On our first day in Sydney, we became acquainted with the area around the Circular Quay, the Rocks, and Darling Harbour. Today, waking up early and proceeding back down to the Circular Quay, we will catch a ferry ride to the Taronga Park Zoo and across to Watson’s Bay. Get a good breakfast – it’ll be a long day!
Travel to the zoo is easy – you can catch the Sydney Ferry or various other operators in the Circular Quay. Some providers, such as Matilda, will sell you tickets to the zoo with your ferry ticket, making it easier to enter the zoo on arrival. The ride across the harbor is less than 15 minutes and can be done with 1 or no stops. For our tour, we will hook up with Matilda’s Sightseeing Cruise, the Harbour Express. The express travels too and from 7 different stops – with an initial embarkation at Darling Harbour, Circular Quay, Luna Park, Watson’s Bay or Taronga Zoo. You can hop on and off as much as you want. Because Watson’s bay is the furthest destination, we will go there first, with an optional stop at Fort Denison.
If you do choose to take this stop, usually the first after Circular Quay, you will be given some of the best views of the city available. Fort Denison was built as a harbor protection, and later served as a prison. There is a cafe and outdoor seating which allows you to have a coffee and daze upon the city. Keep in mind, taking on this stop will mean you have to wait 45 minutes or so for the next boat to come, pick you up, and take you on your way.
Taronga Park Zoo
One of the highlights of Sydney is its spectacular zoo. Opened almost 95 years ago, with over 2100 animals, the Taronga Zoo is a perfect introduction to the various animals of the Australian Continent. The zoo is built on a hillside overlooking downtown Sydney. Upon arrival, you are given the option to either take a gondola ride to the top of the zoo or to enter the zoo via the lower entrance. If the cable car option is available, take it. This way you can work your way down the hill and back to the ferry terminal.
For visitors from North America, obviously the most fascinating stops will be the animals that are indigenous to Australia and/or New Zealand. The wallabies, kangaroos, and koala bear exhibits are sensational. For an added fee, you can visit with the Koalas in their pen, with the rule that you are not allowed to hold them.
Expect to spend 3 or 4 hours at the zoo. There is a large amount to see and the walking can be strenuous if you have to work back up the hill. The zoo is a must-see in Sydney – of the world’s zoos, 3DT thinks this is the best one out there. Sorry San Diego.
Leaving the zoo is easy – work your way down the hill and out the back entrance – you will be right back at the ferry terminal. From here, hop back on the next Matilda and head over to Watson’s Bay for some walking, seafood and relaxation.
Watson’s Bay is located about 11 kilometers from the town. Getting there will take about 20 minutes or so, depending on the boat, from the Zoo. Upon arrival at Watson’s Bay, you can walk a variety of paths and be greeted with great views of the Pacific and the city itself. The best way to start a tour of the area is to walk along the beach area just to the left of the ferry terminal. From there, make a right onto Short Street, left onto Cliff Street and follow the path all the way up and around the light house. Its a good length walk but the scenery is incredible and the views outstanding. You can return back the way you cam and then, if you proceed straight back on Cliff St., you can easily access The Gap – a high set of cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
A t this point you are probably pretty hungry! The good news is that Watson’s Bay was one of Australia’s first fishing communities. Local seafood restaurants are available, including Doyle’s – a local institution. You can stop here and have a relaxing dinner, or you can visit the take-away seafood places nearby. After a nice snack, catch the next ferry back to Sydney.
The ferry takes seasonal stops at Shark Island. This island has a beach area with views of the city. There is an extra admission that you must pay for before arriving at the island. Depending on weather and time, you may not want to stop.
Back to Sydney
Hopefully by now its near “Magic Hour” – are you interested in some more walking? Since our time in Sydney is limited, how about a walk around the Opera House at sunset? The Sydney Opera House, which we will visit tomorrow, is one of the iconic modern buildings of the world. At different times of day, the tiles surrounding the exterior give off different shades of light. Sunrise is nice, but at sunset the sun sets west over the Harbor Bridge, giving the Opera House colors that change almost by the minute. Allow yourself some time to relax and take in the scene, and be sure to grab your camera for some amazing shots.
Dinner & Pass Out
It’s been a long day – The Zoo and Watson’s Bay will leave you tired from walking, but the variety of things we’ve seen made it all worthwhile. At this point, you may be hungry again – if you didn’t fill your appetite at Doyle’s. A nice walk across the Circular Quay and back towards the rocks will get you to Campbells Cove, which is now a collection of restaurants ranging from seafood to Italian. Here you can rest, enjoy a good meal and overlook the Opera House. Day 2 is over!
Tomorrow will be our third day in Sydney – We’ll get a local favorite for breakfast, visit the Opera House on a tour, do some more shopping and get high. Over the city, that is.