A Travellerspoint blog

So long Sydney.....Hello Cairns!!!

Well on Saturday the day finally came for me to move out of Sydney and The Jolly Swagman, and head upto Cairns in the pursuit of much craved (got to do) farm work to secure a second working holiday visa. I've got to say I really enjoyed my time in Sydney and loved meeting such an interesting group of people to call friends, and so when the time came to move on this was no easy decision. The swagman is so close knit, and its small nature makes it feel more like a family than anything else. So I am already starting to appreciate how much I will miss the guys there! Also some of the experiences that I have had while in Sydney certainly will live with me forever, and I'm sure I will be back!

So, what of my new destination? Cairns is a complete polar opposite of Sydney. Moving from the hustle and bustle of Sydney's Kings Cross it has quickly become apparant that Cairns is a quiet town, with in comparison not that much going on in all fairness. The buildings are not so high rise, the streets are quieter and there are a lot less attractions. This is not to say that Cairns is a bad place, rather the opposite. With its more leisurely pace of life and smaller nature comes its own charm. I suppose it is only natural that I would compare it to Sydney, as that has been my only previous experience of Australia and for that reason possibly anything would have suffered in comparison. But anyway whilst my sightseeing over the first few days here may not have been as awinspiring as the world renowned ones of Sydney, Cairns has its very own beauty with the rolling rainforests that cover the mountains that overlook the harbour and the esplanade, both of which I have walked round in the glorious sun that has definitely come as a benefit of the move. The lagoon swimming pool that is just off the promenade and oversees the ocean as it slowly drifts in throughout the day is another nice touch. I have also been treated to the spectacle of fly boarding in the harbour and a constant stream of helicopters coming and going from the reef and over the rainforest to land just next to the promenade. If I had to sum up Cairns, I would probably describe it as feeling a little bit more like a resort that you would be likely to visit on travels to Spanish islands.

Something which I am noticing however is that if you want to do more exciting stuff than strolling round the streets of Cairns, you really need to head out of Cairns at every available chance to see the reef and the rainforest up close. These are two delights which I am still to experience for myself, but cannot wait!

One final thought brings me back to the issue of hostels, and again the one I moved to up here is worlds apart from the small family feel of the Swagman. It is much more like a hotel/ resort than anything else, with its onsite bar/ club, swimming pool and en suite showers, and for this reason almost doesn't seem like the place you are inclined to make groups of friends to travel with and much more somewhere that you would stay for a couple of nights while passing through. Not really sure how long I will be here as it all centres around the farm work, which I am trying all different routes to obtain! Hopefully will have some better news of this in my next update.

Steve

Posted by barney2186 19:19 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

If the City is good, out of it may be even better!

Well I've been here five weeks now and one thing that I have learnt over the last three weeks or so is just how good it is to get out of the major city and see some of the suburbs and coastal areas. It is just as good if not better!

About three weeks ago now I decided to take a walk on the Manly Scenic Walkway and this is a truly brilliant walk. The route I took felt a little bit more like two different walks, as I headed out with the intention of getting to Spit Bridge from Manly Wharf. The first part is along well laid out concrete walkways and roads that wind round behind some of Manly's beautiful homes and shows off some nice little bays on the way. Very much the kind of place you would walk your dog. This is until you reach Forty Basket Beach and it turns into a whole different walk. You cross over the rocks on the beach and then from here it is a lot more like trekking with the undulating terrain of of dirt and big boulders taking over, with steep climbs up through Sydney Harbour National Park on steps carved out of stone and only a few wooden walkways to punctuate the walk. It certainly is a challenging hike and I actually only made it half way to my desired destination before I had to turn back, which means as with the zoo there is definite scope for revisiting the walk again at a later date. Not to mention the fact that the walkway also sprawls out in the opposite direction from Manly Wharf. All along the way on there are dotted little quiet beaches that you can get down to and take in the views over the water, as well as little breaks in the trees as climb through the national park that again lets you see Manly from a different perspective. I would recommend the walk to anyone, but would possibly advise on some more appropriate footwear than my Vans pumps (though they did stand upto the test pretty well)

I have also managed to visit some of the suburbs of Sydney such as Coogie and Glebe, which are both very different in their appeal, with Glebe being a quiet little suburb that seems detached from the City and Coogie a nice little beach town, with its very own charm compared to Bondi.

It is a couple of weeks now since I visited the quiet suburb of Glebe, following a recommendation from an article on the hostel's blog. In the article Glebe is described as 'infinitely stroll-able', and I can definitely testify to that, as once I found the main street and stopped off in the nice little park just adjacent, I headed off looking to see what I came across and just kept going and going along the quiet streets of Glebe until as you invariably do in Sydney I reached the waterfront. I then took a stroll along the water's edge until I reached somewhere a little more familiar in the shape of Pyrmont, but only after stopping by the bustling and busy Sydney Fish Market.

My visit to Coogie last Friday was via the Bondi to Coogie walkway, which is yet another impressive walk and yet further proof that one of the best ways to see Sydney is through its coasts and coastal walkways. The walkway stretches out and winds round the coast stopping off at other beautiful beaches along the way like Bronte Beach, which if Coogie is a scaled down version of Bondi, then Bronte would possibly be considered the same for Coogie. But all the beaches along the way are really picturesque and the ideal place to just get away from it, with some feeling very secluded and relaxing. All along the way you get spectacular views of the sprawling Pacific Ocean and the fact that the weather was so nice on the day I did the walk made the whole thing even more enjoyable. Once you reach Coogie you are greeted with another amazing view out over the beach, and the place is seemingly very historic with a plaque just off the beach showing its former glory. But this is not to say that the place is run down, far from it, there are lots of lovely shops and cafes, not to mention the impressive Coogie Plaza Hotel that overlooks the beach. Once again, I would suggest that anybody who visits Sydney should take in the Coogie to Bondi walk.

Hostel life is becoming like second nature to me and I feel increasingly comfortable in the surroundings of the Jolly Swagman. This is obviously really good that I feel so at home, but it can lead to some rather unproductive days, with some days being frittered away just relaxing around the hostel. I am also not really wanting to leave to find farm work, which I think I am going to have to do sometime soon. I think the change will ultimately be good and whilst I will be leaving behind some good friends (some of whom I might not see again on returning to Sydney later in the year), I think it is a step I must take sooner or later.

Steve

Posted by barney2186 15:06 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Bondi!! At Last!

Well yesterday I finally went to Bondi Beach... It has only taken me two weeks! Which is surprising as this was very high up on my list of things to do over here. Anyway on Tuesday I went through to Bondi, and from what I saw the centre of Bondi and Bondi Junction for example appeared to have seen better days, but from another point of view I would say that parts of it seemed like a quiet leafy suburb that would be a nice place to live, especially given its proximity to the beach. The only reason I know so much about the surrounding areas, are that I finished up walking around most of it, as although it is one of the major attractions, it is not particularly well signposted.

But I digress, and if the rest of Bondi is a little bit run down and lacking the Wow factor, the beach most certainly wasn't. It seemed to have a bit of an aura to it, especially when I caught my first glimpse nestled between two buildings and even more so when sat on the hill overlooking it. I don't think the photos I took from up there will do it justice. Had a nice stroll down the beach and it felt really good to have the sand between my toes, and then stopped off at a lovely little bar just off the beach called The Bucket List, which had the most amazing panoramic view of the whole beach. All in all my Bondi experience lived up to what I expected, watching the waves crash in and the surfers trying to catch the right ones was a highlight.

The rest of the week leading up to this was a lot less of a major sight seeing mission as the previous one, however that is not to say that I did not discover some new sights and also catch the major ones from different vantage points. The fact is that you can just set off walking in any direction and basically just follow your nose, and then stumble upon such places as Rushcutters Bay, Elizabeth Bay and Woolloomooloo Bay, as I did when I went for a bit of a wander on Wednesday and Thursday, not to mention getting to walk through the Botanical Gardens until you creep up on the Harbour Bridge and Opera House from a different perspective and catch them at sunset. And again on Friday I got to see a whole new side to Darling Harbour, not only because it was Winterfest, which was very surreal given the 20 degree heat, but by letting my inquisitive nature take hold and walking somewhere I never had before I discovered Darling Island and Pyrmont, and these again did not fail in providing some beautiful vistas. See that is the beauty of somewhere that is surrounded by water, as Sydney is, you get all these brilliant places just littered in among the landscape and tall buildings.

As far as hostel life is going I am definitely starting to settle in, and becoming a lot more part of the Swagman, with a couple of very good nights out over the last week. Never underestimate the power of going out drinking with a group of people to help to become part of it, ha ha. So everything is going well and I really am still loving everything that Sydney has to offer.

Steve

Posted by barney2186 03:35 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

First week done!

Well been here a whole week, and I could run out of good things to say about this place, there really are so many places to see and things to do, not to mention the food is awesome. The first week has really been a bit of a whistle-stop tour of some of the major sights of Sydney, and at that I still haven't done them all, so week two could be every bit as eventful. The fact that Vivid Sydney has been on during my first week has meant that the already amazing sights, such as the Harbor Bridge and Opera House become even more spectacular when night comes.

So, Vivid Sydney has been a really good welcome to Sydney, as there has been so much more than just lighting up the major sights, like on Tuesday when I went to the aquarium and was treated to a firework spectacular after coming out of the aquarium and then a light show later on. Darling harbor certainly didn't disappoint and I have been there a few times during the first week, and that is not even touching on the amazing aquarium. The shark descent is a real highlight, but there was a surprise from the start with a baby duckbill platypus around the first corner....WOW!

Got my first experience of the beach on Saturday when I caught the ferry to Manly, which is another very nice place, not only was the beach stunning (even if the weather wasn't) but the corso is heaving with nice bars and cool shops. Really was good to get to just sit on the beach and look out over the sea, and watch the surfers all waiting to catch the next wave. I caught the Rugby Union in a bar there, and as gutted we lost it so late on.

A few of the days have been kind of throw away days, where I have just headed out of the hostel for a walk and seen where it has taken me (mostly to Darling harbor or Circular quay), but Sunday I had the idea of turning one of these walks into a visit to the Sydney Cricket Ground, which owing to the fact that it is winter here now was a bit of a ghost town, but the size of the place was pretty impressive, which bodes well for when I get to visit the MCG. I will say that a lot of these walks have been broken up by having to dive into a bar to avoid the weather, which has been really bad my first week, but can't have everything.

One last thing, but possibly one of the best of the first week was the visit to Taronga Zoo. Lets just say if the aquarium was brilliant, this place was even better. The setting is unbelievable and the zoo is really engaging, with parts that you can walk through where the animals run wild. That bit was amazing but also a tad unnerving at first. A couple of highlights was the tigers, who seemed to want to put on a show with two of them really going at it (fighting that is) and another was the Barbary sheep, it was amazing to see them running and jumping around the rocks, with just there little hoofs...Unreal! Some of the sights of the city that you can get from the zoo are pretty breathtaking, especially when the sun is shining, which it actually was for a change!

All in all a great first week, and can't for the trip to continue, which may actually involve moving north to get farm work, who knows......

Steve

Posted by barney2186 11:45 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Arrived in Sydney afterall

Well FINALLY here in Sydney! Not only do I mean due to the really long travel over, which included nearly getting wiped out by someone's luggage 5 mins after boarding first plane, having very little sleep and even less Chinese money (none despite stopping at 2 airports there), as well as getting beer spilled over me by flight attendant. I mean in the sense it felt like this day was never going to come, what with all the build up. But now that it has I intend to grab it with both hands. Although it is doubtful that this will mean writing in here everyday.... I told you it wouldn't be a good blog.

Just been having a look round the area near where I'm stopping before I could check in and safe to say its very eclectic, but the perfect place to have a bit of fun.

The afternoon brought a bit of a whistle stop tour of some the sights, with the harbour bridge and the opera house right at the top. These two certainly are as impressive as you imagine, especially when you stumble upon the kind of views you are akin to seeing in magazines or on film purely by accident. If these are just a small glimpse of what is to come I can't wait!! What a brilliant day to start my trip!!

Keep you posted soon!
Steve

Posted by barney2186 17:03 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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