12 Hours in Sydney

At the end of my second full day of walking around Melbourne, I boarded the train for Sydney.

Even though I knew my time there would be short, I just couldn’t imagine being in Australia and not visiting the capital city of New South Wales.  The train would be a perfect way to accomplish the goal.  I’d sleep on the overnight train, spend a full day exploring, and then head back to Melbourne via the daytime train.  I walked from the hotel to the Southern Cross station and stored most of my luggage in a locker.  With my camera in hand I boarded the XTP for the 960 K (600 mile) ride to Sydney.

Before closing my eyes, I pondered how to spend the few hours that I had.  Friends offered wonderful suggestions and I knew I’d have trouble choosing the best options.  Should I:

Take a tour of the Opera House or do the Bridge Climb?

Go shopping at The Rocks?

Take the ferry to Manly Beach?

Enjoy the Botanical Gardens?

Or just walk around Darling Harbour.

Ultimately, I chose a 5 mile walking tour.  I’d miss the interior details of the Opera House and the thrill of the Bridge Climb, but I’d experience the big picture and get an overall taste of this vibrant city.  After leaving my overnight luggage at my hotel, I walked by the Queen Victoria Building, completed in 1898, and through Hyde Park, Sydney’s Central Park.  Aren’t those trees stunning?

The Sydney Harbour Walk officially starts at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and when I stopped by, a ceremony celebrating the 21st Biennale of Sydney was in process.  An aboriginal native walked through the crowd with a smudge stick, which I learned was used to promote healing and clear energy fields.

I walked through the Royal Botanic Gardens and along the harbour pathway towards Mrs. Macquarie’s Point.  Lady Macquarie’s Chair is an exposed standstone rock cut into the shape of a bench which was hand carved by convicts in 1810 for Governor Macquarie’s wife Elizabeth.  Folklore has it that she used to sit on the rock and watch for ships from Great Britain sailing into the harbour.

As I turned from viewing Elizabeth’s chair, I caught my first views of the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  My breath caught at the site of these iconic images, and I couldn’t believe I was there!

Can you see the folks doing the bridge climb in these next images?  I have to admit to feeling some regret about missing it.

I continued my walk to Circular Quay and found an outside cafe for a cold beer and some calamari.

I watched a variety of ferries coming and going and made the decision to take the Fast Ferry to Manley Beach.

The Fast Ferry was really fast, taking just 18 minutes to get from Sydney Harbour to Manley Beach, and I had great difficulty holding the camera steady to get these views of the cliffs.  Even still, the ride was so much fun and I loved feeling the wind in my face.  I almost like I was riding the motorcycle!

After the ferry docked, I walked around to Dawes Point, passed Observatory Hill and towards the area known as The Rocks, the historic district of Sydney.  Established in 1788, and once under threat of demolition, the area now hosts open air markets, boutique shops, and pubs and restaurants.  Of course, I was forced to enjoy another australian beer. Poor me!

After hours of exploring, and thoroughly enjoying myself, I walked back to the hotel to get cleaned up for dinner.  My final walk for the evening was to the King Street Wharf where I devoured a delicious meal and lovely glass of wine (or two).  Then it was time for sleep.  The train back to Melbourne would pull out of the Sydney Central Station at 7am the next morning.

What would you do if you only had 12 hours in Sydney?

16 thoughts on “12 Hours in Sydney

    • What would I do in my hometown?

      I do miss the harbour and foreshore area. I dont think I’ve seen another as beautiful

      Maybe a visit to Centrepoint Tower for a 360 degree view of the city and surrounds to refresh my memory. Oh, and lunch at Eat Street in the basement of the QVB (Queen Victoria Building) if its still there.

      I’d definitely visit old friends who I havent seen in a while. Thats a given

      So glad you’ve made it to this side if the Pacific. I hope you enjoy your time here. 😀


  1. Twelve hours! You packed a bit in and at least you got to see some folk way up in the air doing the bridge walk….. Aren’t those trees in Hyde Park something!! Hope you have two feet on the ground now and all is well xoxo

  2. Well it seems like your 12 hours were well spent and the images are phenomenal Laurie 🙂 I would have loved to be on that trip. Personally I’m afraid of heights so I doubt if I would have taken the bridge walk. The Opera house is another story I might have taken that tour strictly because of the architecture 😀

  3. I am so impressed with how much you saw in 12 hours!! A great city, and your photos captured so much of it. They’re great!

  4. What a nice tour you made for yourself. I love seeing these places I’ve heard of in songs or novels. Circular Quay is famous, too. I would have disappeared into the botanic gardens for the whole time, I bet.

  5. It’s an absolute pleasure seeing Sydney through your lens Laurie! It wasn’t long ago but it felt kind of nostalgic for me. I big-a-fied all your photo’s and was thinking, “oh yah, there’s that” or “wow, missed that”. You really made the best of your limited time. I can see the bridge climb being up your alley. But you’ll have a good reason to come back. I might be wrong, but I thought I read somewhere that camera’s and phones aren’t allowed on the climb. I suppose they don’t want it to take all day with people stopping to take photo’s every second. I wonder if you’d be disappointed at not being able to capture it forever with your camera?
    If I only had 12 hours?? Oh lord, that’d be super hard. I guess, I’d probably want to be by the water too. The fast ferry is a good deal, because your get to take fab photo’s leaving the Quay of the city, the bridge and the Opera House. Then lunch at Manly and back for some poking around in the Rocks, then a walk out onto the bridge for prosterity’s sake. If there’s still time, a drink at the Opera House Lounge and maybe dinner too. You did so much for one day. I’d have to set an alarm so as not to sleep the morning through, LOL xo K I miss you, your funny laugh and bubbly little self

  6. I think you made a good call doing the walking tour. Your get more of the meat of an area that way and not just see it in a whirl. The short ferry ride with the ocean wind would be delicious too. Just to set your own two eyes on the Opera House would make it real. I have a tendency to shop and eat my way through a town and talk to anyone I meet. I like the off the beaten tracks places. Twelve hours is better than none. I’d go for it too. Glad you enjoyed.

  7. Laurie, what an amazing twelve hours in Sydney! I love your perspective on so many things, the way your eye catches the beautiful as well as the unusual. Thanks for sharing your gorgeous photo galleries (way to go). Brilliant!

  8. Pingback: A Pause in the Story | Life on the Bike and other Fab Things

  9. Pingback: Making Friends and Riding the Rails: Sydney to Melbourne | Life on the Bike and other Fab Things

Because Boomdee dared me: Lay a little sugar on me :-)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s