Friday 4th April
Today is just another work day for me, but Lauren and Tania have headed off to Chatswood to get the food for tonight’s BBQ. Trevor is cooking again so hopefully we will have better weather than last week.
Food brilliant; weather better. Managed to eat outside before the heavens opened. All being well we will get a whole evening by the pool before we head home.
Saturday 5th April
This was Lauren’s first full day in the city so we were up early and on the train by 9. First stop was the street market in Surry Hills.
We headed for Central Station and then walked up into the Surry Hills district. This is described in many of the guide books as an artistic, bohemian, area and you can see this as soon as you get to the main shopping streets. There are cafés and shops selling shops, art and second hand goods everywhere. But there is a well maintained, well look after, well-loved feel about the place.
Sydney refers to itself as the “City of Villages”, and when you walk through Surry Hills you can certainly feel the village atmosphere.
On the corner of Crown Street and Foveaux Street, in a small park, is the market we have come to see. Held on the first Saturday of the month, it is full of second hand clothes and furniture as well crafts and other handmade products. Lauren was clearly in her element, which will not surprise you if you have read her blog!
After the market we took a walk up and down Crown Street, dipping in and out of the various shops and enjoying the atmosphere of the place.
Our next destination was The Rocks district which is the original convict built settlement right next to the harbour and bridge. Not being in any hurry we took a slow walk through Hyde Park, past the ANZAC Memorial and on to George Street, taking a short detour through the incredible Queen Victoria Building which houses a top end shopping centre. This is an amazing construction of stone, iron and glass.
George Street runs straight into The Rocks and the weekend craft markets. We spent a good few hours exploring the stalls and shops as well as walking around the perimeter of the district to see the unspoilt areas which allow you to image just how it would have been for those men, women and children getting off the ships after so many weeks at sea all those years ago.
I have written about The Rocks in previous posts, but there was one little gem that we found this time. Having been out for so long it was time to eat so we took a chance and stepped into The Swagmans Café. We took a table on the street so that we could do some people watching while checking out the menu and waiting for our food. Lauren had a vegetarian toasted sandwich and I had a Wagyu burger.
The food was absolutely brilliant; definitely to be recommended. If you are in Sydney and feeling hungry look this place up!
After The Rocks we walked around Circular Quay and over to the Sydney Opera House. As always the area was full of people going to and from the theatre, restaurants and bars. Round the back of the opera house there was a wedding taking place which, in our humble opinion, was a little odd! The happy couple were taking their vowels looking out over Sydney Harbour Bridge with the Sydney Opera House behind them which sounds wonderful, but there were loads of strangers gawping within feet of them!!
Having enjoyed a great, sunny and warm day out in Sydney, Lauren and I headed back to the hotel to put our feet up and plan out next trip.
Sunday 6th April
The weather forecast for Sunday was wet! At times, very wet!
Rather than spending the day walking in the rain we decided to head out in our Ute and explore the countryside south of Sydney; the destination I had in mind was Kangaroo Valley.
Ute – an abbreviation for “utility” or “coupé utility” – historically an Australian-designed “ute” has been a 2 door vehicle based on a passenger car chassis, the term is also used to describe vehicles which would be called a pickup truck or truck in the rest of the world.
We headed out from North Ryde taking a route past the Olympic Park and across the Parramatta River; as we left the city we took the opportunity for a detour and headed off in to the Royal National Park. The scenery was spectacular with the tall trees and deep valleys. This route was considerably longer but well worth it. Some of the turns were particularly tight and I had to be careful not to put too much power down as the back of the car is extremely light and happy to kick out at any opportunity. Wheel spinning was the norm until I sorted out the right balance between gears and power.
It seemed that all too soon we were leaving the forest and driving along the top of the cliffs looking out over the sea. Every so often we would come to a village with a sandy cove. Surfers were nearly always visible enjoying the waves.
At a place called “Sea Cliff Bridge” the road literally left land and was carried out into the sea.
We stopped at Kiama to see the natural “blow hole” rock formation which is right on the sea front. As the waves roll in the water is funnelled through a short tunnel and then blasted up it to the sky through a vertical hole.
Finally we were heading back in land and through Kangaroo Valley. More amazing scenery much of which was farm land; in many ways reminding us of home with the cattle grazing in the fields.
Unfortunately the valley didn’t live up to its name and after about 450km driven today we still haven’t seen a Kangaroo! Better luck next weekend hopefully.