While Sydney itself has quite a few great hikes available, it doesn’t have any real mountains to explore. But just 90 minutes west the landscape changes from coastline and rolling hills to slightly higher hills in the form of the Blue Mountains.
The Chinese Year Year celebrations in Sydney are said to be the largest in the world outside of China itself. Naturally I wanted to get in on the action a little bit!
It all started off the night before at the Star Casino, which featured a lion dance and traditional ceremony. I just happened to be there for that one, so I didn’t have my camera at the read. The next day was a planned activity: take in the parade!
It was a night time parade so Tam, myself and a few friends made our way to the end area of the parade in hopes of things being a bit quieter there. Not so much, but we managed to luck into a pretty nice and high vantage point in a bar.
While we waited for the parade to start we got to enjoy a cold beverage and avoid the crowds. After several delays, the Lions started to show up, heralding the start of the parade!
Royal National Park is a massive national park just to the south of Sydney. It actually is the 2nd oldest national park in the world (Yellowstone NP is the oldest), having been set aside as such in 1879. An early morning train ride from Sydney CBD saw Tam and I prepared to ferry over from Cronulla to Bundeena and start a day of exploring the national park!
Australia Day is Australia’s version of Canada Day…sort of. Australia didn’t gain independence on Australia Day (that instead happened January 1st, 1901), but it is the day that the First Fleet arrived in Botany Bay, beginning the European colonization of Australia. Still, it’s a big public holiday with lots of fireworks and celebrations. So Tam and I went around to take in some of the events.
We began with the Opera House and watching some boats and ferry races. Yes, they race the ferry boats here, and even dress them up. Then we wandered some parks, filled with festivals and food stalls. And since all of these places were filled with people, we decided to take a break from crowds and went and saw a movie instead (Wreck-It Ralph, lots of fun). We then returned to brave more crowds as we watched the tall ship parade in Darling Harbour.
What, it’s April? Whoops. Oh well, I’m getting to the photos now! For the second year in a row I spent New Year’s Eve in a major city. 2011/12 were a major bust in Wellington. How did 2012/13 fare in Sydney?
Much, much better.
Sydney of course is one of the most famous in the world for New Year’s celebrations, as it is one of the first major cities to ring in the new year (Tokyo being another). The Harbour Bridge is iconic as are shots of the harbour being lit up by fireworks. So I was excited to see it first hand. And the weather would cooperate this year.
I went with Tam to dinner with her friends. It was my first time meeting many of them and I had a great time. Lots of tasty homemade food and fun conversation. We also watched the first round of fireworks from their balcony in Pyrmont. Sydney is pretty neat in that they provide two sets of New Year’s fireworks – the first round is at 9pm for the families and youngsters. Pretty great idea!
Around 11pm we started to file out onto the roads and chaos of New Years Eve. People were everywhere, and we weren’t even close to the main celebrations in Circular Quay / Sydney CBD! We were heading to the shores of Pyrmont to stake out a spot where Tam and friends had watched the fireworks in years past.
One of the things I tried to do was to still get out and walk a bit on nice days. I partially succeeded. I’d often walk for my groceries (about an hour return), and I walked to work once (about 2 hours by foot). One day I decided to tackle a bit more of the inner Harbour area, more ‘upriver’ than Sydney and Drummoyne.
With a fully stocked cupboard of my own spices, ingredients and lots of counter space, naturally I fell back to doing something I really enjoy doing for others…BAKING!