All my time in Sydney, or break it up?
July 29, 2010 6:06 PM   Subscribe

It's my first time visiting Australia, and I have a week to spend. Should I spend it all in Sydney, or is it worth visiting another city / location as well?

I have a friend who's living in Sydney at the moment, and I'm going to spend a week visiting her (six days, to be precise) in September. Since it's my first time visiting the continent, I was originally thinking of just staying in Sydney and making day trips to nearby locations. However, I've started wondering if it would be worth it to split up my trip and spend two nights in Melbourne or some other location. I anticipate returning to Australia since I don't live too far away, so it's not as if this is my one and only chance to see everything.

Also, if anyone has any recommendations of what to do, what to eat, or where to stay while I'm there (in Sydney or otherwise), please let me know.
posted by armage to Travel & Transportation around Sydney, Australia (22 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I like Melbourne enough to live here, but you're talking about stuffing up one day of a six day holiday schlepping down here, and then back. On that basis alone, I'd suggest saving Melbourne (and the rest of the place, natch) for a future trip.
posted by pompomtom at 6:15 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Stay in Sydney. Sydney is big.
posted by antiquark at 6:18 PM on July 29, 2010

Not enough time to get to Queensland, unfortunately, but you could definitely spend a day in the Blue Mountains. If an entire week of urbanity doesn't appeal.
posted by drdanger at 6:20 PM on July 29, 2010

Response by poster: but you could definitely spend a day in the Blue Mountains. If an entire week of urbanity doesn't appeal.

Since I live in Tokyo, some nature might be a nice change, actually.
posted by armage at 6:21 PM on July 29, 2010

posted by Leezie at 6:29 PM on July 29, 2010

I live in Sydney, I grew up in Sydney, all my friends and family live here and it's the city I love. But seriously, if you're an tourist from a country as urbanised as Japan (from your profile, right?), once you've seen the Harbour Bridge, done a ferry trip to Manly and maybe visited Taronga Zoo to see some koalas and platypuses, you've seen what Sydney has to offer. Get the hell out of town and see some of the rest of the country---when all's said, Sydney's a pleasant, expensive but ordinary sprawled suburban city.

Consider Melbourne, consider seeing the NSW Central Coast, consider going up to Queensland to see Brisbane/Coolangatta and the Barrier Reef (before it disappears), consider taking a regional flight to Broken Hill and to see some of the NSW Central West (for the experience of big orange horizons) and even Darwin or Alice Springs in the NT.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 6:30 PM on July 29, 2010

you could definitely spend a day in the Blue Mountains
Seconded, the Blue Mountains are lovely. You can get the cheap suburban train service to Katoomba or Blackheath and spend a day or two just walking around in the National Park and eating and drinking well back in town. I've done long weekends to the Blue Mountains more than once.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 6:34 PM on July 29, 2010

To a Sydney-sider, "Sydney" includes the Blue Mountains, and the Central Coast is only an hours drive.

I'd definitely visit the Blue Mountains.

When I said stay in Sydney, I meant stay in that bit of NSW.
posted by antiquark at 6:36 PM on July 29, 2010

I've been to Australia just once, and our trip was based in Sydney. We went to a wedding in the Hunter Valley, went camping and hiking in the Blue Mountains, and drove up the coast to Ellenborough Falls and Port Macquarie. That last bit was to stay with family, and we wouldn't have done it if we had only six days. Other than that (5 hours each way), I'd do it exactly the same way if I went back again. It was fantastic.
posted by headnsouth at 6:37 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Melbourne is great -- much different than Sydney. We took a 2 day trip up to Hunter Valley and did a bunch of wine tastings and stayed at a great B&B.

If you get an early flight to Melbourne you can take the airport shuttle to the city and see a lot in two days...
posted by thorny at 6:41 PM on July 29, 2010

Used to go to Sydney frequently for work. I have always regretted not seeing more of AU. The one time I got out of the Sydney metropolitan area, was a trip to the Blue Mountains. Spend a couple days and at least one night there.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 6:48 PM on July 29, 2010

I'm from melbourne, which is a great place
but i'm inclined to agree with Fiasco da Gama

If you stay in the sydney area, make sure you get out of the city to the blue mountains.

And if the weather's good head down to bondi for a swim.
posted by compound eye at 6:59 PM on July 29, 2010

Another thing worth considering: on the weekends of September there'll be finals football in the AFL and rugby league. If you enjoy sport at all and if you want an Australian experience it's definitely worth going to Melbourne for a match at the MCG or Docklands or to the SFS or Olympic stadium in Sydney. (The results will also affect the prices of accommodation and airline tickets—Melbourne on Grand Final weekend will be booked solid.)
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 7:21 PM on July 29, 2010

Melbourne City is great, and very different to Sydney City. And both are worthy of a week.

On this trip just stay in Sydney and you will easily see the highlights and then do Melbourne next time.

Day 1 Sydney City ( catch the train to circular quay and walk form there to opera house, bridge, MCA, Art Gallery, have a drink at the Opera Bar etc)

Day 2 Manly & Zoo (catch the ferry from circular quay)

Day 3 Bondi & Paddington (catch the 333 bus from the city)

Day 4-5 Blue Mountains (everglades, Norman lindsay gallery, 3 sisters, etc)

Holiday done!

Other recommendations: Hunter Valley (wine), Avoca (beach), Balmain (pubs), Royal National Park (nature), Newtown (as alternative as you're likely to get in Sydney), Cabramatta (for Asian foods).

Have fun in Sydney!
posted by MT at 7:41 PM on July 29, 2010

I'd stay in Sydney. A few things to do:

Blue Mountains
Spit to Manly trail/hike/walk
Coogee to Bondi trail/walk
Glebe Market (if it's open in September - Glebe in general was one of my favourite places)
There's a nice Japanese Garden in Darling Harbour that was nice
North beaches are nice too, but maybe too cool in September.
posted by backwards guitar at 9:05 PM on July 29, 2010

Personally not a fan of Sydney (sorry guys - I'll admit I'm odd, 'cos I also like Adelaide ;-), but nth-ing the Blue Mountains and further west. See the mountains, see the central plains, and if you've got the time see the southern end of the channel country and/or the edge of the central deserts. Might be a bit much to do in {6 days - friend-time} though.

Or take a day or two to drive up or down the coast. Nice scenery, and some pretty little towns (outside of the holiday seasons).
posted by Pinback at 9:26 PM on July 29, 2010

I'm a zoo fanatic, and the Taronga Zoo is the best zoo I've ever visited. It's got lots of micro-environments (screened-in exhibits that you step into), emus that wander free among the visitors, and kangaroos that you can pet (although this is not uncommon in Oz).

If I had only a week and I found myself in Sydney, I'd zip down to Melbourne, rent a car, and wend my way through the unbelievably gorgeous Otways, then even further south to the Great Ocean Road.
posted by copperykeen at 9:29 PM on July 29, 2010

Speaking as a frequent traveller, given only a week I'd personally stick to one city & its immediate surrounds.

You want a day or two just to relax after your flight, acclimatise & get your bearings (physical & cultural). Part of this is seeing the main sights, but that easily stretches into day 3. You also want to be back within striking distance of the airport the night before you leave, so realistically you only have about an overnight trip left to play with.

On the bright side, Sydney is surrounded on every side by national parks & beautiful natural scenery - the Royal National Park to the South (2nd National Park in the world), Blue Mountains to the West, and Ku-Ring-Gai Chase NP to the North, plus the Hawkesbury River & Central you can spend some time in town, some time in the bush, and be back for your flight with a minimum of hassle.

Australia has plenty of other attractions, but a week is never enough for much more than one city plus a couple of daytrips or nearby overnight stays.

Bear in mind as well that Australia is big. A flight to Melbourne is only about 1.5 hours from Sydney, but will normally set you back a few hundred dollars (return). Everywhere else is further & more expensive still. Except for Canberra, which doesn't count because you shouldn't go there.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:12 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I grew up in Sydney, I love Sydney, I recently banished myself from Sydney. A beautiful city, with plenty to see. Stroll down King Street in Newtown, or through Glebe- real nice quasi-Bohemian end of town on the edges of the city proper. I always love walking down those streets- you're sure to see interesting things and maybe meet interesting people, peek in the windows of the neat shops, see the sights there just on the rim of the hustle and bustle. I'd recommend that for sure.

And the Blue Mountains are not that far away, either- an easy train ride from Central station - on the Blue Mountains line would you believe. Less than two hours to Katoomba, from which you can take some scenic walks through some breathtaking mountain/ bush, have lunch in one of the many cafes, perhaps even stay the night in one of the pubs or hotels there. Nice and civilized, there poised in the midst of a mountainous wilderness.

As a now-resident of Canberra, I would like to second UbuRovias- what he says is wise.
It's actually quite close to Sydney, and apparently it is the glittering capital jewel in this glorious wide brown nation's crown, but fuck that. You should not come here.
posted by Philby at 4:07 AM on July 30, 2010

I'd stay in Sydney for the week. Coming from Tokyo, you'll find it comparatively quiet and uncrowded and will be able to enjoy the water, and perhaps some of the walks around the harbour (don't even need to go out of town if you don't want to).
posted by AnnaRat at 4:12 AM on July 30, 2010

Nthing the Blue Mountains. I was born there and although I left when I was just a child, those amazing cliffs and canyons are burned in my memory forever. Take the cable car ride!
posted by essexjan at 5:30 AM on July 30, 2010

Response by poster: Well, after reading everyone's responses and thinking it over some, I've decided to be greedy and do a little bit of everything:

- Fly into Melbourne, stay for two nights
- Fly to Sydney on Tiger (AUD$55 is pretty hard to beat, even if it is the RyanAir of Australia)
- Stay three nights in Sydney
- Spend a night in the Blue Mountains
- Fly out of Sydney the next day

I'm also a frequent traveler, so I'm fairly used to dropping into a new country and getting adjusted, especially an Anglophone one. I'll be flying business class, however, so I should be able to sleep fairly soundly on the way down.

I don't expect to be able to see everything on this trip, but if I can visit some of the must-see places and make a few half-day/full-day trips, I'll be satisfied. After all, I have to have something to look forward to the next time I visit!

I'll update the thread once I finish the trip, but feel free to keep making recommendations. Thanks, all.
posted by armage at 5:32 PM on August 1, 2010

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