BY Charlene Goulesque
It has been a year since I moved to Australia, discovering the kangaroos’ land for the very first time. I came here to complete my master’s degree in Journalism and Communication at the University of New South Wales. If I am not studying, I will spend time outdoors, do sport or relax in the sun. This multimedia feature retraces some of my best moments in Sydney city, the largest natural harbour in the world!
First, a word about this graffiti (pictured at bottom of page) I was surprised to discover that ibises are nicknamed ‘rubbish birds’ here. Indeed, these birds are sacred in Africa, and they are linked to the Ancient Egyptian religion: God Thoth, “[he] who is like the Ibis.” But it is true that in Sydney, ibises are rarely seen flying majestically over a lake. Instead, they are usually digging their heads in the trash cans.
Since the seasons are the reverse of the Northern Hemisphere, I arrived in Australia in autumn (April 2018). Beaches then were rather quiet and relaxing; the water was fresh, and it was pleasant to dip its feet in the sea. This summer (December - February) sea swimming was excellent! The ocean is not as hot as in Queensland, but it avoids saltwater crocodiles – you know those crocodiles that can reach 5 meters long!
I have been in the tropical state of Queensland during the last Christmas holidays, in the middle of the wet season. It was beautiful with all the lush vegetation, waterfalls and beaches. However, you cannot walk or swim anywhere there due to the presence of dangerous animals: saltwater crocodiles in the ocean and lagoons, freshwater crocodiles in the rivers, sharks, jellyfish... After all, that’s the Croc Country! Thus, in Sydney, I feel much safer, whether I go to the Blue Mountains or the beach.
Because I will be in Australia until December 2019, I will have two winters here (June - August) for one summer. I would have preferred two summers, but it is alright!
1. Bondi Beach and its Icebergs (the famous ocean pool).
One of the first places I went. (photo at the bottom of the page).
2. Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk – A short but iconic walk
The coastal landscapes in Australia are stunning, and the ocean pools an Australian’s institution. This short walk is a must do, but it is more enjoyable when there are not too many tourists. Bronte Beach is my favourite beach in Sydney, and its Bronte Fish and Chips is very good. But if you prefer a smoothie or a bowl of fruits, you should try the superfood cafe Bare Naked Bowls. There are several stores in Sydney, including one in Bronte. For a mood for ice cream, the best is to go to Gelato Messina or Rivareno Gelato. Messina can be found in Bondi; otherwise you will have to go downtown.
3. Manly Walk to Spit Bridge – 10 km hiking trail (3 to 4 hours walk)
Crossing Sydney Harbour to get to Manly by ferry is charming. From this other beautiful beach, you can enjoy a rather long promenade, also known as the Manly Scenic Walkway. This ride is pure beauty, with big chances of meeting wild Easter water dragons and Australian brush-turkeys. Check here to find more Sydney coastal walks, and for nature and parks (such as the Royal Botanic Garden in CBD). Centennial Park is another nice place to resource oneself while staying in the city.
4. Whale watching in Sydney – Towards deep-sea waters
I loved taking the boat to see what was happening in the Pacific Ocean. Each year, from April to December, thousands of humpback whales migrate from Antarctica to Queensland in Australia. This is the most majestic thing I have ever seen in the wild. I saw a group of males, mommies and their babies playing, as well as a whale jumping out of the water not that far from the boat. The three-hour cruise was very cost-effective (around AUD$ 30 per person by booking online on weekdays). Whales are extraordinary marine animals; observing these sensitive creatures is so impressive, they are so big! Besides, the legend says that whales carry very ancient knowledge of the world.
5. Sydney Opera House and annual festival (2018)
The Opera House is Jorn Utzon’s masterpiece. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is another famous landmark of the city, but I am much more in love with Utzon’s opera. Do you see an assemblage of shells or a boat shape? The Danish architect imagined these forms for them to interact with the changing lights of their environment. It is a “space and light vision” to fascinate us by taking life. “As an architect, I believe that it is very important to fall in love with the nature of things instead of fighting for form and style,” said Jorn Utzon. This “spiritual superstructure” is “something beyond pure functionalism... It is called poetry.” I also enjoyed the Vivid Sydney light festival, when music and fascinating colours were animating the city.
6. Hiking in the Blue Mountains and enjoying waterfalls
7. Palm Beach – Sydney Northern Beaches and walk in the bush
Other nice outing: take the B-Line on Sundays to enjoy the wildest beaches of northern Sydney!
8. WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo and Taronga Zoo to see animals
Even if I would like animals to be in their natural habitats, I liked going to the zoo to see them.
9. The Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras
This event was incredible, and I felt very happy for LGBTIQ communities and thrilled to be there with my friends. That was beautiful to spread all this love, to accept and respect each other and just party altogether no matter the sexual orientations of each one.
10. Other happy memories
Among my best experiences in Australia, I also enjoyed:
− Trying polo at Riverlands Polo Club;
− Going to Penrith Whitewater Stadium;
− Picnics and barbecues;
− Free museumsand expositions;
− Hanging out with friends;
− Exploring Queensland;
− Going to academic conferences and special events opened to the public;
− Drinking a delicious takeaway latte;
− High-tech libraries;
− Australian sunrises and sunsets;
− Diving, running, practicing Cross-fit and yoga!
The UNSW Outdoors Club would be an excellent opportunity to live other great adventures, with a wide range of outdoor activities (hiking, kayaking, climbing, mountain biking...). I also would love to do some wild camping, discover new Australian destinations, or places close to the continent. However, this might be better after my studies. For now, there is still plenty to do around Sydney!