A Travellerspoint blog


Post 17 - Tuesday, March 11, 2014

sunny 27 °C

Sydney Opera House – only commercial photo of the entire blog.

On Monday morning around 6:00 am another chapter of our trip wrapped up. Our beautiful ship that we have called home for the past 35 days sailed into the spectacular Sydney harbour. As dawn broke we slipped by the beautiful Sydney Opera House and slowly came to a stop between the Opera House and the magnificent Sydney Harbour Bridge. We then ever so slowly backed into the berth that we had left 17 days ago. We have now completed part 2 of our trip, the circumnavigation of the continent of Australia. Lord this is a big country, since boarding the Solstice more than a month ago we have now sailed just over 18,000 km on this ship, the equivalent of several trips across the Atlantic. We still have two days of exploring Sydney before our trip home.

Solstice backed into her berth in Sydney Harbour between the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House

Solstice backed into her berth in Sydney Harbour between the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House – picture taken on our first visit to Sydney 17 days ago.

Like any big city Sydney was already buzzing with activity by the time we were tied up at 7:00 am. We were up early and doing last minute packing of our luggage and then we went up to Deck 14 to the Ocean view Café for our usual breakfast and one final look around from this outdoor deck where we had had our breakfast almost every day for the past 5 weeks. Our group of passengers were scheduled to get off at 8:00 am so we gathered up our carry-on luggage and headed for the gangplank around 7:45 am. As usual the ship’s crew had the massive logistics well under control and we quickly exited the ship and picked up our luggage.

After a little confusion getting the remaining 6 of our group together we grabbed a cab and headed off to the Sydney Boulevard Hotel. After dropping off our luggage at the hotel we decided to spend our first day in Sydney exploring the Manly Beach area. Manly Beach is one of Sydney’s more famous beach areas and is located in a resort style suburb a fair distance from the city center. Sydney’s marvelous public transit system also has a number of large passenger ferries that take thousands of commuters from the suburbs to the city center. Sydney and the surrounding area is built around a series of bays and inlets all connecting to the main Sydney harbour. Commuting from a number of these suburbs is much better by ferry boat. The system is large and very efficient so we jumped on one of the ferries and headed off to Manley Beach. It was a glorious day with everything you would expect at a beach resort area.

The 30 minute ferry trip back to the city center was again a lovely boat ride on a nice warm sunny day. How can you beat that! The scenery along the ride was breathtaking. We spent the rest of the day sight-seeing around the downtown area and near our hotel. Dinner was at a nice little café near our hotel and for the first time in over a month we did not have evening entertainment..

Manly Island Ferry

Manly Beach

School group out on a field trip learning to surf

Sail training vessel near Manly Beach

Sydney Harbour from the Manly Island ferry

Sydney Harbour from the Manly Island ferry

Sydney skyline from the Manly Island ferry

Sydney Opera House from the Manly Island Ferry

Sydney skyline from the Manly Island ferry

View of downtown area of Sydney from our hotel room at the Sydney Boulevard Hotel. Note the Opera House in the upper left.

For our last day in Sydney we managed to get in two major sights, a guided tour of the Sydney Opera House complex and then across town to the Marine Museum. The Opera House Tour was a tremendous experience conducted by a very knowledgeable tour guide. The complex is massive and houses the Sydney Symphony, the Sydney Theatre, the Sydney Opera plus it houses many, many functions. There are 11 separate performing venues in the complex plus many meeting rooms. The story of the initial concept is one of vision and daring from both a political standpoint and an engineering standpoint. From original concept to finished product it took nearly 25 years. The inside structure is as equally impressive as the outside. Just over 8 million people visit the site every year making it one of the most visited buildings in the world.

Our intrepid group of 6 remaining Canadians outside the Sydney Opera House

Our group on one of the balconies outside the Opera House looking at Sydney Harbour Bridge

Inside the Opera House

Inside the Opera House

Inside the Opera House, looking out Sydney Harbour

Home of Sydney Symphony inside the Opera House

The white roof of the Opera House is made up of thousands and thousands of ceramic tiles

After a leisurely lunch we headed out on public transit for the Australian Marine Museum where we spent the rest of the afternoon going through several ships on display as well as a lighthouse and a square rigger working replica of Captain Cook’s original ship which charted many of the waters around Australia and New Zealand.

Our group having lunch on a patio near the Opera House

Australian Maritime Museum

Outdoor display area with 2 ships, a sub, a square rigger and a lighthouse

Working replica of Cook’s ship

Engine room (diesel generators) of the Oberon Class sub on display in the water outside the museum

On the deck of the submarine

After a long day of walking we made our way back to our hotel for our final dinner in Australia. During dinner we tried to pin down what was the highlight of the 43 days that we have spent in Australia and New Zealand? Everyone had their own special highlights. Some especially enjoyed the first few days of touring the coves and beaches of New Zealand’s North Island with our wonderful Kiwi hosts; others thought the day we spent on the ship touring the spectacular fiords and sounds of New Zealand’s south west coast; others enjoyed the beautiful city of Adelaide. Everyone agreed that the trip to Bali was instructional even if it did not live up to all the resort style pictures that we have seen in travel brochures. The Great Barrier Reef is truly a wonder of nature although our diving experience was less than ideal due to several days of heavy seas in the area which clouded the water and made the 50 mile tour boat ride out to the reef an unpleasantly rough experience for many. Everyone agreed that the port of Newcastle was the surprise of our voyage with the dozens of volunteers who greeted us at the landing port and at the city center. As we departed the port hundreds and hundreds of people lined the shoreline to toot their horns and wave good bye as our huge ship glided out of their lovely little city. Finally, there was Sydney, the beautiful cosmopolitan and diverse city on such a beautiful harbour. We also have to credit the weather for enhancing our experience greatly. Although we had a few showers overnight a couple of times only once did we actually get rained on for a few minutes while on a shore excursion. For the vast majority of our trip we had glorious sunshine day after day after day. We consumed more sun screen than the past few years combined. The true stars of our trip were the tremendously friendly and helpful people of Australia and New Zealand. Everywhere we went people were quick to identify that we were tourists and went out of their way to be helpful and friendly. We also experienced exceptional service and friendliness from the crew on the Celebrity Solstice. They truly went out of their way to make our trip more enjoyable.

We would like to thank our 8 travelling companions who provided many laughs and lots of good times with never an angry word exchanged. First Jan and Terry our expat Kiwis now living in Canada got the ball rolling by inviting their relatives Lee and Larry from New Zealand plus their Canadian friends Cal and Joan who in turn invited their friends Roy and Sue who we have cruised with in the past and who invited us. Also, thanks to everyone who read this blog and a special thanks to those who commented on the blog site or sent us emails.

Truly a trip of a lifetime, may all of you get a similar opportunity at some time. Until next time,

David & Hazel

Posted by DavidandHazel 00:44 Archived in Australia

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents


Safe travels home! We look forward to seeing you when you're back!

by Rob

Thanks so much for putting this blog together. It is such a great history of our trip. We know the many hours it took to produce and we are grateful.
We are grateful too for your friendship and patience as our travelling buddies. It isn't always easy travelling as a group, but your good sense of humour certainly helped.

by Roy and Sue Vaderkwaak

Thoroughly enjoyed your adventures throughout the trip. Brought back wonderful memories of our Aussie family visits and enabled us to 'visit' places we hadn't been to.

We too wish you safe travels home.

by Jill

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.

Enter your Travellerspoint login details below

( What's this? )

If you aren't a member of Travellerspoint yet, you can join for free.

Join Travellerspoint