We are getting ready to make our way to our final destination on the south island of New Zealand. But first, I have to tell you all about our time in Sydney, Australia! This post is a little overdue I know, seeing as how we have been in New Zealand now for over a week, thanks to the fact that airplanes are big, flying germ palaces. The day after we landed I started feeling weird body aches and thought maybe it was just from throwing around our heavy luggage. Then the sore throat came. And the fever. And the coughing. Thankfully, I brought some of my essential oils with me which seemed to help the coughing, and feeling much more like myself.
Our stay in Sydney was only 5 days, so a return trip will have to happen in the future to see the rest of the country. Despite the short stay, we saw alot of the city and surrounding area thanks to their amazing public transportation. Seriously, Sydney has it together. Trains, buses, and ferries can take you anywhere within a matter of minutes. And as of just a few months ago, all you need is an Opal card to ride any form of city transportation. Just “tap on” or “tap off” and it takes the appropriate fare. What’s even better is once you hit a certain dollar cap for the week, even if its only say Wednesday, you get to ride free the rest of the week.
Here is our Itinerary for the rest of our week once we settled in at our Airbnb:
We unpacked (partially) and got settled in after a busy day getting off the cruise ship. Our host’s brother took us to the grocery to pick up a few things and get our Opal cards to get around the city since we didn’t have a car. Then we rested up for our week ahead.
Rode the train out to the JW Australasia Branch and took a tour. Outside were wild roseate Cockatoos and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos playing in the trees. Later that evening we walked from our Airbnb to a local Kingdom Hall (Bondi Congregation) for mid-week Bible Study.
Explored famous Bondi Beach, picked up a few souvenirs and postcards, then grabbed fish n chips for lunch. We checked out lots of weird art in an installation called Sculptures by the Sea. Definitely interesting to check out, even if you aren’t really into art. It’s only here for 2 weeks out of the year so we timed it pretty good.
Rode train for 2 hours out to Blue Mountains National Park in Katoomba. The weather wasn’t the best (rainy, cold, and foggy) so we didn’t get good pictures of the “blue haze” that give the Blue Mountains their name, or the famous Three Sisters peak.
However, we did get to see the rare Lyre Bird, along with Rosellas and lots of Sulphur-crested cockatoos in the eucalyptus trees. (If you’ve never heard of a Lyre Bird, Google “Lyre Bird David Attenborough” and prepare to be entertained.)
We also climbed The Great Stairway. It’s 900 steps to the bottom, and then 900 steps all the way back up. It’s supposed to take over an hour to climb back up, but I’m proud to say we did it in less than 35 minutes. Definitely a booty workout!
We went for a bike ride through Centennial Park in the morning. It has a 2 mile, one-way driving loop, so lots of cyclists were out too. The park has something for everyone. Running tracks, Equestrian area, Playgrounds, Cricket fields, Cafes, and lots of trees and ponds. I even saw a kookaburra up close! Spent the rest of the day checking out the CBD (central business district), took ferry to Manly Beach, and walked around Circular Quay (pronounced “key”) taking in the sights of Sydney Harbor. I think the weirdest thing we saw were some Aboriginal men playing didgeridoo to techno remix, but it was catchy music I must admit.
Fly to New Zealand and start our adventure!
the do’s and don’ts of visiting Sydney
- DO use the public transportation. It’s more affordable than renting a car or paying for a taxi. Super easy to use and you can see more of the city this way. The trains were our favorite. Just don’t forget to keep your Opal card topped up.
- DON’T book tours through expensive tourism agencies. There is a ton of free stuff to do in the city and different walking tours to take in the iconic sites. Sydney is a very pedestrian/bicycle friendly city, so wear a comfortable pair of walking shoes.
- DO expect to pay more for food. The portions are smaller than in the US and it will cost you 25-50% more than what you’re used to paying.
- DON”T leave the house without a raincoat. Check the weather conditions where you are going and plan for the weather to change quickly and unexpectedly. This rule applies to Sydney and New Zealand.
- DO take lots of pictures! It’s a beautiful city with alot to offer, so make sure to capture those memories.
- DON’T expect to see it all in 5 days. This country is huge! We would recommend spending a few weeks here and to get out of the city to really explore the wild bush life of Australia. Add variety to your itinerary by doing some diving or taking a road trip out to Uluru in the “Red Center” of the country. We already want to go back and see more!
We have spent the first 2 weeks here in New Zealand staying with a friend of mine just outside Auckland. In those 2 weeks, we have bought a used car, set up our bank accounts and tax ID numbers for employment, planned out our route, and got used to driving on the other side of the road. We are spending a little under 2 weeks to do a driving/camping tour of the North Island, then we will take a 3 hour ferry ride across to the South Island. Once there, we will camp in Abel Tasman National Park for a couple days, then make the drive to the southern end to the small town of Gore (1 hour North of Invercargill) where we will be assisting the congregation for the next 5-6 months. It’s wild, rugged country down there, and the closest to Antarctica we will ever want to be. But we are excited to get started and be back in the ministry preaching about God’s Kingdom, even if it’s near the bottom of the world!
We will keep you all posted on our progress while on the road and try to post as many pictures as possible to Facebook and Instagram (emilymichaelattard)!