Luke Yates’ Australia – part 2

Luke Yates travelled to Australia to watch England sweep the Aussies aside in the Ashes. Since that didn’t exactly go to plan, he switched his attention to travelling Australia instead. Melbourne was already under his belt; Sydney was next.

Sydney is a global city, on a par with New York and London. We were staying in one of its more distinctive neighbourhoods.

Kings Cross is renowned for its nightlife, and for being the ‘red-light’ district of the city. There are numerous strip clubs in the area and you will have to get used to barely-dressed women inviting you in (is this really a problem?!). But there are also great bars, restaurants and some seriously good nights out to be found in Kings Cross, with a diverse and international crowd. Plus, we never found any issues with noise or crime, and the police seem to be very much on top of any trouble.

The real reason for visiting Sydney
Let’s face it, you arrive in Sydney and there are only two things you want to see: the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. They’re just a stone’s throw from each other and, no matter how many times you see them, your first glimpse of the Opera House still causes serious excitement. No wonder it’s a global landmark. Go in the day to explore the areas around the Opera House and bridge, then go again in the evening to soak up the music and atmosphere around the harbour. And take hundreds of photos!

You can see many of Sydney’s best sights for free. Walk to the Opera House via the hidden gem that is the Botanical Gardens. Minutes from the towering skyscrapers of downtown Sydney, the Gardens are a tropical mix of native and imported flora, with eels, ibis and brightly coloured orb spiders thrown in.

Of course, you can pay to do the bridge climb, and it is a serious experience, but if you are on a budget make sure you at least walk on the bridge, if not over it. It may not have quite the same jaw-dropping height but the views across the city are still spectacular.

Surrounding Sydney
Continuing the free theme (apart from public transport to get there, which is excellent by the way) try the walk from Coogee Beach to the world famous Bondi or vice versa. Great views from the cliff tops are interspersed with more lovely beaches, giving you the chance to stop and cool off in some pretty serious waves. Everyone has their favourite, but for me Tamarama is just wonderful.

The Blue Mountains for $11
For the best value day out from Sydney, my advice would be to head to the Blue Mountains. Don’t get dragged into booking with a coach tour. For $11 you can get a return from the city centre to Katoomba on an air conditioned train taking less than two hours. And once you get there, don’t get involved with the tourist bus tours. It’s a ten minute walk to the top of the cliffs and the two main stops on the regular bus route are linked by a flat, safe cliff top path with jaw-dropping views.

Three Sisters | Blue Mountains in NSW

We didn’t take the cable-car or railway, preferring instead to head down the giant-staircase and explore the forest floor. That may not be for everybody as it’s a fairly tough slog back up from the bottom of the valley, but if you do go for it, head to the Leura Falls. Halfway up there’s a small but beautiful waterfall tumbling into a shaded pool. Most stop and stare, but I’d suggest you go for it: wade in and feel the water crashing down upon you – it’s fantastic!

Last stop… Melbourne
Next stop… Coffs Harbour & Byron Bay

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