We have had an amazing few days in one of the world’s most beautiful cities – Sydney, Australia. As we made our approach from our flight from Cairns, we caught our first glimpse of the beauty of Sydney Harbour and our excitement mounted as we touched down!
We checked into our hotel in the heart of downtown and set off on foot to explore the center of Sydney. We had some time to visit the beautiful 19th-century Queen Victoria Building (QVB) and had a delicious dinner at Wagamama’s. Keira said the sights in Sydney are great! That night to get ourselves acquainted with Australia’s largest city, we headed to the Sydney Tower, the tallest building in the city. We were treated to stunning night-time views and were able to point out all of the city’s main attractions – many of which we visited over the past few days. We also saw a 4-D movie highlighting the city complete with the rush of the wind and the waves.
The next day, we headed to Sydney Harbour to see the world famous Sydney Opera House and experience a guided tour. We learned about how the unique Opera House design was selected and its construction. Coco said seeing the famous structure in person was “awe-inspiring” and “so pretty.” We visited the drama, opera and concert hall and Amanda treated us all to a brief performance. We wouldn’t be surprised to see Amanda back on the main stage at this most prestigious venue!
After lunch, we boarded a ferry from Circular Quay and took off for Manly, a beautiful nearby beach town. Along the way, we had some spectacular views of the ‘Harbour’ and we were lucky that it was a beautiful Sydney day with glorious sunshine.
In Manly, we split into groups and played “Trade-Up.” Teams were given a pen and had to make trades with residents and shopkeepers. The team with the most unique object would be declared the winner. Teams returned with everything from posters to wallets and Cassidy and Lesley returned with a painting! The winning team, including Zach, Ben F., Ben D. and Marc returned with a life-size cardboard cut-out of an Australian cricket star and a surfboard. We also enjoyed dinner in Manly and a chance to explore the town and beach.
The following day, we visited the Sydney Olympic Park, site of the 2000 Olympic Games and current home to rugby, Australian Rules football and other special events. We toured the press box, locker rooms and got to run onto the field and mount the podiums. We also tried to match strides of Australian track legend Cathy Freeman and saw the Olympic Cauldron that shone over the city during the Games. Taylor, Gillian and Michelle climbed onto the gold medal stand and posed like Olympic champions!
After some spots along the way to appreciate the full splendour of the city’s harbour, we arrived at world-famous Bondi Beach, where we ate lunch and explored the beach. Back in the city, next on the agenda was Darling Harbour where we had another chance to see some of the animals Australia is known for at both the Sydney Wildlife World and the Sydney Aquarium. We watched through tunnels while sharks swam over our heads and got one last look at Australia’s national icon – the kangaroo.
On our last day in Sydney, we faced one of the city’s major icons head-on and climbed right to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge! We joined the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Matt Damon and Bill Gates who donned a jumpsuit and climbed to the Australian flag on the very top of the famous bridge. Gabby described it as “amazing” and Haley and Jaime said it was so cool to experience the Bridge Climb, especially after seeing the icon in so many movies.
After the exhilarating experience, we explored the “Rocks” district of Sydney, the landing site of the first European explorers to Australia more than 200 years ago. We all enjoyed lunch in one of the many restaurants among the beautiful historical buildings and cobblestone streets. Next up was more excitement on Sydney Harbour – jet boating. We made some sharp turns and got soaked but had an amazing time and got some incredible views. While Ryan got completely soaked, Ashlee somehow managed to stay dry but we all had a great time. We even spotted a humpback whale, right in the middle of the harbour!
After dinner at Darling Harbour, we saw the weekly fireworks and had a game of laser tag. We then watched a slideshow that highlighted the many incredible memories we’ve created together “down under”.
Tonight, we celebrate all of the things we’ve seen and accomplished during our time here in Australia. As we prepare to say goodbye to the trip members not joining us in Hawaii, we reflect on how much of a family we’ve become.
Until we meet again.
The Westcoast Blogger