I had originally set out to write briefly about our recent trip to Australia, but after the reflection I did during the holiday, my post from last week about ‘What I learned from Failing as an Expat‘ was the slightly unexpected result. There’s not much else to say after that, so here’s just a few pics and a few of my observations about our trip.

First off was Brisbane for Baby Arabian Notes to meet the grandparents. We stayed at the Meriton Serviced apartments on Herschel Street as we wanted to be right in the city with good transport access etc so it was perfect. And the views across the city from the apartment were pretty amazing!

There’s not too much else to say about the Brisbane part of our trip as we spent most of it enjoying our time with family, meandering around our old haunts and enjoying the weather.

South Bank

Next stop was Sydney, as despite having lived in the Australia I had never been to Sydney!

Of course it was pretty spectacular. It’s certainly a beautiful city with a great situation right on the harbour.

What was especially lovely was the Botanical Gardens with so much open space and public footpaths right next to the water.

Of course there’s plenty of people around, tourists, but also locals out for a stroll, a run or just relaxing in the park on the grass. It was great to see outdoor living again, it’s something you don’t see enough of in the UAE.

Mrs Macquarie’s seat (and random tourist!)

One of the other things we really enjoyed was getting around by ferry. It’s always lovely to see a city from the water and Sydney has some spectacular views from this angle! We didn’t bother with a tourist boat trip, instead we just used the local ferries to get everywhere we wanted to go!

One of the things that surprised me about the city was actually the amount of history there. With Australia being such a new country (though not nearly as new as the UAE!), it’s not something that you hear a lot about in association with the country. And whilst the story of the beginnings of the country with Captain Cook arriving in Botany Bay, then the convict ships and following settlers is very well-known, I hadn’t really expected to see so many well-preserved historical and architectural sites.

Fort Denison

Fort Denison sits in the middle of Sydney harbour and despite being a tiny island, it has still managed to serve as a penal site and military fortress since 1788.

Cadman’s Cottage

There’s also Cadman’s Cottage that was originally built to house governmental coxswains and is the oldest surviving residential building in Sydney, built in 1816.

Among others too, there’s The Barracks which is one of the most significant convict sites in the world. Having been designed in 1818, it housed hundreds of convicts, as well as single female immigrants until it’s closure in 1848.

Imagine sleeping in these crowded conditions on one of these hammocks each night! Though I suppose it was luxury compared to the conditions on the ships that brought them to Australia!

But as well as designated museums and historical sites, one of the things that surprised me was how much architecture from the late 1800s and early 1900s still exists, and blends in amongst the modern skyscrapers of the city. If you took the time to look around, almost every street we walked along in the centre of the city had a good number of beautiful old facades to see.

And of course, Australian life is synonymous with beaches, so we had to go and spend some time around a few of those!

I really enjoyed Manly due to the fact we could get there by ferry from the central Circular Quay. And as well as an impressive beach it just had a nice sort of village atmosphere – as well as a lot of fabulous old shop fronts and buildings.

One of the other things that struck me was the café culture. I know that Australians are pretty serious about their coffee, but it’s easy to forget how lovely this aspect of life can be. Certainly in Abu Dhabi we are not spoiled with the same type of quirky, buzzing, independent coffee shops. It’s something I’d really like to see done well in Abu Dhabi – I can only hope…

And of course you can’t go to Sydney and not go and have even just a little peek at what is quite possibly the most famous beach in the world, Bondi!

Bondi Beach

I really rather enjoyed Coogee Beach though, with its historical ocean baths built into the rocks. What can I say, I love a bit of history! :D

Coogee Beach

Pretty much wherever you go in Sydney there are beautiful views to be found and I can certainly see the appeal of living in a city based around so much water like this!

Darling Harbour

Of course one of the other amazing things about the country is the animals and wildlife and we enjoyed a visit to Sydney Wildlife Zoo at Darling Harbour. We couldn’t go all that way and not introduce some of the real locals to Baby Arabian Notes! :)

I really enjoyed our time in Sydney, it’s a great place with so much to do! We took our time meandering about and enjoying the water and open parks and spaces for the baby to run around and although there was a lot more I’d liked to have seen, it was nice to have time to relax. Still, with family in the country it certainly won’t be our last trip, so there’s always next time!