Famous Beaches and Fantastic Festivals..!

One thing that Sydney is famous for is Bondi Beach and yesterday we went to find out what all the hype is about!

After a tasty $5 breakfast at a cafe in Kings Cross, we took the train to Bondi Junction where we boarded a bus towards the beach. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, the best weather we’ve had since we arrived in Sydney – clear blue skies and ridiculously hot. Once we arrived we could see why Bondi is so popular with tourists and locals alike. The blue sea, rolling waves and white fluffy sand had obviously attracted most of Sydney there at the same time as us and it was absolutely packed!

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After spending some time sunbathing and swimming we decided to take the coastal walkway towards Bronte beach, passing Tamarama beach on the way. This popular 3.5 km walk took us past stunning landscape and ‘unusual’ wildlife – we came across two penguins (yes, penguins in Sydney!) sitting on a rock  as well as an exotic bird who had chosen a nice windy spot on a cliff to cool down her armpits!

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Bronte Beach is much smaller than Bondi but very pretty and is a great spot for having lunch by the sea. Behind the white sand is a big expanse of green grass  with playgrounds, picnic benches and bbq spots. We were hoping to spy some famous faces down there as apparently Bronte is popular with the likes of movie stars Naomi Watts and Hugh Jackman – however we didn’t manage to spot anyone we recognised!

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Once we’d had enough sun we hopped onto the bus back towards the city. We had some dinner and chilled out for an hour or so before getting ready to walk into the city centre for the first night of the Sydney Festival! The festival is held every year and is one of Australia’s largest annual cultural celebrations with a great program of dance, theatre, music and visual arts.

The First Night consisted of several free events dotted around the centre, included Hyde Park, The Domain, Chiffley Square and Martin Place. Our first destination was Hyde Park which had been transformed into some sort of fairyland with florescent green, purple and orange lights lighting up the trees. The main attraction in the park was the Palm Stage where musicians from Nashville, USA were performing some fantastic soul tunes.

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Most of the streets in the City Circle had all been closed off to traffic and the roads were teeming with party-goers making the most of the free entertainment. It was easy to find the staging areas just by following the swarms of people! Next we went to The Domain where we listened to a set from the ‘Ukulele ladies’ followed by Darwin musician Ali Mills who performed her unique version of ‘Waltzing Matilda’.

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Our third stop of the evening was Chiffley Square – by far the most awesome thing about the Festival’s First Night. New Zealand artist Michel Tuffery put on an amazing 12 story multi-media projection artwork based on Captain Cook’s exploration of the South Pacific. We couldn’t take our eyes off the ever changing images as they shone onto the building in front of us in time to music by Australian DJ, DJ Nomad. The music was fantastic – deep beats of dance, dub and breakbeat, which gave the entire area a surreal, outdoor nightclub-type atmosphere.

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Also at Chiffley Square was a South Pacific dance & drummer group called Echoes of Polynesia, who treated the crowds to traditional dance and music from that part of the world.

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Our last planned stop of the night was Martin Place, where Hip Hop group Arrested Development were performing on stage. Unfortunately we couldn’t get near to the stage as the police were turning people away due to ‘over capacity’. This was a bit disappointing but the police were not budging at all and wouldn’t allow anybody past. There was a big TV screen nearby where we could watch it from a distance and from what we could see / hear, they were great!

Before heading home we decided to go back to Chiffley Square and see what else was happening there. As we got closer we could hear that the DJ was in full swing and the whole square was mobbed with people dancing in the streets. The music was infectious and we soon joined in with the dancing and jumping around! People even started whipping off their tops and spinning their clothes around their head as they got more and more wrapped up in the music! It was so bizarre to see this manic scene of dancing and light shows in the midst of high-rise office blocks, traffic lights and junctions.

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This rounded off the night perfectly and we left the festival on a complete high! We were so glad that we had made the effort to venture out into the city for the first night of the month long festival.

The whole day was brilliant – beaches by day and partying in the streets by night! What else can Sydney possibly do to top all of this..?

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