I thought it might be fun to share some thoughts on my home town, Sydney. I am traveling home later in the summer to walk on the beaches of my childhood, to fill myself with the sights and sounds of home.
One of the best things about Sydney is the gardens with views of the water. The Botanical Gardens can be entered from the St James station end, across from the New South Wales Art Gallery, or from down near the Opera House. It is a lovely planned garden, with a plethora of interesting and brightly colored flowers, wandering Ibis, shelters and follies. You can see fabulous views of the water from the gardens. Other fantastic views are just around the curve of the walk. Locals wander the gardens too; it’s a favorite place for lunch in the middle of the city.
Beaches of course
No trip to Sydney would be complete without a visit to a beach or two. One of my most favorite memories is taking a ferry ride over to Manly (a passenger ferry, boarded via a plank, I kid you not). Along the boardwalk, on the way to the beach, get some fish and chips to eat out of the paper bag, hot and fresh, on Manly Beach. Another treat is to take a train out to some of the Southern Beaches. If rivers are more to your liking, the National Parks are accessible by train from Central Station, and you can rent a row boat for an easy afternoon on the water.
A trip to the zoo
It’s true that we have the wackiest animals on the planet. Among them are kangaroos and koalas. Locals who rescue roos will tell you that the little blighters do kick, as I learned when I was in high school. A friend rescued a wallaby, and when it had grown a bit, we got kicked if we got in its way. The cuddly looking koalas sport wicked claws, all the better to climb the local gum trees. Find both of these animals at Taronga Park Zoo. Catch a view of the emu, the crocodile and the lyrebird with its fabulous plumage too. You can also get up close, though behind glass, from some of the worlds most poisonous critters, if that takes your fancy.
Hyde Park – green belt through the city
Hyde Park is a great lunch spot in the middle of the city. Visit the Archibald Fountain, with its classic Greek figures Apollo, Diana, Pan and the Minotaur, right across from St Mary’s Cathedral near St James railway station. St Mary’s is a lovely spot, and interesting for being a north facing cathedral, instead of the usual east-facing architecture. Bit of a novelty. It even has a lady chapel all the way to the north, behind the main altar. Not something you’ll find on the tourist information sites.
The War Memorial in Hyde Park has a figure of the fallen soldier, draped across his shield, and mothers carrying the fallen. The contemplation pool outside the memorial reflects all the moods of the Sydney sky. A walk across the street finds you at the Sydney Museum where you will find dinosaur bones and more rocks than you can poke a stick at. Along the way, stop to enjoy the enormous Morton Bay fig trees that are a feature of the park. Sit under a tree and watch the birds and do some people watching. When you’ve had your fill, find a café for some tea and scones, or latte served in a glass cup.
If you get lost, chat with a shopkeeper, or some of the locals. They’re friendly, I promise.