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Sydney and Melbourne: A quick 8 days in Australia

Sydney and Melbourne: A quick 8 days in Australia

By on Mar 24, 2015 in Australia, Places |

After 3 months in New Zealand, saying goodbye was difficult.  Our last night in Aukland, we stayed by the airport – right by an Icebreaker outlet. One thing we’ve learned during our time in New Zealand – merino wool is great while traveling.  Seriously.

At the airport – we ran into some more problems (insert “the more you know” music)

The tickets we bought through Orbitz did not include our luggage.  We’ve gotten really good at checking with each individual airline about luggage costs, but this was the first airfare we bought about 4 months ago and I forgot to check.  Whoops.

The visa for Australia I obtained at LAX does not exist.  Bummer.  We got lucky and Will’s visa was in the system, but our airline sent us to Air New Zealand to help me get the visa.  After obtaining it, we went back to our airline and we were good to go.  Next to us, there was an American from Atlanta who was with a tour group.  They lost his flight completely and he had to re-buy a ticket.  Things can always get worse.

Once we were on the plane, things went smoothly.  We stopped at the information desk and spoke with a smiley guy who told us about Sydney’s Opal cards – you load the card and tap on and off the busses, trains, and ferries.  He also warned us that the train from the airport has an added fee of $13  on top of the normal cost.  He gave us a loophole of taking the bus a few stops away from the airport before switching to the train.  Energized, we accepted the challenge.  *Note – Sundays all the fares are $2.50 – everywhere.  We flew on a Sunday.  This means cheap transport and long lines especially at the ferries.

We took the bus in the wrong direction *a good reminder to talk to the bus driver.  We felt like novices.  However – it all worked out.  We hopped on the train and took it to the Circular Quay and avoided the $13 extra fee.  The apartment we rented was in Manly, Sydney – a half hour ferry ride across the bay.  Sweating and hot, we got in the long line at the ferry realizing the ferry was sold out.  We were very excited to make it on the next ferry.


A large cruise ship was docked in the harbor during most of the week. We got to take the ferry across a few times (the larger of the two). Sitting outside is nice, but warm. The inside has air conditioning. Very nice in the 85-90 degree weather. The bridge and opera house are in the distance.

manly wharf

Manly is a laid back surf town. Bondi beach is known for being touristy and busy with great surfing. But Manly has some quieter beaches and parks.


One of the main shopping areas in Manly. We strolled down in the early evening, although most of the shops close by 5pm. Don’t worry – the bars and restaurants stay open.

Manly at sunset

Our first sunset at Manly.

wall art sydney

We love passing buildings and seeing different art and murals in each city. This was on one of the buildings in Manly.

sydney harbor

The ferry ride back to Syndey’s Circular Quay for a day of hopping and bopping. We explored downtown and got to see some sites.

harbor at night

The ferry ride back at night.

ferry ride

Our time in Manly went quickly.  The beach was a 10 min walk away.  On our bucket list – learn how to surf.  Manly Surf School has lessons every day – we booked an evening class and went to cross an item off the bucket list.  We’re both snowboarders, but we weren’t sure how that would translate to a surf board and water.  Not quite the same thing.  That being said – it was really fun and we both stood up on our boards!   *they give beginners longer, foam boards that make it a bit easier.  Definitely helped!

Our group was small and hilarious.  There was a girl from Wales on her gap year who has been traveling all over and a group of women from Brooklyn.  We all looked a little tired as we carried our boards back to the Surf School since we were the last group of the day.  Icker (like Sticker, but without the St) was a great teacher and made us groan and laugh with his terrible jokes.  It was a great night.


The beach where we learned how to surf


Cockatoos hung out in the parking lot next to the beach. At night, they flew over the trees, sounding a bit like the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz. A little creepy, a little eerie. And very cool.

DSC_1054After a few short days in Manly, we were off to Melbourne.  Finding housing in Melbourne had been a bit of a hassle since the Grand Prix was in town.  It’s a big deal in Australia.  We thought about going to see it, but we were warned by multiple people that you don’t really see anything unless you get a corner spot because the cars are going too fast.  That convinced us to skip it and instead, we ventured downtown and explored the city.


The ceiling in the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne

will in net

There is an exhibit where we got to walk around a floating net.


Downtown Melbourne – we walked from the apartment in St Kilda since it seemed like a short walk. A few miles later, we got this view.


While we were crossing this bridge, a jet flew overheard – we think to mark the start of the grand prix. In denver, the jets fly overhead at the start of home football games. This jet did dives, swoops, and spent some time flying overhead before zooming away. Melbourne is a mix of old and new architecture. It made for some great sites.

We really only had one full day in Melbourne.   During our time in Australia, we encountered a couple of people that were excited we were Americans.  Especially strange since the culture seems pretty similar to the states.  We’ve realized that New Zealand and Australia get a lot of tourists from Europe and Asia, but not as many from the states.  We went out to dinner our last night in Melbourne and talked to our waitress about traveling.  She’s from Russia and Germany originally, but is in Australia on a working visa.  We picked her brain for places to go in Europe later in our trip.

In a blink of an eye, we were on a plane headed to Thailand.  We didn’t plan much time in Australia – having people remind us over and over that it holds the most poisonous insects in the world.  Everyone jokes that New Zealand doesn’t have anything that will kill you and Australia – everything will kill you.  But it was sad to leave Australia so quickly.  The people are friendly, the culture is fun, and the cities are full of things to do – plus we wanted to try surfing some more.  More reason to come back one day and visit.  Good on ya, Australia.  Thanks for the short visit.