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:


  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)


  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)

My Week in the Northern Beaches of Sydney

A ferry ride out of Circular Quay brings you to the Northern Beaches. The most well known of these is Manly. The ferry ride each way is $7.65 AUD. The cost and the fact that it takes 45ish minutes deters many people from making the trek. Most people leave Manly trips for Sundays when all travel is capped at $2.80 total for the day. This included myself until recently when I wanted to experience the Northern Beaches for myself. In my week staying in Manly I now understand the appeal and if I stay in Sydney long-term I would really look into living in this area.


Curl Curl Beach smokiness

The biggest plus side of Manly was the significant drop of the amount of international tourists. Many Aussie families were vacationing here and it wasn’t as crowded as some of the other beaches like Bondi. Unfortunately, during my week the smoke from the bush fires was really impacting the air quality.

The main attraction of the area is of course all of the beaches. Some of the ones I visited included: Manly, Curl Curl, Freshwater, Dee Why, and Shelly Beach. Some of them are walkable from one to the other (Manly to Shelly or Manly to Freshwater), but they are all easy to access with the buses.

Manly Corso

The town center of Manly was designed after Italian city centers. This is the area right by the wharf that extends to the beach. The streets are full of shops, food vendors, and music. On the weekends markets pop up. The markets were lovely because they had vendors unique to the Northern Beaches. Sundays included lots of fresh produce and food vendors. There were so many great restaurants, coffee shops, and micro breweries around Manly. I definitely didn’t get to check enough of them out. Here were some of my favorite spots around the Corso:

  • Manly Bakery – really reasonable prices and yummy treats. I was obsessed with the almond croissants that were only $3 AUD
  • Acai Brothers and Bare Naked Bowls (multiple locations around Sydney) – both great spots for a refreshing bowl
  • With Love from Manly – awesome store with many Australian goods
  • Hotel Steyne Henry’s Rooftop – great rooftop bar with views of the Corso and beach

Getting Active

There are a couple of walk options available for anyone wanting to get active. The big walk is from Manly to Spit Bridge. It’s about 10km one way and takes about 3.5 hours. There’s also a walk to North Head from Shelly Beach (North Head Sanctuary loop) which offers panoramic views of Sydney including the Harbor Bridge on a clear day. This walk includes stopping through the Barracks Precinct.

Sculpt Barre Fitness – this pilates studio offered 3 classes for $30 and was right by my accommodation. The classes were excellent and ranged from classic pilates, barre, a HIIT inspired class, and more.

Airbnb Review

I stayed in the Manly Beach House for my stay. The location was right on Pittwater and a short walk to the beach, wharf, or Corso. I booked it through Airbnb and it was classified as as “hostel.” I wouldn’t really call this a hostel though as the rooms were all private and many families even with kids stayed here. On their website it describes the location as a “guest house.” I would say this is more appropriate description. It wasn’t anything fancy, but it was a very convenient location and a good value for the price. If you are looking for cheapish accommodations and want your own room this is a good choice.