Saturday, May 6
When you picture Sydney, Australia, what do you see? If I had to guess, you’re probably picturing the Opera House, Sydney Harbour, or maybe the bright city lights, because that’s what I imagine. But this week we didn’t really see any of that. Instead, we took the train to our accommodation for the weekend, grabbed a quick lunch at the (7-story!) mall, then embarked on an Aboriginal Walking Tour. We began on an incredible cliffside golf course, where we saw ancient aboriginal carvings in stone slabs on the ground, went through a ceremony involving a didgeridoo, and learned a bit about the aboriginal’s religion. Then we began to walk through the city looking at plants that were/are important to aboriginal people, such as eucalyptus and lilly pilly. Our tour led us toward the iconic Bondi Beach, and we finished up with a dance to didgeridoo music where we pretended to be emus (I think?). To be completely candid, the tour left a lot to be desired. I was hoping to learn more about aboriginal culture and to see more traditional aboriginal sites/artifacts, but that admittedly might have been an unrealistic expectation for a tour that took place in the city.
After the tour ended, we were able to explore Bondi Beach for a bit. This is a very popular beach in NSW, and was rumored to be the best beach in the area. As a girl lucky enough to grow up on Northern Lake Huron, I actually wasn’t too impressed. It was, of course, a lovely beach, but it was very small and very crowded, which is basically the opposite of what I look for in a beach. BUT, let me tell you, the ice cream trucks here were TOP NOTCH. There’s always some good in any situation if you’re willing to search for it is the lesson here I guess?
After soaking up the sun at the beach, we headed off to watch the NSW Waratahs Rugby team take on the New Zealand Blues. Fun fact for anyone who doesn’t know: I played rugby at U of M for a semester and LOVED it, so I was super pumped for this game! The first half was roughhhh, as the Waratahs scored 0 points to the Blue’s 26, but they got it together in the second half and almost came back, with a final score of 33-40. Even though we didn’t win, it was a blast to be back in a stadium cheering on my team with heaps of fellow fans once again after months away from the Big House!
Sunday, May 7
Another important thing to know about me- I am one of the pickiest eaters you’ll ever meet. BUT, I did take a step outside my food comfort zone (which is basically chicken and fruit), and tried Vegemite this morning. It was terrible. Honestly one of the most confounding pieces of Australian culture.
Anyway, today’s main event was venturing to Royal National Park to explore the Figure 8 Pools under the direction of the coolest tour guides, Adam and his wife Deb of Barefoot Downunder. *Side note: if you’re planning to visit this area at any time, I HIGHLY recommend this tour with this couple.* Adam picked us up in a mini bus from our hostel, and filled the 45 minute trip to the National Park with facts about the area, dad jokes, and sick jams. Once we arrived, we set off on a 6km hike down a mountain, through a coastal rainforest, across Burning Palms beach, and an over heaps of boulders which led us to one of neature’s real neat phenomena (see pics). We hung out at the pools for a while, then made the trek back (which naturally involved going back UP the mountain), and were treated to a fantastic lunch at Garie Beach, where we met a very talented kookaburra. After lunch, we stopped at Wattamolla, a cute little beach with a waterfall and lots of shells, and once more at Bald Hill, a giant seaside cliff with paragliders and awesome views galore!
This busy weekend packed full of beaches, sports, hiking, and terrific people and food is definitely going to be tough to beat!