After leaving the Blue Mountains we arrived in Sydney, where we were met by our friend Karin, who we travelled with in Mongolia at the very start of our trip nearly 10 months ago. It was great to catch up, and also really nice to be out of hostels for a few nights!
Sydney is one of the worlds major international cities and needs no introduction, though it is worth mentioning the bitter rivalry with Melbourne. Following Australian Federation in 1901, the two cities each argued that they should be the new capital, and with neither willing to budge they eventually built an entirely new capital city, Canberra, halfway between them. The enmity continues to this day, with Melburnians considering themselves the home of Australian art, fashion, sport and culture, whilst Sydney “has a nice bridge”.
We spent a couple of days exploring the city and seeing the sights, in particular the aforementioned Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Conveniently for the lazy tourist, these are located right next to each other. We caught up with a friend over lunch in Chinatown, and also spent a couple of hours on a guided city walking tour, where we learnt about the history of the city.
Just beyond the city borders there are a number of beautiful natural areas. We spent a day in the Royal National Park, an hour south of Sydney, which covers a large area of coastline and rugged moorland. The track we followed was stunning, over sandy beaches and along cliff tops, with a waterfall falling straight from the cliff into the sea at one point.
Our stay in Sydney coincided with the two week Vivid festival, an annual light show which takes place near the harbour. From 6pm, a number of buildings are lit up with video projections, including the white sails of the Opera House. There are plenty of arty light sculptures and loads of interactive displays, even one where you can take turns to control the light projections across the city skyline. It was a fantastic event and we had a great evening exploring the various installations.
After one last night bus, for old times sake, we made it back to Melbourne where we spent our final night of the trip. We are now in Melbourne airport waiting for our flight back to London in just a couple of hours.