Friday 6th January: Salt Beach

So… yesterday I shared the view from our apartment out towards the ocean, with the pool in the foreground.

Turns out this is a very family-focused resort where people start in the pool quite early. And we were above the area where al fresco breakfast is served. Oh, and on top of that, just below us was also the very echoey space where teenage boys gathered to play table tennis. Loudly.

Not very relaxing.

Fortunately, we managed to arrange to get another room. On the outside edge of the resort. No ocean view, but we can see a nearby mountain which is sacred to the local Aboriginal nations.

Much more relaxing.

So much so that, apart from a quick trip into the local town of Kings cliff, we have just chilled in the sunshine on the balcony or in the apartment today.

No photos today, I’m afraid.

Thursday 5th January: Sydney to Salt Beach

For our last morning in Sydney, we took a train across the Harbour Bridge to the charming ‘village within the city’ of Kirribilli for breakfast and a last view back towards the city.

Warning, photos include gratuitous views of *that* bridge and *that* Opera House 😉

This afternoon we headed off to fly to Salt Beach (close to the Gold Coast, but still just in New South Wales).
It was a challenging journey. Firstly, Sydney airport proved difficult to get into by lift with our heavy luggage from the train station. Then although we’d used the self check-in machine, we still had to queue for ages at the staffed bag drop stations (where most people seemed to be checking in the old-fashioned way).
It then turned out that our flight was delayed by an hour and a half. Not that the main departure boards indicated anything about a delay or a new time…

Anyway, we finally arrived at Coolangata Airport, picked up or car and drove to the complex where our last week’s apartment is. We got here too late to do much, but as you can see from the photos, is a great spot with a lovely view.

Wednesday 4th January: Watsons Bay / Sydney

We took a ferry out to Watsons Bay (which has some cute houses and nice beaches) this morning and then took a walk up from there to South Head. North and South Heads are the markers for the opening of Port Jackson (all tidal waters within North Harbour, Middle Harbour, Sydney Harbour, Darling Harbour, Parramatta River and Lane Cove River). This means that standing on South Head, we got to look out from the harbour and into the Pacific Ocean, which was a great view.


One we returned to the city, we visited Queen Victoria Building again (there are in pictures in the album for yesterday afternoon). We’d speed a swanky train yesterday which was just choosing, so we’d booked to have afternoon tea, which was very pleasant.

Later, I took a long walk round to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, a great point on Sydney Harbour to look back towards the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

It’s possible I took a few more photos…

Tuesday 3rd January: Sydney

This morning I took a long photo walk around the city part of the harbour. I’ve just included some highlights here, but note there are quite a few photos of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House!

This afternoon, we took a stroll through the CBD, enjoying the architecture (and doing a little shopping 🙂)

This evening I turned to the harbour area for some night time photos (I imagine you can guess what of…)

Monday 2nd January: Harbour Bridge, Parrammata and Darling Harbour

This morning, I took a walk across the Harbour Bridge to Kirribilli on the other side and back. I love the bridge, and the views across the harbour from it are fantastic.

Here are some of the photos I took:

Later, we boarded a ‘River Cat’ ferry to take us on the 1.5 hour journey through the middle and inner harbour and up the river to Parrammata. We explored the town (technically a city – any settlement in Australia with 50,000+ inhabitants can be called that) and some of Parrammata Park (including the sound of very loud cicadas in the trees), before heading back on the train (a mere 40 minutes to return to the city).


This evening we explored the Darling Harbour area:

New Year’s Eve in Sydney

Absolutely brilliant day!

We weren’t sure where we would watch the fireworks, how busy things would be or the best time to be there, so after some scouting of possible sites, we found one last free bench at Dawes Point (map: close to the bridge around 3pm and decided to stick there (at least with two of us there, we could take breaks).

Quite a few people arrived in the hour or so after is, so we decided it was a good call.

Things kicked off at 6pm with an aerial display, unfortunately more on the Opera House side of the bridge to where we were, but I caught a few photos.

7pm saw a tugboat spraying water around the harbour. There were a lot of larger boats on the harbour, going backwards and forwards in display.

At 9pm, there was a family fireworks display, followed by the flotilla of boats returning, illuminated.

Photos to this point:

From this point on, the area got a lot busier with people, but an absolutely lovely atmosphere. What was lovely to see as well, was just what a great mix there was – loads of nations and races happily enjoying the evening together.

I can’t do justice to the midnight firework display with either words or pictures, but I can honestly say it was an amazing experience.

The authorities were expecting between one and 1.5 million people around the whole harbour area watching the fireworks and around 10,000 in Dawes Point where we were, but the atmosphere was so relaxed, good-natured and fantastic, even in the inevitable crush to make our way back out into the city (it took us ¾ hour to get back to the hotel – normally a 15 minute walk).

An incredible evening.

Second party of photos:

Friday 30th December: Melbourne to Sydney

Today’s been a train day. And I mean day. The journey from Melbourne to Sydney took nearly 11 ½ hours! This is partly down to places where we didn’t seem to travel much faster than 40-50mph (and our stop at Junee where we had to go past the station because the train coming the opposite way was there, then pull back in to let people off before setting off again).

We booked first class seats, but it’s not like the first class experience in the UK. Some of first class were in airline-style seats, with fold down tables and able to recline. Our carriage was the compartments used for the overnight service made into ‘daysitter’ compartments – 3 fixed seats with plenty of leg room.
Another difference is that first class doesn’t include food like in the UK. We knew this in advance so picnicked on the train.
Buffet announcements were amusing at times, especially when they informed us that they’d just taken a batch of scones out of the oven (for sale, of course).

It was an interesting journey, seeing the varying countryside and towns go past, including Cootamunda and Wagga Wagga (both mainly interesting for sounding very Australian and the second being pronounced “Wogga Wogga”).

I haven’t taken many photos today as it was challenging through a train window, with reflections and at speed, but here are a few random ones (plus a few pics of our Sydney apartment, which is rather nice):