Surfing and Scuba Diving at Sydney’s Manly Beach

manly beach mmSydney’s laidback beach culture is one of its biggest draws. People flock to its pristine shores to kick back and relax in the sun and try out some adventurous beach-based pursuits.

Manly Beach is a hotspot for surfers, and is the home of the Australian Open every year in February. As well as a rich surf culture and beautiful sandy views, there are plenty of shops, cafes, and restaurants to enjoy along the promenade and on the beach itself. From there, you can enjoy people watching and experience the sun setting over the horizon.

Things to Do at Manly Beach

The sprawling sands and endless views out across the horizon mean there are plenty of fun pursuits you can do to keep yourself busy while at Manly Beach.manly surfing

Sample the Surfing Culture

To the north of Manly Beach, you’ll find the impressive Queenscliff Headland, where there is an offshore submerged reef (or bombora, as it’s often known), that creates the kind of waves top surfers love. If you stroll further south, there is a quieter stretch of beach known as Shelly Beach that is home to surfing, diving, snorkelling, and more relaxed beach activities.

Take a Bike Ride

The Manly coastline is the ideal place to go for a leisurely cycle. Head north up the shores towards the picturesque expanse of Freshwater Beach and see where the Australian surf culture all began. Both Manly and Freshwater beaches are named under the National Surfing Reserve as important surfing spots in the country.

Eat Under the Stars

The beach lifestyle is what draws many visitors to Manly Beach, and its plethora of restaurants and cafes make for an incredible dining scene that’s set against a backdrop of beach views and beautiful sunsets. You can find some of the best coffees in Sydney being served here, as well as eateries that serve mouth-watering dishes of locally-caught fish and other fresh ingredients.

manly beach 2 mmOther Water-Based Activities

Though Manly is predominantly known for its incredible surfing culture, there are plenty of other water-based activities you can do during your time there. You can try stand-up paddleboarding to enjoy the coastline from a different perspective, or take a dive or snorkelling trip to discover the magnificent beauty of the underwater world.

Manly Beach is one of Sydney’s most prized destinations, and the abundance of activities make it that much more fun. From surfing and scuba diving to bike rides and sunset dinners, it’s the perfect place to enjoy the laidback beach lifestyle.

Things to Do at the Shark Island National Park

shark island 2 michaelSydney Harbour is one of the city’s most prominent hotspots, and plays host to a number of iconic landmarks, like the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. 

Visitors often choose to venture out into the harbour to explore the city’s silhouette from a different perspective, but there are plenty of other things to do besides taking a cruise on the calm waters.

In fact, in the heart of the harbour there is a picturesque island. Shark Island National Park, as it is known, can be found around 1 kilometre from the mouth of Rose Bay in the harbour, and provides visitors with a unique picnic spot with incredible views.shark island michael

There are plenty of things to do on the pretty shores of Shark Island.

Explore the Foreshore

The island’s foreshore is one of the most charming spots on the island. Here, you can discover magical grottos that date back to the early 1900s and see a range of tide pool creatures that call the area home. 

Go for a Swim

The calm waters that surround Shark Island make it the perfect place for a leisurely, refreshing swim. You can splash about in the shallows and soak up the mesmerising views of Sydney Harbour all around you. 

shark island 3 michaelHave a Picnic

Shark Island is renowned as a popular picnic spot, drawing in thousands of visitors each year who lay down a rug and tuck into delicious food amongst the beautiful surroundings. There are plenty of lush grassy areas, picnic shelters, and even a gazebo that offer views of the harbour and beyond. A lot of locals and tourists head to the island to watch the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, as it provides the perfect vantage point.

The History of Shark Island

Shark Island’s past is full of stories and tales. In 1879, most of the island was used as a recreation reserve, but part of it remained an animal quarantine station and naval depot right up until 1975.
After that point, it was solely used as a recreational area and it quickly became part of the Sydney Harbour National Park, with scheduled ferries taking visitors to and from the island on a daily basis.
But it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows. The island has been the site of drownings, shipwrecks, and even a shark attack or two – the most prominent of which took place in 1877, when cricketer George Coulthard was pulled out of his boat by a large shark.

The Views From Mrs Macquarie’s Chair

Sydney Harbour MichaelSydney has plenty of top attractions and sights to see, from the iconic Sydney Opera House to the Harbour Bridge and beyond. Mrs Macquarie’s Chair sits above Sydney’s picturesque harbour on a peninsula that juts out over the sea.

Formed of exposed sandstone rock that was hand-carved into a bench by convicts in 1810, it was built especially for Governor Macquarie’s wife, Elizabeth.  The peninsula it sits on is also named after the Governor’s wife and forms part of The Domain, which can be found near the colourful Royal Botanic Gardens.

The History of Mrs Macquarie and Her Chair Mrs Macquaries Chair michael

Mrs Macquarie was the wife of Major-General Lachlan Macquarie who governed New South Wales between 1810 and 1821. According to legend, she spent a lot of time sitting on the rocks and gazing out to sea spotting ships that were sailing from Great Britain into the harbour. It was one of her favourite spots to relax and soak up the panoramic views.

The chair itself is the most prominent part of the landscape and the attraction that draws in the most visitors, but it’s not the only thing to see there. Above the chair there is a stone inscription that refers to the nearby Mrs Macquarie’s Road. The route was built between 1813 and 1818 and runs from what was originally Government House to Mrs Macquarie’s Point. Again, it was built for Elizabeth on request from the Governor himself.

Despite inscriptions and references to the route, it no longer exists apart from a culvert which the road used to run along.

Mrs Macs Chair 2 michaelFinding Mrs Macquarie’s Chair

The peninsula that the chair sits on perches between the picturesque Garden Island peninsula to the east of Sydney and Bennelong Point to the west (which is where you’ll find the Sydney Opera House).

Facing the north-east and pointing towards Fort Denison and the ocean, the chair and its surroundings prove to be a popular lookout point for visitors to soak up the panoramic views from and explore the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge from a different perspective.

Once you’ve discovered the city’s major attractions from ground level, why not head up into the peninsula to experience it from a different perspective? Not only will you be exposed to stunning sea and harbour views, but you’ll also get to learn about a little slice of history that still imbues this part of Australia.

The Best Whale Watching Spots in Sydney

whale michaelSydney boasts two distinct whale watching seasons. Between May and August, you can catch a glimpse of the resident humpback whales as they head north to mate and, later in the year between August and December, you can watch them as they come back south with their calves.

You’re more likely to spot these magnificent creatures during the winter season, as there are around 20,000 individuals that migrate along this stretch of coastline. As well as humpbacks, you might even be able to spot a minke whale and an orca or two. For best views, grab some binoculars and head to one of the top lookout points.

The Top Whale Watching Lookout Points in Sydney

michaelKamay Botany Bay National Park

Set in the lush surroundings of the Kamay Botany Bay National Park, Cape Solander provides one of the best places to gaze out to sea and try and spot a whale. As well as unbeatable views, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery that characterises this part of the city.

Barrenjoey Lighthouse

Forming part of the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, the Barrenjoey Lighthouse sits on the most northerly part of the sprawling Palm Beach peninsula. Here, you can marvel at the stunning ocean views and climb the 113-metre-tall heritage-listed lighthouse to spot the resident humpbacks. Pack a picnic and make a day of it.lighthouse michael

Royal National Park

If you’re exploring the Royal National Park, head along the pretty Coast Track which will take you directly to the New South Wales coastline. As well as the odd humpback, you can spot eagles, silver gulls, terns, and other impressive bird life. Cool off after your walk with a dip at Garie Beach or North Era Beach in the summer months.

Whale Watching Tours

As well as heading to some of Sydney’s best lookout points to spot the migrating whales, you can also take a boat out to sea on a whale watching tour. These adventures will get you up close and personal with the whales, as well as give you the chance to learn more about these magnificent creatures and their behaviour. There are numerous tours that leave from various points around Sydney, providing you with ample opportunity to spot humpbacks and other incredible sea life – just don’t forget your camera!
This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity really is a must-do if you find yourself in Sydney during the whale migration.

The Top 6 Things to Do at Bondi Beach

 

 

Bondi Beach is undoubtedly one of the most famous beaches in the world, promising visitors a show of golden sand and turquoise waters on the edge of Sydney City. As well as pretty views and a laidback lifestyle to soak up, the beach offers tonnes of things to get stuck into. Here are some of the best things to do while you’re in the area.Bondi Beach Michael


Things to Do at Bondi Beach

1.    Bondi Surf Pavilion Community Centre
What was originally a beach bathhouse has now become one of the most popular attractions on the beach. Now a cultural community centre, it plays host to a theatre, a gallery, numerous shops, a restaurant, and several function rooms that hold events throughout the year.

2.    Surfing
Perhaps the most popular activity on Bondi Beach is surfing. It is a world-famous surfing spot, and you can rent a board and hit the waves regardless of whether you’re a complete beginner or seasoned pro. At the north end of the beach, there is a surf school where you can take lessons or try your hand at other sports like windsurfing and kitesurfing.

3.    Playground and Pool
For younger members of the family, there is an on-site playground and pool to keep the kids busy. Located to the east of the Surf Pavilion, the area boasts sandpits, climbing frames, and a shallow pool for splashing around in.

4.    Sam Fiszman Park
Bondi Beach is a vibrant, lively place, but if you want to head somewhere a bit quieter, go to >Sam Fiszman Park which is just a short walk from the sands. There, you can look out over the beach and soak up stunning views of the ocean and skyline.

5.    Bondi Icebergs Baths
Though the sea at Bondi is ideal for swimming, you can also hit the water in the Bondi Iceberg Baths. Located to the south of the beach, you can swim lengths in this well-maintained pool or grab some food from the on-site Crabbe Hole to refuel for the day.

6.    Bondi Markets
At the weekends, the Bondi Markets bring in visitors from all around. On Saturdays, you can browse stalls piled high with local produce and pick up a tasty local snack, and on Sundays, you can pick up a souvenir or two amongst the many stalls selling unique handmade arts and crafts.
Bondi Beach is packed full of fun, whether you’re looking to kick back and relax on the pristine sands, hit the waves on a surfboard, or soak up the local culture. Bondi Markets Michael

The Marvellous Views from Mrs Macquarie’s Point

MacquariesChairSydney city is full of incredible, iconic landmarks, and you can peer out over most of them from Mrs Macquarie’s Point. Joined to the Royal Botanic Gardens, but officially making up part of the Domain, Mrs Macquarie’s Point marks the furthest north-eastern tip of Farm Cove and looks out over some of Sydney’s stunning highlights, including the Sydney Opera House.


At the Point, you’ll also find Mrs Macquarie’s Chair (also dubbed Lady Macquarie’s Chair), a sandstone rock that has been excellently carved into the shape of a bench. It dates back to 1810, when a group of convicts hand carved it into the landscape that overlooks Sydney Harbour in honour of Governor Macquarie’s wife, Elizabeth.


Macquarie was the governor of New South Wales from 1810 to 1821, and legend has it that his wife used to sit on the rock the bench is now carved out of and watch for ships that were sailing into the harbour from Great Britain.


MacquariesChair fireworksRight above the sandstone seat there is an inscription dedicated to Mrs Macquarie’s Road which was built over five years between 1813 and 1818 and joined together Government House and Mrs Macquarie’s Point. The road was Governor Macquarie’s idea to benefit his wife, though the passageway no longer remains.


During the summer months, the area becomes a popular hangout for both visitors and locals. Not only can you gaze out at the city’s iconic skyline from the Point, but the annual OpenAir Cinema takes place there every year, giving you the chance to watch classic films against a stunning backdrop of sprawling views. It is also the location of some of Sydney’s NYE fireworks.


Getting to Mrs Macquarie’s Point
Mrs Macquarie’s Point remains one of the best-loved and most visited attractions in the city, and it’s really easy to get to if you want to soak up the incredible views from its excellent vantage point.


MacquariesChair cinemaYou can hop on the Sydney Explorer route and get off at stop number five, or you can get the train or ferry from Circular Quay down in the harbour. If you’re planning on getting the bus, you can get off at the Art Gallery which is a short 15-minute walk away from the Point.


If you want to walk up there and marvel at the scenery on foot, you can take a stroll from Circular Quay right up to the chair in an easy 20-minute walk. The route takes you past the Royal Opera House and other highlights, including a trail that weaves through the Royal Botanic Gardens. If you’re driving, you can park along the road past the Art Gallery.

Things to Do at The Rocks

The Rocks 2The Rocks is a popular part of Sydney City, providing a hearty dose of history and culture to visitors. Located on the southern shore of Sydney’s iconic harbour, it overlooks Circular Quay on Sydney Cove and marks the spot where the first European settlement landed in 1788.


Things to Do at The Rocks
The central location of The Rocks and its closeness to Circular Quay make it an incredibly popular spot. The buildings surrounding it are imbued with centuries of history, while the views of the impressive Harbour Bridge make it an iconic site.


Throughout the area, there are plenty of things for visitors to get stuck into. As well as numerous souvenir and craft shops perfect for picking up gifts in and exploring the local artwork, there are several themed pubs that act as ideal watering holes for busy shoppers.


The rocks IIAt the weekend, The Rocks comes to life with a market that boasts more than 100 stalls selling everything from local produce to handmade goods. During the week, the pace of life at the site doesn’t slow down. There are key contemporary galleries showcasing the works of notable Australian artists like Ken Done and Ken Duncan, as well as a collection of boutique Australian clothing stories and opal shops.


For the more active traveller, there are a selection of historic walks that weave through The Rocks that take in impressive buildings like Cadmans Cottage, Sydney Observatory, and the Dawes Point Battery, which was the first fortified spot in the whole of New South Wales.


The Rocks at nightElsewhere, two pubs claim to be the oldest surviving pubs in Sydney: the Fortune of War and the Lord Nelson. But even if you don’t grab a drink in these, there are plenty of others to check out, including the Observer, the Orient, and the Hero of Waterloo.


Beside The Rocks, you can grab a ferry from the passenger boat terminal to explore the coastline from a different perspective, or you pop into the Museum of Contemporary Art which is close by.
Every year, Water Polo by the Sea is held in the area, so if you’re in town while it’s on, be sure to check it out.


Visiting The Rocks gives you the chance to discover some of Sydney’s best-loved attractions. As well as perfect viewing opportunities of Harbour Bridge, you can explore the local culture of the area through the charming selection of shops, restaurants, pubs, and bars.

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Fun Facts About the Sydney Opera House

Sydney opera House IThe Sydney Opera House is one of Australia’s most iconic buildings. The impressive sails of the building characterise Sydney City and provide a fascinating place to explore the culture and modern history of the country.


Designed by Jorn Utzon, a Danish architect, the Sydney Opera House was opened back in 1973, almost 20 years after Utzon was chosen as the winner of an international design competition.


Though the name suggest that the opera house is just one single venue, it in fact comprises several performance halls and venues that are some of the busiest and most-used in the entire world. Each year, more than 1,500 performance take place under the roof of the Sydney Opera House, and more than 1.2 million people attend them.


Every year, the selection of shows is mixed up, with performances by the likes of Opera Australia, the Australian Ballet, Sydney Theatre Company, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.


Sydney Opera House 01As well as attendees to the performances, more than eight million people visit the site of the Sydney Opera House every year, with around 350,000 people taking a guided tour of the interior.


Fun Facts About the Sydney Opera House
Despite being one of the best-known cultural venues in the world, there are some little known facts about the Sydney Opera House.
•    It was designed by Jorn Utzon, who won a design competition in the late 1950s
•    The doors were opened by Queen Elizabeth II on the 20th October 1973
•    The first performance at the Sydney Opera House was the Australia Opera’s production of War and Peace
•    It cost $102,000,000 AUS to build the Sydney Opera House
•    Every year, there are more than 3000 events that take place at the Sydney Opera House
•    There are a whopping 1,000 rooms inside the Sydney Opera House, each of which has its own purpose
•    Some of the roof sections weigh up to 15 tonnes

Sydney Opera House NightVisiting the Sydney Opera House is an important part of any trip to Australia. This iconic landmark is not only a great place to experience some of the country’s best-loved performances, but it is also a great place to explore the architectural history of the city and the cultural scene that imbues the region surrounding the building.


You can opt to simply marvel at the building from the outside, or you can head on in to watch a show or take a guided tour around some of the 1,000 rooms inside.

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History and Adventure on Sydney Harbour Bridge

Harbour Bridge1Sydney City boasts some of the world’s most recognisable attractions, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of them. Spanning the Sydney Harbour, this steel arch bridge let’s pedestrians, cars, trains, and cyclists pass from the Central Business District to the North Shore. It is set close to the impressive Sydney Opera House, providing a unique backdrop to this part of the city.


The History of Sydney Harbour Bridge
The bridge was originally designed and built by Dorman Long and Co Ltd, a British firm that was directed by Dr John Bradfield who worked for the NSW Department of Public Works. It eventually opened in 1932, and is loosely based on the Hell Gate Bridge in New York City. Today, it is the sixth longest spanning-arch bridge on the planet and the world’s tallest steel arch bridge. Unfortunately, it no longer takes the title of widest long-span bridge, because the Port Mann Bridge in Vancouver overtook it in 2012.


harbour bridge2BridgeClimb
While many tourists are satisfied with simply walking, driving, cycling, or getting the train across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, some people want to make their visit a little more adventurous.


During the 1950s and 60s there were a number of newspaper reports that showed people illegally climbing across the arches of the bridge at night. In 1973, Phillipe Petit walked across a wire that was hung between the two pylons at the southern end, causing locals and tourists to covet crossing the bridge in a unique and adrenalin-pumping way.


harbour bridgeIt wasn’t until 1998, though, that BridgeClimb made it possible for people to legally climb the southern half of the bridge. Climbers must wear protective clothing and are given a briefing and an orientation before they begin their tour. During the climb, visitors are attached to the bridge itself by a wire lifeline, with the tour taking around three-and-a-half hours including preparation at the briefing.


Sydney Harbour Bridge offers an iconic addition to the city’s skyline and is well worth visiting if you want to learn more about this magnificent structure and its surroundings, or if you want to explore one of Sydney’s most popular attractions in a unique and adventurous way. Once up on the structure, you’ll have spectacular views across the Harbour and the rest of the city, where you can pick out other landmarks like the nearby Sydney Opera House. But for a more leisurely exploration, simply take a stroll across the bridge.

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The History and Wildlife of The Gap

The gapSet on the South Head Peninsula to the east of Sydney City, The Gap is an impressive ocean cliff. Rising up from the surrounding landscape, it looks out over the Tasman Sea and it proves to be a popular destination for tourists.


The History of The Gap
The Gap was originally owned by the Birrabirragal Aboriginal clan, who made up the wider community of the Darug people.


It wasn’t until 1788, when the First Fleet arrived from Europe, that its potential was realised. After settling, the British fleet set up a makeshift signaling station on the ridge right above The Gap. Its purpose was to give warning signs to the colony of any ships that were approaching across the Tasman Sea. The station was declared a formal signal station in 1790 and was used as it was up until 1871, when the Imperial British forces were withdrawn from the area.


the gap1After that, it became a military garrison, housing coastal artillery emplacements that would serve to defend the Port of Sydney.


In 1895, the area started to be used by the small but ever-growing Australian Army as a gunnery school and, in 1942, a radar training school was established nearby for the Royal Australian Navy to use.


Today, visitors can explore the cliff face and its surrounding, sometimes venturing up to the chapel at the peak that, in 1962, was dedicated to the service personnel who served at The Gap for many years.


the gap2Since 1982, it has formed an important part of Sydney Harbour National Park and, in 1990, it was opened to the public, who can stroll along the numerous stunning clifftop walks that it is now so well-known for.


The Scenery of The Gap
The Gap is a spectacular place to lookout from, and it boasts an eclectic selection of flora and fauna for visitors to discover. The cliff itself is made from Sydney Sandstone, making it a part of the Sydney Basin and home to numerous bird and animal species.


Here, you might spot skinks and eastern water dragons as they weave their way through the rocks, and you’re likely to see a collection of seabirds, such as the silver gull and the Pacific gull, both of which use the cliff face to make their nests in.

Things to Do at Manly Beach

manlybeach1Manly Beach is one of Australia’s most famous beaches. Bringing together sprawling sands, turquoise waters and endless water sporting opportunities, this is the beach to hit up if you’re after some fun in the Australian sun.


Here, you can watch surfers as they rock the waves, or try your hand at surfing yourself, whether you’re an absolute beginner or a bit of a pro. In fact, this is such a popular beach for surfing that it hosts the Australia Open of Surfing every February. When you’re not surfing, or you’ve worked up an appetite in the waves, grab some fish and chips on the lively Corso and kick back and relax on the sands while watching the action unfold as you eat them.


There are plenty of other dining options if fish and chips aren’t your thing, too. The Corso boasts a lengthy stretch of fun beachside cafes, bars, and restaurants, with a number of popular pubs perfect for grabbing a sunset drink in. Manly Wharf, which overlooks the hustle and bustle of Sydney Harbour, is also a great place to head if you’re on the hunt for a decent meal or a relaxing drink. Here, you’ll find lively hotspots, including those that serve their own craft beers for something a little different.


manly beach surfingThings to Do at Manly Beach


Explore on Two Wheels
Cycling is a popular pastime in Sydney, and offers a great way to explore the expanse of Manly Beach. Cruise along the Corso, soaking up the sunshine and the goings-on, and park your ride to go for a swim when the Australian sun gets the better of you.


Try Your Hand at Surfing
The Manly Surf School is the perfect place to head if you want to blend in with the crowds and hit the waves on a surfboard of your own. The school teaches everyone from absolute beginners to budding pros, so you’ll feel at ease in the water.


manly cyclingSail on Sydney Harbour
Manly Beach sits next to Sydney Harbour, giving you the perfect opportunity to explore this major landmark. You can either take a cruise from Circular Quay to explore the region in a relaxing way, or try your hand at sailing yourself and explore the nooks and crannies of the bay and beyond.


Manly Beach is the perfect place to kick back and relax and soak up the vibrant atmosphere of Sydney. Here, beach life meets city life, giving visitors an excellent mix of vibrant culture and stunning sea views.

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