My First Visitor in Australia – Week 1

My mom is easily the most important person in my life. I’m an only child and have always been close to my momma. She is my biggest supporter and I’m so grateful for her every day. That being said being so far away from her while in Australia and traveling around has been tough and that’s mostly to do with the time difference. I say mostly because there’s so much I miss about not seeing her, but the time difference makes even the conversations we do have tricky. It made sense that my first visitor to Australia would be my mom. I was so excited for her arrival. I really wanted to show her the country I fell in love with and maybe she would see the reason for my obsession firsthand. That at least would be the best-case scenario at the end of her trip.

Planning for her three-week trip was challenging. I wanted to show her everything and go everywhere whilst not overdoing it and still relaxing. My mom kept saying she would be happy just by the beach, but there’s so much more to see in Australia. It was stressful and took a lot of planning, but we narrowed our itinerary down to get a little bit of everything without running around like crazy. The first week would be focused on Sydney and surrounding areas. 

Day 1 – Mom arrives on the 3rd, but she flew out of the US on the 1st (a long time traveling) so we were having a chill day. We dropped her bags off at the hotel and went to grab some brunch. Avo toast #1 check. We walk around the surrounding area of Darling Harbour not venturing too much, but we do stop for a passionfruit sorbet at Messina. That night we go to the hotel’s happy hour and later order in Thai via DoorDash. 

Day 2 – have a bit of a sleep in thanks to the black out curtains in the room and then have breakfast (avo quinoa bowl) at a restaurant in Darling Harbour. Today we are taking on the Costal Walk from Coogee to Bondi. We take it at a very leisurely pace and really take in everything along the way. When we finally made it to Bondi we treated ourselves to a meal at Bucket List and then shopped around. Mom was a fan of Bondi and the costal walk in general. Win! 

Day 3 – It’s Manly time. I was so excited to get over to Manly because well it’s an amazing, underrated part of Sydney. I think the other beaches overtake Manly in popularity, but that’s okay with me. The ferry ride over had an aweing effect on my mom and it was the first official view of the Sydney Opera House she got. Once in Manly we had brunch at Girdlers and then headed to the beach. A perk of traveling with your mom was being a little fancy and we actually rented beach chairs and umbrella. Something I wouldn’t have thought to do on my own, but now that I know how nice it was I don’t think I could go without. We grabbed Acai bowls to cool down from Acai Bros and then walked over to Shelly Beach. After more browsing in the stores we had dinner at Moo Burgers with a great view and my mom tried a kangaroo burger (she wasn’t a fan). Then we hopped back on the ferry and headed back across the harbour. 

Day 4 – Super early wake up call, but it was worth it because we were going to Hunter Valley

Day 5 – Spent the day/early afternoon in Hunter and got back to Sydney around 7pm. We checked in to our new hotel in a prime area – on the Rocks. We had a late, but delicious dinner at Pony and then walked around the Rocks a bit. 

Day 6 – Scheduled for today was a trip out to Watson’s Bay, but the weather was not having it. The rain was coming down hard all day. We had brunch on the Rocks (mom had another avo toast…I think she might be becoming a millennial). I checked another dining bucket list item off with dinner when we went to Sake. We thought we had allocated enough time starting dinner at 5:15pm to make it to the Opera before 7pm, but we had to dash over there. We were seeing Don Giovani. This was my first opera. The production was very well done and their voices were incredible, but now I can say with certainty that operas aren’t really my thing. It was still really great to experience especially at THE Sydney Opera House.

Day 7 – This day was originally going to be a day trip out to Jervis Bay, but with the forecasted rain we decided to stay in the city and maybe go to some markets and walk the Harbour Bridge. Oh boy were we wrong. The rain was at a constant downpour with heavy winds closing pretty much everything down. We had tea and scones at the Tea Cosy (another foodie bucket list item check), broke my umbrella walking back to the hotel which was one building over. The day was looking like a chill day, but it was also our last day in Sydney so it felt like a bit of a waste. We went to the QVB for a little bit, but weren’t in a mood to shop. For dinner that night we ventured to Newtown to try Golden Lotus, a fully vegan Vietnamese restaurant (another check). Wow the food was yummy and it’s BYO so we enjoyed the bottle of wine we brought back from Hunter over our shared plates. We ended the night with a night cap (can a beer technically be a night cap?) at the Lord Nelson Brewery. 

It was a super fun week and although the schedule didn’t fully go as planned it didn’t matter. Just spending time together was what really matters. Almost exactly a week from my mom’s arrival we were heading to the airport once again to fly to our next destination…

Here are my mom’s officially unofficial rankings of Sydney’s food scene:

Breakfast

  1. Girdlers (Manly)
  2. Dare Cafe (The Rocks)
  3. Two Sis & Co. (Darling Harbour/Pyrmont)
  4. Tea Cosy (The Rocks)
  5. Waterfront Grill (Darling Harbour)

Dinner

  1. Redsalt Restaurant (Hunter Valley)
  2. Sake (The Rocks)
  3. Pony (The Rocks)
  4. At Home Thai Cuisine (Doordash)
  5. Golden Lotus (Newtown)
  6. Bucket List (Bondi)
  7. Moo Burgers (Manly)

Off the Beaten Track – Malabar

If you find yourself in Sydney, but want to get a unique experience head east to do the Malabar Coastal Walk. Accessible from Maroubra Beach this was was unlike any other coastal walk that I have done so far in Australia. You walk through Malabar Headland National Park along cliffs and through bush. Make sure you check online before venturing out to ensure the park is open. Parts of the park are near a rifle range and every so often the eastern section is closed off (every Saturday and 1st and 3rd Sunday). If you see red flags don’t go into the park.

I did the walk on a Thursday afternoon and really didn’t think much of it. Most of the time whenever you do a costal walk there is a steady stream of people coming in both directions. That was not the case going through Malabar. I think I saw a total of 5 people on the 2.5 mile walk. I know it’s a national park and it’s not that I felt unsafe, but the worst kept going through my head because I was completely alone. Thankfully, I had cell service throughout the entire walk. I also read the signs before going into the park so I knew how long the walk was suppose to approximately take, but while walking there really wasn’t much signage beyond some obscure arrows on the ground.

The views of the ocean were spectacular and so many areas of dramatic cliffs. The end of the walk leads you to Malabar beach, which again only had 3 people enjoying the open water. They were paddle boarding and I wanted to join in. Across the street from the beach is the Malabar Beach Cafe (note it closes at 3pm). I grabbed a coffee and a museli cookie before grabbing the bus back to Maroubra. Rather doing the return walk alone I did the return Maroubra to Coogee walk after the bus dropped me off. I just felt a bit safer.

I really loved this walk and would recommend grabbing your favorite walking buddy or doing this for a date.

Another Day Another Costal Walk: Coogee to Maroubra

The Coogee to Bondi costal walk is iconic, but in case you wanted a change of scenery there’s another costal walk you should check out. This one heads south rather than north. I was introduced to the walk from Coogee to Maroubra by my recent AirBnb host. It’s not a totally straight shot from one end to the other because a portion of the land is now under private ownership – must be nice, right? The walk is beautiful and very different from other costal walks (Bondi, Noosa, and Byron in mind). This walk takes you through neighborhoods, up and down hilly streets and therefore part of it is impacted by traffic, past a few rock pools, and in general it is much less crowded than the walk to Bondi. A majority of the walk is also on a boardwalk through beautiful flora. The walk leads you to the best reward: a huge, beautiful beach. The walk one way is about 2.5 miles (about 4km).

Catch the bus back home or stop at the Grumpy Baker for a snack before walking back to Coogee.