Sydney with the Family

After New Year it was time for the family to move on to Sydney. On the 3rd January they drove over along the coastal route. Doing this in one day was doable, even if bit rushed and certainly with no time for sightseeing stops. I stayed behind in Melbourne, there was no room in the car in the first place and I also had some matters I had to get sorted in Melbourne. On Saturday I hopped on the train and joined the others in Sydney. During their two days there they had already covered most of the major attractions so it was now time for some day trips.

On Sunday morning we headed to Blue Mountains, one of the major attractions near Sydney. This mountainous area has lots of great views, awesome waterfalls and good walks among other things. I had been to Blue Mountains twice before, but as it is one of my favorite places in Australia I was more than happy to come along as a guide for the day trip. We first stopped at Wentworth Falls. This area has some of the best waterfalls in the Blue Mountains and the Valley of Waters region is particularly beautiful. A walk there was on my list of things to do and we on the walk as a group.

However, as the path started to look quite rough and the steps down were quite deep the others decided to turn back. I drudged on and the Empress Falls were certainly worth it. I also passed a few other waterfalls before turning back towards the car park. The way up was certainly good exercise on a hot day like this. Still, the walk was excellent and certainly worth its reputation as one of the top walks in Australia.

After Wentworth Falls we moved on to Leura and visited Leura cascades and Gordon Falls. Timo also managed to locate an ice cream truck. 🙂

Then it was time to move on to Katoomba, the famous Three Sisters rock formation and some lunch. Tarja and Merja visited the Waradah Aboriginal Centre while the rest of the did some more sightseeing in Katoomba.

After regrouping we moved on to Blackheath. The lookouts and walks around Blackheath are perhaps the best in the Blue Mountains. After a full day out we decided to skip the walks and just visited a few of the lookouts. Evan’s lookout didn’t disappoint this time either, views down to Grose Valley are spectacular. Then we moved on to Govetts Leap lookout for some waterfall. Due to dry weather many of the waterfalls were not as impressive as usual. But Bridal Veil waterfall (aka Govetts Leap) was still quite a sight.’

This was our last major sightseeing stop, we proceeded to Lithgow and then drove back to Sydney via the northern route. Unfortunately photo opportunities were limited. While the views down the valleys on both sides of the road were often very nice, there were always too many trees blocking photos and no good lookouts near the main road either.

All in all it was great day out, Blue Mountains is yet to disappoint.

On Monday we had to move out from the house we were staying in. Initially we were supposed to have the place for the entire Sydney visit but unfortunately the owners had to return from their holiday earlier than planned so we had to spend the last few days in a hostel. The others also had some packing to do so we didn’t plan any major trips for the day. Instead we did some further sightseeing in the city itself. First we took the ferry to Manly and did some swimming and snorkeling there. Shelly beach is a great snorkeling spot and we even saw a lone Port Jackson shark there!

Then we returned to the city, dropped off the beach gear and continued with the sightseeing in the CBD. My Sydney visit wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to the statue of Trim. However, at this point others had had enough of walking (and it was getting dark anyway) so we headed back to Circular Quay and caught a ferry to Darling Harbour. This is a great boat ride in the dark with great views of the city at night. I put my new Canon 17-55 lens to good use. Then from Darling Harbour we walked through Chinatown and then finally caught a train back to our hostel.

While there were some cool nights and even a few slightly cooler days during the time my family was visiting Australia their second to last day here (Tuesday) was nothing of the sort. Forecast in Sydney was for 43 degrees, which was getting really close to all time records. In weather like that walking around is not really a (pleasant) option, so we spent most of the day in the air-conditioned car and visited various beaches.

To avoid the busiest spots and to do some sightseeing at the same time we decided to head over to Terrigal, some 90 km north of Sydney. This popular tourist town has some nice beaches and I also wanted to check out snorkeling there. Terrigal beach was indeed nice, too bad snorkeling at the nearby Haven was somewhat disappointing: poor vis and nothing too special to see apart from one cuttlefish. Still, it was a nice way to spend a really hot day out.

After returning to Sydney we decided to do some more swimming and snorkeling as the weather was still way too hot. So we headed over to Clovelly, the beach (and parking lot!) was still totally packed even though it was getting fairly late. Timo dropped the rest of us off and eventually managed to get the car parked. Despite the throngs of people in the water snorkeling was quite good (as usual at Clovelly) and everyone had a great time. Several Blue Gropers and lots of smaller fish too. We spent several hours there, even after sunset it was still a very pleasant 30 degrees so we were in no hurry to leave. Finally we drove back to our hostel and tried to catch some sleep despite the hot rooms.

In the morning it was time for everyone to get ready to leave Sydney. We visited the house in Newtown to pick up rest of our luggage and the others repacked everything for the flight. Timo had gone way overboard on souvenir shopping and it took him ages to fit everything in his packs (and staying under weight limits at the same time). Then it was time to say goodbyes, the others drove over to Sydney airport and I headed to the Central Railway Station. Few hours and some book shopping later I caught an overnight train back to Melbourne.

It was nice to see the family again after over a year. Even if they can be bit of a pain at times. 🙂

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