First Days in Sydney, part 1 (Beaches & Wildlife)

Well, we’ve now been living in Sydney for a few months – we arrived on Oct 17 and it’s now Jan 10 – and I think it’s about time for a quick photo-heavy post about our first experiences in this amazing city.

Instead of going through as a timeline, I’ve grouped under major headers/experiences…

BEACHES (of course)

One of the first things we did was check out Bondi Beach, which if you did not know is a fairly famous beach just east of Sydney (technically it’s part of Sydney, but the suburb is called Bondi Beach). We arrived fairly early (well, for a Saturday) and had brunch overlooking the beach, which is stunning- click on the panorama below to make it bigger. Bondi is one of the “Eastern Beaches” and a bit touristy although we had no complaints.

Panorama of Bondi from our seats at Brunch
Panorama of Bondi from our seats at Brunch

The very next day after that we headed up to Manly Beach, which is one of the Northern Beaches, but still on the East side of Sydney, just across the Harbour Bridge. Northern vs Eastern beaches…in my mind Northern Beaches (Manly, Shelly, Balmoral) are more “locals” and Eastern beaches are more “tourist” (Bondi, Bronte, Coogee). Manly Beach and  Manly proper are cute surf towns and I’m very much looking forward to exploring them further – I love surf shops!

Manly Beach was also stunning, of course. Amazing to think that it’s the same Pacific Ocean as we saw in California, just the other side of it. The water is much warmer and seems to be much calmer here (makes sense since we are so far South).

Manly Beach
Manly Beach

Oh yes, and how could I forget, on the way into Manly on the ferry, you get this view:

Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House

And the final other beach that we’ve experienced is another Northern Beach, Balmoral Beach, which is a very calm swimming and family beach. It’s actually on Hunters Bay, not the Pacific Ocean, so there are virtually no waves. Balmoral Beach was the only one of the three that we’ve gone swimming at, and the one we spent the most amount of time at, so it’s my favorite right now 🙂 Although I’m looking forward to exploring the many other Sydney beaches within biking & public transit distance!

Balmoral Beach
Balmoral Beach

WILDLIFE

One of the funniest early days experiences we had was walking along at Bondi Beach, and hearing the call of a bird that was so completely foreign to us – “Definitely not a sea gull” we said to each other and looked up to see what it was – only to see a yellow-crested cockatoo hanging out above us! One of these guys: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulphur-crested_cockatoo

Cacatua galerita Tas 2.jpg
Cacatua galerita Tas 2” by JJ Harrison (jjharrison89@facebook.com) – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Seeing a cockatoo in the wild was so foreign to us that we discussed and came to the conclusion that someone’s pet must have escaped. Since then we have learned that is definitely not the case – cockatoos and all other kinds of tropical birds are wild in Australia.

We have seen rainbow lorikeets as well hanging out in a tree in Sydney, and waking up in the morning has actually become the biggest reminder of the day that we’re not in Canada or San Jose anymore, due to the totally unfamiliar bird cries we hear in the mornings.

Rainbow lorikeet.jpg
Rainbow lorikeet” by User:Fir0002Own work. Licensed under GFDL 1.2 via Wikimedia Commons.

Oh yes, and how could I forget the creepy crawlies….we’ve seen quite a few huge cockroaches at this point (apparently they’re nothing to worry about unless you start seeing them during the day, or start finding their excrement or dead cockroaches in your apartment), some funky beetles, a ton of bats that live in the trees in Hyde park and come out at dusk, and memorably on our first night in our new apartment, a huntsman spider:

"Don't kill it!!!" I told Nick, who told me this was no time to be altruistic. "I'm not! Think of the mess it'll make!!"
“Don’t kill it!!!” I told Nick, who told me this was no time to be altruistic. “I’m not! Think of the mess it’ll make!!”

This post is to be continued…we are going to head out to grab some delicious food at a restaurant called Gallon, which was purchased in 1799 for a gallon of rum!

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