Sydney Sightings

Sydney Sightings

Before I get into this post, I want to warn you that I visited Sydney back in 2007 and some most of my images are pretty crappy. Nevertheless, the goal of this post is to give you an idea of some of the many sites there are to explore in Sydney. And although there are many Sydney attractions, I think that Sydney is a city whose major sites can easily be explored in 48 hours, especially given the fact that the city’s public transportation is accessible and pretty reliable.

So here are some of the sites that I saw during my short time in Sydney…

Botanic Gardens

Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens is one of three botanical gardens that are open to the public in Sydney. The great thing about this botanical garden is that it’s free to enter, and it’s open 24-7/365. Spanning across about 74 acres, the Royal Botanic Gardens offers a relaxing green space in the heart of the city that features a rather large pond. It goes without saying that the garden is full of plants and trees, but it’s also full of Grey-Headed Flying Foxes – a species of large fruitbats. That’s not fruit hanging from the branches…

Circular Quay

Circular Quay is Sydney’s tourist hotspot that’s full of pedestrian malls, parks, and restaurants. Additionally, Circular Quay is a transportation hub as it has a large interchange for the city’s rails, buses, and ferries. From the quay, you can catch a ferry or water taxi around Sydney Harbour and to Fort Denison. Because Circular Quay is smack in the middle of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, it’s the ideal spot for the city’s big celebrations. Other points of interest at Circular Quay include the Museum of Contemporary Art and the City of Sydney Library in the Customs House.

Aborigine street performers at Circular Quay
Street sculpture near Circular Quay

Darling Harbour

Named after Lieutenant-General Ralph Darling who was the Governor of New South Wales back in the 1800s, Darling Harbour is a large pedestrian and recreational area that’s the site of many shopping and touristic attractions.

One key site that you’ll find at Darling Harbour is the Chinese Garden of Friendship which is one of few Chinese gardens outside of Asia. The garden, which is a symbol of friendship between Sydney and Guangzhou, China, was implemented by the local Chinese community to celebrate Australia’s bicentenary. The garden’s lakes, waterfalls, plants, and teahouse will leave you thinking that you’re actually in a serene garden in China.

When I was in Sydney, I was able to check out the house where the MTV reality hit, “The Real World: Sydney” was filmed back in 2006-2007. This house was formerly home of OneWorld Sport – a former sports themed venue.  In late 2008, the house and the rest of the Darling Walk Complex were demolished and an office development was built in its place. So although “The Real World: Sydney” house is no longer standing, I thought I’d include a picture of it here.

When in Darling Harbour, be sure to check out the Gavala Aboriginal Art Centre, a cultural center that’s owned and operated by Aborigines.  Here, you’ll find Aboriginal art pieces available for purchase, and the center also offers sessions to educate the public about Aboriginal history, art, and culture. During my visit, I was able to catch one such session, and the speaker even played the didgeridoo.

Government House

While in Sydney, take advantage of a free tour of Government House, a living museum that serves as an example of a Gothic Revival building. The State rooms downstairs feature furnishings from the 19th and 20th centuries while the upstairs rooms are used by the governor and have accommodated Queen Elizabeth and other visiting members of the royal family and heads of state. The Government House overlooks the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Sydney Opera House.

Manly Beach

Captain Arthur Philip named this beach for the “manly behavior” of the indigenous people he found living there. Manly Beach is a 30-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay and the area is full of shops, restaurants, and nightlife. Divided into three main sections – Queenscliff, North Steyne, and South Steyne – Manly Beach is a great spot to relax and bask in the Aussie sun.


Although it’s a suburb of Sydney, Paddington, or “Paddo”, as the locals call it, is only less than two miles away from the center of Sydney’s business district. This gentrified neighborhood is known for its Victorian terrace homes, many of which remind me of homes in New Orleans. Be sure to check out the Paddington Markets, an open-air market held on Saturdays at the Paddington Uniting Church on Oxford Street. At the market you’ll find hundreds of stalls selling local contemporary arts and crafts and fashions.

Sea Life Sydney Aquarium

When I was in Sydney, this aquarium was simply known as the Sydney Aquarium, but it was rebranded  as Sea Life Sydney Aquarium last year as part of a $10 million renovation project. What impressed me most about the aquarium was the Open Ocean Oceanarium which has the largest collection of sharks in captivity. I’ve never seen such large sharks in person before. At Sea Life, you’ll also find more than 650 species of fish and other sea creatures representing most of the country’s water habitats.


Sydney Harbour

An inlet of the South Pacific Ocean, Sydney Harbour is known for its spectacular beauty, mainly because it offers the perfect vantage point from which to witness the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, and the Sydney skyline which includes the Sydney Tower. Many events occur on or around the Sydney Harbour including the city’s New Year’s Eve celebrations and the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.



What are some of your favorite Sydney sites?


Comments 16

  1. Nadeen
    Feb 19, 2015

    informative post!! I can’t wait to get to Sydney and Australia! I would love to spend New Years Eve there and travel to the outback!

    • Dana Carmel
      Feb 22, 2015

      I’m long overdue for a trip back to Australia. I only went to Sydney when I was there, so there’s still so much of the country I need to explore. Hope you get there soon!

  2. Peggy
    Aug 30, 2013

    The next time you visit Sydney don’t miss the Bondi-Coogee coastal walk. I think Sydney is short on world class sights but big on natural beauty. Nothing quite like going for a hike in a national park and spotting the local wildlife. Safe travels!

    • Dana Carmel
      Aug 30, 2013

      Thanks for the tip, Peggy. I will be sure not to miss out on the walk the next time I’m in town.

  3. Mary {The World Is A Book}
    Jul 15, 2013

    Love this fun tour of one of my favorite cities. My husband and i spent part of our honeymoon in 2000 in Sydney and dying to go back with the kids. These brought back a lot of wonderful memories so thank you for the trip down memory lane.

    • Dana Carmel
      Jul 16, 2013

      Glad to take you back down memory lane, Mary!

  4. Michele {Malaysian Meanders}
    Jul 12, 2013

    It looks like you had a great time exploring Sydney. We visited last January and hit only a few of the places you mentioned. Now, you’re making me want to go back.

    • Dana Carmel
      Jul 13, 2013

      I definitely want to go back too, Michele. Next time with a better camera! 😉

  5. Eduardo@Andaremos
    Jul 12, 2013

    Hi Dana, I also wish I could return to many of the places I have visited before. Now I have a better camera and hopefully better photographic skills. I would love to explore Australia.

    • Dana Carmel
      Jul 12, 2013

      I’m definitely looking forward to return to Australia now that I also have a better camera. But I’ll always have my memories. I hope you make it to Australia someday!

  6. noel
    Jul 12, 2013

    Wow what a fun tour and that aquarium, pretty amazing, those sharks are scary but impressive at the same time.

    I’m inviting you to join us on a regular photo tour link up on Mondays called Travel Photo Mondays, take a look

    • Dana Carmel
      Jul 12, 2013

      Hi Noel – thanks for the invite. I will definitely bookmark your page and link up! And the teeth on those sharks are beyond scary!

  7. Salika Jay
    Jul 11, 2013

    Opera House and Darling Harbor is what comes to my mind when I think of Sydney. I love the photo of Aborigines.

    • Dana Carmel
      Jul 11, 2013

      Yes, the Opera House and Darling Harbour are iconic Sydney!

  8. Marisol@TravelingSolemates
    Jul 11, 2013

    Hi Dana,
    Aww…this brought back such fond memories. My husband and I spent our first anniversary trip in Sydney almost 5 years ago! We went to all these places except the aquarium. I don’t think they’re crappy images, Dana. Thanks for the memories.

    • Dana Carmel
      Jul 11, 2013

      Thanks for the encouragement, Marisol. And I’m glad to help you walk back down memory lane. Sydney is a beautiful city.


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