Sydney – Part 1

Tuesday 28 Feb to Thursday 2 March

Our day of arrival in Sydney was fellow traveller Babs’ big birthday. We celebrated by having a few drinks in the Flynn, a sports bar below the hotel.


We started at 8am with a City tour. The first stop was the Botanic Gardens for the spectacular view over the harbour and Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. We went on to visit various parts of the city.

Mrs Macquarie’s chair (from 2019)
The Big Matchsticks – sculpture in Woolloomooloo (what a fab name!)
Rose Bay
Watsons Bay/South Head
Macquarie Lighthouse
There are 26 beaches in Sydney. This one, Bondi, is closest to the city and probably the most famous
Crown Sydney (also known as One Barangaroo)

We ended the tour at Darling Harbour (a lovely part of town) where we joined the Clearview for a lunchtime cruise around the harbour.

The boat was aptly named because we had fabulous views as we were cruising along. We had a very good lunch on there too.

After lunch we returned to the hotel. Although I intended going out later, I never quite made it!

I ended up watching a bit of TV and was bemused to see a few UK programmes on including Graham Norton and Oz versions of Taskmaster, Would I Lie To You, The Dog House and Gogglebox…

Personal welcome from the TV.

The staff at the hotel greet you with a ‘bonjour’, which seems rather out of place in Sydney!


I woke up to drizzle.

This was the last full day for the group, with many going off to the Blue Mountains on an excursion for the day. As I did that when I was here in 2019 there were other things I wanted to do.

I walked from the hotel to the Westfield Centre and then went up the Sydney Tower Eye. What fantastic views!

View towards the Harbour Bridge and Opera House

Then on to Circular Quay. I found the stop for the Big Bus Tour and by this time the sun had come out.

I sat on the top of the bus as it went on the red Inner City route. I did a full circuit plus one stop to get off close to my hotel. It followed a different route to the tour we did on our first day here, though obviously covered some of the same ground.

Central Park Mall with all its greenery
Sydney ready for WorldPride on Sunday

On the way back I went into David Jones, the department store. It reminded me a lot of Selfridges. I particularly enjoyed looking around the food department and had a really good pizza in the Brasserie there.

Then back to the hotel, having completed 12,300 steps that day.

Sydney – Part 2

Friday 3 to Sunday 5 March 2023


It rained first thing but had brightened up by the time I went out.

As I had a 24 hour ticket for the hop on hop off bus, I set out to do the Blue tour, taking in the beaches. It was all going fine until the sky became very dark and it absolutely poured with rain.

Initially I moved to the lower deck to avoid the rain. Then I got pretty wet trying to change buses back to the red route at the end of the tour. I decided to get back on the blue bus again to shelter from the rain.

One guy on the bus made me laugh. He was looking at the weather app on his phone, which said cloudy and questioning its accuracy. I suggested that looking out of the window would give him a more accurate reading.

When the next red route bus came along I changed on to that and stayed on until Westfield.

I chatted with a nice lady from London. She was visiting her daughter, whom she had not seen for 4 years. Her daughter had been travelling in Australia when the pandemic struck and had no choice but to stay here as she could not return home when the borders closed.

Although very difficult at the beginning, it had all worked out OK and her daughter is happily settled in Sydney for the moment.

I bought some take away food from David Jones food hall and came back to the hotel, as I needed to see the tour manager before he and the rest of the group departed for the airport.

I didn’t take ANY photos today!

Fortunately the weather forecast looks better for tomorrow…


After breakfast I went to Westfield to look for a new suitcase. Rather than lug my large and very heavy suitcase to Avoca, I checked with the concierge that I could leave my big suitcase at the hotel and pick it up when I return next Friday before flying home.

I had seen a luggage shop in the Westfield Centre but couldn’t find it again! So I went into the Myer department store. As luck would have it, they had an offer of 40% discount on all their luggage, so I bought one there and took it back to the hotel.

The door to my room was open when I got there. The chambermaid looked rather surprised when I walked in with my suitcase. She told me that someone was already staying in the room!

I explained that I’d just been out to buy another suitcase. Understandably she asked me to use the access card to enter the room again to reassure her that I really was the person staying there, rather than an imposter.

After a bit I went out again, this time taking a different route to the one I had taken before. I spotted this artwork opposite the hotel.

Ben Chifley by Simeon Nelson. Ben Chifley was Prime Minister of Australia from 1945 to 1949. The building behind is the Chifley Tower, 50 storeys high.

I went to the harbour, only a few minutes’ walk from the hotel and walked around the area called The Rocks. It was very busy, as there is a craft/artisan market there at the weekend and many eateries.

It reminded me of the stalls there are in Covent Garden, though these are outside. I bought some earrings to replace the one I lost on the plane from Singapore to Melbourne.

Most expensive ice cream so far $7.20 (£4.05)! Another passion fruit one. Very nice too 😋

I sat down between The Rocks and Circular Quay and watched the world go by. The icecream kiosk was doing a roaring trade.

There were a lot of very smartly dressed people. My guess was that they were going to a wedding in The Rocks somewhere. There were a lot of men and boys with fishing rods, quite a few unusually dressed people too (here for World Pride maybe). And lots and lots of tourists, families and people out enjoying the sunshine.

There was a fabulous view of the Opera House with ferries coming and going from the Quay.

Then back to the hotel to sort out the suitcases before I meet Anita, Zoe’s mother in law, and go to Avoca Beach tomorrow.


Anita came to meet me at the hotel. We walked down to the harbour and dropped my case off at the left luggage place I had spotted the day before in one of the cafes on the Quay.

We took a ferry to Watson’s Bay, enjoying the fabulous views on such a beautiful day.

On the ferry to Watson’s Bay
Government House

We walked up to The Gap to view the North Head, entry to Sydney harbour from the Pacific Ocean.

Then back towards the harbour with the Moreton Bay fig trees in the background.

We had a tasty lunch at the Watson’s Bay Boutique Hotel, sitting at a terrace table overlooking the harbour.

Sky writing during lunch

After lunch we took the ferry back to Circular Quay. So many fabulous views…

On arrival Anita took me to her favourite ice cream shop…

I chose chocolate fondant & strawberries and cream. Delicious!

We collected my suitcase and made our way by train from Circular Quay to Central. Then took the train to Woy Woy, about 90 minutes away.

Woy Woy’s claim to fame is that Spike Milligan lived there in the 1950s when his parents migrated from England.

Then we drove to Avoca Beach, on the Central Coast, where Anita has lived for 38 years. What a beautiful place.

Plaque commemorating Steve, Anita’s late husband.

Then on to Anita’s house.

This cockatoo came to say hello!

Such a fabulous day 😊

Alice Springs

Sunday 26 and Monday 27 Feb 2023

This plaque in Sydney (taken in 2019) commemorates Neville Shute’s famous book


A long drive from Uluru to Alice Springs. Until I visited last time I thought they were very near to each other. It’s actually 450 km/280 miles. The scenery doesn’t change much along the route – mile after mile of desert like this.

View from lookout point
Mt Conner in the distance

We stopped for photos near Mt Conner, often referred to as ‘Fooleru’ as it is sometimes mistaken for Uluru by those who are visiting for the first time .

We stopped for lunch at Erldunda ‘Centre of the centre’

From Erldunda we travelled along the Stuart Highway. This is one Australia’s main highways. It runs from Port Augusta in South Australia to Darwin in the Northern Territory via Alice Springs, a distance of 2,720 km (1,690 mi).

Before checking in to the hotel, we stopped off at the Alice Springs Telegraph Station. I wanted to buy a Magnum and a few bits from the shop and realised I had left my purse in the coach. The lady serving immediately said she’d take the money from the tips box, which she did. What a kind gesture! I borrowed a $10 note from our guide to repay her kindness.

We also paid a visit to the Anzac Memorial on a hill outside the town. This was one of the views.

It was good to get to the hotel.


Today was a free day. I took the opportunity for a bit of a lie in and after breakfast did some laundry at the hotel.

Then I walked to the Olive Pink Botanic Gardens in the 35C heat. Unfortunately none of the facilities were open, though the garden itself was.

I decided not to walk up the hill.

The vegetation was pretty sparse with some flowers here and there.

There was some wildlife in evidence – some birds and a scary-looking spider or two.

It was even hotter on the walk back to the hotel.

I had a nap and didn’t do much for the rest of the day. I had dinner in the Hanuman Restaurant in hotel I stayed at last time a few mins walk away.


We visited a couple of places en route to the airport for our flight to Sydney, the final destination of the tour.

The first stop was the School of the Air, the education service for children of families living in the outback. We learned about how the service started in 1951, how it’s developed over time with different types of technology and how it operates now using the internet via satellite.

We also visited the Royal Flying Doctor Service, learned about its history and the services it now provides.

Then off to the airport for our flight to Sydney.