In a Vase on Monday – Marvellous Manly, Sydney Harbour, Australia

We are all equal in front of a wave – Laird Hamilton – professional big wave surfer

My Chap and I were in Sydney for a few days ahead of travelling to Melbourne for my nieces 18th birthday party. I’ve been to Sydney seven times over nearly 30 years. It’s one of the truly great cities of the world – and I could never get tired of traveling around the city by foot, on the Ferries or the double decker trains. My Chap has never been, so we decided to see some of the key places. I’ll write some more posts about our travels around Australia, so do come back again.

Sydney has changed alot in some ways, and in other ways has stayed exactly the same. I’m not talking about the famous sights, Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Rocks, the Ferries or the Opera House. Sydneysiders are still friendly, helpful and still have a really weird Australian accent. Though you’ll find, like most cities, the waiting and serving staff come from all around the world; we met Italians, Dutch, Germans, and of course, Brits and Kiwis.

Looking across Manly and the North Shore beaches

On Monday morning we headed off to Circular Quay to catch the ferry to Manly, which is on the North shore of Sydney Harbour. Sydney has an amazingly cheap, integrated, transport system across trawith a top up card like the Oyster Card. It’s easy to add money and the fare system is very clear – it also extends right out to the Blue Mountains which are over an hour away on the suburban trains. I wish we had a system like this in Manchester.

The trains (which are double decker and also serve as Underground trains) and buses stop right by Circular Quay – I recognised lots of the ferry names from previous visits so I know they ‘recycle’ them. The Ferries come in various sizes and people ‘really do’ commute to work by ferry. You can easily ferry hop around the Harbour, including visiting the zoo. We didn’t have time to do this much, but will definitely be on the Ferries more next time we visit.

Manly is about a half hour ferry ride, which also takes you past The Heads, the entrance to the harbour and it’s very easy to see why Captain Cook sailed straight past, and made landfall at Botany Bay a few miles down the coast. It’s a very small gap for such a huge harbour. Both North and South Health are now part of Sydney Harbour National Park. Cook sailed on to Botany Bay which is now the centre of the Australian shipping industry.

Sydney Harbour is the fourth largest harbour in the world. It’s proper name is Port Jackson. The geographical centre of Sydney is Parramatta which is a 45min ferry ride to Circular Quay. Manly is 25 minutes heading east towards the Heads. So this gives you a good idea just how vast Greater Sydney is, each neighbourhood has a different character and there’s usually intersting things to p see, parades of shops, parks and markets. If you’re a ‘people watcher’ like me, you’ll enjoy pottering around and a trip on a ferry is always good fun. There are many bays and inlets, with harbour or sea views commanding huge sums, these are some of the most desirable locations in the world.

We saw incredible homes almost glued onto the cliff often with infinity swimming pools. They have alot of glass and huge family rooms and outdoor eating out areas.

Manly – an Autumn Day Out

Manly It’s the home of Australian board surfing. Everyone tells you to visit Manly and they’re right. It’s a lovely place with many 1920s Art Deco buildings, just head over the road from the ferry terminal up the Corso to the surf beach. When I first visited Manly in 1991, the Corso was full of seaside ‘tat’ shops, but it’s definitely scrubbed up now. There’s some great places to eat and plenty of clothing shops. The Art Deco pubs have scrubbed up too – no sign of the 100 dollars fruit machines like the first time I visited.

If you like watching Australian sport Manly have a Rugby League team – Manly Sea Eagles. I watched them cuff Parramatta, the last time I visit Sydney in 2004.

Manly Surf Beach

It’s the Autumn in Sydney, the temperature was a lovely 19 degrees, sunny and there were were 30 foot waves – but most of the surfers were out on a spur from the rocks by Shelly Beach – too far away to photograph though.

We had a lovely day pottering around Manly, which has some great walks which take you past the ocean swimming pool.

We walked from Manly Surf Beach, via Shelly Beach to North Head – about 3 miles. There are sculptures and heritage boards along the way – it turns out Manly surf beach used to be called Cabbage Tree Bay – there are a few of these trees on the foreshore.

North Head National Park – new setting for In a Vase on Monday

The hills on North Head were covered in Banksia trees, so I improvised with the ‘In a Vase on Monday’ – no plants harmed in taking the photograph 😉 and I look closer to the edge than I was. I hope Cathy from Rambling in Garden will let me off with this – and I promise to do a proper vase when we are in Melbourne.

Do have a look at Cathy’s post this week – roses! There’s always beautiful flowers from around the world.

I’ve been taking photos of interesting plants I’ve seen around Sydney – I’ve got no idea what most of them are, although I’ve spotted plenty of our house plants growing happily in gardens – seen some huge Peace Lillies.

We spent a relaxed half hour looking at the views and watching the surfers. There weren’t many plants blooming, there were many succulents around and it was very dry and dusty. Easy underfoot though and there are board walks too. Since this is a National Park, no dogs are allowed (with v heavy fines) – not a problem for most tourists.

I did forget that sunset comes earlier and quicker than in the UK, so we had to cut short our walk around North Head and head back as we didn’t have a torch and my fear of Australian critters would overcome in the dark.

We walked back to Manly and had dinner, and a pint or two, in Four Pines Brewery – thoughtly recommended. Then the ferry back to Circular Quay – it was very windy so we were the only people out on the prow – hardy Brits.

It was a great day out 🙂

Sunny Sydney – we will be back

It’s a whistle stop tour but we will be back to stunning Sydney…

Come back again for our next adventure around Australia – the Blue Mountains – an hour out of Sydn

Have you been to Australia? Where did you go? If you’ve not visited yet, what would you like to see?

Carpe Diem,

Love Bec xx xx xx

16 thoughts on “In a Vase on Monday – Marvellous Manly, Sydney Harbour, Australia

  1. Ali

    I lived in Sydney for three years and have done this walk many times. I love the sculpture of the octopus! The beach is also beautiful at this time of year. You captured it perfectly.

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    1. Bec - views from my garden bench Post author

      Thank you – you were so lucky to live in Sydney – I loved walking by the sea around the harbour – and it was a beautiful, peaceful day – I wish remembered how quickly it gets dark as we had to shorten our walk around the North Head.

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  2. Ali

    The Bronte to Bondi walk was my absolute favourite. There is a sculpture exhibition every year along the cliffs. I can’t remember what time of year though!

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    1. Bec - views from my garden bench Post author

      Sydney is wonderful – so much to see and do. At the moment the aussie dollar has taken a bashing so I think the eating out prices are similar to London tourist spots – food in supermarkets is same price as here but quality much better, tropical fruits like mango are cheap. Accommodation – well you get what you pay for In summer you need places with decent Aircon but that wasn’t a problem for us as it we visited late autumn

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    1. Bec - views from my garden bench Post author

      Australia is a wonderful place – it’s so vast there really is something for everyone – I’m a massive foodie so that one of the reasons I love Melbourne too. But because it’s so vast most of the national parks are really quiet – so it’s a good place to walk/explore.

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    1. Bec - views from my garden bench Post author

      we had a great time would like to have gone for more than two weeks though 🙂 the gloomy octopuses are a real species adults are about 6 foot – we didnt see any as they’re out at sea off the beaches of New South Wales… 🙂

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    1. Bec - views from my garden bench Post author

      It was a 7 hour flight from Manchester to Abu Dhabi and the 14 hr flight from AD to Sydney – it’s about 24 hours in travel time but we flew out fri 9am and arrived Sat in Sydney 6pm. I’ve only flown once from Uk to Australia via US (london to LA LA to Sydney) and from what I remember it was easier coming back jet lag wise but you do fly over date line so it’s a bit weird. I don’t mind the long flights as films to watch and I sleep alot :-). Sydney beaches are beautiful anytime of year 🙂
      I love walking by the sea 🙂

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