SYDNEY, NEWCASTLE AND FRIENDS

Before we got to Australia, I had two particular images of Australia in my head: The first being the vast outback with the Ulluru in the background and kangaroos jumping through the desert. The second image I had was the Sydney Opera House. Although we didn’t see the desert and the Uluru, we saw the Opera House.
We arrived at our accommodation in Sydney Balmain and were greeted by our host. We had a nice big room with our own deck and a stunning view over the city. The house, the room is located in, was occupied by three friends living there together. All of them were super friendly and we had good inspirational talks with them. We even were invited to a breakfast with friends of them! In retrospect this was probably the best airBnB accommodation we ever had.

The city of Sydney itself didn’t catch us as Melbourne did. Maybe if we’d have visited the cities in the opposite order it would have been different. Or maybe we were just tired of traveling. Nonetheless we took the ferry and headed over to the pier where the famous Opera House and the Harbor Bridge is located. Despite our tiredness, actually seeing the Opera House live lifted our spirits. We stood there with many other tourists and photographed the sail-like structures. We didn’t went in, as our hosts did say the building isn’t that spectacular from the inside.
We went on through the Botanical Garden and strolled through the Garden until we entered the CBD of Sydney. As with all CBD we saw so far the sight of skyscrapers is stunning every time, especially if the view is mixed with some older buildings, like the Queen Victoria Building, which boasts a stark contrast between the steel and concrete buildings.
We also had a look into the Sydney Museum. It’s not as big as the Te Papa Museum in Wellington, but had some nifty installations. Most notably were interactive discussion boxes: On a touch screen you can choose two characters which then discuss various topics. As the characters are wildly mixed (a convict from 1890 in a treadmill, a historian from the 1960s, an aboriginal Elder…) the topics vary as well. Every combination had its own topic. That really was an interesting installation.
When we were back at the pier again we had a look at the Harbor Bridge which was the emblem of the city before the Opera House was build. There was the option to climb the bridge, but we didn’t took it as we were tired from walking the whole day.
We only had three days in Sydney of which we used two to chill and savor the view and the good weather at our deck at our accommodation. When we left Sydney we were happy that we did see the landmarks of the city and met our lovely hosts.
Our next stop was Newcastle. Newcastle was on our list because of multiple reasons: First, the couple we’ve met in New Zealand decided to go to Australia and stayed in Newcastle. So we visited them. Second we wanted to meet the family of friends of us, who live in Newcastle.
When we arrived in Newcastle we directly drove to the New Zealand couple which only had half an hour left before they had to drive to Sydney Airport because of their return flight. So we had a coffee and an ice cream while we caught up with stories. It’s nice to meet friends again 🙂
After the couple left for their return flight we called the family of our friends. Luckily for us, everything fit well in the schedule so we could directly drive to their house. Ines and Chris welcomed us very warmly and we had one of the best stays ever. They not only housed us but showed us around Newcastle and were really proud of their city. We saw the ANZAC bridge, an old fortification from the second world war and had a swim in an artificial sea water pool.
One of the highlights definitely was the driving with a 4-wheel-drive at Stockton Beach. We took their four wheel drive to the beach and reduced the pressure of the tires for more grip. Then the fun started with driving over the fine white sand of the beach, pass an Aboriginal settlement (Tin City) and up to the most northern part of the beach. By pure coincidence when we arrived there was the option to do camel riding, which we then promptly took. We’ve never sat on camels and I’m happy that I can tick that of my “I-have-to-try-this”-checklist.
The days with Ines and Chris were so packed with action and excitement that we could barely keep up. Besides the aforementioned action we additionally went Stand Up Paddling, had Barbecue twice and had a drink at the flat of the oldest son of the family. And when ever there was a bit time we drove to a bar or a restaurant and soaked up the spectacular weather while having a beer. Those four days replenished so much of our energy, we are really thankful to have met them.
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