This week my friends and I went on a tour through Sydney, with the highlight being the Pride Mardi Gras celebration! It was a wonderful weekend filled with incredible sites and experiences, and definitely worth the trip. We started out by taking an overnight bus to Sydney Thursday evening, taking about 12 hours to get to the city. The bus ride didn’t seem too long, but it was a bit weird arriving early morning and jumping right into the day!
Downtown Walking Tour
After arriving to Sydney early morning, we checked into Maze Backpackers Hostel, which was my first time staying at a hostel! It wasn’t the most glamorous accommodation, but considering we were pretty much only there to sleep, it worked well for the purposes of our trip. We all freshened up and headed out on a walking tour through the downtown area.
Our first stop was at Hyde Park War Memorial, which is an Anzac memorial in Hyde Park South. This building commemorates all Australians who served in the war, and is the principle State War Memorial in New South Wales. Built in 1934, the structure has been preserved very well, and is still in great condition today. Our next stop was the Hyde Park Archibald Fountain. This gift was built in 1932 for the City of Sydney in J.F. Archibald’s will. The fountain was created by Francois Sicard, and commemorates the relationship between Australia and France in World War One. We next visited St. Mary’s Cathedral, which stands just across the road from the Archibald Fountain. This English-style gothic church represents spiritual origins of the Catholic Church in Australia, and was built by William Wilkinson Wardell from local yellow-block sandstone just like the city is built on. The inside of the building is just as picturesque as the outside, and has a very warm and inviting color scheme in addition to the detailed architecture.
Hyde Park War Memorial
Hyde Park Archibald Fountain
St. Mary’s Cathedral of Sydney
Inside of St. Mary’s Cathedral
From there we walked to and through the Royal Botanic Gardens of Sydney, 30 hectares of gardens in the middle of the city. Started in 1816, this property spans around Farm Cove at the edge of Sydney Harbour, and inhibits plants from Australia and the world.
I think my favorite area of the gardens was when it opened up to the edge of the harbor, giving a view of the water and opera house in the background. Following the pathways out of the gardens, we walked to the iconic Opera House, where I was ecstatic to see this beautiful work of art in person!
The opera house is known as Australia’s most recognizable building, and took 16 years to build (1957-1973). A master of modern architectural design, engineering, and construction technology, it truly is an impressive work of art. We spent about an hour walking around the property, taking in the sites of Darling Harbour, and enjoying lunch on the water at Searock Grill.
The last stop on our sites walking tour was the Sydney Harbour Bridge, where we climbed the first pylon to see a spectacular view of Sydney. After walking out to the center of the bridge, we climbed 200 stairs to the Pylon lookout, 87 meters above sea level. This iconic bridge initiated construction in 1922, and opened in 1932. Even though we were not on the very top pylon of the bridge, it was still a spectacular view of the surrounding area!
Royal Botanic Gardens of Sydney
Sydney Opera House
Sydney Harbour Bridge
View from Sydney Harbour Bridge first pylon lookout
At the conclusion of our walking tour, we headed back to the area near our hostel. We made a brief stop at Patty’s, a market center in Chinatown, to pick up a few last-minute costume additions for our Mardi Gras outfits, then headed back to the hostel to get ready for the evening.
Darling Harbour Sunset Cruise
In the evening we walked back down to the Darling Harbour area, and along the way passed many people and decorations present for the weekend’s celebration. Seeing all the pride colors was heart-warming and very festive! Walking through the harbour area at nighttime was very pretty as well, with all the lights and evening bustle around the waterfront. We soon boarded a dinner cruise boat for the evening, and spent the night on the water. It was a lovely evening with friends, food, and beautiful skyline views of the city at night. After a few hours on the water, we docked and headed on a party bus to Side Bar, a local bar that was included with our tour package. We returned to the hostel after exploring Sydney nightlife for a little while, and got ready for our next day of adventures!
View of Sydney Harbour on the dinner cruise