The Sydney Harbour Bridge with the Opera House in the background is one of the most impressive sights that greet you as you enter the harbour from the open sea. I have been longing to see this sight for a long time and decided to visit the city when got some days off from my work. I liked the city instantly as soon as my flight landed at the Sydney airport. I took a cab to the centre of the town and looked around for a place to stay which was neither too expensive nor too far away from the city centre.
Since I had still time for a quick survey, I decided to visit the area known as The Rocks. It is only a small distance away from the Circular Quay and located on the Eastern side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and I had no problem in finding the place. The city of Sydney has a long history from the time the British first built a settlement for convicts in 1788. This was evident from the cobble stoned streets, old buildings and dead ends which had come up in the days when this settlement was coming up. The area is a clash of the old and the new with a large number of modern restaurants, cafes, pubs and tourist offices which cater to the regular tourists and old buildings representing the past. I located one of the very old pubs which was one of the tourist spots in this old part of the city and had a cool glass of beer before I retraced my steps back to the hotel where I had put up.
I had heard that Australia had huge and beautiful beaches and so the next morning I got up early. I took off for a day to the Bondi beach I had heard so much about. Though the beach is not as beautiful as some of the beaches in other parts of the world it was still quite good and provided a fantastic view of the Pacific Ocean. Even at the early hours of the morning I could see people trooping in, starting to occupy pieces of the beach for themselves by laying down towels in the sand and getting ready to enjoy the sun. I grabbed some food at one of the nearby restaurants and continued my walk along the beach.
I walked along the Bondi beach, along curving cliff pathways and soon found myself on the Tamarama beach. I came across some fine stone sculptures which dotted the beach. The Tamarama beach is also famous for drawing crowds of glamorous and beautiful people and has been nicknamed as the Glamarama beach by the locals. Here I found the people engaged in beach volleyball and stood there for some time watching the games. I then climbed along the cliff path and down again to arrive at the Bronte Beach. I had a cup of coffee at the restaurant on the beach and then sat on the sands for some time watching the people have a nice dip in the beautiful ocean waters and savoured the sea breeze before I started walking back to the Bondi beach. I turned in early as I felt a bit tired from walking up and down the cliff pathways from one beach to another.
The next day I took a train to the city of Cronulla located to the south of Sydney. It takes about an hour from Sydney to reach the Bundeena National Park by the Princes Highway but I chose to take the train to Cronulla instead. It took me about two hours to reach Cronulla by train. When I got down at the Cronulla railway station and entered the town I found the community there very down to earth and simple. They directed me towards the Gunnamatta Bay which is about five minutes from the Cronulla railway station from where I took a ferry to the Bundeena National Park. I was very impressed with the ferry ride over the waters of Port Hacking to reach the small town called Bundeena where the passengers got down from the ferry.
I bought a map of the Bundeena-Maianbar Heritage Walk from a local shop and strolled down the Coast Track indicated on the map. I found signboards all along the way which described the locations very well and got a breath taking view of the surrounding waters, sheer cliffs and the countryside. I reached the Marley beaches after walking for an hour and looked around for some food as I was feeling hungry with all the walking. I popped into a cafe and had some of the fare that was available there and found them quite satisfying and tasty. I roamed the streets of the town and found a hotel to stay for the night.
I was on my way back to Sydney the next day and followed the same route back. After reaching Sydney I looked around for the ferries which could take on a cruise of the most beautiful natural harbour in the world. You can go for a Harbour cruise which is expensive or charter a speedboat to drive at breakneck speed over the waters of the harbour but I preferred the sedate pace of the ferries to get an excellent view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge with the with the Opera House in the background as the sun set in the western sky.
Coming to Sydney and not trying out the climb to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge is just not done. So the early next day found me on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge enjoying the view of the ocean in front of me and the skyline of the Sydney city at the back while the sun rose with a sudden splash in the eastern sky. Though you might feel inhibited by the climb, you would find worthwhile the effort you have to put in for the climb after reaching the top. You have to pay for a pass to get a permission to make the climb. You can also climb to the top of the bridge after nightfall but the pass for it would cost you a little less than a pass for the early morning climb.
Till now I had been to a lot of beaches in and around Sydney but did not have the chance to enjoy the water sports available at the beaches. So I made a beeline for the Shelly beach which was suggested to me by the other tourists and spent the rest of the day snorkelling and diving in the blue waters off the beach. Though I did not have much experience in snorkelling earlier, I did not face any problem as there were lot of instructors around who helped with the dives. After doing the dives I spent the rest of day lolling on the beach and treating myself to cold beer and ice creams which were available in plenty in the cafes along the beach. As I gazed out I felt sad that my vacation had come to an end and I had to return to the hustle and bustle of normal life. The next day I bade goodbye to a beautiful place called Sydney and caught my plane back for home.