This is the second part of my tour of Sydney. Click here if you’d like to read Part 1.
Sydney Beaches and the Cliff Walk
Sydney is known for its beaches, and it’s easy to see why since the water and sand were beautiful. The beaches are not long sprawling beaches like you find on the East Coast of the United States. Instead, they are shorter, crescent-shaped beaches sandwiched between rocky outcrops. I visited two of the more famous beaches.
Manly Beach in North Sydney had a really nice, beach-town vibe. Families gathered along the water, and people ran and skated around the walkway that paralleled the beach. Restaurants and shops lined the oceanfront, but it didn’t feel over-commercialized .
Bondi Beach in eastern Sydney is the most-famous Sydney beach, and it was definitely the more trendy of the two. There were lots of in-shape bodies (and a fair amount of out-of-shape) with an occasional topless woman thrown in for good measure. The water was extremely rough (and cold!) so I didn’t attempt to go in. The most impressive part of this area was the cliff walk that connects Bondi and Coogee Beaches. The walk takes you along 5 kilometers of ragged and rocky coastline. There are smaller beaches along the way, and you have a great ocean view for the entire walk.
Many of the key historical and government buildings can be found on Maquarie Street in the eastern part of Sydney’s Central Business District (CBD). The street is named for Lachlan Macquerie, one of the first governors of New South Wales (Australia), who was a key figure in planning and shaping Sydney. Some of the key attractions are the Hyde Park Barracks, the Rum Hospital, St. Mary’s Cathedral and the ANZAC War Memorial. I really enjoyed the Hyde Park Barracks which was built in 1819 to house convicts. It has served many uses over the years and is now a museum.
The story of the Rum Hospital is also really interesting. Governor Maquarie wanted a proper hospital built in the city, but the British government would not provide funding. To get around this, Maquarie gave three businessmen free convict labor and exclusive rum rights in the city in exchange for building the hospital.
Chinese Garden of Friendship and Chinatown
Like many cities around the world, Sydney has a bustling Chinatown section. Chinatown was expansive, and as expected, there were a ton of great Asian restaurants. The restaurant I went to prepared the noodles right in front of you. The chef wrapped the noodles around his arms and smacked them against the counter really hard to thin them out. Next to Chinatown is the Chinese Garden of Friendship which was donated to Sydney by the city of Guangzhou as a sign of friendship. I walked the gardens for a while before stopping for some jasmine tea at the garden’s tea house. Hot tea on a hot day was probably not the smartest decision, but the tea was very good, and it was hard to beat the views. According to Wikipedia, the gardens were also used in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie, if that means anything.
There are a ton of other great place in Sydney and some really interesting neighborhoods, like King’s Cross, Darlinghurst and Surry Hills. I explored these areas for a little while, but I will have to check them out in more detail on my next visit.