[For lazy readers, here’s a video]
Just a week before my journey comes to an end, which was large part thanks to the Gilman Scholarship, who help fund students to study abroad on a Federal Pell Grant.
I will simply list the top 10 things you must do while here in Sydney, Australia
11. Gold Coast
Breaking all the rules already, this is NOT in Sydney, which is why it’s number 11, BUT if you have the money to go on an extra trip during a break, and you are sick of Sydney for any reason, then I recommend going to Gold Coast in Queensland. Yes, it’s in another state, up north, but it’s considered a surfer’s paradise AND it has theme parks in the area.
-Dreamworld–a bit like Disneyland, with rides, a tiny zoo area, and a water park next to it.
-Sea World [they don’t have orcas, but they still have dolphins and sea lions, so use your best judgement]
-Wet ‘n Wild–a bigger water park than the one at Dreamworld. Sydney also has a Wet ‘n Wild too
-Movie World–Basically Warner Bros. and D.C. land, a bit smaller than Dreamworld, with only a few intense rides, BUT it’s Warner Bros. and D.C. theme. There’s also a few shows that happen at the center of the park and a giant parade at the end–that Dreamworld doesn’t offer–where you can high five Batman and say hi to Bugs. [Obviously this one is my favorite, despite its small size]
10. Sydney Tower Eye
Located in the heart of the city, the giant circular Westfield tower you see is actually called the Sydney Tower Eye. Much like Seattle’s Space Needle, you can pay a small fee to go all the way to the top to get a bird’s-eye view of the whole city. For a few more bucks, you can even go outside and walk around the tower, if you dare.
This is high on the list because although it is a great view, the most you would spend is an hour if you just get a general admission though dn’t expect anything special from the restaurant.
Whether it’s Manly Beach, Balmoral Beach, Palm Beach, or Bondi Beach–Sydney is not in short supply of beaches!
Even in the slightly chilly winter, you could still go swimming in the sun (albeit, it’s kind of cold, but nothing like San Francisco’s beaches).
Although, do read up on the possible creatures that are swimming in the Australian shore–it will make you extra cautious tip-toeing around the ocean blue. I nearly stepped on a small harmless baby sting ray, although the squishy tail around my leg didn’t feel harmless at the time and it scared me away from the ocean for the rest of the day.
This is high on the list because not everybody likes the beach and it’s a bit far from the UTS campus, but it’s technically free to do and beautiful; nobody charges you to visit a beach. [But the price of public transit is a whole another issue]
8. The Rocks
This old convict neighborhood is located right under the Harbour Bridge. Although it used to be a slum for the convicts, it is now an urban area, with prestige (and expensive!) businesses and restaurants flooding the streets.
I recommend going on the Ghost Tour (even if you don’t believe in the supernatural) because not only will you get the long history about the Rocks and its early settlement, but the Ghost Tour also takes you across to other ‘spooky’ parts of Sydney.
7. Q Station
Located near Manly and formally known as the Quarantine Station, Q Station is the first destination for new immigrants in arriving in Australia, at least back in the old days.
Australia has a long history of being very strict about letting plants and animals into their country, to prevent infection of their tropical native plant and animals; so, of course, Australia would be very strict about letting sick immigrants in–especially those who weren’t European white. [No, for real, I’m not trying to make up a race thing, they really did want a ‘White Australia’ back then.]
Q Station was meant to keep new citizens in a contain area for a period of time, until everyone on the ship was deemed healthy.
The daytime tour is short, so I recommend, once again, the Ghost Tour, because you get a lot more history about the old place. But if you could only do ONE Ghost Tour–do this one! It’s better than the Rocks, which is why it’s lower on the list.
6. Luna Park
Luna Park is a small carnival park just off of Milsons Point, the stop you get off of just before entering Sydney and crossing the Bridge. If you crave some nostalgic old festival rides while eating ‘fairy floss’ [cotton candy], this is the park for you!
The hours vary each year, so some months, it won’t be open. Some of the rides feel ancient, but that’s part of the décor since it opened in the 1930’s.
It you can’t afford Wet ‘n Wild or any other theme park at Queensland, then this is a considered a cheaper option.
There’s so many and some of them are cheap to enter while others are more expensive. Since I didn’t want the whole list to be about museums, because they’re one of my favorite things to do here, I’ll list a few favorite ones:
-Australian Museum–a small and cheap museum about Australian animals, Australian cultures, and natural history.
-Powerhouse Museum–a bit more expensive museum about technology and innovation that happens in Australia. Sometimes it shows off fashion and science, and sometimes it has cool exhibits like the Sherlock Holmes Exhibit, where you try to solve a missing person’s case!
-Australian National Maritime Museum–also a bit on the expensive side, this museum shows off Australian maritime history, and at the time I was there, a little bit about Aboriginal history. There are ships and submarines to explore outside the museum.
Another favorite things to do here–to see the crazy native Australian animals. I’ll list off the top zoos I went too:
-Wild Life–is small, but expensive, located at Darling Harbour, it displays Australians exotic animals.
-Taronga Zoo–located in Mosman, this is the biggest zoo Sydney has, thus it is expensive, but you could spend a whole day there. Not only do they have Australian animals, but also animals from other parts of the world.
-Be wary of Koala Sanctuary–they’ve had reports of mistreatment of their animals since 2015. While small zoos seem cool [as this one did at first], you should check ahead to make sure that the animals are being treated well and are being fed properly and daily.
3. Sydney Harbour Bridge
Located at Milsons Point or Circular Quay, you can walk across the Bridge–it’s completely free to do and you get exercise too! However, if looking at the bridge is too boring, what about climbing it instead?
For a large price, you can actually ‘climb’ on top of the bridge–it’s more of a series of steps though, not an actual climb. But if you have the cash and want to brag to your friends that you ‘climbed’ a bridge, then this activity is for you.
2. Darling Harbour
Located close to UTS and on the west side of Sydney, Darling Harbour can best be described as the ‘Fisherman’s Wharf’ of Sydney. It’s the place to hang out in Sydney (except for #1 on the list), mainly because there is the Wild Life Zoo, Sea Life, Madame Tussauds Sydney wax museum, as well as the Chinese Garden of Friendship nearby.
But there is also a night life here, so if you’re into fancy [albeit pricey] bars with fancy food, while looking at a bunch of fancy boats and the fancy marina, then this fancy place is perfect for you too. [Oxford street is technically the official night life street, but people party at Darling Harbour too.]
1. The Sydney Opera House
Of course it is! It’s very unoriginal as this is the most touristy thing here in Sydney–but I don’t care, it really is a masterpiece of a building and with quite a story too.
Just off of Circular Quay [pronounced Key] and right across from the Bridge, the Sydney Opera House is considered one of the new Seven Wonders of the World (depending on which list you look at) and the building was a controversial work of art of it’s time.
Taking 16 years to complete, costing the government 102 million dollars to build, and having a nightmare of a time trying to figure out how to build the ‘wave-like’ curvature roofs without them crashing down from weak struturesâ–everything pointed to this buildings complete failure.
But thanks to the brilliant Danish architect who designed the Opera House–he found a solution through the power of geometry and math!
It’s free to look at, but if you want to see inside the concert halls without buying a ticket for a show, you should book a tour.
I will miss Australia and all it’s glory, but anytime I will feel down while back in the States, I’ll play the Monty Python sketch, which perfectly sums up my feelings for this great country: