Archive for January 2010
Australia Day is here and what better way to spend it than relaxing on the beach under the sun with friends. Walking over to Circular Quay to catch the ferry it seems the entire city is out celebrating. People are decked out in Aussie gear from head to toe and heading out into the city. The ferry terminals are packed, it feels like we are in a sheep corral as we board the ferry to Manly beach.
A short walk down from Manly and we arrive at Shelly Beach. The tunes are blasting, BBQ’s are everywhere, games of beach volleyball line the sand and everyone is out having a great time.
Shelly Beach has a protected marine reserve area which is great for snorkeling as there are very few waves and tons of fish. Andrew and I spend over an hour just floating in the water with our snorkel gear amazed at all the tropical fish below.I am definitely considering getting an underwater camera to capture some of the beauty down here. We watch the sunset over the beach and then grab some Thai food before catching the ferry back. It’s the kind of day where I truly appreciate our choice to spend the year travelling around Australia, making new friends and spending our days relaxing on the beach. Sometimes the simplest things are the best ones, or as Robert Brault said, “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”
Today we’re off to check off another attraction on our Sydney “to-do” list, the Australia Museum. Located just across from Hyde Park, the Australian Museum is a beautiful old building that has been completely renovated inside with all your modern comforts. The Museum is currently showcasing the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit, with the winning and runner-up entries showcased in 16 different categories. As our luck would have it the winning entry entitled, “The Storybook Wolf” was disqualified officially as of today and the photograph was removed from the exhibit! What drama! But with 10,000 pounds up for grabs, the competition is taken very seriously. The photos in the exhibit are absolutely breathtaking – no photography allowed in the exhibit due to copyright of course – so you’ll have to check this one out for yourself!
Next off to the dinosaur exhibit – Andrew and I are both fans of dinosaurs. This exhibit features a number of life-size models and skeletons as well as sound effects to complete the mood. Lots of information on the different eras and games to interact with for the kids (or in this case for Andrew and I!). There are a ton of other great exhibits including skeletons, surviving australia, insects, what’s in your backyard and rocks/gems. Even after 3 hours here we still didn’t see everything. Snacks and comfortable shoes recommended.
Being a backpacker, I am always looking for ways to save money while travelling. Since spending the last four months travelling around Australia here are some of the tips I have found on saving my hard earned cash:
1. YHA/Backpacker cards – these can be purchased at most tourist information booths in Australia or New Zealand. For the cost of $40, you get one night free accommodations in a YHA hostel, and 10-20% off most tourist attractions. It pays for itself within a few uses.
2. Hostels – there are a few ways to save money at hostels. Before you book, ring a few up to see if they have any jobs available in the hostel. Lots of places, especially during busy season, offer free or reduced cost stay for help cleaning the hostel. Many hostels also have weekly discounted rates if you’re planning on staying in the area for a while.
3. Markets – looking for a new funky shirt, souvenirs or jewelery at a cheap price? Find your local market. In Sydney, Paddy’s Market has two locations and offers a ton of cheap souvenirs and fresh produce. Melbourne’s Victoria market offers much of the same.
4. Local transit – find out the scoop on local transit as soon as you arrive in a new destination. Many cities offer discounts for purchasing tickets in bulk or all day passes if you are planning on covering a lot of the city in one day.
5. Getting to and away from – depending on how you want to do your travelling check out these sites to save money. http://www.standbyrelocs.com/ If camper van is your style, this site offers cheap if not free rentals for taking the van from one city to the next. Perfect if you are moving up or down the east coast. If flying is more your pace, checkout http://iwantthatflight.com.au/ for a comparison of all the discount local airlines. Being flexible on dates for both flying and driving is key to getting the best deal.
3 years ago today Andrew and I decided to “go steady” if you will, and here we celebrating in Sydney Australia. To celebrate, we have tickets for Mamma Mia playing tonight at the theater in the Star City Casino, located conveniently about a 5 minute walk from our apartment. A bottle of champagne at home with our roommates to get the night started, then we head out for dinner before the show to The Terrace on Kent, a steakhouse overlooking the north end of the wharf. It was a great find, food is reasonably priced for Sydney, and they have a nice quiet back room that looks like it has been recently renovated. The steaks were great, but I would pass on the desserts.
Next off to the show! We arrive just in the nick of time (they lock you out if you are late, so make sure you get there early!). The show is wonderful and we are singing and dancing along with the audience by the end of it. Great show for families and kids as the songs are easy to sing a long to, and the story line is simple. A great night to remember, I can’t believe it’s already been 3 years! Looking forward to celebrating many more years together!
Off to see another one of Sydney’s “must see” attractions – the Sydney Aquarium. Located in Darling Harbour, its one of the city’s largest tourist attractions next to they Harbour bridge and the Opera house, and one of the largest aquariums in the world. If you are planning on seeing 2 or 3 of either the Aquarium, Wildlife World, located next door, or the Sydney Tower, I would recommend purchasing a Discovery Pass, unless you have a student or backpacker discount card. The Discovery Pass gives you 20% off for visiting 2 of the attractions and 25% off for visiting all 3. (Regular admissions is $31.95 for adults and $17.95 for children). You have one year from the date of purchase to visit the attractions.
The “big” attractions at the aquarium include the two dugongs, or “sea cows” which legend has that they were often mistaken for mermaids by European sailors (I really don’t see any resemblance at all on this one). The other main attraction is the shark tank, who doesn’t love sharks? This massive tank is surrounded by a series of underwater tunnels so you can walk under the tank and see the sharks, stingrays and fish swim above your head. Very cool experience. On top of that there are about 650 different species of aquatic life, so there is something for everyone. Be sure to attend some of the different animal presentations, and don’t miss the shark feed!
New Years Eve is finally here! Last New Years Eve, who would have thought I would be spending the next one in Sydney Australia! Andrew and I both have to work, being the new people we are last on the list for getting holiday’s off, but that is ok by us. Work is decked out with streamers and party hats, and we have a front row seat at our restaurant’s for two sets of fireworks in Darling Harbour – 9pm and midnight. The area is packed with people from everywhere waiting for the fireworks display. There are outdoor concerts, street performers, and vendors selling all kinds of glow sticks and other festive merchandise. Lots of people clear out of the restaurant after the 9pm show, which is great because it means by the
midnight showing we can all relax with a glass of champagne and enjoy the display before cleaning up the restaurant. Watch the fireworks here on YouTube. Midnight is minutes away, and Andrew meets me at my work (just two restaurants down from his), we have a toast, and ring in the New Year with fireworks, champagne, and of course a kiss! Looking forward to 2010 and exploring the rest of Australia.