Last minute plans for a week in Sydney in July 2012

Old May 28th, 2012, 05:56 AM
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Last minute plans for a week in Sydney in July 2012

Hi, I'd like some advice for a semi-solo traveler in Sydney for the first week of July. I'm a little late in planning this trip but very excited!

I have an idea of things I'd like to see but need help with the 'when', time restraints and logistics.
Even though this is a last minute trip for me the hotels have been booked and prepaid for a while as I'll be joining my husband on his business trip. He will be free to join me sight seeing the weekend I arrive (Sat June 30th / July 1st) and maybe for one or two evening meals.
We're staying at the Marriott Circular Quay for the first 2 nights (weekend) and the Westin CBD for the next 5 nights.

I'd really like to overnight but it makes more sense to take a day trip to the Blue Mountains. Is it best to take the train to Katoomba or self drive? I think I'd prefer to do this at the weekend with my husband unless it's much busier then.
Best use of one full day? We enjoy easy to moderate hiking (up to 10/12km per day).

Iconic Sydney landmarks to see: the Opera House, the bridge, the harbour, The Rocks, Bondi Beach, Manly etc.
I'm not sure how much I can see/ do in one day or which activities can be combined
I'm uncertain about taking an Opera tour, recommended or not?
Best ferry rides? Transport pass for one week?
Coastal walk Coogee to Bondi? Bus or ferry one way? Favourite lunch spot?

Weather to expect? Cool average temperatures with a little rain? Will a lightweight waterproof rain coat be warm enough most days? Layered with a fleece?

Any other suggestions appreciated including websites for information.

Thanks!
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Old May 28th, 2012, 06:30 PM
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Hi Sassy_cat,
What a great opportunity to see something of Sydney & environs.

July is mid-winter for us, so you can expect the nights & early mornings to be cold (sweater and coat,gloves & scarf), with some sparkling sunny days.

Your ideas of lightweight waterproof and a fleece are good. There are sales in July, so if you need something else, it's an opportunity of buying a useful souvenir.

This link has some useful info http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/a...on/Weather.asp

Personally, I prefer to drive to the Blue Mountains. A car allows you more flexibility in transport and it's very nice to be able to retreat to a warm refuge if the weather turns cold/wet. Parking can be a bit of a pain on the weekends, but I always manage to find something. Sunday evening returns to the city can be slow on the road, so if you only go for one day, I'd recommend Saturday.

There's a nice loop that may appeal to you - go up via the F2 & F4, through the little mountain towns and come back via Bells' Line of Road. You might like to call in to Mt Tomah Botanic Gardens, or the Apple Barn (a very nice cafe/bistro at Bilpin). Here's a link for you: http://goo.gl/maps/L8NF

I'm a local & don't use public transport enough to warrant a pass, but others will be able to advise you on that.

Sydney ferries are a delight and you could (well, I could) spend a whole day hopping on & off sightseeing along our waterways. http://www.sydneyferries.info/

However, I'd recommend three in particular - and as a keen walker, you can combine the two.


Cockatoo Island http://www.cockatooisland.gov.au/

It's just to the west of the Harbour Bridge and has a fascinating history. It will be hosting the 18th Biennale of Sydney during your visit, so pop over & have a look at the art. There is a cafe on the island, but it's an idea to take a bottle of water and perhaps a piece of fruit for a snack, as it can be busy during festivals. I don't mind queueing up for a table & a meal, but not so keen if I just want a water.
http://www.sydney.com/events?gclid=C...FUKDpAodzBVqaQ


Circular Quay to Manly & return.
http://www.manlyaustralia.com.au/inf...walksViews.asp

If you have 2+ hours for a walk, take a bus to The Spit (Mosman) and do the spectacular Spit to Manly Walk. Take the ferry back to the city in the afternoon and you will have the Opera House & Harbour Bridge with a sunset backdrop. Serious "Postcard" stuff. I've lived here 30 years and never lose the "WOW" on this trip.

North Head and the Quarantine Station (Manly) are also very good spots for shorter walks with an historical interest.
http://www.harbourtrust.gov.au/visit...ary/index.html

My other favourite is the Coogee (or Bronte) to Bondi walk, combined with the Watsons Bay - Circular Quay ferry. http://www.sydney.com/things-to-do/n...nd-parks/walks Take a bus to Coogee, walk to Bondi and then take a bus to Watsons Bay. Spectacular scenery and a gun-barrell view back up the Harbour to the Bridge.

Avoid Doyle's Restaurant, but good casual food at the hotel next door and at Doyle's take-away on the pier (and there is a licensed area behind the ordering & delivery counter, overlooking the harbour where you can eat ).

The Harbour Bridge. I walked across it this weekend. Takes about 20 minutes with lots of photo and "WOW" stops. You can only walk on the eastern side (Opera House side) (the western side is exclusively for cyclists), so it doesn't matter much whether you walk one way and have a meal/coffee at one of the little bistros in Kirribilli, or at Ripples (Near the Luna Park face) and walk back, or take the train from Milsons Point Station(right at the exit of the walkway stairs).

The Rocks Markets are worth a look on Sundays. If you & your husband are interested in Australian wines, I thoroughly recommend Wine Odyssey, where you can sample as little as 1/4 glass of myriad wines from all around the country. They also run information sessions with tasting and aroma identification rooms. Great food too. http://www.wineodyssey.com.au/

While you're in The Rocks, do visit the Sydney Visitors' Centre http://www.therocks.com/sydney-Thing...tor_Centre.htm

They have some really helpful people and an excellent selection of good brochures.

While we're in The Rocks - The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel dining room is a lovely spot for a cold day/night lunch or dinner. Had an excellent dinner there last week - had forgotten how nice it is. 10-15 mins walk from the Marriott.
It was a cold, wet night (just like today) and it was a cosy retreat for a catch up with my god-daughter.

http://www.lordnelsonbrewery.com/restaurant.html

You'll have a great time, Sydney has so much to offer and the spontaneous decisions are often the best, don't you think?
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Old May 28th, 2012, 07:10 PM
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Thanks Bokhara, great ideas and information. I especially like the website links.
I definitely have plenty to do outdoors now... the walks sound wonderful.

The Lord Nelson Brewery looks lovely. I do enjoy Australian wine (and New Zealand!). My husband doesn't drink but I don't mind drinking his share occasionally!

I think we might have to make the trip to the Blue Mountains on Sunday as although I arrive early on Saturday I think I'll be too jet lagged for a long day trip.
I'm hoping we can do the Wentworth Falls hike/trail and Echo Point.
I realise we'll be heading back to the city at the same time as many locals but a slow drive will be OK.

I do need to plan a few more indoor activities in case the weather is uncooperative.
I like the look of the NSW Art Gallery (just read about the 18th Biennale of Sydney on their website).

I like the look of the Opera Bar, best views for lunch/dinner one day?
Opera tour? I think I'd rather see a performance if possible.

One more thing..
I have to see Australia wildlife even if it means a zoo so should I go to Featherdale (as a separate trip from the day trip to the BM's) or Taronga?

This was a very spontaneous decision as only yesterday my daughter was invited to go to Florida with her friend so rather than stay home alone I'm very happy to see what Sydney has to offer!
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Old May 29th, 2012, 12:58 AM
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Hi sassy_cat and Bokhara 2. Sassy, thanks for asking for some help because Bokhara has suggested so many cool activities to do that I just might have to have a third return visit to cover her great ideas!
I am going to be in Sydney around the same time as you (4 - 14 July) with my DH, and will be repeating some of the activities I did last year. One place I really enjoyed was the Sydney Wildlife World, next to the Sydney Aquarium at Darling Harbour. They have beautiful healthy-looking koalas, some interesting wallabies and other marsupials, as well as snakes, butterflies, birds, etc. I would highly recommend this place as an alternative to the Zoo if you just want to see Aussie animals. I spent about 2 hours there, and feel I did it justice. I will be taking DH there. (We enjoyed a visit to Taronga, but it was many years ago.)

Bokhara, thanks for such a great list of ideas. I will share it with my DH this weekend when I tell him about the trip, and my sister with whom we are staying for 6 nights, when we get there. And thank you for mentioning sales - I will make sure I have some extra money to indulge myself - well, probably our darling grandson if truth be known!
Dot
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Old May 29th, 2012, 06:43 AM
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Hi dottyp,
I agree Bokhara's list is full of great ideas.. maybe I'll bump into you at one of these places in July!
I didn't know about the Sydney Wildlife World so thanks for mentioning this option. It looks like it's the quickest way to see the wildlife if I run short of time. This might well happen with all the wonderful things to see and do!
I'll decide later which wildlife park fits in best with my itinerary but maybe the views from the zoo might be worth the trip? Or maybe I can squeeze in a quick trip to Featherdale on the way to the Blue Mountains?
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Old May 30th, 2012, 12:44 AM
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The restaurant/cafe at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) has great views (it's just been relocated to the top floor of the new wing, the restaurant at the Art Gallery also has great views.

During the Biennale there will be a free ferry to Cockatoo Island it usually leaves from the steps outside the MCA.

Other places for lunch, I really like the new food court at Centrepoint. In addition, there's great Malaysian food on Cockle Bay at the Malaya--there's also a view across to Darling Harbour. For a drink or meal with a view the Sydney Theatre Company has an amazing venue at Walsh Bay at the end of the wharf.
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Old May 31st, 2012, 03:43 AM
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Hi sassy_cat, if you can get to Taronga I would prioritise it over Featherdale. It's possible to combine Featherdale with a trip to the mountains (actually it's a slight detour) but I think Taronga is superior. I don't think the animals are in as good a condition there as Taronga, which is a world-class zoo (Featherdale just doesn't devote enough space to its charges) and with Taronga you also have fabulous views of the harbour and possibly a ferry ride as well (more photo opportunties). The area around Featherdale is actually pretty boring (suburban).

I've not been to Wildlife World, but if the animals are in good condition as dottyp says, I think it would make an acceptable alternative to Taronga. It also has the plus that it is on the same side of the harbour as most of the accommodation (in Darling Harbour).

Lavandula
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Old May 31st, 2012, 05:20 AM
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Susan7, thanks for the food suggestions. I looked at the Sydney Theatre Company website and I'm thinking of seeing the production of Under Milk Wood. The German play also looks interesting but maybe Dylan Thomas will win out.... decisions, decisions!

lavandula, Thank you, your information has confirmed snippets I've read and Taronga is my first choice.
I really don't think I have time to combine Featherdale and the Blue Mountains into my day trip and it doesn't sound like it warrants a separate trip.

I'll keep Wildlife World in mind if my itinerary is too packed to do the zoo justice.

I'm so excited! Tickets and accommodation are booked..
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Old Jun 4th, 2012, 04:26 PM
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Here's a rough itinerary. Hopefully I've under planned and will have plenty of time to wander!
If it's better to do something on a particular weekday please let me know but the weekend itinerary is mostly fixed as it includes DH's wish list as it's his first time to Sydney too.

Anything to add? Rearrange?
Food suggestions. I love Thai food, good vegetarian food, salads.

Sat: Airport to Marriott Circular Quay. Flight arrives at 8.40am. Will I get to hotel around 10am? using Mymultipass weekly pass
Low key day (jet lag after traveling for 25hours). If weather good walk Harbour Bridge/ Pylon view point lunch in Kirribilli?, Opera House plus Opera Bar sunset 5pm?.

Sun: Car rental @ 8am. Day trip to Blue Mountains

Mon: Move hotels! Wander around CBD, Rocks area (Sydney Visitors Centre) lunch at Lord Nelson then shopping or Botanical Garden depending on weather.
Theatre evening.. eat at theatre

Tues: If weather good coastal walk to Manly or Bondi . ++ ferry rides

Wed: NSW art gallery plus shopping or if weather good Botanical Garden

Thurs: Taronga Zoo

Fri: MCA and ferry to Cockatoo Island

Sat: Fly home

Some evenings I might get to eat out with DH.

Shopping questions
I'll probably buy a couple of small items from the zoo and art gallery shops (tea towels, maybe)
DD would like a sweatshirt and /or t-shirt. Best souvenir shop area?

Thanks again for any advice!
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Old Jun 4th, 2012, 06:25 PM
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For Thai, try Spice I Am. The best one is in Wentworth ave, but there's also one in Balmain. http://www.spiceiam.com/

My other all time favourite Thai is Sailor's Thai--upstairs on the communal table. http://www.sailorsthai.com.au/

There's quite a lot of souvenir shops in the Rocks, also there's a touristy sort of market there on the weekends. Museum of Sydney has a great range of souvenirs, that's my preferred shop when I'm getting gifts for friends overseas. The State Library also has some quirky souvenir T-shirts, like one with the explorer Mathew Flinder's cat, Trim, on the front.
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Old Jun 4th, 2012, 07:43 PM
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Great advice above. FWIW this ex Sydneysider (haven't lived there for over twenty years) who enjoyed bushwalking in the Blue Mountains in his younger days is inclined to recommend that it might be given a miss in favour perhaps of more time spent on the north-south coastal axis (northern beaches/ Pittwater/Broken Bay - harbour - Cronulla/Bundeena/for the super fit walker perhaps the coastal track to Otford and then back by train, assuming it still stops there). Always found it an unpretty drag driving to and from and through most of the lower 'mountains' (but maybe it's easier if not more attractive now) and in winter it can be bleak, with the views misted-in. Would always favour Taronga over a trek through the burbs to a private zoo (and not just because I was born within the sound of lions roaring at the former).
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Old Jun 5th, 2012, 05:13 AM
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Susan7,
thanks for the restaurant and shopping advice. I wish I was in Sydney for the monthly cooking class at Sailor's Thai but I'm sure I'll enjoy the food.
I'll add Museum of Sydney and State Library to my list of indoor places to visit.

farrermog, thanks for confirming my decision to go to Taronga.

Normally I'd jump at the chance to see more of the coast but I think the Blue Mountains win out this time. I'm hoping that driving through the lower 'mountains' won't be such a drag for a first timer just because it's 'new' and my husband also wants to see the BM's (even through mist!).
I'll keep your advice in mind for next time though!
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Old Jun 6th, 2012, 09:22 AM
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I just found out that there will be Fireworks in Darling Harbour on Saturdays @8.30pm in June.

Best place to watch from? Post dinner drink?
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Old Jun 7th, 2012, 04:58 AM
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I think you have to visit Sydney Opera House which is famous destination of Sydney.
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Old Jun 7th, 2012, 05:25 AM
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Yes joseph, Looking forward to it! I've included visiting the Opera House on my arrival day and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll be able to see it from my hotel room.
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Old Jun 7th, 2012, 06:51 PM
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My first visit to Sydney I also did the Spit Bridge to Manly walk. It was absolutely one of my favorite activities. I really liked the gallery of NSW and hope you do get the chance to visit. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Hyde Barracks (I need to look up if that is the actual name or not) which was not a long visit but very evocative of the convict experience. It is very near to the gallery as I recall
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Old Jun 7th, 2012, 10:44 PM
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Hyde Park Barracks, Toucan2.
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Old Jun 8th, 2012, 09:02 AM
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Thanks Toucan2, I'm keeping all these walks in mind plus ferry routes and indoor activities in case of bad weather. Hyde Park Barracks looks interesting.
I've made my own Googlemap for Sydney to keep track of everything.
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Old Jun 10th, 2012, 02:55 AM
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>Normally I'd jump at the chance to see more of the coast but I think the Blue Mountains win out this time. I'm hoping that driving through the lower 'mountains' won't be such a drag for a first timer just because it's 'new' and my husband also wants to see the BM's (even through mist!).

There has been a lot of progress on the roads (alas in one case at the expense of a historic row of shops), and driving through the Mountains is now much easier, fewer bends, less traffic. What you can't do much about is the weather. We once had the misfortune of taking a visitor up on a bad day and you couldn't even see the Three Sisters. Well, it cleared slightly so he got some decent glimpses, but he was quite upset (mainly with us, to my chagrin, we should have planned better weather for him ). We saved the day by driving to Jenolan Caves, which is on the other side of the mountains, near Oberon. You can visit them no matter the weather (actually a good thing in the rain), and they are always impressive. Our visitor was left with a good impression of the Mountains!

Lavandula
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Old Jun 10th, 2012, 06:22 AM
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Lavandula, Thanks, I'm glad to hear that the roads have improved but it is a shame that it was at the expense of a little bit of history.
Jenolan Caves will be plan B then if weather and visibility are not in our favour!

I might end up heading north along the coast anyway as my husband has to spend a day in Newcastle.
Should I accompany him or spend the day in Sydney? I think the round trip drive time will take over 4 hours so I'm leaning toward staying in Sydney.
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