Sydney’s Circular Quay
While (almost) everyone knows that Canberra is Australia’s political capital, the amount of tourist attractions and diversity of entertainment options available in Sydney’s Circular Quay (pronounced like “key”) makes it a capital region of a different kind. Home to two of the city’s icons – the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House – this is one of my favorite places to just walk along the shoreline and soak up the sunshine and atmosphere. Here are a few of the best experiences.
Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Walking the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Walking along the lower span the bridge from one side of the cove to the other is enjoyable enough. But did you know you can actually walk along the top girders of the bridge? It is the only bridge in the world with such an offering, and its one of the safest things you can do in the city. The company running the tour, called Bridgeclimb, offers two different climbs each lasting about three and a half hours. It is such a wonderful way to spend the afternoon and the views from atop the main arch – despite being terribly windy – is surreal. The skyscrapers of the Sydney CBD seem smaller and it is practically impossible to see any pedestrians on the shore below.
This books out weeks in advance so be sure to put in your reservation well before you travel to Sydney. Sunrise and sunset tours are slightly more expensive, and for good reason – but keep in mind you can’t take your camera up with you.
Eating and Drinking at The Rocks
The Rocks is where the first settlers to land in Sydney arrived, making it the oldest part of the city. The recent refurbishments to the area have given it a bit of a sterilized feeling, but fortunately there are some tasty restaurants left to quench any hunger pains you might have. From places like Pancake on the Rocks to Löwenbräu Keller, you’ll find quite a diversity of cuisines similar to the rest of Sydney. Wolfies Grill has one of the best views barring the towering viewpoint from the Altitude Bar, which sits atop the Shangri-la Hotel on the 36th floor.
The Royal Botanic Gardens.
Sitting in Mrs. MacQuarie’s Chair
This isn’t so much a chair as a stone bench that was carved out of the rock back in 1810 for then-governor Lachlan Macquarie’s wife, Elizabeth. It sits at the end of a small peninsula that is part of the Royal Botanic Gardens, one of Syndey’s main parks. With the city skyline dominating just beyond, the gardens are full of beautiful ponds and lakes as well as the perfectly manicured flora. The end near Mrs. MacQuarie’s chair is particularly quiet and a great place to sit and reflect quietly, although I suggest sitting over near the shoreline itself, unless you want to be in the photo albums of the many tourists that come to photograph the chair.
The view from the ferry to Manly.
When you’re Finished
After you’re done in Circular Quay, the icing on the proverbial cake is to take one of the frequent ferries out to Manly. This 30-minute (each direction) ferry service offers some of the same great views of the tourist boats but is far less expensive. Sydney is its most beautiful from the sea, so regardless be sure to get out on the waters and get some perspective.