G'Day! For Christmas and New Years, I spent time in the "Land Down Under". I traveled with my boyfriend who grew up and still has family in Australia. We spent much of our time catching up with family and friends, but got to add a little "tourism" in there as well.
Here is the story of 3 weeks crammed into a 3 minute scroll, hold tight:
Flight LAX to SYD - top tips were to wear layers, bring your own neck pillow, sleeping mask and ear plugs, and drink SO MUCH WATER. I kept my water bottle in my lap to remind me to drink more water. I swear this saved me.
We immediately headed down the coast about 3 hours to a coastal town called Mollymook (this was our home base for the trip). What used to be a "hidden gem" 3 hours south of Sydney has become increasingly popular in recent years, inviting a swath of tourists come Christmas time. (Friendly reminder that Christmas in Australia is during their summer).
The first weekend we headed even further south to Congo, a very small (I can't even call it a town...) area? about another hour south of Mollymook. We ventured all the way down to Tilba Tilba one day, stopping in Bodalla and Tuross Head on the way back.
Pebbly Beach is known to have friendly kangaroos, so of COURSE we made a stop here. We found a family of kangaroos - they barely even flinched when we got close and continued on with their business. There was even a baby kangaroo we saw hop back into the mother's pouch!
Here comes the good stuff...one of my favorite days was driving up to Jervis Bay. We parked at Greenfield Beach, and got onto the White Sands Walk. This walk will take you to the most famous beach, Hyams Beach, also known as the "whitest sand in Australia". Parking can get pretty chaotic around there so parking here and taking the path was not only scenic, but a smart choice as well! The White Sands Walk takes you to Chinamans Beach (my personal favorite) and onto Little Hyams Beach, then finally Hyams Beach. All up, the walk took about an hour with stops to take photos and enjoy the view. Then we drove over to Caves Beach for a quick swim. For lunch, we popped into the Huskisson Hotel where we were pleasantly surprised at how good the food was. It also has STUNNING lunch views so worth the stop even just for a drink.
A few highlights from the Mollymook area:
Altar Bar: An old church converted into a bar. All seating is outdoors (you can't actually go in the church) but it's a lush yard with twinkle lights hung and white tablecloths. The food served here is pretty decent too!
Milk Haus: Garden to plate cafe serving breakfast and lunch. They have their own garden on premises. There is also an option to stay here for a farm stay experience. The waffles were YUM.
Harvest Bar: Great spot for dinner and drinks. There was live music the night we went, definitely a fun vibe! *Need reservations during summer.
Pilgrims: Vegetarian cafe serving delicious wraps and burgers. Pro tip: you can get any of the burgers on a wrap and I highly recommend going that route. This is one of the most popular places in town so be prepared to fight for a table.
Bannister's By The Sea: This is a hotel but you can go to their Pool Bar for drinks. Highly recommend this as it overlooks the ocean and is beautiful.
This week was also Christmas, so most of this week was spent lounging on the local beaches.
Between Christmas and New Year's Eve, we drove back up to Sydney to do some sightseeing and catch up with friends. On the drive up we stopped at The Imperial At Clifton for lunch which is a pub. The views were INCREDIBLE but the line was out the door so we decided to skip having lunch there.
After that, we walked down to the Sea Cliff Bridge in effort to find a hike I had found on the Internet :) Turns out there are 2 ways to get to this viewpoint.
1.) If you're heading north towards Sydney, there will be a hole in the woods on your left side (sounds sketchy and hard to find but it's pretty obvious). *Parking is limited. This "hike" is about 10 minutes and is a pretty steep scramble. They have added rope along the track which was extremely helpful in terms of safety. I did this in Birkenstocks but I wouldn't necessarily recommend that.
2.) The second (and better and safer option) is to turn onto Clifton School Parade and try to find a parking spot either at Rube Hargrave Park or street parking. Walk to the back of that parking lot and you'll see signs pointing the way. This route is flatter, off of the cliff and will spit you out at the same spot the other one does. It still takes about 10 minutes.
SYDNEY DAY 1
We made it to Sydney and checked into our hotel, The Fullerton Hotel Sydney. This hotel is located "downtown" right next to Martin Place, and has easy access to most of the public transport options around Sydney.
First stop was, obviously, the Opera House and having a drink at Opera Bar. The Opera Bar can get pretty busy during the summer but don't be deterred. There is PLENTY of seating and usually you can snag a seat while someone is leaving.
We went on an adventure to find the best Thai food for dinner. With Thailand being so close - Sydney has a lot of options for great Thai food. We ended up at Yok Yor (first picture on the left) and it was delicious.
For post dinner drinks we went to Cantina OK! (pictured in the middle) which is a tiny bar (can only hold 20 people) serving margaritas and cocktails with handmade agave. The menu is small and the space is intimate. Definitely a unique experience! We loved it.
Next was The Lobo (pictured last), a Caribbean inspired bar serving 250 kinds of rum. The cocktail list is extensive and some they will even light on fire in front of you at bar. I had a DELICIOUS cocktail here. Expensive - but worth it.
SYDNEY DAY 2
The next day, we took the ferry to Manly. This is a MUST DO, and everyone else seemed to think so too. The line for the regular ferry was incredibly long so we hopped on the fast ferry. The regular ferry is $7.60 and takes about 30 mins while the fast ferry is $10.20 and takes 20 minutes. Both give excellent views of the opera house and city. Snag a seat on the upper deck if you can and hold onto your hats!
Once in Manly, we decided to walk Marine Parade around to Shelley Beach. We had a swim here and then walked back to the main beach, stopping at The Bower Manly for lunch. The food was ok, nothing to rave about, but a great spot for a coffee or drink if you're walking by as it is right on the waterfront.
At the ferry port are a few restaurants & bars - a favorite being Wharf Bar. Highly recommend a drink here before hopping on the next ferry home; it has great views of Manly Cove and a good vibe. If you didn't get a spot on the top deck on the way over, try again on the way home and get your camera ready!
Pre-dinner drinks were at The Roosevelt (pictured on the right below), located in Potts Point. The Roosevelt is an upscale New York style bar. Honorable mention for The Butler which we tried to go to but wouldn't let us in without a reservation.
Next up, we had dinner at The Apollo (pictured on the left below), a greek restaurant with industrial-chic decor (basically everything my decor dreams are made of). The food was DIVINE. You will definitely need a reservation here.
SYDNEY DAY 3
This day was dedicated to catching up with friends. We did a bottomless brunch at Rocker in Bondi which included wine or champagne and a set menu. From there, we moved on to The Royal Bondi, which is a local pub but was perfect for some live music and lively atmosphere. The final stop of the day was Bar 34 Bondi, another live music bar in a smaller setting. And THATS on a bar crawl through Bondi.
SYDNEY DAY 4
Final day in Sydney before heading back to Mollymook was spent eating brunch at Speedo's Cafe. One of the BEST cafes in town. It does have the "Instagramable" waffles if you're into that. But the food there really is delicious and fresh. The crowd hanging around the outside might look intimidating but they move people in and out pretty quick. If you're not up for a full meal, you can go to the counter and order a coffee to go.
After that, we wished we had time to do the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk, but we had to get on the road. We did stop by Bondi Icebergs, the famous swimming club overlooking the ocean.
Our final time on the south coast was spent on the beach, spending time with family and relaxing. We did go to Bannister's by the Sea for New Year's Eve dinner. They have a famous restaurant, Rick Stein, where we had dinner, then headed down to the pool bar for some live music.
THAT WRAPS IT UP! If you made it this far...good for you.
Thanks for reading,