Your own little excursion

In The Art of Travel Fall 2014, Sydney, Tips by Tyler Finley

Sydney is a huge city. It encompasses so many suburbs and sprawls out like a giant neural network over miles and miles of space. It really is very different from New York City, so compact and simply connected by Subway. While a portion of it is traditionally city-like, many of the various suburbs are just that: suburban. But that doesn’t mean they don’t hold lots of exciting places and activities. Many of them are coastal with incredible beaches, some store tons of cultural history, and a few are even pretty hip with exciting bars and nightlife.

If you come to Sydney with the NYU group, you will end up joining in on excursions to many of these suburbs, getting a taste for the variety Sydney offers. However, my suggestion to you is to EXPLORE AT LEAST ONCE AWAY FROM THE GROUP. The NYU Sydney trips are almost always a lot of fun and are great bonding experiences. But, they are planned and end up feeling a bit touristy. If you can just get away after an activity, or head somewhere with some friends or alone that isn’t within the city limits, you’ll find there’s so much out there to explore.

Certainly, you’ll end up heading off to the beaches on many the beautiful days coastal Australia offers the vacationer. They are phenomenal and totally worth it. But, they’re also a bit expected, right? I know that one of my largest expectations of the Australian landscape was the sandy, rocky coastline. Go somewhere else. Stay in a suburb after an NYU-sponsored activity and explore a bit. I remember walking around Balmain, a quaint little suburb, after lawn-bowling. My friends and I stopped into a classic hotel and I admired the distinct Australian nature of the scene. I thought, this is where Australians go. Everyone eighteen and older, of course. Apart from that bar endeavor, it was exciting to examine the architecture of the houses and businesses. Colorful terraces, hip shops, quirky cafes. To be in another neighborhood, to be able to call it a neighborhood with quiet streets and homeowners on balconies, can transform into such a vicarious experience. In the city, everywhere is so public. Tourists and commuters abound and you don’t really get a sense of life in that place.

Of course, I have a specific destination for you; I won’t just leave you with the advice of “go somewhere else.” Travel up to North Head Manly. To get there, you have the wonderful opportunity of taking the Manly ferry from Circular Quay, which is a gorgeous tour of the Harbour. You could even stop at Manly beach when you arrive for some salty splashes or sunbathing. After that’s all done, go for a walk. Refuse to take the bus and head up the steep hill with the beach houses that confound the American beachgoer. They are not pastel blue cottages but modern abodes with gates. Still pretty, but different. Trudge up that hill all the way to the North Head park. Trudge farther. Arrive at the random military base with dangerous abandoned quarters and a Mess Hall currently being utilized for private wedding events. Push on to the actual trail, and wonder if the other area was actually part of the park or not. Stop off at the cemetery. It’s unbelievable. Some stones tell of infants only weeks old. Some of husbands and wives perishing at a young thirty. It’s in the Quarantine Area from about a century ago. It’s crumbling. And beyond it is a panorama of the Harbour, and Middle Head and South Head. Trek away with thoughtfulness of mortality and come to the Point. It has all of the people you have successfully avoided beforehand, but it’s worth it to stay for the cliffs, the views. The water splashing below on the rocks, foaming like you spat toothpaste into the great big wondrous basin below. Enjoy.

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  • North Head Manly: Tyler Finley