SYDNEY (ANN/THE STAR) – I could not help but remember Oprah Winfrey once saying, “Vacations with family are like a treasure hunt – they’re a journey filled with discoveries, laughter and unforgettable experiences.”
And I could not agree more with this as I experienced just that during my recent family vacation to Sydney, Australia.
Planning a family trip to Sydney took several months but it was worth the time and effort as we had an enjoyable and memorable time. We visited many popular sights, like the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The Harbour Bridge is also known as the “coat hanger” bridge owing to its shape. It remains one of the most iconic arch bridges in the world and its annual New Year’s Eve fireworks show is spectacular.
We also watched a musical called Partyegarang at the Opera House. It was interesting to learn more about Australia’s Indigenous people and culture.
The next day, we visited the Featherdale Wildlife Park, where we saw animals native to Australia such as the kangaroo, koala, wombat, Tasmanian devil, wallaby, dingo, emu, lorikeet and more. We had the opportunity to feed the kangaroos, and carry a koala.
We also went to the Blue Mountains. The place is called that because there is a eucalyptus forest in the vicinity, and the trees emit a kind of oil that combines with the vapours of the water, forming a blueish tinge. The place does look blueish from a distance.
At the Blue Mountains, we saw a rock formation called the Three Sisters that has a legendary story about forbidden love.
We then rode on the world’s steepest passenger railway, The Scenic Railway. The view of the Blue Mountains and valleys from the train was simply stunning.
On the third day, we went to the Art Gallery of New South Wales. It housed exquisite modern and contemporary art pieces, and I think it is a must-visit place for art lovers. We headed to the Royal Botanical Gardens next, which was blooming with roses of various sizes, colours and fragrances. It was a feast for the eyes and nose!
Hyde Park was next on the list. This park had shady walkways and several monuments including the statue of Captain James Cook, one of the voyagers who claimed Australia for the British in 1700s.
We ventured to the vineyards in Hunter Valley, too, where we had the chance to see how wine was produced and had a wine-and-cheese pairing session. We walked in the vineyards hoping to pluck the grapes and stomp on them as it was the traditional way to do it, but we had missed the harvesting season. Hunter Valley Gardens was another attractive place to visit as it had many plants and was lush with lavender. The soothing lavender aroma wafted in the air as we walked past the shrubs.
We spent some time simply relaxing and watching the world go by at Bondi Beach, enjoying some scrumptious fish and chips.
Luckily for us, the annual Vivid Sydney festival took place during our trip, so we saw numerous beautiful light installations and projections around the city.
The light projection on the lively Darling Harbour was astonishing and justifies why it is an award-winning festival.
The Rocks, meanwhile, was where early European settlers and convicts had settled in Australia. Today, it has many cafes, open-air markets, restaurants, street buskers and other attractions. After The Rocks, we took a 20-minute ferry ride to another popular beach in the city, the Manly Beach, where we saw some surfers surfing.
Apart from these places, we also visited the Sydney Chinatown, Elizabeth Bay, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, St Mary’s Cathedral, and several farmers markets.
My family and I enjoyed our trip tremendously as we made memories that will forever be etched in our hearts. – HARJINDER KAUR