When I arrived in Sydney, I had only two things on my agenda:

1. Buy myself an iPhone.

2. To visit as many famous landmarks as possible in 48 hours.


Getting the iPhone was easy.

Sydney’s Apple Store was close to where we were staying so five minutes after we arrived I found myself reconnected to the online world. By this point I had been travelling for 18 months without a phone and whilst I’d found it extremely liberating to be able to leave my online life behind whenever I left my room, I was struggling with Australia’s terrible internet. When a lot of the hostels didn’t have wifi, and most of the ones that did charged extortionate rates, I was struggling just to keep on top of my emails.

After spending a week enviously watching Dave using his phone as a hotspot when we didn’t have wifi, using it to help us find a hostel and checking his emails on the go, I decided the only way I’d be able to survive Australia is if I also had a phone.

With my bank account $900 lighter and my Apple Fan Club membership duly restored, it was time to get in the car and get our tourist on.

Our first stop was Featherdale Wildlife Park, located just outside of Sydney. I’m not a huge fan of zoos and try to stay clear of them on my travels but Featherdale had great reviews online and I was desperate to see koalas and kangaroos in real life.

Lauren and a koala
Feeding a baby kangaroo at Featherdale

The koala was sleeping and the baby kangaroo greedy and aggressive but nothing could rid me of my childlike excitement as I skipped around the zoo tingling with excitement.

I hadn’t seen any of these animals before! An Australian Bush Turkey! A Pig-Nosed Turtle! Wallabies! Dingoes! Wombats! Echidnas!

…And the world’s most poisonous snake, which didn’t scare me at all…

Wombat at Featherdale Zoo


Strange chicken at Featherdale Zoo

Crazy-looking chicken thing!

We finished up at Featherdale after a couple of hours, pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable our time there had been — I hadn’t expected much but it was a lot better than most zoos I’ve been to.

I could barely contain my excitement as we got back into the car. It was now time for us to go search of the two things I wanted to see the most while in Sydney — the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House!

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Opera House

After squealing with joy at both sights and forcing Dave to take 500 photos of me posing with them, we boarded a ferry to Manly Beach where I became even more annoying as I laughed hysterically at every. Single. Sign.

Manly Ocean Foods

Manly Ocean Foods!

Manly Pharmacy

Manly Pharmacy! 

Yeah. I was that person.

So aside from taking photos of every single shop in Manly, I also paid a visit to Manly Beach which was pretty, busy and full of surfers — just how I’d imagined all Australian beaches to be. I liked it a lot.

Manly Beach, Sydney

On our final day, Dave took me to explore some of the beaches close to the centre of Sydney. 

We began in Coogee. As we rolled into the parking spot, pulling up to face the beach, little did we know that we had just violated one of Australia’s Most Sensible Road Rules and that there would be a $99 parking ticket in our future. We should have parked rear to kerb. Oh, Australia.

Blissfully unaware of our despicable recklessness, we made our way down to Coogee Beach.

After having impressed Dave a couple of days ago with my agility when hiking in the Blue Mountains, I was excited to wander along the Coogee to Bondi Coastal Walk while forcing myself to keep quiet whenever I needed a rest. The path wound around rocky coves full of rowing boats, past playgrounds and parks, through cliff-side cemeteries and onto beautiful, tiny beaches.

Two hours later, we reached Bondi Beach and, well, to be honest, I just didn’t see what all the fuss was about. I fear that Southeast Asian beaches may have spoiled me forever…

Bondi Beach in Sydney

And that just about concluded my tour of Sydney!

As you know, I’m not really a big city person — they often feel soulless and make me claustrophobic. I much prefer tiny, chilled out beach towns.

Unfortunately, for me, Sydney felt like most big cities around the world. I was mostly underwhelmed, enjoying some of the beaches but despising the inner-city chaos. I had lots of fun visiting the famous landmarks… but I didn’t love it enough to want to return any time soon. Now I’ve ticked off all the touristy stuff, I just don’t know what there is to return to…

Have you ever been disappointed by somewhere that everybody else seems to love? 


Where to stay in Sydney.

Backpackers HQ in Sydney

Our partnership with Hostelbookers brought us to Backpackers HQ — one of my favourite hostels from my time in Australia.

The hostel was clean, modern and in a central location. We stayed in a four bed dorm, which had surprisingly comfortable, non-squeaky bunkbeds. The room itself was well-insulated from any noise and so both Dave and I were able to get a good night’s sleep.

The hostel offers a free breakfast, which consisted of unlimited bread, spreads and cereal, served in the beautiful outside courtyard.

There was free wifi too, that was actually pretty fast for Australia.

All in all, Backpackers HQ is a fantastic hostel and I’d definitely recommend staying there if you’re heading to Sydney anytime soon.

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