Path Along The Seawall And Through Park Provides Plenty Of Scenery
Sydney is a great walking city and it’s a fantastic running city.
There are several open spaces and places where you can go for a run – through Hyde Park in the heart of the city and around Darling Harbor with it’s adjacent park and even more water and walkways behind it just to name two – but the best one is from the Opera House to and through the Botanical Gardens.
This is as picturesque and perfect as Sydney gets, for the path runs along the seawall, to a lookout and into the gardens. Start in Circular Quay and run alongside the ferries and their docks – and past several slow-moving tourists – and follow it to the Opera House.
Continue beyond the Opera House and you are on the edge of Sydney Harbor, and just follow the path along the seawall. The scenery is fantastic – especially if it’s a gorgeous, sunny day as it was when I did my run – and keeps getting better, even as you rise up through a park.
You will be alongside the water and suddenly you feel secluded from the city, even though the high-rises are still visible. You’ll even go by an an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The Aussies do love to swim!
Turn in the Botanical Gardens and head to the right; in about five minutes you’ll be back at the Opera House, where you can conclude your run Rocky-style, by running up the steps. That’s what I did, of course.
You can also end your run and walk through the Botanical Gardens. It’s a very pleasant, leisurely way to end the run and with all that shade, it’s the ideal place for a post-run cooldown.
The length is as long as you want it to be; you can keep going and do the distance of a marathon, or cut it as short as a 5K.
Either way, it’s highly recommended. Then afterward, do as I did and take a stroll along the seawall and through the park and gardens.
The Beach Blogger Goes Out Of Australia With A Real Bang
Sydney Harbor is booming, and the Opera House is to thank.
It’s been launching fireworks from the Botanical Gardens and as you might presume, it’s spectacular.
The shows happen evenings at 9 p.m., and last about 15 minutes. Great viewing spots are the Botanical Gardens, from the an overlook and the pedestrian walkway of the Harbor Bridge and anywhere along Sydney Harbor, which is also known as Circular Quay.
I’m actually not sure if this is a nightly event or whether it has something to do with a celebration of the Opera House’s 40th anniversary. I do know that a couple of nights earlier, I heard some booms from the Australian Pub hotel where I’m staying, in the Rocks and by the time I figured out it was fireworks and sprinted out the door, I had missed them.
Three nights later I heard the booms again and again acted like Usain Bolt and bolted out the door. I ran across the street and up four flights of stairs to the Harbor Bridge and caught part of the show. My best guess as to why they didn’t happen the previous two evenings is because it was raining.
And I look forward to seeing it again, which is my last night Down Under after a month in Australia. What a way to go out with a bang!
Odd Arwork Taints What Nature Provided: Gorgeous Cliffs Looking Out To The Sea
It’s a great marketing move, I have to admit.
Sculpture By The Sea, which runs for more than two weeks the end of each October at Sydney’s Bondi Beach, is indeed popular. Thousands of people check it out on a daily basis, stopping frequently to inspect, get up close and take pictures.
But for me, I would rather marvel at the artwork that nature has sculpted, and that is the gorgeous cliffs along the Australian coastline. The artwork – much of it odd and just plain strange – taints the landscape.
A stiletto on a rock. Colored “starfish” on a large and unusual coral formation. A multi-colored blanket kind of thing draped on the side of a cliff. A plain black cross on a rock looking onto a cove of aqua water crashing against rocks.
An on a hill, a stack of old mattresses stacked high (with a pair of legs at the bottom).
Well, that is artwork and much of artwork is funky. But why here? Why mess up the view of the cliffs!?
The only piece of artwork worth pausing for, if you ask me, was fantastic, however. it was a glass globe on a cliff overlooking that aqua blue sea at what is called Mackenzies Point. The scenery itself is stunning, enough to give you pause on its own, and this globe reflects it.
It actually reflects the landscape and the crashing waves upside down. I found myself staring it at for minutes without moving,, basically being suspended in time. They could leave that piece there forever.
The rest of it, well, if you want to see the cliffs in their natural beauty, then do so at some time other than late October thru mid-November in Bondi. Because those cliffs, and the walkway that takes you onto them, are indeed spectacular.
Easternmost Point In Australia A Spectacular Reward For Tourists
I have to hand it to my friend Lisa who suggested – no, insisted, really – that I walk to the Lighthouse while in Byron Bay, Australia.
Lisa has been to Oz many times and I certainly trust her opinions, and she was spot-on about this one. A day after being turned back because of a storm, I made it and it definitely made it worth the trip to Byron Bay. (Click here to read about that adventure!)
That was apparent even before I reached it but as I approached the final steps to the Lighthouse – after a few scenic missteps along the way – a huge cliff plunging to the ocean revealed itself. From there, it was one “wow!” moment after another.
It’s not the Lighthouse specifically that is so spectacular but the area all around it. And the Aussies have done an outstanding job of presenting it, and for making it tasteful and visitor friendly.
In America, there would be a tacky gift shop selling little Lighthouse replicas that light up, refrigerator magnets and t-shirts. But here, it’s a clean and thoroughly enjoyable structure. There are restrooms, a small cafe and even cottages. And with walking trails all around it, there’s much more to do than just gaze up at it or even go up in it. You could spend hours in the surrounding grounds (and indeed that is what most people do, in fact).
That’ because there are cliffs and beaches on either side of it.
There’s even a blowhole.
The Lighthouse was built in the early 1900s and is one of 400+ along Australia’s coast. Ships can actually see all of them lined up from a certain vantage point, and because each lighthouse gives off distinctive beams, a ship’s crew can easily determine their position.
I know this because I took the tour to the top of the Lighthouse. I didn’t necessarily intend to, but after going through the tiny museum at its base, I stepped through a door and was invited to join a group.
We climbed the 70 tight and narrow stars to the top, which was not the least bit taxing, and then went outside for a 360-degree walk around its perimeter. Sometimes, the guide said, you can see whales right up against the shore, as well as pods of dolphins.
Well my first impression, even without whales, was this: SPECTACULAR! This is, after all, the easternmost point in continental Australia. And because it’s on a point, the ocean is on both sides.
Did I already write spectacular?
After coming down from top of the Lighthouse, I followed a wooden path out toward an inviting looking piece of land where the ocean on each side of meets a narrow stretch of land. This put me almost at eye level of waves crashing into rocks on one side – including a blowhole of sorts where water was exploding over rocks and then into a little pool – and Wategos Beach on the other.
It was here that I pulled out the sandwich I had packed and had my lunch. It was so incredible I never wanted to leave. I even forgot about a sign warning us that a snake had been seen on the path and that’s saying something in Australia, considering the country has the 10 most venomous snakes in the world.
Eventually I did depart, of course, and out of a “hey I wonder where this goes” curiosity, kept following the wooden path. This, I soon realized, was the third way to the Lighthouse. It hugs the coast, drops down at Wategos Beach, then rises again to the boat ramp at The Pass where I had my lunch the previous day. I even saw my lunch companion, the wimpy turkey that kept hopping up on the picnic table. From there, I took the boardwalk with its sweeping view of Byron Bay back to town.
Getting to the Lighthouse is accomplished in any any number of scenic ways on foot:, a beach path, the road and through a tropical rainforest, of all things. And I took them all. That was less by design and more by trial and error but they all proved to be worthwhile.
Not knowing any better, I walked up the road – the previous day, I had taken the sand from town to Wategos Beach, and a walkway back down behind Clarke’s Beach at the far end of Byron Bay – and was rewarded when I followed a sign to Wategos Beach with a spectacular view overlooking the area.
I then returned to the road and followed the sign to the Lighthouse.
But before getting there, I saw a sign that said “Captain Cook’s Lookout, 1 km” by a path and thought “well that sure sounds interesting” and took off in pursuit of it. I walked up and down and around through a forest of trees, hearing but never seeing the ocean. After some time, I emerged in a clearing only to find myself back at Clark’s Beach! This, I later realized, is the path through rainforest.
So back up the road I trudged again. No mind, tho; I could always use the exercise. Besides, I was back at the Lighthouse in less than 15 minutes.
The walk to the Lighthouse takes about an hour without scenic diversions, which means it could take twice that long. The entire adventure could take three, four, even five hours, depending on how long one lingers.
Here’s the route I suggest: Walk the beach from Byron Bay’s town and then take one of the access points behind the campground to the car park at Clarke’s Beach. Cross the road (there are apartments on the corner) and go up the small street. That will put you in the rainforest. This will spit you out at the base of the road to the Lighthouse.
Then take the wooden walkway back to town.
I trust you will enjoy this as much as did I; it’s certainly a must-do activity in Byron Bay.
The Beach Blogger Is Turned Back By An Australian Thunderstorm
The walk to the Byron Bay Lighthouse will have to wait a day. Dang it.
This is one of the “must do” activities here in this laid-back Australian coastal town. It’s a route that takes you by the bay, through a forest and eventually to the easternmost point on the Australian continent. There are pods of dolphins on one side of the cliff and whales on the other.
The walk takes either one or two hours – I’ve heard both – from town. My plan was to pack a sandwich in the backpack, stop for lunch at a scenic spot of my choosing and then soak in the scenery at the Lighthouse.
“Better not get up there too late,” said the cheery chap at the Byron Bay tourism office. “A thunderstorm is coming in and you don’t want to be up there when it hits.”
He said there are two paths to take, one along the beach and then up to the Lighthouse, and another parallel to the beach. By the way, I recommend the latter; it has elevated sweeping views of the bay that are spectacular.
Still, I went along the beach and the wind was already blowing hard. So strong, in fact, that the sand was stinging my legs. On a calm day, this would be a gorgeous walk but on this day it was a keep-the-head-down struggle.
Eventually, I made it to the point, at which point I turned right as instructed up a boat launch ramp. By this time, clouds and a dark sky had overwhelmed the sunshine. The area has a little park with picnic tables so I sat down to have my sandwich.
I was joined by a bold bird that kept hopping up on the table. My only defense was to swat at it with my water bottle. I’m not sure what kind of bird it was, but it looked like an ugly, wimpish turkey.
Pressed by the turkey wanna-be and darkening skies, I did not linger. The winds has really picked up and it looked as if the sky would let loose at any moment. Turning back was my only option. I estimated I was halfway to the Lighthouse.
I took the path rather than the beach. It hugs a residential area and as I walked, I was scouting out places that I could sprint to for shelter if I suddenly got caught in a downpour. I had a hat with me but not my waterproof fleece.
As the conditions worsened, I quickened my pace but here’s the odd thing: I was the only person who seemed to realize that we were within minutes – perhaps moments – of getting drenched. There were not a lot of people out, but those that were strolled around as if it were a sunny, pleasant afternoon. One guy was even in a hammock – a hammock! – and a group was actually heading out to the beach rather than away from it.
Those Aussies shire don’t seem to worry about much. Then again, maybe us Yanks just worry about too much.
Me, I was starting to sweat thinking I would be caught out in the middle of nowhere in a thunderstorm with no cover. The sky was rumbling and I knew I need to get back quickly. It has taken me perhaps half an hour to walk the beach, so I knew I had at least that long on the return.
Plus, I had left a shirt hanging outside at the hotel and it needed rescuing.
Finally, after I’m not sure how long, I saw some familiar buildings and knew I was back at the edge of town. One of the buildings, by the way, is a little cafe in a small parking lot overlooking the beach called Fish Heads. That may be an acceptable name for a restaurant in Australia, and it certainly would be in Scandinavia, but in America the place would be closed in a week.
Just as I made it back to my room – and rescued my shirt – I saw a strike of lightening out the window that was so bright it started me. I had made it back – barely – safe and dry. A few minutes later the skies opened up and I settled in for an afternoon kip (Australian for nap).
Hopefully, I’ll give it a go the next day and will see Byron Bay, the Lighthouse and the walk to the Lighthouse in all their full gorgeous glory.
Casual Fiip-Flop Mentality Sets The Mood For Australia’s Gorgeous Coast
I found the bar before I found a room.
That was my introduction to Byron Bay, Australia.
And so far, so good!
I walked into The Railway Friendly Bar fresh off the motor coach bus that I took here from Surfer’s Paradise. I was expecting to waltz into the tourist office – as an American journalist, I had contacted them previously – and walk out with accommodations and a plan for seeing this scenic place the next three days.
However, apparently I failed to account for the time change from the Goldie to here and the tourist office was closed when I arrived. Right behind the closed tourist office, however. was a lively indoor/outdoor bar. So I went in to have an Aussie beer, figuring that would be a good place to contemplate matters and that somebody in there would surely be cable to recommend accommodations.
And so it was; the bartender suggested a place called Nomad’s. The name was familiar because a friend in Brisbane had mentioned it to me, and indeed I secured a room for my first two days.
Nomads is a very friendly place. But it’s also like a college dorm, and I’m not in college anymore. Regardless, it’s clean and I have a private room rather than a 6-person bunk.
It’s rather aggressively priced, or so I thought, at $100 a night (this is the end of October, just as summer is starting; shared room start at $32/night); $50 would be more like it. But later, when I strolled through town and poked my head into a motel across from the beach – the kind of small place that is so prevalent at every American beach town – and was quoted a price of $165, I suddenly was not feeling so bad about the price of Nomad’s.
Byron Bay, on first inspection, is not a dirt-cheap place to stay despite its backpacker background.
That being said, the bay is big and wide and the walk to the Lighthouse is a “must do” activity. It all looks so exiting!
By fate, perhaps, after a walkabout in Byron Bay. I would up back at The Railway. It was evening by this time, the place was lively and a guy with a guitar was singing classic American songs.
The place is perfect. Beers are a satisfying $5.80 and there are picnic tables where you can join anyone and everyone is in sandals (or, as they call them here, thongs). After a few beers – and meeting a couple of blonde girls from Holland – I realized that The Railway and Byron Bay could be a very dangerous place for me.
In fact, tsuper laid-back attitude and flip-flop mentality may make it very difficult to ever leave this place.
Miss V8 Supercars & Concerts Highlight A Busy Weekend
The Miss V8 Supercars girls are here and, well, is there anything else?
Oh by all means yes! There’s two concerts – right on the beach – on successive nights, one of the four judging rounds of the Miss V8 Supercars on a pedestrian plaza and oh yeah, race cars.
It’s the V8 Superfest and the Armor All Gold Coast 600, a high-powered party if ever there was one, in Surfer’s Paradise, Australia. The dates are Oct. 24-27.
Activities are happening all week and on Thursday night, the first public round of judging to determine the new Miss V8 Supercars takes place at the Cavill Mall Stage (f some of those sort-of predicted thunderstorms appear, the alternative venue will be the Surfer’s Paradise Beergarden bar just above the pedestrian plaza).
This event takes place from 7-8 p.m., and the night is full of other race-related activities including car displays, bikes, karts and music. This is a free event.
On Friday night, the beach parties start with the Gym Class Heroes, Spiderball, Havana Brown and Bomb’s Away, right on Surfer’s Paradise Beach, just down from the famous Paradise Beach sign.
On Saturday, the Miss V8 Supercars finals take place from 6-6:30, and this is followed by a concert featuring headliner electro-pop duo The PResets, supported by Aussie rockers Grinspoon, plus The STafford Brothers and DJ Brooke Evers. This is a ticketed event for $20, tho the first 1,000 people who have a race ticket are admitted free.
Just up the coast about 2km is the actual race, the Gold Coast 600.