Traveling to the world’s smallest continent is an amazing experience, and I was lucky enough to get to explore Sydney, the capital. However, figuring out how to best use the local public transportation to get to all the great sights was a little intimidating at first, especially since there was one common mode of transportation that was new to me, being from the Midwest: ferries!
The city is located around Port Jackson (more popularly called Sydney Harbor) so it only makes sense that it in order to most easily cross from one side of the water to another you would go by boat. Luckily, it’s quite easy to figure out the ferry system, and it quickly became my preferred way to get around the city.
The best place to start your ferry adventures is Circular Quay (pronounced “key”), as this is the one of the ferry hubs. Plus, it’s located within easy walking distance to the Sydney Opera House and Royal Botanical Gardens -- definitely two places you’re not going to want to miss visiting once, twice, or a dozen times! There are tons of cafés located along the wharf, which give you a great view of the Sydney Harbor Bridge and the boat traffic in the harbor as you sit sipping a nice foamy cappuccino. After, take a stroll in the Botanical Gardens, where you’ll encounter flocks of cockatoos screeching at you as they hop from tree to tree.
But in case you want to leave the hustle and bustle of downtown Sydney behind, and experience a very cheap harbor cruise, you should head to Manly. Manly is located on the northern side of the harbor, on the strip of land that separates the city from the ocean. Cute, trendy boutiques line the walkway to Manly Beach, which is a long line of golden sand, perfect for basking in the sun and observing the many surfers trying their hand at riding the waves of the Pacific.
Although Bondi Beach is hailed as the most popular beach in Sydney, and a place you’ll definitely want to check out, I preferred the more serene vibe you get from Manly and the surrounding area. There are a few parks nearby where you can walk among the native foliage and try not to let out an embarrassing squeak when you encounter a large and spindly eight-legged friend, seemingly floating in the air between two bushes.
If, after heading back to the city, you want to live it up and are interested in shopping and eating delicious gelato, your next stop will be Darling Harbor. Here’s where you can find all the recreation you may ever want: restaurants and shopping, museums and movie theaters, and aquariums and zoos.
Your final ferry adventure is a short one from Circular Quay, just across the harbor to the north side. This is where you’ll find a creepy, grinning face welcoming you to Luna Park, just under the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Choose to walk through the amusement park or just take a quick selfie at the iconic entrance.
As someone who was new to the ferry commute life, I found it was fun just to get on the ferry and ride (this was possibly due to a day-pass to use on all modes of transportation in and around Sydney). Above all, take the time to go on a nighttime cruise through the harbor and see the city lights at night! Happy ferrying!
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Alyssa Jackson is the Senior Site Specialist.