A Day to Remember - Sydney in Spring
24 October 2013
Recently, my 11 year old son was given an assignment at school.
His task was to create an itinerary for a visitor to Sydney, outline major sight-seeing highlights and provide his guest with all of the information needed to have an unforgettable day in the Harbour city.
What a great excuse to base ourselves at the Shangri-La Hotel Sydney and play tourist for a day in our own home-town!
Sydney in Spring is simply beautiful.
Gentle breezes, sun kissed days and mild temperatures make it so easy to enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of Australia’s largest city.
As a majestic white cruise liner navigates its way to dock opposite the iconic Sydney Opera House, we plan our day from our vantage point in the Horizon Club Lounge.
My son comments that Sydney has something for everyone.
He is right.
Cosmopolitan but casual, Sydney confidently offers visitors a chance to experience many facets of life ‘down-under’.
My son decides on his key destinations for the day and, after a cheery farewell from the Hotel’s staff, we venture out on foot.
Within three minutes, we take in views of Sydney Harbour at work. To our left, the famous steel grey span of the Sydney Harbour Bridge carries its combination of Sunday traffic below and adventurous ‘Bridge Climbers’ above. They wave victoriously to the passengers of the cruise liner and busy green and gold harbour ferries who gaze up them enviously.
Five minutes more and we are greeted by Sydney’s tranquil Botanic Gardens. For almost 200 years, this gorgeous patch of green has provided visitors, residents and city workers with a harbour-side haven.
We wander to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, a popular viewing spot that offers postcard vistas of the sights Sydney is famous for – its blue water, ‘coathanger’ Bridge and Opera House sails all in one shot.
We watch for a while as loved-up bridal parties pose for portraits and international tourists take ‘selfies’. Although their languages are not ours, they nod and smile with thanks as we offer to take photos of their groups so that they can remember this moment in time.
Moving on, we follow a path less trodden by Sydney’s tourists, Mrs Macquarie’s Nature Walk. Our ten minute ramble takes us past the gun-metal grey ships of the Australian Navy docked across the water at Garden Island. Equally impressive leisure boats of the rich and perhaps not so famous moored at the fabulously named Woolloomooloo Wharf also catch our imaginations.
Food is never far from an 11 year old’s mind, so a quick stop at Harry’s Café de Wheels for a taste of Australia’s national dish, the meat pie, is in order. Harry’s pies have been a popular part of Sydney’s nightlife since 1938 and have been keenly sought by sailors, soldiers and stars alike. As we quickly devour our meaty delights, we peruse the hundreds of celebrity photos that adorn the walls of this caravan-cum-café.
Keen to conserve our energy, we flag down a passing bus to take us on our short journey back to the city centre. Our Sunday Family Funday tickets have cost us just $2.50 and give us unlimited travel on every bus, train and ferry in the city today.
We love the fact that seeing Sydney’s sights is so cheap and easy!
Bondi Beach is my son’s next destination. A train from Martin Place station takes us to Bondi in just 9 minutes. A quick transfer at the transport hub there sees us share the 333 bus to Bondi Beach with an eclectic group of locals and tourists of all ages.
Bondi Beach is pristine on this sparkling Spring day. The wide, white sands of the beach play host to children paddling at the shore’s edge, while veteran surfers cast their expert eyes at the breaking waves. Beachside cafes buzz with conversation and coffee, while health conscious amateur athletes pound the pavements.
We join them at a more leisurely pace on the picturesque cliffs of the Bondi to Bronte Walk. We marvel at the grandeur of the turquoise blue ocean and spectacular sandstone cliffs when suddenly, whales on their way south drop by to frolic in Bondi's warm waters!
Filled with wonder after such natural beauty, we return downtown to the historic ‘Rocks’ precinct to watch talented buskers and wander through its weekend markets.
Weary but happy, we meander back to our home away from home - ‘The Shang’ as my son cheekily calls it.
In the Horizon Club, friendly staff members slip refreshing drinks before us and talk with my son about his day’s quest.
The sun sets over Sydney and we end the day where it began - high above the Harbour City.
Our memorable family experience results in an assignment for which my son receives 100%.
Now that’s worth celebrating!