Tips from Sydney…

As in Australia, actual tips from my friend Landon.

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Slightly blurry scan from People to People, can you find me? Sydney, Australia. July 2004.

This week, I’ve been thinking about Australia and I realized that my trip out was nearly half a lifetime ago. While I still remember plenty from this trip, I figure that my friend, Landon (who may or may not be reading this), who grew up and is currently visiting this city – hence Sydney on the brain – could probably give a more expert list of ‘must see’s.

Now, I won’t lie: I made this a bit harder for him than usual. You see, unlike my other guests, I didn’t tell him what this list was for; so unlike the times where my mom, Libby, or Bex helped me, Landon had no frame of reference to go by. All I asked for was a list of places or things to do and/or see that someone shouldn’t miss when visiting the Sydney area.

Looking at the list below, I’m rather glad he didn’t have said frame of reference – this gives me more room to play and explore between what I remember and his offerings. Plus, I’m a nerd who likes research.

With that out of the way, let get to our list:

1. Sydney city- there’s so much to do and see: The Rocks, Darling Harbor, and the bridge.

I remember being in Sydney – we hit the Opera House for a special tour and did some wandering, but, other than wanting more time because it was the end of our 21 days, it’s all pretty hazy. I would never be able to tell you what districts we were in or where we were saying, but I do remembering thinking it was beautiful (and having my group of friends obsessed with the relationship between our chaperone and the coach driver – oh, the scandal for 13 and 14 year olds! We did a whole group shopping trip – that could have been filmed for a movie montage – to get ready for our farewell party with her and everything. Yep.).

Since I’m less than helpful here, let’s go with the options Landon gave us:

The Rocks is a one of Sydney’s localities near city center which holds a mix of historic and tourist attractions. This area lays claim to all kind of entertainment from shops to pubs to markets to history walks, and, looking through the official website, there is always something going on – I mean, look at the New Year’s Eve shot! Whether you pick a specific event from the site or swing by on the fly, this is definitely an active spot you can spend hours roaming through.

Of course, this locality is also a hop, skip, and a jump – about a thirty minute walk according to online maps – to Darling Harbor (another suggested stop). Every picture has me ready to pack my bags, even if I am broke! With more events, picturesque views, and a heavily advertised nightlife, this is simply one more fabulous reason Sydney should be on all of our bucket lists.

2. That leads me to the next one – the Sydney Harbor Bridge climb. It’s a must if you aren’t afraid of heights.

This was an experience we were not given as student ambassadors, but one I want to do desperately. As Landon cautioned, think twice if you are afraid of heights – I love to push you all to stretch your boundaries, but if you have a height issue and you are mid-climb, you can’t turn back. The only way off is up!

Seriously, look through the tour website if you have questions or concerns; it has instructor bios, pictures, video, pricing, and pretty much whatever else you may need when planning this adventure. However, this can also torture you if you want to go really badly and can’t yet: you have been warned!

3. Eat a meat pie – it’s delicious

So, I had to check back with the boy on this one, because how is a meat pie different in Sydney? Or was he just offering meat pies as an amazing choice generally?

Apparently, Landon recommends Garlo’s Pies, whose tagline reads: We’re thin on pastry, We’re BIG on meat. Looking at the images, they are not lying. These are meaty pies (Landon really emphasized the beef and steak) with gravy and must be  fantastic if they’ve made a locals ‘must do’ list. They seem to be trying to reach a ton of markets (meaning official venues and world-wide locals) at once, so keep a sharp eye out and a pie may be closer than you think.

4. Do the Clovelly Beach walk on a warm afternoon, or, if it’s raining, watch the storms off the coast.

The Clovelly Beach is a small but pristine beach that you could easily spend the day at – again, the pictures online are unbelievable. It has clear water for snorkeling and, by all accounts, is protected and safe so perfect for a family outing.

When you google this walk, you’ll get tons of sites that talk about all the connected beaches and bays you can take a long, lovely walk along. Because Sydney has such a huge beach and bay scene (which means you are also always close to food) you can easily stay out near the water all day long. As a southern California beach lover, I am all over this! However, since it’s a bit of a drive to the beach where I am, I’ve never watched a storm on the beach – I’m not driving the forty-five minutes (at least) in LA traffic for this, but out in Sydney: bring it on.

Again, researching this, it seems like there is no end to entertainment in Australia – seaside street sculptures! – so be prepared for a full day (or longer) walking and/or relaxing. If you are in the former category, think about your shoes – I can’t handle saddles on long walks, but socks and sand are a bad combination, so take all your personal feelings into account before setting out.

5. See the animals- there is nothing in the world like what we have.

We had full lectures on this fact before setting off in 2004. While we covered many of the venomous variety (I mean super aggressive spiders that will chase you down if you stumble into their territory – BAD!), I don’t think this is what Landon is talking about.

There are tons of ways you can see wildlife in Sydney – again, as a quick google search will show you. Whether you go to the zoo (whose standards are legendary – LA only recently got animals back because Australia is very selective), go snorkeling, hit a museum or wildlife sanctuary; basically, you can’t get too far without something animal related crossing your path.

Looking at some of the zoo offerings makes me super jealous as well. If you’ve been reading along, you’ll know I’ve loved watching the improvements being made at the LA zoo, but this is nothing compared to what I’ve seen on the Sydney webpages – rope courses!?


The best thing about Sydney is that everything we covered is just scratching the surface. This city is amazing with so much to offer visitors and locals, single travelers and families, and people of all interests and backgrounds. Not to mention, as the winter weather has arrived here in Southern California, it’s fully summer in Australia. Does it get better than that? I doubt it.

This is Leave on the Wind (with a little help from Landon), helping you soar.

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Tips from Sydney…

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