07 Oct How To Spend One Day in Sydney
After leaving university I saved up for a 2 month trip up the East Coast of Australia. I started my trip in New South Wales, where I spent one day in Sydney exploring the all the major sights that the city has to offer. Most cities, including Sydney, are best explored on foot so you get to see more sights and get your bearings.
If you have limited time, here’s a great route for walking the city and seeing the major sights in one day. It’s probably worth booking a hotel in the heart of Sydney so you don’t waste time getting transport in and out of the city.
Have a coffee in Darling Harbour
Start your day with a coffee in Darling Harbour, and enjoy the early morning sunshine. It’s such a peaceful part of the city, with the sun shimmering on the water and reflecting off the skyscrapers in the city skyline. Around the harbour are lots of bars and restaurants, Cargo being the favourite club by night. There is also the Syndey Aquarium and the imax movie theatre, as well as Skycity the casino.
See the Chinese Garden of Friendship
Wander over to the Chinese Garden of Friendship, which is a small piece of tranquility in a bustling city. The garden was intitiated by the local Chinese community to celebrate Australia’s 1988 bicentenary, and is a scaled down version of a private garden from the Zhang Dynasty era 3000 years ago. It was designed and built by Chinese lanscape gardeners and architects and contains the four key elements of fire, water, plants, stone and architecture. The landscapes feature waterfalls, mountains, lakes and forests. If you have some time, stop for some chinese tea in the cafe there.
Walk through Hyde Park and the Botanical Gardens
Walk up past the Town Hall towards Hyde Park and the Botanical Gardens. Hyde Park is Sydney’s central open green space- it was actually named after Hyde Park in London and was originally a racecourse and sporting ground. The tranquil setting is popular among office workers who want some fresh air and time out from the concrete jungle. The central pathway links the Archibald Fountain and the War Memorial, which is a 1934 art deco tribute to the Anzac soldiers who fell in the first world war. The memorial stands 30 metres above the pool of rememberance and there is a photograph exhibition underneath the building. My favourite place to relax is the Royal Botanical Gardens, which were first established in 1816 and are home to over a million specimens of plants and flowers.
Have your photo taken at the Opera House
Make your way down Macquarie Street to the famous Opera House. I think the Opera House looks smaller in real life than it does in the pictures, but it looks beautiful against the bright blue sky with the sun reflecting off the many ‘shells’ covered in glazed off white tiles. It was designed by Jorn Utzon from Denmark and its construction became almost as controversial as its design. In 1956 the New South Wales Government announced an open-ended international design competition and appointed an independent jury. The competition aimed to attract the best design talent in the world so didn’t specify design parameters or set a cost limit. The main requirement of the brief was a design for two performance halls, one for opera and one for symphony concerts. Supposedly rescued from a pile of discarded submissions, Jørn Utzon’s winning entry created great interest and the NSW Government’s decision to commission Utzon as the sole architect was an unexpected and bold move.
Have lunch at The Rocks
After admiring the opera house, walk along circular quay and up towards The Rocks. The Rocks is where Sydney first began. In 1788, Australia’s first European settlers-British convicts (POMs) and their overseers-claimed the land and built their camp atop the sandstone cliffs.
The Rocks eventually grew from an open-air gaol into a vibrant port community. It’s a village which has a colourful past-filled with tales of rough gangs and gritty life can still be traced in the many surviving buildings from the last two centuries. But today the renovated former warehouses, sailors’ homes, and dens of iniquity house a unique mixture of fine restaurants, boutique shops, and galleries. Cadmans Cottage, built in 1816, is the oldest surviving residential building in Sydney and was occupied by Governor Macquarie’s coxswain, John Cadman and his family. It was an official building associated with the surrounding government wharves and shipyard. The water police took over Cadmans cottage in 1847 and later it was used by the adjacent sailors home. Restoration began in 1972.
Admire the Views from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair
If your legs aren’t too tired already, try walking back past the Opera House and round the bay to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. From here you’ll get the best view of Sydney, with the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House in the same shot. This chair was carved out of a rock for Governor Lachlan Macquarie’s wife as she was known to go and sit in this spot to enjoy a panoramic view of the harbour. The pathway is a really popular route for joggers.
Relax, watch the sunset and have a drink at The Opera Bar
The Opera Bar occupies the most enviable position in Sydney, overlooking the iconic Opera House. Go here at dusk to enjoy a cocktail and watch the sun go down, then take pictures of the Sydney Harbour Bridge all lit up at night!
Opera Bar at Sunset by ZoeShuttleworth on flickr