For all the amazing cities we’ve travelled to during our lifetime, there would be few, if any, that have a more beautiful setting than Sydney – who doesn’t recognize the world famous Opera House, set against the backdrop of the Sydney Harbour Bridge ? If there’s one city in Australia that feels closest to home for both Lois and I, it’s Sydney. I spent a month of every childhood summer here, then all my university years here after that. Lois and I spent a year here together in the early 80’s and of course it has been the first port of call every time we’ve returned home to Australia probably 15 or 20 times over the last 35 years. That said, we never tire of returning and there was great anticipation around this visit ( for a few special reasons ). We’ve experienced its attractions countless times over the years so this time around the plan was to revisit a few of the truly famous sights then spend most of our time here with several close, lifetime friends and to enjoy the simple pleasure of just catching up and spending time together.

View from Justin and Angie’s home in Collaroy, along the Northern Beaches- a beautiful part of the city.
Parked up in Collaroy, out front – the driveway was a bit steep to park on! Lois, Angie, and their good friend, Pete.
Palm Beach, one of Sydney’s spectacular northern beaches.
We did not swim on this particular day – lots of “Blue Bottles”, washed ashore. The sting is nasty……
Palm Beach from Barrenjoey Lighthouse. The hike to Barrenjoey was a good workout !
What could be more Australian ! Sulphur-crested cockatoo – one sees many of these !
Visit to my two surviving aunties. It had been way too long !
…..and managed to connect with 3 cousins while there !

 There are a couple of other favorites whenever we return – wandering Balmain’s trendy stores and backstreets, exploring the city itself ( the Opera House and “Rocks” area always have plenty going on ), but on this visit we also explored further afield in the Northern Beaches, a corner of the city we don’t often visit. On the south side, “The Shire” always offers up great shopping, awesome beaches, and the natural beauty of nearby Royal National Park. When visiting Sydney one really is spoilt for choice!

Lucky to score a parking spot right in front of Roxanne’s place in Balmain, very close to downtown Sydney. Parking is almost impossible at times in the desirable, but at times congested, inner city areas – a 7 metre long van brings an added dimension of complexity.
Roxanne knows of my sweet tooth and always has a selection of classic Aussie “lollies” ( candy ) on hand as we arrive !
A bit of the bridge, the city skyline, and the Opera House all in one, (as we arrived).
Enjoyed a great day touring some Sydney sights with Roxanne.
This building requires no description ! Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and as stunningly beautiful as ever.
Sydney Opera House from the harbour.
Close up look at the Sydney Opera House roof tiles. Always assumed they were white ( most aren’t ).
Sculpted image of soldier from Sydney’s early days as a penal colony ( The Rocks).
“The Rocks”, trendy area of Sydney at the base of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Not only can you walk across the Harbour Bridge, you can walk over the top ( as these folks were when our ferry crossed beneath it).
Beautiful jacaranda-lined street in North Sydney.
We celebrated Lois’s 60th with long time friend, Melissa and her family in Sydney
Bundeena Beach, Royal National Park, close to Melissa’s place in Sutherland Shire.
Managed to catch Australia’s most famous horse race, the Melbourne Cup, while exploring in Bundeena. The whole nation literally comes to a standstill for this race ..! Here, horses in the home stretch.
Cronulla beach, Sutherland shire, Sydney.

Our week in the Sydney area with my aunts, cousins and such long-time friends was a real highlight for us, we loved every minute of it. In the week ahead we’ll begin exploring the South Coast of NSW, a bit of a hidden gem of NSW.

Till next week…….