Sydney Trip Report

Jan 29th, 2006, 04:34 AM
  #1  
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Sydney Trip Report

We've just returned from a month in Sydney, the South Island of NZ and Fiji. I am going to write three separate trip reports.

We left cold and snowy Minneapolis on December 26th. We flew nonstop to LA on Northwest and from LA to Sydney on Qantas. (Note that the Qantas Sydney flights use Terminal 4 and not the Tom Bradley International Terminal in LA.) We requested one of the rows of 2 seats in the back of the plane and were given the last row. We were very happy with our seats. The open area behind our seats was a nice place to stretch.

We arrived in Sydney at 8am on December 28th and went through customs. We had brought a 20 kg duffel bag filled with American food for our Australian friends (Twizzlers, Gardettos, Apple Jacks, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, LOTS of food) and were waved through the declaration line. The customs agent asked if we had beef jerky or anything fresh -- we didn't -- and we did not have to even open our bag. We were out of the airport and with our friends by 8:45am.

We stayed with friends in Drummoyne while in Australia, so our experiences were likely different than those of tourists staying in the Sydney CBD.

We did not have any jet lag on arrival in Australia. I think it was mostly due to the flight times (leave LA at 10:30pm, arrive Sydney at 8:00am). We had brought prescription Ambien for sleeping and did not need it.

We went to a local pub and were surprised that there were slot machines (or "pokeys") at the pub. Our friends were surprised that we were surprised. We played and won. Then on to the grocery store. We bought food for the "barbie" later that night and also food we don't have here in the states-- cheezles, mini chicken cheezles, chicken flavor potato chips, solo soda. Had a barbie that night.

Thursday was our first full day. We started with lunch at Harry's Cafe de Wheels-- tiger pies topped with mashed potatoes, mushy peas and gravy. We really liked them-- especially the mushy peas-- and ate them overlooking the wharf. (Recommended).

We hopped on the Sydney Hop-On, Hop-Off bus and took almost the entire circuit. We got off at the QVB and walked through it. It was very busy due to the after-Christmas sales so we didn't do much shopping. Had to laugh at the Oshkosh B'Gosh store since we both grew up near Oshkosh, Wisconsin where the store originated. We walked over to Darling Harbour to Cargo Bar and had a snack.

My friend dropped us off at the BridgeClimb and we checked in. We had the 5:25pm time slot, which was one of the last day time slots before the pricier "twilight" time. It was a good time slot, especially because it was a hot day. We enjoyed the BridgeClimb and would recommend it to people who have the time and money for it-- but if you don't, the view from the Harbour Bridge is very very similar.

Another friend of mine that I had not seen since May 2002 picked us up from the BridgeClimb and took us to the Opera Bar. We loved the view of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge at night. They are both beautiful structures. We very much enjoyed Opera Bar (recommended!) and returned later in our stay. Side comment-- we were surprised at how many women drink champagne by the glass on a regular night.

The next day we drove up to the Northern Beaches where my friend grew up. We had lunch (barramundi and VB) at the Newport Arms pub and made our way up to Avalon to visit with her family. The beaches were beautiful and I would like to spend more time there on a future trip. That evening, we took the RiverCat ferry to Circular Quay and went to the Opera Bar.

The following day was New Year's Eve. We went to Bondi to visit my other friend. He had a group of about 10 people there to greet us and we all had breakfast at the Blue Orange cafe (casual and recommended). We spent a couple hours at the beach and headed back to Drummoyne for New Year's Eve. We had a barbie and watched the fireworks from a hill nearby-- we could see the Harbour Bridge display. (The fireworks in the warm weather made us feel like it was the 4th of July.)

New Year's Day was the hottest or 2nd-hottest day ever on record of Sydney. The hottest temp I ever saw on a thermometer was 47 degrees Celsius/ 117 degrees Fahrenheit. I have never felt heat like that before! We were hoping to go to Manly but it was just too hot. We stayed at the apartment complex pool and had another barbie that night.

Monday was our last day. We drove out to the Blue Mountains, to Echo Point to see the Three Sisters. Took the train down to the floor of the forest (recommended), walked to the gondola and took it back up. We then drove to Koala Park to see some Aussie animals. It was a nice small park, with lots of koalas. I got to pet a wombat too. The kangaroos weren't as impressive-- I felt their areas may have been too small and felt badly for them.

That night we had a large group dinner at the Waterfront restaurant in the Rocks area. The food was excellent although the service was very spotty. I think they were understaffed. I would definitely recommend this restaurant and that any visitor to Sydney taste a Balmain Bug!

We had an interesting evening. Returning from the restaurant, we had a call from our friends' neighbor that there had been a stabbing in their complex. The entire complex was barricaded by policemen. We had to pack and get ready for our 8:50am flight but couldn't get into the complex! The search helicopters were sweeping over us and everything. Luckily, one of our friend's sisters lived in a separate building in the complex so we snuck around the back to her building. Around 2am, the police allowed us in for 5 minutes to throw everything into our suitcases. It was a crazy night. The police were extremely professional yet very accommodating to us when they did not have to be. Obviously the investigation was their top priority. Everything worked out at we flew to Christchurch the next morning. I will post our NZ trip report separately.

Let us know if you have any questions!
Tim_and_Liz is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 05:25 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
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Good report Tim and Liz and glad it worked out for you. What was good too is that you got around to some suburbs to see how some of us Aussies actually live. I don't mind a pie now and then but have to draw a line at the mushy peas! On that incrediby hot day you mentioned all my garden plants were burnt and they look a little bit sad. Yes my brother and his wife and daughter live in the complex near that shooting episode and apparently the whole complex was out to watch the proceedings. Apparently there were helicopters to add to the noise! Now you have been lets see you back here one day. Cheers!
Peteralan is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 12:13 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
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You weren't staying too far from me - we were appalled that such things could go on in such a re-feened suburb. I mean, really!

You seem to have done a good variety of things - come back soon!
margo_oz is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 12:30 AM
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Hi Tim & Liz,
Thanks for the JBR & glad you enjoyed your stay. Pity about the locals acting up, but think of the dinner party gasps when you relate your tale of the "wild west downunder"

The Newport Arms is somewhat of a local institution - was there a couple of weeks ago for a cool drink on a hot day
Bokhara is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 07:55 AM
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We'll definitely be back!
Yes, my friend actually lives in Chiswick where the stabbing/murder happened. We did not feel in danger at any point and it was quite exciting with everyone outside on their balconies and the helicopters sweeping around. No one in the complex knew what had happened and since we had talked to the police we filled them in. Everyone back home loved our email. Of course I understand that a guy died and it isn't really appropriate to garner so much excitement from some guy's death. I guess it was a drug deal thing though.

We loved the Newport Arms! We understand the importance to all of the locals we met from the Northern Beaches, as well as some other Sydney residents that enjoy it there too.
Tim_and_Liz is offline  
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