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Three Tours of Sydney

Open-top bus tours of Sydney and Bondi Beach plus a cruise of the Harbour

all seasons in one day 24 °C
View 2013 Round the World Trip on FrancisRTW's travel map.

With only a limited amount of time in Sydney (and having got the Blue Mountains out of the way), I signed up for 2 days of touring Sydney and Bondi Beach by bus followed by a cruise of Sydney Harbour. Unfortunately for the open-top bus tour of Sydney it was raining, not only making the top deck seats wet but also weighing down the branches of the trees causing them to sweep the top of the bus! Sometimes when it rained we braved the weather, sometimes we dived downstairs for cover.

Open-top double-decker bus tour of Sydney - in the rain!

Open-top double-decker bus tour of Sydney - in the rain!

The tour started from the currently being restored Sydney Town Hall just across the road from the very ornate Queen Victoria Building, built in 1898 and full of speciality shops. The first place of note awe passed as we got underway was Scruffy Murphys, an Irish Bar on the edge of Chinatown. When I returned later in the evening it turned out to be a very friendly but basic rough local with good Guinness and lots of impromptu Irish singing and dancing!

Sydney Town Hall being restored

Sydney Town Hall being restored


Inside the Queen Victoria Building on George Street

Inside the Queen Victoria Building on George Street


Scruffy Murphys - the most famous Irish Bar in Sydney

Scruffy Murphys - the most famous Irish Bar in Sydney

Hyde Park (named after the famous park of the same name in London) is the oldest public parkland in Australia and marks the eastern boundary of Sydney's Central Business District (CBD). The focal point of the park is the Archibald Fountain overlooking the Roman Catholic St Marys Cathedral. The spine of the park is a pretty impressive looking avenue of fig trees.

The Archibald Fountain in Hyde Park in Sydney

The Archibald Fountain in Hyde Park in Sydney


St Marys RC Cathedral with the Archibald Fountain in Hyde Park in the foreground

St Marys RC Cathedral with the Archibald Fountain in Hyde Park in the foreground


St Marys RC Cathedral (note the fleet of vintage Rolls-Royce cars outside awaiting a wedding party!)

St Marys RC Cathedral (note the fleet of vintage Rolls-Royce cars outside awaiting a wedding party!)


The fig tree lined avenue through the centre of Hyde Park in Sydney

The fig tree lined avenue through the centre of Hyde Park in Sydney

On the south side of Hyde Park is the ANZAC War Memorial and Lake of Reflections. The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) landed on Gallipoli on the 25th April 1915 during World War I and the day has been remembered as ANZAC Day in both countries ever since. Nearby there is a statue of Captain Cook to commemorate his discovery of the east coast of Australia in 1770 and there are also very good views of the 1,014 foot (309 metre) high Sydney Tower Eye amongst the city's skyline.

The ANZAC Memorial and Lake of Reflections in Hyde Park

The ANZAC Memorial and Lake of Reflections in Hyde Park


Inside the ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park

Inside the ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park


Captain Cook's Statue in Hyde Park with the Sydney Tower Eye  amongst the skyline in the background

Captain Cook's Statue in Hyde Park with the Sydney Tower Eye amongst the skyline in the background

Heading east out of the CBD we passed through Kings Cross, Sydney's red light district. It was originally named Queens Cross in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897 but nearly everyone got it confused with Queens Square on Kings Street so it got renamed. Dominating the area is the iconic 42 feet (13 metre) high Coca Cola Billboard sign originally erected in 1974, it's apparently the largest billboard sign in the Southern Hemisphere but isn't heritage-listed as most people assume. Kings Cross itself surprised me with how narrow its tree lined streets were although as expected nearly every second building seemed to be a strip-club or bar touting for business!

The Coca Cola Sign at Kings Cross, the largest billboard in the Southern Hemisphere

The Coca Cola Sign at Kings Cross, the largest billboard in the Southern Hemisphere


Darlinghurst Road, Kings Cross - Sydney's Red Light District

Darlinghurst Road, Kings Cross - Sydney's Red Light District

Continuing north towards the Harbour, we passed the main east coast base of the Royal Australian Navy on the east side of Woolloomooloo Bay and also past a peculiar piece of street art of a car crushed by a large rock in the middle of the roundabout. We then caught our first sight of the two big Sydney iconic landmarks of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge although I was to get a much better view of both of these while on the Harbour Cruise the following afternoon.

HMAS Newcastle and HMAS Sydney moored up at the Naval Base on Woolloomooloo Bay

HMAS Newcastle and HMAS Sydney moored up at the Naval Base on Woolloomooloo Bay


Street art in Sydney

Street art in Sydney


The Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge

The Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge

Close by where the Hyde Park Barracks, built with convict labour in 1819 and now a world heritage site. Between 1819 and 1850 over 50,000 convicts passed through these barracks on their arrival in Australia, including potentially one of my ancestors (I found 2 convicts sharing my surname amongst the database of former inmates!). I also found the gallery on the Irish orphan women particularly interesting because of it potential relevance to my own family history. In the walls of the barracks was the An Gorta Mar, Australia's national memorial to the Irish Famine of 1845 to 1852.

Sydney's Hyde Park Barracks where 50,000 convicts were landed between 1819 and 1850

Sydney's Hyde Park Barracks where 50,000 convicts were landed between 1819 and 1850


Convict uniform on display in Sydney's Hyde Park Barracks

Convict uniform on display in Sydney's Hyde Park Barracks


Convict hammocks at the Hyde Park Barracks

Convict hammocks at the Hyde Park Barracks


The Court Room at the Hyde Park Barracks

The Court Room at the Hyde Park Barracks


An Gorta Mor - Australia's National Memorial to the Irish Famine

An Gorta Mor - Australia's National Memorial to the Irish Famine

Moving back towards the city centre is the Circular Quay, Built by convict labour in the 1850s this was the original main port for Sydney. Today it is mega busy with tourists boarding ferries going to all the different parts of the harbour as well as being where the big cruise ships (such as the "Carnival Spirit" that arrived while I was there) moor up when they are in town.

The Circular Quay from the Sydney Opera House

The Circular Quay from the Sydney Opera House


The view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from the Circular Quay

The view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from the Circular Quay


Aboriginal Cultural Performers on the Circular Quay

Aboriginal Cultural Performers on the Circular Quay

By the following morning the weather had returned to normal for Sydney without a cloud in the sky so I was able to take the open-top bus tour to Bondi Beach, 4 miles (7 kilometres) to the east of the city and one of the most famous beaches in the world. After enjoying a stroll along the beach for a couple of hours I caught the bus back to Sydney, catching fleeting glimpses of the city views that are the reason why this area has some of the most expensive real estate in the country.

My first view of Bondi Beach

My first view of Bondi Beach

The Lifeguard Lookout and Pavilion on Bondi Beach

The Lifeguard Lookout and Pavilion on Bondi Beach


Me by the Lifeguard Lookout on Bondi Beach

Me by the Lifeguard Lookout on Bondi Beach

Lifeguards on duty on Bondi Beach

Lifeguards on duty on Bondi Beach


Millionaires Row view of Sydney on the way back from Bondi

Millionaires Row view of Sydney on the way back from Bondi

Once back in Sydney I boarded a catermaran in the Circular Quay to do the Sydney Harbour Cruise. The first stop was Fort Denison, a martello fort about kilometre offshore built in the mid 19th century to protect Sydney. From there we sailed onwards towards the ocean past the net-protected Sharks Beach in Vaucluse before reaching the affluent suburb of Watsons Bay.

Sydney's Circular Quay

Sydney's Circular Quay


Fort Denison in the middle of Sydney Harbour

Fort Denison in the middle of Sydney Harbour


Shark Beach protected by nets

Shark Beach protected by nets


Watson Bay

Watson Bay

Watsons Bay was the furthest we travelled east towards the open ocean before we turned around. The views of Sydney, the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge as we made our way back were stunning.

Looking beyond Watson Bay towards the Ocean

Looking beyond Watson Bay towards the Ocean


Looking towards Sydney on the way back from Watson Bay

Looking towards Sydney on the way back from Watson Bay


The replica of HMS Endeavour beneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge

The replica of HMS Endeavour beneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge


Me sailing past the Sydney Opera House

Me sailing past the Sydney Opera House


The 'Carnival Spirit' Cruise Ship berthed at the Circular Quay next to the Sydney Opera House

The 'Carnival Spirit' Cruise Ship berthed at the Circular Quay next to the Sydney Opera House

After brief stops at Taronga Zoo and the Circular Quay we passed under the Harbour Bridge and turned into Darling Harbour opened in 1988. The National Maritime Museum with its impressive fleet of historical ships (including a replica of Captain Cook's HMS Endeavour) occupies the west side of the harbour while the Sydney Aquarium, Madame Tussaud's and more tourist boat jetties occupies the east side. Sydney also has a monorail which runs across Pyrmont Bridge at the bottom of Darling Harbour but this was due to close in June 2013 so I was probably one of the last to ride on it.

Replica of Captain Cook's HMS Endevour in Darling Harbour

Replica of Captain Cook's HMS Endevour in Darling Harbour


Darling Harbour and the fleet of historical ships of the National Maritime Museum from the Pyrmont Bridge

Darling Harbour and the fleet of historical ships of the National Maritime Museum from the Pyrmont Bridge

The Sydney Monorail coming into its Darling Harbour Station on Pyrmont Bridge

The Sydney Monorail coming into its Darling Harbour Station on Pyrmont Bridge


Pyrmont Bridge crossing Darling Harbour

Pyrmont Bridge crossing Darling Harbour

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches bridges churches buildings trains sydney museums beer boat forts cruise_ships harbours city tour videos prisons monorail aborigine solo irish_famine warships war_memorials opera_houses Comments (0)

Cape May and the South Jersey Shore

Washington Crossing and Cape May then the playgrounds of Wildwood and Atlantic City

sunny 29 °C
View 2013 Round the World Trip on FrancisRTW's travel map.

After experiencing the big city bustle of New York we drove south and passed over the Delaware River on a steel truss bridge (very common on the US East Coast) at Washington Crossing.

The memorial on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River at Washington Crossing

The memorial on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River at Washington Crossing


Crossing the steel truss bridge (built in 1904) over the Delaware River at Washington Crossing

Crossing the steel truss bridge (built in 1904) over the Delaware River at Washington Crossing

Washington's Crossing (or Taylorsville as it was called then) was the site on Christmas Day 1776 of George Washington's famed crossing of the ice flow laden Delaware River during the American War of Independence. The following morning he led his army on a successful attack on the Hessian garrison six miles to the south east at Trenton. Prior to this the American Continental Army had suffered a series of defeats at the hands of the British and there were serious doubts whether it would survive the winter as a fighting force.

A monument recreating Washington's crossing of the Delaware River

A monument recreating Washington's crossing of the Delaware River


Looking back at McConkey's Ferry Inn and the truss bridge on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River at Washington Crossing

Looking back at McConkey's Ferry Inn and the truss bridge on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River at Washington Crossing


Other later historic buildings (and a nice bike!) at Washington Crossing

Other later historic buildings (and a nice bike!) at Washington Crossing

New Jersey's Atlantic Coast is more commonly referred to as the Jersey Shore and is a popular 217 mile (349 kilometre) long holiday riviera, traditionally with New Yorkers to the north and Philadelphians to the south (for Brits think of somewhere like Blackpool and the Sussex Coast and you wont be far wrong!). The plan for the day was to visit the southern part often referred to as the Southern Shore and Atlantic City.

Founded in 1620, Cape May is at the southern tip of New Jersey where Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean and is the only place in the state where the sun both rises and sets over water. Famed for its historic Victorian houses, Philadelphians began holidaying at Cape May in the mid 18th century and it's recognized as the USA's oldest seaside resort.

Downtown Cape May

Downtown Cape May


Victorian houses leading down to the beach at Cape May

Victorian houses leading down to the beach at Cape May

The Cape May Fire Department built a cute colonial style museum to permanently house for its pride and joy a 1928 American Lafrance fire engine but unfortunately it wasn't there the day we visited.

Cape May Fire Department Museum

Cape May Fire Department Museum


Inside the Fire Department Museum - minus its 1928 American Lafrance fire engine <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_sad.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':(' title='' />

Inside the Fire Department Museum - minus its 1928 American Lafrance fire engine :(

Located at the tip of Cape May is the Lighthouse built in in 1859, it is 157 feet (48 metres) high with 217 steps to the top. On a clear day it has views to Wildwood to the north and Cape Henlopen a 17 mile (27 kilometre) ferry ride west across the bay in the US State of Delaware.

The Cape May Lighthouse

The Cape May Lighthouse


The final steps up to the Lighthouse's rotating lens

The final steps up to the Lighthouse's rotating lens

Cape May is also a well known bird migration spot and beside the car park by the Lighthouse there are a couple of class rooms and a row of five bright white bird houses perched about 15 feet above the ground and obviously very popular with the energetic Purple Martins that nest in them. On the beach near by is a World War II Bunker constructed in 1942 to house four 155mm coast artillery guns; when built it was on high ground 900 feet from the ocean covered in grass sod but since then coastal erosion has meant it is now on the beach and two 6" gun turrets a bit further out to sea have disappeared completely.

Purple Martin nesting boxes at Cape May

Purple Martin nesting boxes at Cape May


The view east from the Lighthouse with the WWII Gun Emplacement on the beach

The view east from the Lighthouse with the WWII Gun Emplacement on the beach


The WWII Gun Emplacement on the beach at Cape May

The WWII Gun Emplacement on the beach at Cape May

Carrying on with the World War II theme, close by there is Fire Control Tower No. 23; built in 1942 it was one of 15 lookout towers constructed as part of the coastal defence of Delaware Bay known as Fort Miles. The fort was never completed as by 1943 advances in amphibious warfare had made them obsolete. From the top of the tower looking west across Delaware Bay can be seen the wreck of SS Atlantus, the most famous of a dozen concrete liberty ships built in 1918 at the end of World War I. She was used to bring back American soldiers from France and then to transport coal in New England. The intention had been to use the SS Atlantus and a couple of sister ships as a dock for the Delaware Bay Ferry but she ran aground during a storm in 1926 and nobody was able to free her.

WWII Lookout Tower at Cape May

WWII Lookout Tower at Cape May


The wreck of the SS Atlantus (made from concrete) from the WWII Lookout Tower

The wreck of the SS Atlantus (made from concrete) from the WWII Lookout Tower

Having done the history and wildlife at Cape May we then drove up the southern Jersey Shore to the coastal resort of Wildwood with its famous Boardwalk originally built in 1890 following the success of the original boardwalk built a few years earlier in Atlantic City just up the coast. A "boardwalk" is a raised wooden walkway running parallel to the beach originally conceived as a way of preventing sand being trampled through hotel lobbies but then became magnets for holiday goers and shops in their own right.

Trams running along the Wildwood Boardwalk

Trams running along the Wildwood Boardwalk


Someone dressed up as a Yogurt Carton on the Wildwood Boardwalk

Someone dressed up as a Yogurt Carton on the Wildwood Boardwalk


Police cart outside an amusement arcade on the Wildwood Boardwalk

Police cart outside an amusement arcade on the Wildwood Boardwalk

The Boardwalk at Wildwood is 1.8 miles (2.9 kilometres) long and lined with amusement arcades, food outlets and gift shops with 1950s neon light lit "Doo-Wop" style motels just behind (several of which are now heritage-listed). There was also a classic style roller coaster on the beach at Wildwood called "The Great White" although at the time of our visit it was closed for refurbishment.

50's style burger restaurant on the Wildwood Boardwalk

50's style burger restaurant on the Wildwood Boardwalk


One of many t-shirt shops along the Boardwalk at Wildwood

One of many t-shirt shops along the Boardwalk at Wildwood


The 'Great White' classic style rollercoaster on the beach at Wildwood

The 'Great White' classic style rollercoaster on the beach at Wildwood

The big pull however are the three large amusement piers along the Boardwalk owned by the Morley family. These are incredibly popular, especially with teenagers who can buy day long passes giving them unlimited access to the amusement park rides and the two waterparks with their large water slides.

Entrance to Morey's 'Mariner's Landing' Amusement Pier at Wildwood

Entrance to Morey's 'Mariner's Landing' Amusement Pier at Wildwood


A blend of old and new amusements on the Mariner's Landing Pier

A blend of old and new amusements on the Mariner's Landing Pier


The Ghost Ship Ride on the Mariner's Landing Amusement Pier at Wildwood

The Ghost Ship Ride on the Mariner's Landing Amusement Pier at Wildwood


The waterslide at the Raging Waters Waterpark at the end of the Mariner's Landing Pier at Wildwood

The waterslide at the Raging Waters Waterpark at the end of the Mariner's Landing Pier at Wildwood

About an hour north along the coast is Atlantic City, the US East Coast's answer to Las Vegas. The city boomed as a holiday and gambling resort in the early 1900s because of its excellent rail links to Philadelphia along with some innovative marketing ploys from its hotel entrepreneurs.

The Expressway sweeping into Atlantic City beside Lakes Bay

The Expressway sweeping into Atlantic City beside Lakes Bay


Casinos clustered next to each other as we approach downtown Atlantic City

Casinos clustered next to each other as we approach downtown Atlantic City

Atlantic City declined after WWII with the advent of cheap jet flights to places such as Miami and the Bahamas but then attempted to revitalise itself by legalising casino gambling. Although on an overall smaller scale to Las Vegas, Atlantic City now has about a dozen mega large combined casino, entertainment and hotel themed 'resorts'.

The Golden Nugget (until recently the 'Trump Castle' ) hotel, casino and marina in Atlantic City

The Golden Nugget (until recently the 'Trump Castle' ) hotel, casino and marina in Atlantic City


Harrah's flagship hotel and casino in Atlantic City

Harrah's flagship hotel and casino in Atlantic City


Tropicana Casino and Resort Atlantic City

Tropicana Casino and Resort Atlantic City

In addition to having the first seaside boardwalk in 1870, Atlantic City has been the home (apart from 2006-2012 in Las Vegas) of the Miss America beauty pageant since it was founded in 1920 and was the inspiration for the original Monopoly Board Game in 1935 (the London version popular in the Commonwealth appeared slightly later).

View along Pacific Avenue in Atlantic City

View along Pacific Avenue in Atlantic City


the Roman facade of Caesars Atlantic City

the Roman facade of Caesars Atlantic City


Bally's Wild West Casino in Atlantic City

Bally's Wild West Casino in Atlantic City

An amusing billboard in Atlantic City advertising a dating agency website

An amusing billboard in Atlantic City advertising a dating agency website

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in USA Tagged beaches bridges birds boats lighthouses forts theme_parks war_memorials us_east_coast Comments (0)

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