Back to Sydney and same name, very different place!

Date: 5 February 2010 to 12 February 2010
Where I’ve Been: Sydney and Newcastle, Australia
Where I’ve Stayed: BASE Hostel in Sydney and Newcastle YHA in Newcastle.

It is strange being back in a familiar city – somewhere I have been before. I definitely prefer smaller towns, but it was nice that as we drove back into Sydney I spotted places I had seen before and was able to to navigate our way through the traffic into the city.

Wollongong and on and on

The journey from Bateman’s Bay to Sydney was awful however with torrential rain plaguing us the pretty much the entire four hours. We stopped in Wollongong just over halfway through the journey with the purpose of continuing our fish and chip tour of Australia. We have decided that, as is customary in England, we will have fish and chips every Friday keeping a record of our quest to see how it compares to England. The answer so far is, not very well! Our fish and chips was not particularly tasty but it filled a gap at least.

Backpacking Sydney
Catching up with Pete and Phil – two friends who I know from Tonbridge

Why does it always rain on me?

The traffic coming into Sydney was terrible and it probably didn’t help we hit the city around rush hour, but Ben and Mary dropped me off at the BASE Hostel where I was staying, slap bang in the middle of the city whilst they carried on to Coogee where they were staying with a friend of Mary’s.

Unfortunately my time in Sydney has been seriously hampered by the weather. On the 5 February, when we arrived, it was pouring down. I managed to meet my former work colleague from Tonbridge Ben, who lives in Sydney, again and also had a wander around the night markets with a Dutch girl from my hostel.

The next day, Saturday 6 February, the impossible happened and the weather got even worse – with torrential rain ALL day. I got the bus over to Coogee to meet Ben and Mary and their friends and then in the even I went with my friend Pete, who kindly put me up on my first visit, to the Star City Casino where we watched Liverpool v Everton. With us both being Everton fans it was a total waste of time as it was a terrible game and Everton lost 1-0 and I got absolutely saturated coming home!

Backpacking Sydney
Ben and I with another Ben whom we both know from back home

A home cooked Sunday roast!

The weather slowly cleared over the next couple of days and on Sunday I was lucky enough to see enjoy a lovely home cooked Sunday dinner with Ben and Mary and their friends. It was nice to have some proper food as it is tough cooking in a shared hostel kitchen – I am not the best cook as it is but I am even more limited when I am sharing with ten other people at once!

We had five days in Sydney and I spent a lot of them catching up with my various friends that are there. I also had lunch with my friend Tim, who I also worked in Tonbridge with as well as Amie who I met in Vietnam and caught up with last time I was in Sydney. It all gets a bit confusing so I will leave it by saying despite the weather I had a nice time and saw lots of familiar faces.

The BASE hostel was ok – it was kept clean but you are packed in a bit and the fact it is a chain means it doesn’t really have any identity as such. Still I loved the hostel bar – the Scary Canary – which is cheap by Australian standards and good fun.

Backpacking Newcastle
Newcastle in Australia (not Newcastle in England)

When is a city not a city?

It is funny how two places can conjure such different images in your head. If you’d said Newcastle a few days ago I’d have immediately thought of the brisk Northern city in England, cold weather, grey skies and factories (sincere apologies to any Newcastle residents as I have actually never been there and have heard it is a great city).

Say it to me right now and I will associate it with Newcastle on the East Coast of Australia – with amazing white sand beaches than squeak as you walk on them, a sun drenched climate and lots of interesting bars, restaurants and architecture. It is also, apparently, Australia’s second or third oldest city depending on who you believe. Sydney is the oldest with settlers arriving in 1788, then it is either Hobart or Newcastle in 1803/1804.

Backpacking Newcastle
Views across Newcastle

Squeaky Sand!

We have had two days in Newcastle and didn’t do anything amazing, but it was nice to be in a smaller city than Sydney. We stayed at the YHA, which as ever was clean and comfortable, and just a few hundred yards from the beach. The white sands of the main beach do genuinely squeak as you walk on them.

We got some free pasta at the Brewery near the YHA on one of the nights, I went to a quiz on the second night with a few of my hostel mates and I also bumped into Esther – the Dutch girl who I had wandered the night markets in Sydney with.

We are now preparing to head to Port McQuarie and continue our East Coast odyssey!






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  1. natalie
    February 13, 2017

    It was interesting to read about your trip to Sydney as I’ve never been there – never been to Australia in fact!

    However, many of my countrymen tend to emigrate to Australia from South Africa, thinking that they’ll experience much the same lifestyle as they do here. I don’t think so, hearing about all that rain! One tends to think of Australia as hot and dry, as some of it is, I suppose.

    What do they sell in the night markets? Is it crafty stuff, food or something else? There is also a Newcastle in South Africa, probably very different to the Australia and England ones as well!

    Thank you for the descriptions which made me feel as if I was there…

    • February 14, 2017

      Thanks Natalie, yes parts of Australia experience some what of a tropical climate – mild, dry winters, but hot and humid summers where torrential downpours are not uncommon.

      The night markets are great – a mix of crafts, food, clothing, art, etc, etc – I really enjoyed browsing them.

      Glad you enjoyed this post!

  2. Dustin
    February 15, 2017

    My wife and I plan to take a trip to Australia sometime in the next few years. We’ve found as we’ve travelled in the past that we’ve enjoyed the smaller towns off the beaten path much more than the large cities.

    Newcastle looks like a good alternative to Sydney. What kind of stuff is there to do? Also do you have more pics of the area anywhere on your blog?

    • February 17, 2017

      I agree re the smaller towns off the beaten track – there is something more rewarding in finding them. Newcastle is great for surfing and spending time on the beach, there are plenty of walks, there is an art gallery and museum, some lovely parks – it is a nice place. Unfortunately as I was only there for a few days I don’t have any more photos of Newcastle on my blog.

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