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- Visiting Australia & Oceania
My First Day in Australia
Exploring Sydney, Australia
Twenty years ago, I flew to Australia to join my new husband. He was in Alice Springs on assignment and my arrival had been delayed by visa requirements and an airline strike.
Now I'd arrived all alone in Sydney and had a day's layover before going on to Alice Springs. I'd started from snowy Baltimore on the U.S. east coast and flown to L.A. and from there to Hawaii and then on that last, long leg of the trip to Sydney. Since the arriving flight didn't connect with the one to Alice Springs, I had a day to recuperate from all that flying and to get oriented.
Somewhat jet-lagged and sleep deprived, I set out to make the most of my first day in Australia. From the beginning, I fell in love with the country and the people.
Here I Am Boarding the Plane for Australia
Setting off for Australia
Obviously I'm dressed for winter in Baltimore and not for December (summer) in Sydney.
The plane landed in Los Angeles at night which gave me a chance to see it all alight. What a sight to see such a large city from the air. It's so spread out that it seemed to go on forever. I could even see the Christmas lights on the houses.
Prepare for a Trip to Sydney
I hadn't really thought ahead of time about how I would spend my time in Sydney, so all I had to guide me was a tourist brochure and its sketchy map. I found that in the hotel lobby.
You'll probably plan your trip more carefully, so here are some travel maps and guides to help you.
Here Are More Pages about Visiting Sydney
- Sydney’s most famous landmarks
If you consider Sydney’s balmy weather, rich culture, and outstanding quality of life (ranked first in the entire Asia Pacific), it’s no big surprise that Australia’s largest metropolitan city is such a popular tourist destination. Almost...
- Sydney Harbour - A Guide for Visitors
If you are visiting Sydney some time out on the harbour is on top of the list. You may not realise but there are several ways to explore this breathtaking place. See which one suits you best.
Finding My Way around Sydney
The city has a great bus system and you can take the ferries across the harbor (which I did on subsequent visits).
The Rocks - Where Sydney's early history comes alive
I knew only vaguely about Australia's history, so wandering around The Rocks area helped get me oriented. The stone buildings included some that were set up as museums. Fascinating.
This Video Shows Some of the Highlights
More Views of Sydney
- Sydney Australia Street Photography
Street photography of Sydney Australia, with an emphasis in architecture and urban design; taken from the Australia Pictures Series by Claudia Tello.
More to Come...
I'll rummage through my old (non-digital) photos for the one of me with Sydney Harbor in the background. I asked a passing stranger to take the photo with my camera.
Lunch in a New Country
An Australian Tuna Fish Sandwich
By lunchtime, I was feeling a little overwhelmed by all that I'd been seeing. I didn't feel adventerous enough to try meat pies, sausage rolls and had no idea what a "pie floater" might be. The small sandwich shop that I'd wandered into listed a tuna sandwich on the menu. That sounded familiar and home-like, so I asked for that.
I knew I wasn't in the United States any more as the sandwich was assembled. First came the slices of whole wheat bread (Australian bread is much more solid and hearty than squishy, white American bread). The worker slathered the bread with butter (oops, I thought, where's the mayo?). He scooped out chunks of tuna dripping with oil and plunked those on the bread.
"D'you want beetroot?" he asked. I couldn't figure out what he'd said at first and asked for a repeat. He gestured to a container of purple-red beet slices and repeated his question. No, I definitely did not want beetroot on my tuna sandwich.
The lunch emphasized to me that I was indeed in a foreign country.
Dining in Sydney, Australia
Some advice on where to eat as you tour Sydney. These guides cover more than just food so will be handy as you go around the city.
Wandering in the Botanical Gardens
After hours of walking on hard pavement and seeing the sights, I came to the Botanical Gardens. It was December, so with Australia's seasons being reversed from the U.S., it was a warm summer day. What a relief to stroll the paths under large trees, with vistas of flowers spreading in all directions. Many of the plants were unfamiliar to me and the birds were amazingly exotic to someone more used to robins and sparrows.
What Kind of Bird Is This!!
One that I saw was a good-sized white bird with an incredibly long curved beak. Later on I found out that it was an ibis. There were a good number of these wandering around on the ground. I could see that I would need a good birding guide for my time in Australia.
Exotic Flowers at the Botanical Gardens
Links to the Places I Visited - Don't Miss These Sights in Sydney
Read More about the Gardens and the Circular Quay
- A View from Circular Quay Sydney
Far too often, one’s initial days in an unfamiliar city are spent searching for the part of town that might be equally beloved to tourists and locals alike. The sort of spot where there’s always something exciting going on, day or not. Perhaps...
- Australia's Botanic Gardens: an English Tradition
The botanic gardens that have become vital green refuges in the middle of many of Australia's cities owe much to the 19th century English tradition, and to a few dedicated men who continued the tradition on our less-than-hospitable shores.
I Wished I Had a Bird Identification Book
Australia has such amazing birds and flowers that are totally new to someone coming from the United States. I heartily recommend getting a few guidebooks to identify these. Then you'll know your galah from a cockatiel.
General Travel Guides for Australia
Australia is a huge country, so if you're heading over for a 2 week vacation, you'll barely hit the high spots. It's as big as the United States and you wouldn't dream of trying to see the whole U.S. in two weeks. Here are some guidebooks for reading ahead and planning out the "must see" places to include in your journey.
G'Day, Mate - Learning Australian Slang
Zazzle shirt with Australian slang: Me Dad's A Top BLOKE! by Australia1
Aussie's use a lot of slang, so quite often you're left guessing what someone just said. Sure you know about "G'Day" and "Fair Dinkum" but I bet you'll be lost on what "spat the dummy" means and why you shouldn't say you're "rooting" for a sports team.
A Fun Australian Song - G'Day
© 2010 Virginia Allain