I feel like the past few months have been absolutely NON-STOP! From Vietnam to NYC, Australia to the Philippines, we haven’t had time to sit down and take a breath in what seems like forever. What a whirlwind it’s been!
Let’s dig in and rewind a bit, shall we? A bit out of order but we’ll tackle Australia first. Sydney was a dream. We spent five days exploring the beautiful harbor city and came away more in love with it than ever. It was so…liveable! it was very hilly which surprised us – the sidewalks in the city felt like StairMasters at times which reminded us a lot of San Francisco!
After landing Thursday morning, we set off to find sustenance, stumbling right onto an enormous food court filled with the day’s businessmen chowing down on lunch. We tried a famous Australian “flat-white” coffee – kind of like a tinier version of a latte and very milky.
Can you guess what our first activity was after eating?
W A L K I N G T O U R !
TT signed us up for “I’m Free Walking Tour!”, an absolutely free (tip what you’d like) 3 hour walking tour of Sydney given twice a day by locals utterly obsessed with their city. We showed up, looked for the guides in their bright green “I’M FREE” t-shirts, and settled down to learn all about Sydney’s history and get a feel for the city before being set loose on our own for the rest of the weekend.
Starting at City Hall, we wound our way through the Queen Victoria Building, past Martin Place, and down Macquarie Street. We learned that City Hall was actually the site of an enormous graveyard in the early days of Sydney. As the graveyard continued to fill and Sydney continued to grow, people began complaining about the smell and waste of the burial site in the center of town so they picked everything up out of the ground and moved it far away from the city center.
We passed Circular Quay, heard bagpipes in Hyde Park, and looked up at Sydney Tower, making our way over through The Rocks and ending, finally, with the Harbour Bridge and the absolutely gorgeous Sydney Opera House.
Our guide was a bubbly girl named Ada who was studying in university and spending her weekends walking tourists around her favorite spots.
Did you know that Sydney, Australia originally started out as a penal colony for Britain? Since British prisons were already full, convicts were transported overseas from the UK to settle in Sydney in the late 1700s.
Of course, indigenous Australians lived on the land long before the penal colonies began, and this was something all of our tour guides really stressed. It is estimated that aboriginal people have been in Australia dating as far back as 50,000-120,000 years! When the British arrived in 1788, the Aboriginal population was between 300,000 and 950,000 with 260 distinct language groups and over 500 dialects! Tragically, colonization brought senseless killing and disease to the aboriginal people, depleting the population to only 60,000 by 1920. Today, the aboriginal people make up 3.3% of the Australian population.
While Sydney has grown to an international hub of the world, everyone really respects (and expects visitors to also respect) the history of the aboriginal people who were there before them. Our tour guides were very knowledgable about Sydney’s history and the incredibly major part the indigenous people played in Australia’s history, both before colonization and since.
It was really cold in Sydney, guys! Like literally 60 degrees – basically freezing to our 86 degree averaged bodies! Being near the water kept it really windy which made it even colder so obvi had to stop for a cocktail at The Observer Hotel to warm up on our walk home.
We ended the night with a delicious steak dinner at Kingsley Australian Steakhouse. The meat in Singapore is really nothing to write home about so it was such a welcome treat to sit down at a nice steakhouse and have a proper meal. We were also banking on carbing up before our big hiking day in the Blue Mountains!