TRIP REPORT -- Sydney & Gold Coast

Old Apr 2nd, 2008, 12:38 AM
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TRIP REPORT -- Sydney & Gold Coast

HI Guys!

We just had a fantastic holiday in Sydney and the Gold Coast, Australia. We would like to share our trip with our fellow Fodorites.

Hope this is helpful, particularly for those coming from Manila to Sydney.


Day 1 (Saturday)
March 15, 2008
0825 pm

Dad and Mom in law are running down the departure hall to catch our 830pm flight. Stuck in traffic due to El Shaddai/Saturday afternoon crowd, we were literally the last 9 passengers to board the plane. What a way to start our holiday! And to think HP had wanted to eat at MOA for dinner.

Day 2 (Sunday)
March 16, 2008

Flight was uneventful. As in uneventful (boring). No personalized TV screen. Movie on offer was Beowulf, not exactly my cup of tea. Couldn’t exactly sleep well either. Landed in Melbourne for a 30 minute stopover at 730 am.

1030 am. Arrived in Sydney Airport. PAL was on time, for a change. However, the Sydney Aiport managed to screw this lead time by delaying our baggage by 20 odd minutes. Were entertained by the 2 high school rugby teams in the neighboring conveyor belt. ( From NZ?).

Mom : ‘ Our 3rd world country airport at least send out or baggage pronto, unlike this 1st world country airport.

1100 Train Services cancelled, so took FREE BUS to Central Station. Met a friendly Sydneysider who taught us the way to Hyde Park (Museum Stop).
Walked for 4 blocks uphill to Hyde Park Inn (Elizabeht Street). A walk that was to be a precursor of our walks in Australia.

Got 2 rooms at Hyde Park Inn (607 & 807). Had to stick our room key into the elevator, for it to go to our floor. Safety feature to be found I think, in Australia.

Walked to Liverpool St., to take Monorail to Paddy's Market (AUS 9.80 per person, day pass). The monorail moves only in 1 direction, so we were treated to a tour of all stops (QVB, Darling Harbour) before we alighted at Paddy’s Market.

Paddys’s Market is open only during weekends, so this was to be our first stop. Yasmin told us to get all our cheap giveaways here, so we bought lots of magnets, key chains and shirts for gifts back home. Bought Souvenirs @ AUS 45 or 55.
Mom went shopping and bought table linens in the 2nd floor.

0230 pm As we hadn’t had breakfast nor lunch yet (save for airline food), we ate at BBQ Min Hai Resto @ AUS 127. This was to be one of our cheapest meals in our trip. I had Duck and Chicken combo, with overflowing rice. The resto had Gigantic Chicken Feet on display!
After which, we boarded the monorail again, alighting at the next stop, Galleries Victoria. We had a Rocks Walking Tour to catch at 5pm.
Bought Cityrail tickets. (AUS 43 per person, 1 week pass).
We had planned in buying a 3 day Sydney Pass at the airport but since our trip towards the city was free, we bought the 1 week pass instead. Good for all transport in Sydney, ferry, bus, train.

Alighted at Circular Quay using CityRail. This was our first glimpse of the Sydney Opera House. What a moment! Previously seen only in postcards and on TV, I was not prepared for it. I think I am more awed by the Bridge though. Architecturally speaking, I can see why the opera house is such an icon. Its shape and design will leave you no doubt what it is, and no doubt as to where in the world you are right now.

0455 PM. Walked into the Four Seasons Hotel, our meeting point with our Guide Flora. By this time, we were all very tired and dehydrated, but we carried on. We were all amazed by her walking prowess ( she was probably about late 50’s).

0630 PM. Finished the Rocks Tour. Went to Argyle Cut, George St., Cadman’s Cottage (oldest building in OZ), Nurses Walk, etc. Ending up in the Observatory Hill, which gave an excellent view of the Bridge. We could see some bridge climbers.

0730 PM Dinner at Philips Foote. (AUS 27.5- per person + drinks). This was highly recommended by Uncle Val. You choose your own steak, you grill it according to how you want it cooked. I chose a T Bone, medium well please. Anya had a tough time cooking because he kept flipping all his steaks over and over, when it said explicitly in the instructions TO FLIP ONLY ONCE. Haha. The best part was the buffet salad, which went down well with the beer (VB).

Saw some people taking the ‘Ghost Tour’ passing by directly behind Phillips Foote!

0830 PM Took some photos of the Opera House at night, excellent views!
0930 PM Took the City Rail Home. It has been the longest 48 hours!

DAY 3 (Monday)
March 17, 2008

Continental Breakfast at Hotel. Still feeling woozy, but excited at the coming days.

0840 AM Went to circular quay to ride ferry to Manly beach.
0920 AM On our way to Manly beach. (included in the day pass). Took the obligatory photos with the Opera House and Bridge at the background.

1000 AM Arrived at Manly Wharf. PaPA bought slippers at merrel, lanyard at the Corso. Sioti commented that finally, we have left Asia, as majority of the people were white skinned. Not a lot of people yet though. Very nice beach, met 2 boys who sprayed seawater on us with their water guns.

Ate at Manly beach fastfood restaurant near the ferry terminal.

0140 PM Took the return ferry home. Upon return to Circular Quay, took the hop on hop off at AUS 30 per person. Sydney Sightseeing Tours. – Its only merit perhaps is it has an open top, which will most likely prevent anyone from dozing off as we had to continually dodge low branches. Otherwise, I would recommend the Sydney Explorer.

Took us to Kings Cross and alighted at Macquarie Street to the Royal Botanical Gardens. Where we walked to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. The sun was out now, so it was quite hot. Took the obligatory picture for aud 20. The sun was against us, so we had to use a professional photog’s camera, hence the aud 20.

Took Public bus to QVB. For the first time in Sydney, so a convergence of so many people. Also overheard 2 Pinoys in the mall. First saw a sign for Earth Hour.

Walked to Pitt Street, where I bought an All Blacks Adidas cap.
Walked to Martin Place. Initially had thought to have dinner at GPO, but decided to head on straight to Darling Harbour.

Kobe Jones was exceptionally expensive, so we ate at Nick’s. Had Kangaroo meat, which was OK. No escaping the expensive part, though. Dinner for 9 : 312 dollars.

Lindt Café was closed, so we took the bus home. With the help of a friendly bus driver from Lebanon. (you have to post 10,000 aud to be able to visit Australia from Lebanon??).

Bought eggs, hotdog, bread at Coles World Square for breakfast. And I thought establishments closed at 5pm in Sydney. Apparently in Chinatown, shops close much, much later. 11pm to be exact. Though QVB closed at 6pm.

Had Korean street food first though.

Day 4 (Tuesday)
March 18, 2008

Cooked breakfast in Hotel.

Took train to central station and took hop on hop off to Bondi Beach.
Bought lifeguard swimsuit for Leroy at Between the Flags store. Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban was at Bondi the same day as we were, but we didn’t see them.
Bondi Beach or Manly Beach? I’d say Bondi for the location, and I hear its more hip (?).

Ate at Oporto. Tasty Grilled Chicken Sandwiches. Is the Bondi Meal, only available in Bondi Beach?

Took public bus to Bondi Junction and took citirail to circular quay.

Had to catch the 1:30 pm tour of the Sydney Opera House.
Learned about Utzon and how he mass produced materials for the opera house. Fascinating, plus it’s self cleaning!

The Sydney Opera House was built by Utzon and was finished for 16 years for AUS120Million. Initial estimate was for only 3 years for AUS7 Million.

Went inside the concert hall and opera house.

Mom & Dad rode the taxi back to Hyde Park Inn.

Then we walked to Cumberland Street for our bridge climb for THE CLIMB OF OUR LIFE!
We took the argyle steps short cut to go to cumberland street.

We went up the bridge climb. Fantastic views of the sydney harbour. Our guide GABBIE or GABRIEL was also nice. OH YEAH !!! She took pictures of us.

What can I say about the climb? I think it’s not overrated at all. Its expensive, though. But worth it? YES. I have a notorious fear of heights, but even though high, the Bridge Climb didn’t scare me at all. Thus I developed a sort of immunization from heights, as I don’t think many rides would top that height. Save for some very very steep series of climbs, it was all very well.

You go through a tunnel, under the bridge, up these steps, and BOOM you’re in the middle of onrushing traffic. A few more steps and we are all ready to ascend. We caught the sunset on the way down (645 PM), and after 10 minutes, the sun was gone. IMHO, the 1600 climb is the best climb out of the Day Climbs. You might get a chance to see the sunset, without paying ‘Night’ Climb rates.

We went home at about 8:00 pm, took the cityrail to Hyde Park Inn.
Now, about Hyde Park Inn. Location wise, it is unbeatable. Across the Train station, a few meters to bus stops, walking distance to Chinatown and to George Street, its value for money. Highly recommended.

Had Dinner at East Ocean Chinese restaurant in Chinatown for AUS 200+. Restaurant closes at 2 am (?). Food was nothing really spectacular, we’ve had better food in Hong Kong or in Manila, but it served its purpose.

TravelFreak168 is offline  
Old Apr 2nd, 2008, 03:52 AM
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great report LOVE the detail.
Smeagol is offline  
Old Apr 2nd, 2008, 11:16 AM
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Loving the report...great info. Especially the details. I plan to print and highlight things to do/not do for my own trip! Thanks so much! Is more coming?
fiesty1 is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2008, 12:30 AM
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Yes, I think we still have 4 more days to go.. Sorry. Promise to post soon.

Thanks for taking time to read.
Will send the link for the pics also.

TravelFreak168 is offline  
Old Apr 7th, 2008, 08:50 PM
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Backgrounder :

We were a group of 9 adults.
2 parents. Aged 60 and 52
7 children. Aged 18 - 30

Here's the 2nd part of our itinerary.
Hope we are able to help future goers to australia!

PART 2 :

Day 5 (Wednesday)
March 19, 2008

7:10 am, Pick up by Sydney Wilderness Tours. We found about this company googling about Blue Mountains. Initally, we thought the price of aud 135 / person was too expensive. We thought of getting a local tour at the Golden Wattle in Paddy’s Market instead. We’re glad we didn’t.

Through Sydney Wilderness Tours, we got to an early start (730 am we were departing Circular Quay already).
The minibus was for 14 people only, so we were very flexible.
Our guide/driver Daniel (who resembled Mr. Bean!) was able to communicate to each and every one of us without shouting, and we were very able to understand his stories.
Btw, he said that this was his first day on the job for this company, so he kept on missing the clutch and the engine kept dying on us!

We passed by The Rocks for some pictures first. This enabled us to have a picture with the opera house in the background during the earlier part of the day, which turned out to be a great shot!

We crossed the harbour bridge in getting to the highway, and saw the snarling traffic coming the opposite direction!

Stopped by featherdale park for some zoo visits early in the morning, where we met RYAN, THE CHARMING TOUR GUIDE, who showed us around the zoo. Very charming indeed, as he was only 8 years old!

Now, the timing here was spot on, as when we arrived, there was just this 1 tour bus with us, so we pretty much had all the kangaroos and koala bears to ourselves. When we left 1 hour later, there were at least 8 busloads of people inside the zoo.

Featherdale isn’t a Gigantic Zoo, but for us it fitted the bill perfectly. We were primarily interested in getting up close and personal with the kangaroos and koalas, and we were able to pet them to our hearts content. Kangaroo feed is available for aud 1 / cone, which is alarmingly expensive. Geez. They gobble em up quick.

We also saw penguins and wallabies.

Next stop was Scenic World, where we took the scenic railway but it was too foggy to see what was below us. Fortunately, the weather cleared up as we went down to Echo Point, where the air was getting cooler.

The views , including that of the 3 sisters were absolutely fantastic.
We weren’t able to see the famous blue mist, but the views are stunning.

After the walk at Echo Point, mom and dad went to the wine shop to wait for us while the rest went down the 500 meters more to get a close look at 1 sister.

There was ANOTHER walk down to this 1 sister, which I didn’t even attempt, seeing how steep it was. Daniel said that this walk was for ‘serious walkers’. I gave it a PASS. Haha.

Had buffet lunch in a revolving restaurant with the 3 sisters as the backdrop. Great lunch after such a walk.

Next we went to the Leura cascades. The walk was quite tough so mom stopped midway and decided to go back. We went on and enjoyed the views. I especially liked this walk, as you can see the stream along the walk, and at the very bottom of the walk, the stream gently becomes a cascade. Amazing. Then the water empties itself out thru the side of the mountain. Wow.

Next we went to the King's Table lookout. It was so nice but really scary because you have a view of the blue mountains on top of a huge rock cliff. With no Railings. On an uneven surface.

Nonetheless, the best pics of our trip was taken here. The game was on, who could walk down the farthest to the edge and look down. Haha.
Trivia here : cars were driven off the edge here, to be claimed later under insurance. Cunning idea! No longer feasible though, as insurance companies probably were the ones who put up cordons for cars.
we also saw 4 cars below the cliff, said to be for insurance claims.

We stopped by some aboriginal kangaroo engravings which was damaged by sand. These were made by aborigines.

Daniel drove us to the Sydney Olympic Park for the ferry which we will be riding back to Circular Quay past the millionaire's homes along the river. We also passed by the sydney olympic park along the way but because of the easter show, we were not able to go inside.

This time, we went under the sydney bridge. so that completes our sydney bridge tours from TOP, BOTTOM, AND INSIDE.

We had our last dinner in Sydney at Pancake on the Rocks on Circular Quay. For a restaurant which was partly hidden from public view, the place was packed! Food was great, cost per person was around 28 dollars. Had pork ribs for dinner, and we shared the pancake dessert. Yummy!
cholcolate for dessert.

Day 6 (Thursday)
March 20, 2008

Woke up at 4:30 am just in time for our 7:10 flight to gold coast. Since the train stop was just around the corner (Thank you Hyde Park Inn for your location!) , we were in the domestic airport in 30 minutes.

Note that the 1 week pass DID NOT include the airport link, so we had to pay 15 aud more (we took the 1 week airport link pass, as we will be back in 4 days in this same line.) This is where the Sydney Pass will do its magic. Sydney Pass includes the airport link.

We took Virgin Blue. TIP : You can check in 24 hours before your flight, even with luggage, and choose your seat. We didn’t. SO we had to fall in line, while watching others who checked in online flaunt their boarding passes.

Departed Sydney 710 am, arrived 730 am in the Gold Coast, as it is 1 hour behind Sydney.

At the airport, paid 33 aud for a round trip airport to hotel transfer. This was especially helpful, as they dropped us off at our hotel (Q1), and picked us up 4 days later at the spot where they left us.

Q1 is indeed the highest building in gold coast, and an amazing place to stay for a family.
Spacious apartments, all white walls, huge bath and tub. Complete amenities including dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, flat iron, DVD Player, electric stove, cutleries and plates. Great pool for swimming (and for wading in after a swim in the beach! – to rid of the sand!). Great place to bbq beside the pool. The beach is a stone’s throw away. Cavill Mall is 3 blocks down, so not much noise pollution at night. Would go back here, definitely!!

We booked 2 apartments for our group of 9. In truth, we could all fit in in one single apartment!

We ate brunch at Pancakes in Paradise across the street coz it was the only resto that
opens early in the morning. Then, we took Bus TX2 to Movieworld, our first stop! We bought return bus tickets and Movieworld Tickets right there in the Bus, so we didn’t have to fall in line in Movieworld.

1st ride, Batwing Ride. Scary Sh*T!!
2nd ride, Batman the Movie Ride. Kinda wimpy, esp AFTER Batwing.

Next is the SUPERMAN Escape. Now here’s at TIP : Go to theme parks during weekdays. We rode Superman Escape 2x and probably more if we wanted to, as there were very short lines!!

About the ride : Very very exciting, esp in the countdown stage prior to the 0-100 kph start. And when the cart started to accelerate….whoa!! After that of course, comes the fall, where it felt as if we were crashing down to earth, but nothing to fear! Superman is here!!

The highlight, as always, for a theme park, is the obligatory photo with the superheroes. We snapped up pix with Austin Powers. And the parade included Batman, Marilyn Monroe (??) Catwoman, Shrek and Police Academy.

Watched shrek 4d animation.

Took the scooby doo ride twice. Now THIS is a killer. Looks and impressions can kill, lemme tell you. IF you happen to be here, don’t miss this. And tell me what you think. Hahaha.

Took lethal weapon ride. Now this was a letdown. Not scary AT ALL.

Last ride was the Wild West Waterfalls. HAD to do it, if only to say we completed all the thrill rides! Got wet of course. Haha.

Went back to q1 and ate dinner at legends chinese restaurant which was so expensive (for so so Chinese food). We saw westerners in another table eating 1 whole crab each, for which we overheard they were being charged 80 aud each. MAN, back home we could eat a hell lot of crabs with that money.

Afterwards, we went swimming at the pool of q1 until 11pm.

Day 7 (Friday)
March 21, 2008

From Q1, we walked to the transit center near cavill avenue for our Rainforest Bushwacker Tours. We met Neville, our guide/driver/cook.

Re Bushwacker Tours. Again, we were apprehensive regarding the cost (aud 100+ per person), plus apprehensive re the 4km walk, as our mum has covered quite a distance during this trip, probably more than she made all of last 3 months!

These fears were to be allayed much later though, as this tough bushwacker tour was one of the highlights of our holiday.

Left Gold Coast at around 8:30 am.
Drove for probably 1 hour. As everyone from our entourage slept, I plugged my MP3 player to drown out the incessant stories of this British guy who managed to keep his stories spewing at a constant speed to his poor seatmates.

With Incognito ringing in my ears, I took in the countryside views. Spectacular mountains and farms. Along the way, I saw a few people hiking. Crazy!!

First stop was a picnic ground where we drank coffee and ate cookies and chips to freshen us up.

First stop is the Natural Bridge in Springbrook Park where we saw waterfalls and a cave with bats and supposedly glow worms, but didnt see any because it was daytime. Nev said that he used to swim in these ice cold waters, but it isn’t allowed anymore.

Next we started the 4km walk in the national park. It was a walk inside
the rainforests with out any railings whatsoever, and the paths were all muddied even though it was not raining. At first, all of us princes and princesses were carefully navigating our way, but as NEV said, ‘it would get only worse from hereon’, we decided to heck with it, we’ll clean our shoes back home, and waded into this adventure.

Nev showed us all sorts of fascinating trees . He showed us which leaves to avoid (itchy), to watch out for snakes (we did see one! A baby snake, sleeping), and to refill our water bottles on the way with fresh stream water. (Tastes very cold, but very refreshing.)

First up, we saw tea tree leaves with scent of lemon similar to the car scent and also the scent they use in spas. We made our way past waterfalls, past narrow rock formations, past muddy and slippery paths, past winding paths, past steep cliffs. Even saw a huge skink!

Along the walk, I would sometimes just stop and admire where we are. In the middle of a rainforest!! Amazing. I would look up, and see droplets of water down my face (Is this water or forbid, something else?!)
And deep inside, the temperature is 2-3 degrees cooler, the sounds of nature are more pronounced. Beats any spa, anyday.

Spa : cd of birds chirping, water flowing.
Spa : bottled scents of perfume.

Here, they are all in nature. Plus, we get the added bonus of having a gigantic washroom (C.R.)!

At the end of the walk, our feet were tired, and soaked with mud. But my mum couldn’t be prouder that she finished the walk.

We then proceeded to have a lunch picnic nearby, where unfortunately leeches abounded.

We had bread, cheese, salami, ham, tuna and pineapple. We were so hungry we finished off Nev’s lot.

Afterwards we went to the glow worm tours in a private property. Apparently, only tour guides are allowed in. We watched a short video, and went inside a ‘cave’ where it was completely dark inside and we were guided only by the railings. we saw tiny lights of the glow worms inside !!

I really think they should name this place GLOW PARROTS!! because we were more interested in the wild parrots rather than the worms. Haha.

The parrots flew right into our arms while eating sunflower seeds so this was another photo op for us.

We stopped by the fudge shop on the way home. it was the sweetest fudge that can give you diabetes no doubt !!

We arrived at 430 pm at Q1, and we quickly went up the room and changed into our beach clothes and went swimming in the beach!

Back to the beach ! it was so fun. the waves were so strong. there were lifeguards
everywhwere.. we were to swim only between the red and orange flags..

then the lifeguards told everyone to go home at about 5:30 pm..

change clothes and went to eat dinner at cavill avenue at hungry jacks. we were supposed to eat steak for dinner but the best steak resto was full that night. so we ended up with burger king-hungry jacks with drink all you can soda.

Talk of a major downgrade!

Walked along the fun fun cavill avenue, and bought Oporto Chicken and Bread for breakfast the following day. Oporto was turning out to be a favorite of ours.
Oporto, Fresh, not Frozen!

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Old Apr 7th, 2008, 10:02 PM
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Thanks, very interesting.
JamesA is offline  
Old Apr 8th, 2008, 12:31 PM
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Sounds great...thanks for sharing more!
fiesty1 is offline  
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