We wanted to explore the Rocks area, and as we left the station we were excited to see the huge Carnival Spirit cruise ship docked at Circular Quay where there is a passenger terminal.
The Rocks is a historic neighbourhood under the Sydney Harbour bridge, that was established shortly after the formation of the colony in 1788 and is very popular with locals and tourists. It has some of Sydney's oldest pubs, old cottages, open-air markets on the weekend with around 100 stalls, and lots of upscale restaurants with harbour views.
We strolled around the area admiring the old cottages, that were used by the workers when the bridge was being built. During the 1920's several hundred buildings were demolished when the Harbour bridge was under construction.
Luckily some of these cottages are still standing due to public protest in the 1970's that brought about the area's preservation, as more than once the area was threatened with demolition to give way to high rise development. Some of the cottages now house art galleries, gift shops or small eateries.
|Old cottages, Courtyard of one of the buildings with an open air bar, chairs and huge tv, Open air markets|
|Old cottages turned into small restaurants, under the Sydney bridge, open air markets|
Called "First Impressions", this sandstone monument was designed and sculpted by Bud Dumas in 1979 and honours the soldiers, the settlers and the convicts that that arrived from England aboard the First Fleet in 1788 and that started the colony in New South Wales.
|"First Impressions" monument - Soldiers, settlers and convicts|
The Rocks Discovery Museum in Kendall Lane is worth a visit. Entry is free and the museum is opened daily from 10am to 5pm, bringing us the history of the Rocks from the pre-European days of the Gadigal tribe until the present.
As I made my way out of the Museum, there was an Asian couple having their wedding photos taken in front of a restaurant in the laneway.
|Rocks Museum at the end of the lane, couple taking wedding photos, and artifacts from the Museum|
At the end of Argyle street is a tunnel - Argyle Cut - that cut through the sandstone cliffs enclosing the Rocks district and opening access to Millers Point and Darling Harbour. An impressive engineering feat started in 1843 with convicts chipping away at the sandstone with picks. Due to the enormity of the work it was later suspended and resumed in 1859 with the use of explosives and council labour.
Before the tunnel, The Rocks was separated by a steep rocky ridge and people had to go a long way to cross from east to west side of the community.
Rubble from the tunnel was used in the construction of many of The Rocks stone buildings and the walls of Circular Quay.
|The Argyle Cut Tunnel|
Lunch was eaten at the Caminetto Italian Restaurant, where we sat in the cool courtyard that is next to a rock wall.
I wanted to climb the bridge, just to go to street level where I would have a great view, not really do the crazy bridge climb! My husband decided to stay at the quay with a cup of coffee just enjoying the comings and goings on the water.
Following the map I came across the entry to the bridge stairs and followed a whole lot of people going up.
|Entry to bridge stair, various views of the bridge at street level and climbers on top of the bridge (bottom right)|
I'm glad I climbed the bridge to the street level walkway (on the eastern side, there is a cycleway on the western side), as the views over the harbour are amazing!
There is a lookout in one of the pylons supporting the bridge's 504mt arch, but admission costs $15.
The walk across takes about half an hour or less depending on how many times you stop for photos, lol.
Once you reach the other side there is another set of steps that will lead you to nearby Milson's point railway station where you can either catch a train or a ferry to Circular Quay again.
|My husband sitting (blue t-shirt) near the black wall, amazing views from the bridge walkway|
|Sydney views from the bridge walkway|
I didn't go down the other side, but rather turned around and met up with my husband by the stairs by the Museum of Contemporary Art. I didn't get to visit it as it was closing (5pm) by the time I arrived.
The cruise ship was also about to depart , sounding it's horn, and people were gathering near the quay to see it sail away. The Carnival Spirit has some impressive statistics - it carries 2124 passengers, has a crew of 961, a length of 292 mt and cost US$375 million to build.
|Carnival Spirit at Circular Quay, Sydney|
Quite exciting to see this huge ship manoeuvre it's way out the quay while other vessels crossed the bay, until it disappeared behind the Opera House.
|Carnival Spirit departing Circular Quay in Sydney|
After it disappeared from sight we walked to Circular Quay train station where I would get the train to the Domestic Airport.
Just outside the station a couple of buskers performed their music or like the one in the photo did some magic.
My husband got me the Opal card for use on Sydney public transport which makes it easier to just tag on and off. Train fares are slightly cheaper if you use the card as well, but because the airport station is not Government owned but was built by private enterprise there is a very high airport access fee of $14,30.
|The magician outside Circular Quay station, Circular Quay harbour|
On arrival at the airport I had almost two hours to wait, so strolled around the shops for a while and then sat down reading a magazine I bought.
The Qantas flight home was comfortable and I watched two movies - "Victoria and Abdul" and "Wilson", both released in 2017.
I loved the historical film Victoria and Abdul, but didn't care much for Wilson, not much of a fan of the main actor, Woody Harrelson, but there wasn't anything else that I felt like watching...
The flight was shortened by about 25 minutes which meant I arrived home by taxi close to midnight, the time when I should have been landing, which was great.
|Sydney Airport, flying take-off over Sydney and over the clouds|
And back to earth.....Perth!