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Category Archives:Australia/NZ/Oceania

48 Hours in Sydney: How to hit all the major sites

Despite the requirement to battle with throngs of fellow tourists, regardless of your travel style you would be kidding yourself if you came to Sydney without wanting to see the icons that make Sydney, Sydney. Some are fairly concentrated, others are a little more far flung but you should be able to knock them all off in 2 days before slowing the pace to seeing what the locals see. But first, this is what to see in your first 48 hours in Sydney.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

To Australians, the Harbour Bridge is iconic Sydney. The best and most accessible view is from the Sydney Opera House or better yet, from the back of a ferry. Walking across the bridge itself is not as silly as it sounds either.

Catch a train to Milsons Point Station (North Shore Line), explore the other side of the Bridge (there are markets on the second and fourth Saturday each month) and make the trek back across. But if you’re happy to admire the bridge from a distance, walk north up George or Pitt street until you can walk no more. You’ll see it.

Sydney Harbour Bridge from Circular Quay

Sydney Opera House.

Around the corner from Circular Quay is the Opera House, which, let’s be honest, is one of the main reasons you came to Sydney. If you are lucky, you have checked the website and are seeing a show or concert there tonight in the incredible concert hall.

Sydney Opera House from the Harbour Bridge
Sydney Opera House from the Harbour Bridge

Botanical Gardens

If you were to continue walking past the Sydney Opera House you will see the city greys fade into greens as the concrete jungle becomes an actual jungle. Or at least, a large grassy area with scattered trees and gardens. If you are feeling abnormally energetic walk the entire way through the park, past the Tropical Centre and Fernery, over the M1 and exit through Mrs Macquarie’s Road to St Mary’s Cathedral, Hyde Park and eventually Sydney’s Anzac Memorial. It’s about a 2 km walk. It’s pretty easy to find if you just keep walking south.

Sydney Tower Eye

Formerly known as Centrepoint Tower, Sydney Tower Eye is Sydney’s highest building. It features an observation deck, revolving restaurant, and Skywalk Experience, all with their own admission prices. The cost is steep, but the views are unparalleled due to the height and incredible views of the harbour.

If money is an issue though, don’t feel bad in skipping it because there are other buildings  you can go up for free to see the view. I’ve been up the to the Shangri La restaurant and bar before, which is still 36 floors up, it’s closer to the harbour and still offers an incredible view, all you have to do is buy a drink to enjoy it.

Sydney Tower Eye

George and Pitt Streets.

This is where all the action happens. Businesses, bars and cafes lines George St while Pitt St turns into a pedestrian mall full of big brand shops, boutiques and buskers. You will most likely walk these a number of times while exploring the city on foot. Some of the best buskers in the city can be found along Pitt but you’ll want to avoid if you get claustrophobic in large crowds, as this is the mother of them all.

Queen Victoria Building

The QVB is an ornate Victorian building from the outside and an upmarket mall on the inside. If you exit Town Hall Station in a particular way you will walk through the QVB. But escaping the labyrinth that is Town Hall is challenge for even the seasoned commuter.

If you have taken out a loan there are plenty of places to drop cash and the Tea Palace is a perfect morning stop for the tea lover. The Tea Room also boasts front row seat to the QVB’s enormous clock that celebrates Sydney’s History every hour.

Queen Victoria Building Sydney

Martin Place

Martin Place is another pedestrian mall stretching east to west from Hyde Park down to George Street. In contrast to Pitt Street Mall, Martin Place is more big business focussed with companies like Channel 7, Commonwealth Bank, and the General Post Office all having flagship presences here.

However, the appeal of the Martin Place to the visitor is the historic buildings that line the walkway. Martin Place has some of the oldest and best preserved buildings in the city; sandstone blocks reaching from ground to sky.

Lastly, Martin Place often plays host to events and promotions, so you never know what you might find. Last time I was there for example, they were giving out free bratwurst hot dogs and waffles. Can’t remember what the event was though. Didn’t care!

GPO at Martin Place
GPO at Martin Place

Darling Harbour

On a hot day Darling Harbour will very much make you feel on vacation. Busy restaurants will serve the many ambling tourists as they wander around Cockle Bay. The quantity of restaurants is astounding, especially if you keep walking south towards the Entertainment Centre, so you are sure to find something that tickles your fancy.

Darling Harbour is also host to weekly fireworks every Saturday at 9pm. Get there early with an ice-cream in hand to get a good seat on the southern end for the best views.

Darling Harbour Sydney Australia

I actually remember when they used to do water skiing stunt shows in Cockle Bay; haven’t seen that for many years now though.

Slightly underrated is the Chinese Garden of Friendship, a bicentenary gift from China. A tranquil escape from the hustle and hassle of city life offers shady trees to relax around as well as a Chinese tea room.

Manly

Ok we’re out of the CBD now and if you love ferries, a strip mall with touristy shops and classic Australian beach, you will love Manly. An institution of the Manly mall is the souvenir shop yelling at you that they are in the finals days of a closing down sale – and have been since the mid-2000s. Misleading marketing aside, you never do know what you’ll find in there.

Catch a ferry to Manly from Circular Quay, walk through the mall to the beach and hang a right. Keep walking for about 15 minutes to Shelley Beach, a very pretty, quiet beach that is seldom visited by tourists with time constraints. Have a drink and a Burger at 4 Pines Brewing before heading back to the mainland.

Manly Beach, Sydney

Bondi Beach

If you’ve seen sweeping shots of Sydney during an after school special then you’ve seen Bondi Beach from the air. While it is definitely worth your time, so too is the Bondi to Coogee walk that begins to the South of the beach. Find the path and follow the runners. Be warned though. It. Gets. Crowded.

It can be a bit of a mission to get out to Bondi with the quality of Sydney’s public transport on full display. Catch the Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra train line from Central to Bondi Junction and change to bus 380, 389, or 333 to Bondi Beach. Get off where everyone else gets off.

Bondi Beach Sydney Australia

There you have it, the 9 most popular sights that would round out a very busy 48 hours in Sydney. Sydney has some world class sights that is backed by a relaxed and somewhat hipster culture. But as for what to do with the rest of your time in Sydney, that’s an article for another day!

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3 Day Brisbane Itinerary: The Ultimate Weekend Guide

Brisbane, known to locals as the River City. Known to everyone else as BrisVegas. Not because it’s a hotspot for gambling, more because it’s fun and the name lends itself to such a nickname. If you’re heading to the capital of Queensland for a few days, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve compiled a list of some of my favourite laneways in which to eat, neighbourhoods to drink, and I’ve even thrown in a bonus at the end.

Read on, comrade. Continue Reading

Australia Zoo: More than Just Crocodiles and Stingrays

This is a guest post authored by Dan Claydon of Wanderpig.

Every year, thousands of people visit Australia Zoo. The home of the infamous Crocodile Hunter and a diverse range of animals, you will be able to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most magnificent species.

Situated on Queensland’s stunning sunshine coast, Australia Zoo not only allows visitors to experience amazing animal encounters, but the zoo is also heavily involved in animal conservation, meaning you’ll be able to learn more about the fantastic work the “Zoo crew” do to help protect some of the world’s most endangered animals.

Kangaroos Lazing around at Australia Zoo, Qld

Offering the ultimate wildlife experience, when you visit the Zoo, you’ll be able to feed the animals, adopt animals and even become a zookeeper for the day. So, it’s definitely worth a visit!

But here’s more about what you can expect when you visit Australia Zoo.

The Irwins

The Irwin family is a massive part of Australia Zoo, and it is mainly thanks to their exceptional efforts and commitment to animal conservation that the zoo is now recognised as one of the biggest and best wildlife conservation parks on the planet.

Steve, Terri, Bindi and Robert have all played a crucial role in creating a haven for over one hundred different species of animals, including the crocodile (Steve Irwin’s favourite). Terri, Bindi and Robert can often be seen working at the zoo, as they carry on the fantastic legacy and work of the late Steve Irwin.

And their love and passion for animals is apparent throughout the zoo, especially when it comes to educating visitors about the world of animal conservation.

Crocodile show at Australia Zoo Qld
Crocodile show at Australia Zoo

Animals

Australia Zoo is home to a whole host of amazing animals. From tigers, cheetahs and giraffes, through to lizards, snakes and wombats, Australia Zoo prides itself on creating a great environment for its animals, allowing them to roam freely in environments that are as close to their natural habitat as possible.

Home to a vast range of mammals, birds and reptiles, a visit to Australia Zoo will allow you to observe some of the world’s rarest and most threatened wildlife!

Giant Tortoises at Australia ZooMammals

From Camels, Cheetahs, Dingoes, Echidnas, Giraffes and Goats, through to Kangaroos, Koalas, Lemurs, Red Panda Rhinoceros and Tasmanian Devils, you’re sure to find your favourite mammal at Australia Zoo.

Living mostly on land, aside from Dolphins and Whales, you’ll be able to discover some of the planet’s most misunderstood mammals. But that’s not all you’ll also be able to come into contact with many of the animal kingdom’s least feared, cute and cuddly mammals too, such as the Koala.

Sleeping Koala at the Australia Zoo Qld-2
Sleeping Koala at the Australia Zoo

Birds

From Cormorants, Exotic Parrots and Pittas Raptors through to Ratites, Stone Curlews, Storks and Cranes Australia is also home to an extensive range of birds that add a new and exciting dimension to the zoo’s collection of animals.

Cassowary at the Australia Zoo Qld
Cassowary at the Australia Zoo

Reptiles

One of Australia Zoo’s main goals is to change perceptions when it comes to understanding the most feared and misunderstood animals.

And with many reptiles fitting into this category, a lot of the team’s work centres around showing us that we have nothing to fear when it comes to getting up close and personal with reptiles such as venomous snakes, Boas, Crocodilians and Lizards.

Some sort of lizard turtle at the Australia Zoo

Zoo Tours

The perfect way to take in the sights and sounds of Australia Zoo, there are a whole host of Zoo Tours available that will allow you to enjoy behind the scenes animal encounters, observe Australia’s animal experts in action, and even play with and feed a wombat.

From the platinum Zoo Adventure that will allow you to enjoy to the ultimate VIP treatment and the undivided attention of one of Australia Zoo’s expert handlers as you explore the zoo through to the Furry Fun tour that has been designed encourage visitors to meet and feed animals such as Red Panda and Wombats, there are an extensive range of tours to choose from.

Snakes at Australia Zoo, Qld

Other unique experiences include Conservation Crusaders, which will take you on a tour of one of the biggest Wildlife hospitals in the world.

Another popular tour is Extreme animals. If you’re brave enough to commit to this ultimate wildlife experience, you will be able to get hands on with the animal’s kingdoms fiercest animals such as Cheetahs, Rhinos, Tigers and the infamous Komodo Dragon.

Summing-up

Above all, Australia Zoo provides the ultimate animal experience for the entire family to enjoy, allowing kids and big kids to enjoy unique animal encounters, whilst learning lots of animal facts as you explore the zoo in the sunshine.

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Australia Zoo - More than just crocodiles and stingrays


Wet’n’Wild Sydney Review – Balancing fun and relaxation

Wet’n’Wild has been a mainstay in the Gold Coast for a long time now so when one opened in Sydney it was only a matter of time until we visited. That time came on a hot weekend in November and we were lucky to have a perfect, sunny day of about 28 degrees (Celsius).

First Impressions of Wet’n’Wild Sydney

My first impression of the park was that it wasn’t as big as I was expecting. At most theme parks you need a map to find anything and plan your day accordingly. At Wet’n’Wild Sydney this is not the case and although this sounds like a negative, it works in their favour because it is big enough to house plenty of slides and activities to keep you entertained for an entire day, but small enough that you don’t need to make any plan, you just float wherever you feel like going next – sometimes literally.

The extreme rides at Wet n wild Sydney

My second impression was that there were not many people there. This might be because it is pretty early season but I didn’t ask too many questions because I could park right near the gate and I walked straight on to just about every slide I wanted to without queueing. I imagine as school holidays hits in December this will be a completely different story.

Overview of the Park – what is there?

Wet’n’Wild Sydney centres around an enormous man-made beach with the largest sun umbrellas I’ve ever seen. This beach borders an even bigger pool, which creates artificial waves, simulating a real beach.

Wave pool at Wet n Wild Sydney

The park has 4 slide towers with anywhere from 2 to 6 different slides on each. Each tower and slide has a varying level of speed and adrenaline so all levels of thrill-seeker are catered for, from the complete wuss/small child to the adrenaline junkie.

There is a lazy river, part of Dinosaur Lagoon, which is fun and somewhat relaxing to float around in rings. In fact, and I don’t know if you’re allowed to do this, but the lazy river would be great to actually have floating armchairs or blow up animals to float around in.

And just imagine if the park was BYO. Floating around the lazy river with a beer. Now that’s an idea for a theme park.

Um…where was I?

I’m not really sure why the lazy river area is dinosaur themed, but it actually works well as something extra to take your attention. The kids will love pressing the buttons to make the dinosaurs move and it’s pretty cool seeing a life-size (I imagine) Diplodocus overlook the pool.

Diplodicus overlooking Boomerang Bay at Wet n Wild Sydney

There is a kids play area called Nickelodeon Beach, with a few appearances by Spongebob, Patrick and Sandy, and a giant bucket that fills with water and crashes down every few minutes.

Lastly, there are also a couple of pay-to-play rides that are not included in the entry ticket. One is what must be the biggest swing in the world (at 75 metres), and another is the Surf Deck, an artificial surfing wave. Both are $25.

Nickelodeon Beach crashing giant bucket of water

For the Kids

As I mentioned there is a fairly large kids area with fountains, larger-than-life-size Spongebob characters, as well as kid-sized tube rides that parents can take their kids on. Probably not enough to entertain young kids all day, but in saying that I don’t think it’s supposed to.

Spongebob and Pals at Nickelodeon Beach Wet n Wild Sydney

For the Thrill-seekers

I’ll be honest. Before coming to Wet n Wild I was expecting most of the rides to be reasonably tame. Fun, but not adrenaline pumping.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were in fact a number of rides that fed my roller coaster habit.

The 360 Rush was my favourite ride. It was short, but thankfully there was no line so I just walked on. It starts on the same platform at the H2Go Racer slides, they strap a board to your back and you hop in to this clear chute, upright, not dissimilar to something you’d be cryogenically frozen in.

They count you down and the floor drops from beneath you and you free fall and are shot through the tube at phenomenal speed. It’s over before you know it, your heart is racing, and you can’t wait to do it again.

The H2Go Racers at Wet n Wild Sydney
The 360 Rush are the 2 pipes on either side of the main, colourful slides

The Bombora is another for the thrill-seekers. On a raft seating 4, it takes you through a few turns before dipping down a steep slide and up an almost vertical wall before finishing. Quick, but your stomach will drop.

There are more but I will keep it at that for now.

Punters sliding vertically up the Bombora Slide
The Bombora

The Food Options

I didn’t actually buy any food there – I brought my own because I was expecting theme park prices. I was correct to do so because I did have a wander through the food vendors.

To give you an idea of prices, you can get a small pizza for about $13, and 4 burgers for $50 (didn’t see the individual price). This didn’t include drinks. So yeah, not cheap. Sneak in your own sandwiches, fruit and snacks like I did.

They also have their own cafe with a selection of coffees, wraps, cakes, ice cream and other delights you would find in your local cafe. I didn’t buy anything there buy it was done up well with blackboards and wicker chairs. It would be a good place to sit out of the sun while your kids go off and do rides.

Bottom of the slides at Wet n wild Sydney

What I loved about Wet’n’Wild Sydney

The park is not huge so you don’t need to do a lot of walking like you might at a typical theme park, and yet there is still plenty of action to keep you entertained for a whole day.

The beach is huge, as is the wave pool. There are sun recliners on the beach but I have a feeling on a busy school holiday weekend these would fill up very fast. The wave pool is very novel, and would be especially cool to play in for those that don’t live near a beach. I do live near the beach and it’s still impressive. It just gives the whole area an authentic beachy vibe.

Wet n Wild Beach Sydney umbrellas

The rides are genuine, ear-to-ear laughing, fun. Even for those craving thrills like myself, the more tame slides are very enjoyable, and the fast rides are even better. There’s something for everyone here.

What I didn’t love

You can’t take your GoPro on the slides. This was a real bummer, as I was really looking forward to testing out my new gear with some really unique vision. I asked why and they stated vague safety reasons. I can somewhat respect that so I didn’t try to sneak it on later, despite what the voice on my other shoulder was telling me. But…

You can’t even take you GoPro in the lazy river. This I didn’t understand, nor did I respect, nor was I given a reason. So I did get some pretty cool vision floating around the river when the lifeguards weren’t looking.

Luke in the Wet n Wild Sydney lazy river

Parking and lockers were extra. You come to expect this from theme parks but it still sucks. Especially when the car park is a purpose-built for the park and will not be used by anyone other than visitors. Just include it in the price or not at all!

Some rides need a minimum of 2. This is not great if you are in a party of 2, and half your party doesn’t want to do a particular ride. This happened to me on a few of the more hairy rides. By chance there happened to be some other poor sod who was denied because he didn’t have a partner as I was getting on another ride at the top. I mentioned to him that I’m looking for a partnet and would go with him because Kynie wasn’t keen. I raced back up and walked straight on with him.

Tyrannasaurus at Dinosaur Lagoon, Wet n Wild Sydney

Best tips for visiting Wet’n’Wild Sydney

Go with a small group. I had great fun with Kynie at the park but with more people there are more chances that you’ll have a partner to do some of those rides with you. I missed out on doing what looked to be some really cool rides so next time I’d go with a bigger crew.

Sneak in your own food. This wasn’t at all difficult. I opened up a single zip of my bag to the one security guard at the door, he took a peek, asked if I had any cans or glass (which I didn’t), and that was it. Probably saved us at least $40 in food, drinks and snacks throughout the day.

Go outside of school holidays. Holidays are peak, peak time and if you ignore this, expect a crowded beach and long queues. I guess this is not dissimilar to other theme parks, and if that’s unavoidable then so be it. But if at all possible go in the early or late season like I did (I went early November).

If you go in low season, I probably wouldn’t bother with the Cabanas. They aren’t huge (well some are bigger than others), and the chairs don’t look as relaxing as the deck chairs on the beach. But, in the high season when the entire park is packed, the cabanas could genuinely provide some much-needed respite as you seek some private shelter away from crowds and the sun.

Cabanas at Wet n Wild Sydney

Overall…

Just go. Wet’n’Wild was fun for me as part of a couple, but I would have had just as much fun in a small group, large group or family. They have catered for all demographics really well and if you pick a day with low crowds, by lunchtime you’ll have worn yourself ragged from all the stairs you’ve climbed, which will be a perfect excuse to laze about on the beach.

Kynie and I were hosted by Wet’n’Wild Sydney, but all opinions and recommendations are 100% my own.

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Wet n Wild Beach Sydney - the biggest beach umbrellas I've ever seen Wet n Wild Sydney Slide Pool


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