope to do this when I am first in Sydney. It is part of the City tour but do not know how much time they will give us or if we are just driving through. I was thinking of spending some of our free time to explore it. If not, will do on extension.
    The tours to the Blue Mountains does include a visit to Featherdale Wildlife Park. In fact, the tour leaves early so that it is the first stop. We get there before it opens to the public for a tour without the crowds. We will be visiting other areas in Australia that we will see the native animals-such as in Darwin and Melbourne (going to Phillips Island to see the Penguins). This is why I was asking about the Zoo.

    I am not a big beach person but do like walking on the beach. I do have some walking issues-this is why I do not want to hike in the Blue Mountains.

    Your comments and suggestions have confirmed that I am on the right track for some of the things I would like to do.

    One more question: Are there any museums that are worth seeing? There are so many in Sydney that would want to pick one that is worthy of my time. If it is a really good museum, the expense is not a problem.
    I will be in Aust/NZ in Sept. My extension will be from Sept. 30-Oct.2nd. I leave on the 3rd.

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    I have another question: I have the opportunity to go to Macquarie University for a half day visit to Cochlear headquarters. I understand its a half hour taxi ride. I am afraid this could be expensive round trip. I understand you can also take the train or bus there. The train station is a 17 minute walk to the Universtiy. I think the bus stop is closer. My hotel is in Darling harbor. I think there are bus and train stations near my hotel. Which one is better to take? I would like to get to as close to the University with minimal amount of walking. I can handle 15-20 minutes if they have good sidewalks (smooth payment, no cracks or holes,etc). I can probably find out from the hotel the best way to go but would welcome suggestions or advice. I do not think the Muliti pass would be good for me to use as do not anticipate taking public transportation except to the University-unless it can also be used on the ferries. I am going to consider going to Manly and Watson Bay. I think I would only have time for one.
    Cathy

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    For art museums, the Art Gallery of NSW would probably be my pick of all of them. You could see it when you are visiting the Botanical Gardens, it's situated in the Domain adjacent to the gardens. It has a very good collection of Aboriginal art on the lower floor. Entry level has Australian art. There's a fabulous view of the harbour from the restaurant (also on entry level). Entry is free.

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    Hi Cathy,
    There are no roads through the Botanic Gardens, so the tour won't be driving through. However, there is a little trolley train that might be useful for you if walking isn't your thing.

    The tour bus will probably go along Macquarie street, with the Gardens on the eastern side, around past the Art Gallery of NSW ( well worth a look & is open on Wednesday evenings until 9) and down to Mrs Macquarie's point. You will be able to see the gardens to the west (left side of the bus). Very popular spot for photos at the bottom of the road - Harbour, opera house & bridge.

    You asked about Museums. We have several, of particular interest to visitors are the Hyde Park Barracks (top of Macquarie street, between The Mint (also worth a look & has a good restaurant ) and St Mary's Cathedral.
    The other one the Museum of Sydney, in Bridge Street. Oh yes, and the Justice & Police Museum, Philip & Albert Sts ( just down from the Museum of Sydney).

    The Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour, Powerhouse just behind it in Ultimo are also interesting.

    Have a look at www.sydneylivingmuseums.com.au
    They often have interesting events in heritage properties, museums etc. a week or so ago, I went to a brilliant clarinet recital by Paul Meyer & the Omega group at Government House, as part of their programme .

    Other places that might interest you are Cockatoo Island, and Fort Dennison, two of our Harbour islands. I think someone mentioned the Quarantine Station, which you can reach by ferry to Manly & a bus up to North Head - or direct by EcoHopper catamaran.

    Someone, I think it may be EcoHopper, also does hop-on-hop-off Harbour explorer trips. I haven't done it, but it might be a reasonable option. I don't know how the costs would compare with a multi trip Opal card ( or whatever ). I'm older than god & use my Seniors $2:50 all day, all modes travel tickets when I go exploring.

    Art Galleries - generally we house art in galleries, artefacts in Museums here. The exception is the MCA (Museum of Cintemporary Art) at Circular Quay.

    Their 4th floor roof terrace is a nice spot for a coffee/drink/ light brunch /lunch, if there isn't a cruise liner blocking the view of the Opera House.

    I usually check the online "what's on in ..." when I travel - you might find a festival, play, market, music, special exhibition on during your visit.

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    If you are thinking of going out to Cochlear, I would probably catch the train if Darling Harbour is where you're located. My reasoning is that it's easy to find where to catch the train, which in your case would either be Central or Town Hall. The station for the uni is on the Northern Line, which runs to Hornsby via Epping.

    When you get to the station, there is a shuttle bus to campus:

    http://www.mq.edu.au/on_campus/getting_to_macquarie/shuttle_bus/

    Bus route 2 passes by Cochlear, but you will see that it's fairly close to the west entrance to the station (see the route map of the buses on this page).

    Don't catch a taxi. It is more than half an hour and would cost you a bomb.

    Lavandula

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    Lavandula-Thank you for all of your suggestions. They are really helpful to me.
    The Shuttle from the Train Station to the Universtity shows that it runs from 4:00 PM to 12:30 AM when the Univ is in session. I will be there in the morning or early afternoon. It may be good for when I am returning to Sydney if I do an afternoon visit. Cochlear has suggested for me to do an morning visit but will accommodate me if I have to come in the afternoon.
    I had to change my flight from Aukland to Sydney to accommodate the extra three days in Sydney. So I am arriving a little later than I expected to on the first day. I have requested early check in at the hotel but its not guarantee. I was hoping to go to Cochlear on the first day. If I do, then it will probably be in the afternoon to allow enough time to get there and see the place. Otherwise, I am thinking of doing it on my last day to do a morning visit. I would play the first day by ear-doing sightseeing in Sydney after I check in, get settled in my room,etc. Do the Blue Mountain Trip on 2nd day, do Cochlear on the 3rd day in the AM, do final sightseeing in the afternoon. Thus the afternoons may be a good time to take the ferry to Waston Bay or Manly to sight see,shop and have dinner before taking the ferry back to Sydney. Everyone's suggestions are giving me ideas of how I can spend my time and still be flexible to plan each day. I don't have to have everything set in stone except for the visit to Cochlear and the Blue Mountains. Since the Blue Mountains is a full day tour, would leave the last day to be at a more leisurely pace. I will be flying home where I will be traveling for 24 hours. And I don't sleep well on planes unless I have a window seat. So hoping to get one!!!
    How long should it take to get to the Univ by train? I was told that it was an half hour outside of the city by taxi. I have read that the bus takes about 45 minutes to an hour depending on the traffic and time of day. The tour will take about 2&1/2 hours. So expect to be gone all morning and part of the afternoon with travel and tour. Or Vice Versa.

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    Here is a link to the timetable for the Northern Line - you get on at Central / Town Hall and get off at Macquarie University. I think you have to change at Eastwood for trains to the uni. It takes about 3/4 of an hour:

    http://www.sydneytrains.info/timetables/timetables_by_line.htm?line=nt&dir=2#landingPoint

    so if the bus takes the same it's much of a muchness.

    Have a lovely visit, it sounds like you plans are coming together!

    Lavandula

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