The first thing I heard the moment I stepped out of the airbus was the customs officer saying “Hello, Love!” – ahh yes… I am truly in the land down under! Saying hello to this gorgeous city once again was undeniably a pleasing feeling to have on a Monday morning. I could not contain the butterflies in my stomach as I thought about the looming adventures we will be having for the next 14 days. What was more exciting about the trip was that I am spending it with the entire family, my boyfriend, my bestfriend and my cousins. We were (believe it or not) a group of 11 people – I know what you’re thinking, how did we manage to stay in one roof, have a common itinerary and not get into each other’s nerves, right? Well, it was most definitely possible and I must say it was THE ABSOLUTE BEST 14-day family trip ever and I could not emphasize it even more. So here are a few things 11 people could agree on doing in Sydney…
Things to Do In Sydney, Australia
Coogee to Bondi Walk (Day 1)
Up for some workout? Put on your runners and grab a bottle of water because this path is going to be a hefty one. We rented an apartment in Coogee Beach so we decided to do the famous Coogee-Bondi trail. Starting off at Coogee Beach, you’ll pass a few smaller beaches, a cemetery, some work out stations and some really breath-taking coastline views along the way before finally reaching the long stretch of white sand beach of Bondi after 2 hours of jogging. Ugh!
Here’s Katrina and I at the start of the run all happy and excited.
View of the three beaches we passed by…
…and here we are 2 hours later at Bondi Beach dead tired and hungry.
Opera Bar (Day 1)
After a good exercise this morning, what’s better to do than grab some beers? Located in the heart of Sydney, is the best place to sip some mojitos or gulp some beer while taking in the magnificent view of the two icons of Sydney — the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. All of us enjoyed our $8 Peroni Beer under the umbrellas.
Say Hello to the bunch! (L-R) My cousin – Jiggy, my boyfriend- Niko, my cousin – Hanie, my bestfriend – Katrina, little old me, my brothers – Carlo and Marco.
Hunter Valley Wine Tasting (Day 2)
Happy Birthday to my lovely cousin, Hanie!
We’re a bunch who love wine so without a shadow of a doubt, we drove two hours for a chance to experience wine at its finest. Hunter Valley is well known for its series of wineries that each has a unique story to tell about their wine. All you have to do is choose from the hundreds of wineries in the area, tell them you want to do some wine tasting and the knowledgeable staff explain what grapes each bottle is made of and what food is best to pair it with. We visited three wineries (a few more would have plastered us right on the floor) and we went home with a dozen bottles of Semillon, Verdello and some reds.
First on the list was Hungerford Hill
2nd stop was the very famous Mcguigan Wines and Cheesemaker.
3rd and last one was Audrey Wilkinson vineyard which for me had the best view among the three we visited.
Market City and Hyde Park (Day 3)
Market City is located in Chinatown and is a place to go to find really affordable things —most of which are from China—. We took a few hours here before walking up and down George Street.
After walking around George Street for a few hours, we made our way to Hyde Park which is one of Sydney’s biggest and prettiest parks. We found the perfect spot of grass for an impromptu picnic lunch, where we lazied it out for the most part of the afternoon soaking up the sun’s heat with no care in the world.
We had the beautiful view of St. Mary’s Cathedral while the boys were busy doing their own thing.
For dinner we made our way to Darling Harbour and had $10 burgers at Pontoon Bar.
Skydive the Beach in Wollongong and Kiama Blowhole (Day 4)
I think skydiving is in everyone’s bucket list so I came up with this crazy idea that THIS YEAR would be the year we scratch it off ours. With no second thoughts I booked 6 vouchers for Skydive the Beach and Beyond in Wollongong through Red Balloon and worried about the jumping afterwards. There was no backing out now! It was and will be the best $269 I have ever spent in my life. -oh, and an additional $139 for a video and photos. So let me ask you, “What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in your life?” Don’t you think it’s about time to have an answer for that? I sure have one now!
I couldn’t explain how I felt watching the ground beneath us getting smaller and smaller by the minute. My whole body was numb, I couldn’t think straight, my palms were sweaty. All the anxiety and more were combined in that very moment. At one minute we were all laughing and regretting the decision the next minute we were up 14,000 feet and the door opened ready for us to jump. It all happened so fast I couldn’t even remember the second we went out of the plane. Next thing I knew I was flying — The best feeling in the world.
Wollongong was a long drive from Sydney so we stayed the entire day to see more of the place. The beaches were really nice and we enjoyed the perfect sunny weather by the lighthouse – we were more of celebrating from an achievement we’ve done and thankful we made it on the ground alive. We had a picnic lunch at the Kiama Blowhole before ending our day.
The Rocks Market (Day 5)
Happy Birthday to my best friend, Katrina!
One thing I enjoy much about Sydney is the weekend markets they have in just about every corner where you can enjoy variety of meals prepared by locals, clothing, arts and crafts and just about everything you could think of.
Max Brenner Chocolate
Chocolate by the Bald man — who ever Max Brenner is, he is a genius! He is my Willy Wonka! Every bite of his chocolate is an experience… it’s fireworks in your mouth…your tastebuds dies and goes to heaven. From the hot chocolate hug mugs, to chocolate pizza, to sugary waffles and their kangaroo cup cappuccino…it is DELICIOUS! This place is chocolate Heaven.
BBQ at the Beach (Day 5)
To celebrate Katrina’s birthday today and Marco’s upcoming birthday, we invited our family and friends to have some BBQ at Coogee beach. We claimed a gazebo right beside a grill and settled in enjoying our burgers and chips with the company of really good people. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate their birthday.
Here’s our chef, Niko cooking the delicious patties.
It’s always nice catching up with friends from Cebu but the best part of all is being with all my siblings again.
The Star Lunch Buffet (Day 6)
We walked from Darling Harbour to Star Casino for a buffet lunch treated by Niko’s cousins. Buffet lunch at the Star was crazy! It stuffed me up good for days to come.
From Star Casino, we took the ferry to Luna Park
Walk the Harbor Bridge (Day 6)
Why pay $300 to climb the Harbor Bridge when you can walk the Bridge for free? I would rather do another skydive than climb up the Harbour Bridge. We started off from Kiribilli and made our way to the Rocks – I must say the view on the bridge walkway is just as breathtaking — add $13 to climb up the Pylon lookout.
Manly Beach (Day 6)
From the Rocks we walked to Circular Quay and took a 30 minute ferry ride to Manly Wharf taking in the view of the Sydney Harbor from a different perspective. Taking a ferry beats driving to Manly because you see this spectacular view.
Among the beaches in Sydney, Manly has its own story to tell with an array of restaurants, shops and entertainment in the area – commonly known as the CORSO. From the wharf, you need to pass through this busy area before reaching the long white sand beach stretch. It is a perfect day-out for the entire family. If we had a lot more time, we could have rented a bike or did the 10km walk to Split. Check here for more info.
Featherdale Wildlife (Day 7)
A trip to Australia cannot be complete without feeding the Kangaroos and patting some Koalas. We were driving up to Blue Mountains and did a little stop to visit this mini zoo. Featherdale houses Australia’s native animals such as kangaroos, koalas, emus, wombats, reptiles and numerous exotic birds. It is not as big as Taronga zoo but it sure has a lot to offer. The entrance fee is $28 AUD.
How cute is this Koala just sitting there being all fat and lazy!
This Kangaroo was posing in the middle of the entire place as if he’s being paid to sit there for photo ops. This one knows he’s in the lime light.
After the long drive from the city to Katoomba, we settled in our cabin and had a scrumptious steak dinner at the porch.
Blue Mountains (Day 8)
The Three Sisters is an iconic landmark of Australia. Aside from the legend behind the 3 sisters, its unique rock formation make this one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
You need to allot an entire morning to visit Scenic World – with an entrance fee of $35, you can take advantage of 4 attractions the entire day. The first and most famous is the Katoomba Scenic Railway; it is said to be the steepest railway in the world. It was kind of scary looking down on the tracks, it felt like it could drop anytime.
The next one is the Katoomba Scenic Walkway – it is a 2.4km elevated boardwalk through an ancient rainforest of eucalyptus. You can choose between a 10, 30, or 50 minute trail. Since we were with seniors, we chose the 30 minute trail. It was a pretty easy walk, I wouldn’t even consider it an actual trek because of the wooden boardwalk they made but the ambiance and scenery was simply beautiful.
The third one is the Katoomba Cableway. When you’re done with your chosen path in the Walkway, this takes you back up to the souvenir shop where you can take the Skyway.
The fourth attraction is the Katoomba Scenic Skyway where you get to see the famous Three Sisters up close. This has a glass floor that gives you a glimpse of the waterfalls below.
We finished exploring Scenic World in the late afternoon but we still weren’t contented with it so we decided to go to the Echo Point and walked to the Three Sisters. It was a 30 minute walk to the first sister and the view was
If you want to do a hardcore trek in the Blue Mountains, here’s a link where you can choose from a number of free walks that ranges from 15 minutes to 3 days.
Jenolan Caves and Govett’s Leap (Day 9)
The next day we woke up pretty early (with sore muscles from all the walking yesterday) to drive down to Jenolan Caves for an hour or so. This prehistoric cave is one of the largest caves in the world and it will awe anyone who lays eyes on it. The magnificence of this place is just indescribable with the natural transformation of water to crystals it would leave you speechless.
There are several cave tours to choose from ranging; moderate to strenuous or 30 minutes to 3 hours. We chose the Lucas Cave tour which they said is the most famous one (it was an hour tour). Here’s a link to Jenolan Caves for more info.
My photos cannot give justice to the beauty of this place.
Believe it or not.. this is a real fossil of a dinosaur! …
I’m just kidding! It’s a Wallaby fossil but it could actually pass for a dinosaur.
Govett’s Leap was suggested to me by a friend who grew up in the Blue Mountains (Thanks Duncan!), we had no idea what it was but he said it was worth the drive so we made a little detour to Blackheath on the way back to Katoomba. Duncan was right! The view was amazing!! We even did a 15 minute trek to the Bridal Veil Falls and the view was very rewarding.
15 mins to this lookout was an easy walk (because it was all going downhill). What I was worried about was going back up…especially with mom and her sister with us.
King’s Cross Night Out (Day 10)
To wrap up our our trip, on Hanie’s last night, we all dressed to kill and decided to experience the night scene in Sydney. King’s Cross is known to be the Red Light District of the city and a dangerous place where people could get mugged but this is where the action hots up at night with all the strip clubs and nightclubs. We went to a place where it were all backpackers then moved to World Bar where we ended our night.
DFO Shopping (Day 11)
Whoever said shopping in Australia is expensive was extremely mistaken. IF you know where to go, you can get the best deals on a few brands like Cotton On, Oakley, Seafolly, Steve Maden and a whole lot more. Hit the outlets and prepare your credit cards because I tell you this, splurging is not even a question when you hit DFO.
2 Stews and a Cuckatoo (Day 11)
Ending our day with a Flight of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigo and cheese at this wine bar.
(March 03 – March 15, 2014)