December 29: ON/OFF FERRY DAY

When we go to a new city, we spend a day on an On-n-Off bus when it’s available as we believe that is the best way to get oriented to a new location–it gives us a sense of where we are and what we would like to further explore. In Sydney, this included an on-off Harbour ferry experience as well for an extra fee—well worth it.

Sydney Harbour is one of the largest in the world, and interconnects with a number of beaches and attractions, e.g. Manly and Bondi beaches, Watson Bay, the Torango Zoo, Fort Denison, to name a few. And there are public ferries from that will take you to most if not all of them.

We walked down to Darling Harbour to buy tickets, and boarded the ferry at about 11:30 am. Upon departure, the first thing we did was sail by the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge—talk about a great beginning to the day!

View of Opera House and Bridge from ferry

View of Opera House and Bridge from ferry

View of skyline from ferry

View of skyline from ferry

 

 

Brisk business, lots of noise at The Beach

Busy, boisterous, and crowded  at The Beach

The first stop was Fort Denison, which we decided to check out on the way back. A couple of stops later, we offboarded at Watson’s Bay to get some lunch and explore the coastline. There we found a crowded, obviously popular beachfront bar and grill appropriately named “The Beach.” I enjoyed a seared ahi salad with a glass of ale; and Bob had salt & pepper squid with a porter—both excellent choices.

Afterwards, we walked along the beach and found a nice outdoor cafe/restaurant, where we got some ice cream. Had we not been so hungry and waited a bit, we would have enjoyed eating here as it was not only had a lovely view, but was also quiet.

View from ferry dock of quiet end of Watson Bay beach

View from ferry dock of quiet end of Watson Bay beach

For informational purposes: There were other food choices–a white-tableclothed full service restaurant next to the Beach (called Doyle’s, I believe) and a sit down/take away on the dock…the former was very expensive and the latter was full when we arrived.

We re-boarded the ferry and headed for Fort Denison, a heritage fort that is now a Sydney Harbour National Park. It is open for the public to wander and enjoy, with phenomenal views of the City. In addition to an enclosed historical courtyard with cannons and other memorabilia, It also houses a nice, white-tableclothed outdoor restaurant at the dock; as we had just eaten at Watson’s Bay, we passed this up.

The dock at Fort Denison

The dock at Fort Denison

Wonderful juxtaposition of the old with the new--Ft Denison cannon in the left foreground, a sailboat in front of the Opera House, and the top of a cruise ship in the left background

Wonderful juxtaposition of the old with the new–Ft Denison cannon in the left foreground, a sailboat in front of the Opera House, and the top of a cruise ship in the left background

The ferry was getting crowded—it was clear NYE was approaching and folks were gearing up for the holiday. We couldn’t get on the next ferry, and barely made it onto the following that came by…and not everyone got on that one but had to wait yet again for the another. We had had thoughts of getting off at the Taronga Zoo, but decided better of that when we saw the crowds there. We visited the zoo in 2006, so did not feel too badly about skipping it this time.

We offboarded the ferry at Circular Quay, where the Opera House is located. After stopping for a couple of refreshing drinks and people watching along the Quay, we took the light rail back “home” to get ready for dinner.

Some friends we had met during our last trip had invited us to dinner and we eagerly looked forward to seeing them again after eight years. They are Brazilian so, not surprisingly, they brought us to a Brazil BBQ in Coogee Beach for an amazing all-the-meat-you-can-eat meal served on long family-style tables—be still my arteries! In all fairness, they also served rice and beans, but everyone ate mostly meat. We had a pitcher of a traditional drink with our meal (it was similar in taste to a margarita but made with rum). Afterwards, We took a walk along the beach boardwalk, both to enjoy the view and help digest our feast. When they dropped us back “home,” we agreed to get together again during our brief return to Sydney at the end of January.

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