Our last day in Sydney and the sun beat down with the Australian intensity we had both expected on our arrival. Sydney, we quickly decided, was a city we would most definitely love to visit again. With a population of 4.1 million, rivalling that of all of New Zealand, the city buzzed with people, happy people, and so you never felt too overwhelmed by the presence of so many others around you at once. And the city itself is beautiful! Paying homage to its history, beautiful red brick buildings stood against a backdrop of glass and concrete skyscrapers. Giant trees and water features made an average street look like it was part of a garden. Streets were clean with the occasional garbage-can sculpted to look like a mini Sydney Opera House. And to my amusement pedestrian intersections often had the curbs painted with the words ‘Look This Way’ and an arrow pointing in the direction you’re suppose to look before crossing the road. Without wanting to insult the intelligence of the Aussies, I speculated maybe it was for the benefit of the melting pot of immigrants who called Sydney home.
Our last day in Sydney was rather laid back. The blood in my veins seemed to buzz with disbelief that tomorrow… tomorrow we would be arriving in New Zealand. It had been almost seven years since I had last set foot in my homeland, and as much since I had last seen most of my family. But until then we had this one last day to revel in Sydney’s treasures. With the weather as it was there was no need for a taxi. And so, we set off on foot through Hyde Park with its awesome trees and massive water fountain complete with Greek God statues. We passed by Hyde Park Barracks Museum, stood sentry over by King Albert and Queen Victoria. Further along we passed by a row of magnificent historical buildings; The Mint, Sydney Hospital, Parliament House, and the State Library. All beautiful brick architecture vying for the attention of our camera.
Arriving at Circular Quay we were greeted with views of the iconic Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. All around us people hustled and bustled or posed for photo’s. Performers, and buskers vied for attention. The haunting melodies of the didgeridoo rose above the chatter of the crowds as we made our way towards Campbell’s Cove, and our first destination of the day; Oz Jetboats.
Donning oversized red ponchos we found our spot aboard one of the Oz Jetboats where we had been promised a thrilling ride and amazing harbour views. Neither of us was disappointed. Spectacular views of Sydney Harbour, Taronga Zoo, Shark Island and the Opera House were momentarily interrupted by sharp twists and turns, stops and jumps, our driver making certain we were all adequately saturated. We laughed, we squealed, and occasionally I screamed, but above all we both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The unfortunate part of the activity being that it was too wet and wild for photo opportunities.
After arriving back at the dock and discarding our drenched and basically useless ponchos, we set off with wet bums back towards the Opera House. Now the Sydney Opera House is as amazing as everyone says. A brilliant piece of architecture with a fascinating history, as we were to find out on our one hour guided tour. Donning headsets we were taken on an absorbing tour of the building; into three distinctly different theatres each with phenomenal acoustics, up wide never-ending staircases, into glassed-in vestibules with spectacular views of the harbour, and all the time with the guide telling us the tragic history behind the architect who designed the Opera House, and educating us with the technical why-for’s of the architecture itself. A definite must-do for anyone visiting Sydney!
All too soon it was time to say goodbye to the beauty and crowds, find ourselves an ice-cream to snack on on the way home, and head back to the hotel to pack, and unpack, and shuffle, and weigh our suitcases, in preparation for our final destination; New Zealand!