Australia · Travel

South Australia Trip: Day 16-17 – Stopover in Sydney

Our journey through Australia had almost come to an end. We were leaving Adelaide on a morning flight to Sydney as part of our journey back to the UK. It was a wet day, and Indy valiantly came to pick us up early in the morning and drive us to the airport. We waved goodbye to her at the kiss and run, before heading inside to drop off our bags and go through security. After dealing with international security at the UK border for most of my recent flights, the calm and relaxed attitude for Australian domestic flights was a welcome relief. We had a few hours to spare before our flight, and so we went to sample the last few items of South Australian cuisine that we could, notably Farmer’s Union Iced Coffee.

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Our flight was a short, Qantas flight direct to Sydney. The rain clouds were heavy and so we did not get much of a view of Adelaide as we left, heading up over the Hills rather than out to sea as is the normal procedure. By mid-morning, we had reached the Pacific Ocean and the winding cliffs of the Royal National Park. We descended over Botany Bay and landed safely into Sydney. We had 24 hours here to spend before we continued our journey onwards back to Britain.

Before we knew it, we were out of the airport and walking through the streets of Mascot. We reasoned that it was more efficient to walk a few blocks to Mascot station to get the train, rather than paying the exorbitant gate exit fee at the airport station. Most of these suburbs were hotel chains profiting from being close to the airport. Jacqueline needed an Opal card, the transit card used in Sydney, but bizarrely they were not available at the station ticket machines. I had to run up onto the streets to find a newsagent selling them.

We boarded the signature double-decker trains of Sydney, changing trains at Central to get the line out to Bondi Junction. We were staying at a hostel a couple of minutes walk from Bondi Beach. Unfortunately, due to historical planning reasons, the train line does not run all of the way to the iconic landmark, so we had to get out at the end of the line and take a bus the last little way.

Despite being winter, it was uncharacteristically warm. So warm, in fact, that for Vancouverite Jacqueline, she felt it was a nice summers day. Even I admitted to enjoy the warmth a bit, not getting anywhere close to warm any time of the year in the UK. After dropping our bags at our hostel, we walked along the shop fronts along Bondi beach in search of a fish and chip shop. Here, we had an opportunity to sample yet more typical Australian cuisine: chips with chicken salt, chiko rolls, and dim sims. We took our foods down onto the sands of Bondi beach and ate amongst an increasingly boisterous crowd of seagulls.

Noting the surfers out in the ocean, Jacqueline decided that she wanted to go for a swim herself. Reluctantly I changed into my bathers and joined her. Remarkably, the water wasn’t terribly cold, especially compared to swimming in the sea in the summertime in England. We enjoyed the waves coming in and out and tried a bit of body-surfing before deciding that it was indeed too cold and headed back to our hostel to shower, the locals bewildered at why Jacqueline wanted to go swimming in the first place.

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After getting changed, we headed by bus back to Bondi Junction and then by train into Martin Place in the centre of the city. From there, we walked down the notably quiet streets of inner city Sydney to Circular Quay, where we got our first proper view of the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We had tickets to the Opera later that night, but we had time to kill first, and needed food. Our solution was to take a joy ride on one of Sydney’s famous ferries. We at the back, as the sun was setting behind the Harbour Bridge, and enjoyed the view of the coves in and around Sydney Harbour. Our ferry took us all the way out to Manly, on the north shore of the harbour. We didn’t head down to the beach, rather, while we waited for our return ferry we went and ate Australian-style Thai food at a nearby chain restaurant. The timing was fairly perfect, without rushing, we finished eating and our return ferry arrived to take us back to Circular Quay, watching as the lights of the City came into view in front of us.

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We walked around the Quay up to the Sydney Opera House. We had tickets to the Opera, and, after navigating the confusing entrances around the famous Opera House steps, made it inside and to the main auditorium in the eastern building. The opera was Lucia di Lammermoor, a love-tragedy with many of the typical opera tropes: deception, family, marriage and madness. While the quality wasn’t as high as some of the opera houses in Europe, the lead was absolutely captivating. We returned back to Bondi  on the train from Circular Quay, once again having to take the bus the last few kilometres.

Our final day in Australia was not meant to be in any way strenuous. We only had the morning to spare, and so did not want to commit to any complicated tourist attractions, nor did we want to drag our luggage too far. We were staying at Bondi, so spent the first part of the morning eating a nice breakfast in a café overlooking the famous beach. From there, we walked southwards, along the costal path that joined the many surfing beaches along Sydney’s eastern shores. Along with many other dog walkers, joggers and yoga enthusiasts, we made our way down to Tamarama, and explored the rock pools on the north side of the beach. Jacqueline was fascinated with the way the granite rocks had been shaped over many years of waves. Although the path continued further, we headed back to our hotel to pick up our bags.

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For the last time, we took the bus back into Bondi Junction. We were now headed for the airport, but as with the previous day, we did not want to have to pay the ridiculous exit fees at the Sydney airport train station. Instead, we took the train to Wolli Creek, and walked with our bags along the Cooks River into the airport.

We were flying British Airways all the way home. Due to the distance, even though we would be on the same airplane, it would stop in Singapore to refuel. We only had one ticket that we were told would be used on both legs of the journey. The flight was long, and Jacquline wasn’t too keen on the short layover in Singapore. She insisted that we find some spicy food, which in Singapore didn’t prove to be too difficult. However, despite the order of curry and soup, we weren’t provided with cutlery, which made eating it relatively quickly a challenge. Before we knew it, we were back on the plane and bound for London.

Over the night, our flight gained time, and by four in the morning we were circling above London waiting for the curfew at Heathrow to end so we could land. We were therefore one of the first planes in, and we found ourselves first in line at the immigration queue in Terminal 5. The only thing slowing us down was waiting for our bags to arrive, but we managed to get a quick connection onto the Piccadilly line into central London. Unfortunately, it did not look as though we would get to King’s Cross in time to get the train up to Cambridge without having to wait around for an hour, and so we bailed onto the faster Victoria line. When we arrived into King’s Cross, I raced with my heavy luggage out of the tube station, bought the mainline train tickets from the concourse and made it onto the train with seconds to spare. From landing at Heathrow at half past four, we were back in Cambridge by half past seven, exhausted and jet lagged.

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