Woke up at 8am as there weren’t anything planned for this day, only activity was to get on the plane back to Singapore. There was’t breakfast included and thus we had to rely on the Tim Tam that we purchased some days back. Prepared and checked out at 930am where we were given the tickets to the shuttle and paid the full $24aud for 2 persons return shuttle trip. Boarded the Sydney Super Shuttle to the international airport at 940am.
The trip to the airport was real quick about 10 mins max and we went direct to the check in counter of Scoot. the line was pretty long and there were only 3 active counters handling the crowd. It only improved after 1015am where 3 more counters opened up for check in. Concerned with the really long queue that we faced since the last Sydney trip, we went through departures only to find that there wasn’t a queue at the immigration at all, I wondered what happened to see this remarkable improvement. Going through the customs were was a little bit longer but still it was fast.
Did a little shopping at duty free and bought some standard take home gifts of nougats and had lunch at the same Itacho restaurant that we did the previous trip. Was thinking of getting some Aussie stuff like Merino jackets but they were way off budget.
Boarding was quick although this was a huge 777 but the plane was eventually delayed for 1 hour by some passenger who was either very late or didn’t board at all, but I wasn’t aware of what really happened as I have fallen asleep. Long flight home was smooth overall.
This trip was planned as the final long haul before the arrival of our little one. Figured that it would not be easy to travel again, earliest being 2015, this was also planned with more relaxation in mind since it was not as easy for my preggy wife to move about. Overall we enjoyed this trip nonetheless.
Woke up early to bring the car back to rental company. Checked on google maps to ensure we knew where we were going so as to reduce the confusion especially when driving in Monday morning traffic. Returned to the parking spot where thankfully the car was still around. Still missed a turn or 2 while driving in the smaller roads but made it to the major Williams road and managed to park the car in front of the store before it opened. 15mins later, we returned the car with no complications.
Returned to the room to nap a little before getting breakfast at Woolloomooloo supermarket. There was some time left and we went over to Quiksilver outlet at King’s street for last minute shopping and bought a couple of items. Rushed back, took a bath, checked out and was just in time when Airbus arrived for our shuttle to the airport. It seemed like a blink of an eye – everything happened so quickly.
After going around town picking up passengers, we reached the airport at 1145 and checked in, which was pretty quick as there weren’t any queue. Went into the departure hall and at the customs, we were told to fill up departure cards – it was no wonder why there were many people crowded behind seemingly filling up some paperwork. Luckily there were some empty ones which we quickly filled up for the immigration officer.
After that, it was the slow process of going through the Xray. The queue we were at was moving slowly as the stringent officers were scanning through the baggages very carefully. We had no problem with ours and went through smoothly when it was our turn.
Then it was more shopping at Sydney Duty Free and Australian Produce store to get nougats, the ever so famous foodstuff from Oz. Went to the collection point to pick up the online purchase of ipad mini and picked up lunch. Flight was delayed 15 mins due to plane’s late arrival but else it was an 8hrs back, Home Sweet Home.
This revisit some decades later was quite a fulfilling trip. Managed to do most of the planned activities though some weren’t really up to perceived expectations. The downside were that costs were really high, that driving was quite a challenge and stores closed early. However the lovely cool weather most of the time and the long daylight hours allowed for much more activities to be carried out made the moments for this trip.
Sun was up really early and so were we at 630am. Wanted to maximized the day since shops close early and we had a day trip to Blue Mountains planned. After our breakfast, called Airbus to make our booking for pick up on Monday at 1050am and then walked to East Coast Car Rentals that was positioned on Williams road, just 10 mins from our lodge. Theirs had one of the cheaper offers for rental cars, yet we we didn’t manage to get the Suzuki Swift as it was already reserved. Settled for the auto Toyota Altis similar, which was costing $77 with the best insurance coverage, for one day. Only problem was with the toll system in which everything was automatic and if I had to go through the toll (e-toll), then I had to call to get the vehicle registered. Since we were going to Blue Mountain, the personnel suggested that we didn’t had to do anything since we weren’t be going through the toll. Done the paper works, turned on my own GPS and we were on our way to Blue Mountain.
Driving was easy yet I felt uneasy. I wasn’t sure if I could go faster but was at the same time worried that I might be caught so I kept to the speed limit. Went to a service stop along the way to get bottled water and moved on. Driving took some 1.5hrs, slowest at along the Great Western Highway where the lanes became just one as there were some construction to upsize the road. Arrived at Katoomba, the home of the 3 sisters, went straight to Echo Point, parked and paid for car tickets via the machine, 3.80 for first hour, pretty expensive. Visited the tourism info counter to get maps and tips and went out to get photos taken. Took the easy 15mins return to the 3 sisters and decided to drive westwards and visit the lookouts.
The road to all the lookouts were then named the BMD, Blue Mountain Drive and that made navigation straightforward though we did missed some since there were really easy to spot signboards along the way. The Eagle Hawk lookout did not have a big carpark while the rests were ok. The views were similar though and we were all not that impressed. We decided to give Scenic World a miss as it was quite expensive and it seemed like we saw most of what we could see already. Went over to cover eastwards of Echo Point at which point we decided to go for lunch.
Drove to Leura town for lunch, recommended by the tourism personnel. Parked and walked the small town and sat into one of the takeaways store to have fish and chips. Walked around a bit before driving to Blackheath.
10km down and we got onto Govetts Leap road and arrived at an info center. Checked the map at the entrance and decided to visit the 2 lookouts, reachable just by car, which was at the end of the road called Horseshoe falls lookout and Evan’s lookout. Definitely a difference in view, especially Evan’s which had the view of a valley. Didn’t stay too long since we had to return the car that day if not risked the uncertainty of getting a carpark in a carpark-starved city of Sydney, although the rental company told us it was easy.
The nightmare began on the drive back. The drive back to the M4 was quite the same, slow with medium amount of traffic. While on the M4, there were signs indicating accident on some road called Homebush bay and to avoid it, which I didn’t thought of it much. After pumping gas (E10 gas, something I haven’t never seen before, though it was the cheapest) to the brim into the car 12km from Sydney and continuing towards the city, the cars came to a major slow down at the split towards Olympic park and the main road. There I realized that the whole main road was diverted and no traffic was allowed on M4 anymore. What made matter was that the GPS didn’t recognized this and tried to get us back on M4. Had to “force” it by continuing straight on the diverted smaller road until it recalculated another route back to the city, in the slower moving traffic. The good thing though was that we did manage to see more of Sydney.
2nd part of the nightmare began when we arrived at Sydney center and GPS just went nuts, giving us directions on roads that either had toll, making us turn into single opposite direction roads and was too late in giving instructions. Fortunately we were familiar with the roads on the 2 days of walking previously and depended part of on that experience and re-entered a new destination on the GPS to get back to the hotel.
3rd nightmare was the parking. Seriously, the signs were cryptic and didn’t had other instructions on it. There wasn’t a ticketing box either and thus we found one along the side of the road which didn’t have the time limitation and left the car there, some 5mins walk from our lodge. Got back to the room at 7pm, googled Sydney parking signs and finally understood the requirements. Since it was Sunday, the parking were basically free for the location that we parked.
After rested for a bit, we walked through Hyde Park to Circular Quay for ferry trip to Manly. Bought the tickets from the auto machine at Whaft 3 and boarded at 755pm, just in time for sunset (summer time!). Sat outside at the rear end of the ferry and as it moved towards Manly, we had a fantastic view of the Opera House and the Bridge. It was also chilly and so we sat on the inside of the ferry and moved out for photos when necessary. There also weren’t that many people at that time and so moving around the ferry was possible.
The 30 min ferry brought us to Manly Wharf. It was linked to the pretty Manly beach through a walkway named the Corso, which was also lined with stores and cafés. Night sea breeze was strong and chilly and by the time we arrived at the beach, last of the twilight was gone and we could only see silhouette of waves crashing to the shore. It would have been pretty we were sure.
Headed back towards the wharf and went into Hungry Jacks (Burger King equivalent) en-route for some quick bites. The next ferry was at 930pm as we found out, so we walked around the harbor for a while. The pier side had many party goers and a few pretty crowded restaurants. There were also many people sitting on the grass patches near the shore just enjoying their own company and the cool night near the waters.
Ferry back had a little more people and again the night view of the harbour was nice (though sunset was prettiest). Went towards the Rocks to visit the ever popular Pancakes on the Rocks restaurant, hoping that it was still opened. In fact, it was never closed, in business 24-7 daily. And crowded at that time of the day too, amazingly! We got our tables in a bit and ordered 2 different flavors and it was tasty! Pancakes were soft and warm and the combination of toppings was perfect. We didn’t managed to finish everything as they were 2 big pieces of pancakes each topped with a scoop of ice cream and we were not entirely hungry (burger at Manly).
Walked back to the hotel and arrived at 1130pm, exhausted from the full utilization of the day.
Made breakfast with the bread and canned tuna we purchased the day before and walked to Town Hall station. Bought the tickets at the ticket machine – 2 singles to Blacktown station. The double deck train arrived quickly and a one hour ride, later we got off and headed to bus stand no. 9, incorporated with the train station itself. Bus (by Busways) arrived on time, paid 4.60 for two in coins to the driver and 10 mins later, we got off (with the driver’s announcement) at the entrance of Featherdale Wildlife Santuary.
$28 per person entry and comes with a mini map and a stamp collection for different animals visited. In here there was quite a number of displays of native Australia animals including kangaroo, wombat, koala, dingo, Tasmanian devil and many other birds. There was a cuddle up to a koala shed for photos and also a kangaroo feeding place. Presentations on animals where park attendants also feed the animals took place throughout the day and we went to one where little blue penguins were fed. There was also a huge croc in the park. Not long before it was lunchtime and we had ours in the park itself at Billabong cafe, went to the souvenir shop (where we couldn’t resist getting a wombat) and left for the bus stop. Buses came on scheduled time and we were lucky not to have left too late, as subsequent afternoon buses were infrequent.
Returning to the Blacktown station was quick. Got our train tickets back to Central from the ticket counter, another hour’s ride. Did a platform switch at Central for the train towards Circular Quay at platform 17. 3 stops later, we alight at the quay, the panorama of the harbour from the station was lovely. Got out of the station and started heading towards the Rocks weekend market, location where there were many interesting local craft work sold. After walking through tentages, we proceeded to walk near waterfront where we could see both Sydney harbour bridge and also the Opera House. Got our photos before going back onto the shopping streets George Street and Pitts Street.
2nd shopping spree in shops that had a sale on and those with Aussie surf brands, revisiting the QVB again and walked through Koreatown that seemed to have some events ongoing. Some of the sale items seemed worth it but still, the dreaded 630pm came all too soon and we were reminded at one of the shops of closing in 5 mins as we made our urgent purchases.
Continued to trek towards Darling Harbour for more shopping and dinner. We were informed of fireworks display at the harbour tonight and so changed the plan to go to Manly the next day. Always seemed short of time.
Went over to Hurricane but it was filled and available after 9pm. Tried the various restaurants quayside but all outside seats were filled. Without much of a choice, left a name at Hurricane and went to Oporto to get small bites before preparing for the fireworks.
Went to the pier and chose a position as close to the waters at around 820pm. But the fireworks didn’t come at 830pm. When it did so at 9pm, with the music on, it was one of the best 10mins overseas fireworks I had seen. A variety of fireworks painted the night sky of the harbour, well choreographed till a climatic end where it drew loud applause from the crowd in awe. Definitely worth the wait since it was also free.
Once over, went back to the Hurricane for our dinner and it was even more crowded then before. Checked with the waitress and she said we still had to wait a while till our tables were ready. My wife then went to the other popular restaurant, Pancakes on the Rocks to queue but it was only a matter of minutes after she left that we had gotten our tables! Ordered half rack ribs which was still huge, soup and beer. Really filling and the service was superb as usual. Left satisfied.
The walk back was long, around 20 mins, which started at around 1030pm but the city was still wide awake with many people and a jammed street full of cars. It was really just a straight route back where we took the opportunity to pass through Hyde park, saw and shot St Mary’s cathedral which was illuminated slightly to give that old mysterious building feel. The streets felt safe. Arrived back at the hotel and there were some packing to do from the shopping in the day but all in all, a good long day out – loved the long summer days.
Soon after start of CNY, we were aboard the Scoot Boeing 777 on a 7.5hrs flight towards Sydney. We booked the seats with more leg space but it seemed similar to the rest. Being a budget carrier, it didn’t really gave the feel of one, though there weren’t touch screens monitors on the seats for info or anything. The flight was smooth sailing and we slept though the bulk of it, with the exception of a moment where I dropped my spectacles but managed to recover when my wife awoke and found it underneath the seats behind.
There wasn’t a long queue at immigration and we got through that quickly as well. Luggage took a while and we exited the arrivals without going through any quarantine (like those that were frequently shown on tv). Proceeded to the shuttle bus stop which was under a bridge with our printed tickets in hand that was reserved online. Had to wait for bus to arrive so I went back to arrival hall to get a drink. Went past a vending machine and saw that the drinks were expensive, about $3.8! Went further to a shop to get the same drink, didn’t know the price till I paid, $4.70. That’s bloody expensive! It was just sparkling spring water in a pretty plastic bottle. How do people survive here? I missed Singapore. Mini bus (Airbus) came 30mins later.
It was not another 1hr that we arrived at our hotel. The shuttle brought us around the city, dropping off passengers along the way. This gave us a hint on where all the major shopping streets were, so as to revisit later. The downside was that there were traffic jams, as in many cities, time was wasted on this van. We alighted at Strand hotel and walked towards the Sydney City Lodge and checked in. Given the top floor, I had to bring one luggage up 3 flights of stairs, which was a little tight. Door was locked using numeric password using keypad on door. The main entrance to the lodge had the same system though we had a little issue with that while testing it and had to have the personnel come show us.
Nicely decorated though a little small but we weren’t spending a lot and thus this met our expectations. Went over to Woolloomooloo supermarket to get lunch and breakfasts and checked out the items using their unmanned cashier. Munched the lunch back in our rooms and used the free wifi before heading out to the streets.
Sunny weather with a temp of 30degC but wasn’t humid which made walking ok. Went thru Hyde park, seeing the Sky Tower and a huge cathedral en-route before ending walking along Pitt Street and George Street, the shopping streets. Bought some jeans as the start our shopping experience. Went over one of the tailors recommended by the shop but was quoted a high price which we declined and continued onwards northwards on George Street.
Went into QVB and down to the level below for the more affordably priced stores. Joined a queue, mostly made out of Asians and bought a Matcha Tea Latte, which was pretty good. Continued with walking around the myriad of shopping levels and getting lost. One moment we were at QVB, the other we were at the Galeries, and then we were at Myers and then Westfield, but time flew by quickly and it was already 630pm and shops were already closing for the day. We took a walk along George street and then onto Liverpool street and finally into the Oxford street.
715pm and with the sky still brightened by the sun, we went over to Oxford Social for our dinner. Weren’t sure what to expect but when the food was served, it was simply mindblowing! Definitely worth the more expensive price tag.
Went back along Crown street to our lodge and noticed that the room wasn’t made so I guessed what you pay was what you get. There was a smell too, most probably coming from the toilet. Guessed we had to keep the ventilation fan open when we go out the next day. Feeling exhausted from the walk around town and probably the lack of a proper sleep on the plane. Or maybe, I was getting old.
Total duration 4D3N Singapore is 3 hr behind of Sydney, Australia. Flight time is 8hr direct flight on Scoot from Singapore to Sydney. Friday early morning flight on 31st Jan and arrival in Sydney at 1240pm on same day.
This escape plan was to take advantage of the long weekend for Chinese New Year to escape to Sydney, where it was still operational, unlike a Singapore that was pretty much shut down. Also, the tickets were pretty cheap, SGD $350 all in for return on Scoot and presented a good opportunity to test out this budget airline.
Budget nature: Really expensive city.
Transportation costs were so much higher than Singapore, be it parking fees or taking the train to the city from the airport. Be ready to pay if eating in restaurants for all 3 meals.The accommodations were expensive too. The only cheaper stuff were probably Ipads and Quiksilver.
Complexity: Easy by public transport, madness to drive in Sydney
Travelling around Sydney by public transport was easy peasy. It would be effortless if there were some preplanning down before by checking this site as it a search engine to provide all the possible routes from your location to your destination. Driving in busy Sydney was frustrating if you weren’t familiar, and so was parking. Read all about it before attempting.