Exploring The Urban Outback
From facing your fear of vertigo atop theSydney Harbour Bridge to shopping on thecobblestone streets of The Rocks district,there is something for everyone in thecapital of New South Wales
If you dream of falling in love with a single city somewhere in the world, Australia's Sydney will be a contender.
From her natural beauty and recognisable
landmarks to world-class restaurants
and cultural activities, this Down Under
destination has it all.
Some may perceive it as a ‘trip of a
lifetime’ and they would be right. I had the
distinct pleasure of getting to know The
Harbour City over a couple of weeks and
I can certainly tell you that it was worth
THE BUCKET LIST ITEMS
THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE
There are lots of items that come to mind
when you think about Sydney. Koalas, kangaroos, boomerangs, and a certain size
of ‘what a knife really is’ are to name just a
few. But more than likely the Sydney Opera
House is right there at the top of your list.
Looking like a giant origami sailboat on the
edge of the harbour, this landmark is oneof-a-kind. I highly recommend taking one of
the backstage tours to see what makes the
opera house tick. I was astonished by the
amount of trivia Colin, our tour guide, had
on the iconic structure when it came to life
at sea and the love of ships that the Danish
designer, Jørn Utzon, has woven into
almost every aspect of the building.
The venue has more than forty shows
a week in its various halls so there is
something for everybody. If you’re more
of a foodie, you can wine and dine your
way around the restaurants and watering
holes with the Taste of the Opera House experience. It is truly a place to ‘take in
a spectacular horizon, and then broaden
SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE CLIMB
Whether you’re an adventure seeker or
not, climbing to the top of the Sydney
Harbour Bridge will be a bucket list item
that cannot be passed on. The ticket offce
is located on the south side of the bridge,
on the east side of the expressway and I
highly recommend booking in advance.
Everybody is outftted with all of the
necessary gear and equipment that they’ll
need for the climb based on the weather
and their safety specifcations. You’re not
allowed to take anything with you except
for your shoes and a pair of sunglasses,
but lockers are available for safe storage
until you return.
After you’re suited and booted, there is a
safety briefng and a small simulator that
each participant is required to climb to get
accustomed to the sometimes cramped
quarters and steep ladders that will be
encountered during the three-and-ahalf-hour climb to the summit and back.
Once at the top, there is an unprecedented
360-degree view of Sydney Harbour and the
only thought that I had at that moment was,
“It looked taller from the ground.”
HANGIN’ WITH THE LOCALS
FEATHERDALE WILDLIFE PARK
Undoubtedly, when you’re in Sydney you
will have to check out the koalas and the
kangaroos. While we did come across some
wild kangaroos while sampling the many
vintages through the countryside, it was far
better seeing them up close.
Featherdale Wildlife Park is one of the
premiere parks in the area alongside
Taronga Zoo. I found that the park was a
better afternoon out, simply because you
could get closer to the animals, it was about
15 dollars cheaper, plus it specialised in
native species that ranged from birds and
reptiles to all kinds of marsupials.
The koala experience is something that I do
highly recommend. Although the laws of New
South Wales don’t allow you to touch them,
you can get right up next to one and have
your photo taken at the designated Koala
Other encounters include getting up close
and personal with a dingo, a range of reptiles
or mammals, and owls. Some can be booked
as private experiences and pre-booking is
recommended to guarantee availability.
GET AWAY FROM IT ALL
THE BLUE MOUNTAINS
Once you have had your fll of urbanisation
or just want a break. I suggest heading to the Blue Mountains, about a two-hour drive
depending on where you begin and how far
you want to go.
The mountains are a rugged region that
encompasses cliffs, eucalyptus forests,
waterfalls, and lots of tiny villages flled with
guesthouses; it’s an ideal vacation in itself.
Echo Point offers a great view of the
famed Three Sisters rock formation while
Katoomba, a major city in the area, gets you
started on many of the bushwalk trails that
stretch across the area.
Not actually blue, the mountains take their
name from the eucalyptus oil that is seen
from afar in the atmosphere making them
appear blue. The area offers endless options
for hiking, mountain biking, camping, and
overall quiet wilderness escapism.
Located near Katoomba, Scenic World
offers a few experiences that you can’t
have anywhere else in the world. The most
notable is the Scenic Railroad, the steepest
railroad in the world.
At an astonishing 52-degree incline, the
glass-topped carriages carry passengers
over the edge of the cliff and to the bottom
of the Jamison Valley which used to be
home to a coal mine. If you’re a thrillseeker, you can customise your ride and
opt for the ‘Cliffhanger’ which adjusts the
angle of the seat to 64 degrees.
It has been operating since 1945 and still
just as hair-raising as it must have been in
the past. After you descend the 310 metres
through a cliffside tunnel to the valley ﬂoor,
you disembark and get the chance to walk
though the ancient rainforest.
As you walk along the 2.4 kilometres of
elevated boardwalk, you will be amazed at
the tranquility around you. As you walk you
can explore elements of the local coalmine
that was in operation and the reason the
railway is there in the frst place. Signs
clearly mark the expedited 10 minute
route, or the longer one-hour version along
with the wheelchair accessible link to the
railway stations and cableway.
THE LEURALLA TOY & RAILWAY MUSEUM
This one is for the kids or those who are
kids at heart. The Leuralla Toy & Railway
Museum is housed in a spectacular grand
home dating back to the early twentieth
century with an astonishing twelve acres of
The collection showcases toys that span the
generations including the original Barbie, Popeye, Tintin, model trains, and much
Outside of the main house is a complete
building dedicated to O scale model trains
from the 1940s and 1950s that has an
extensive collection of World War II pieces,
some with a disclaimer about the time
period and subject matter. For a small fee
dropped into a little machine, you make
the trains run for a bit of nostalgia.
This is a place that should not be
overlooked or passed by. The collection
houses some of the fnest tin toys dating
back to the Victorian age and includes the
famous Marx range of toys that includes
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
I’M ANGUS STEAKHOUSE
There are so many locales to try everything
from the best microbrews to fne dining in
the area known as The Rocks, that you’ll
probably fnd your own personal favorite
the frst day you spend roaming around.
But I have to make special mention of a
place at Darling Harbour called I’m Angus
Steakhouse, where you can get, what else,
but a kangaroo steak.
I must admit that even as I asked friends
who lived in the area, nobody seemed to know about any restaurant where I could try
some kangaroo, but a quick Google search
on the topic revealed the family friendly
restaurant on the harbour.
It’s worth the effort in the end if you are
bit adventurous at dinnertime. Make a
reservation though as it is extremely
Whether it’s dessert after dinner or
an afternoon treat, Extreme Gelato in
Chinatown will be something that you will
tell your friends about.
Your gelato is made by pouring cream
into an electric mixer and letting a splash
of liquid nitrogen do the rest. The entire
process can be viewed behind some safety
glass and when it is underway, the cloud
of steam pours out of the mixing bowl and
billows to the ﬂoor. Once your choice of
gelato is scooped into a cup, you can add a
topping by a simple syringe injector. How
cool is that?