Sydney’s best parks, reserves and outdoor spots.

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One of the nicest things about Sydney is the amount of green space everywhere, little spaces of calm amongst the city. With so many nice views and a great climate it makes for a good way to spend an afternoon reading a book, or like a lot of sydneysiders a quiet place to hang out and eat lunch.

These are our favourite spots.

Observatory Hill

My absolute favourite place in Sydney to kill time. Sat on the opposite side of the harbour bridge to the opera house it offers a differing view of the Sydney Bay. The view takes in Balls Head, Blues Point, Lavender Bay, Luna Park, ‘That Bridge’, and all the lovely rooftops of the old terraces in The Rocks.

I discovered this space the first time I came to Sydney, and have been coming back ever since. I never get bored of the view, it’s just beautiful with enough background noise from the Harbour Bridge traffic. It’s also close by to lots of lovely old buildings in The Rocks, one of the nicer places to wander around.

Accesible from Kent Street, next to the tennis courts; Watson road (off Argyle Street) or the footpath under the Harbour Bridge from Cumberland Street.

Botanical Gardens

OK, so it’s always full of people whatever the weather but for a good reason! Dating back to 1816, and on the site of the first colonial farm in Australia, It’s full of plant species from all over the world, beautifully manicured gardens, some great sculptures, and wedding parties. There’s also plenty of wildlife including Ibis and Flying Foxes who sleep hanging from the trees in large numbers.

Several Entrances, most accesible from The Sydney Opera House.

Clark Park sercret gardens

Hidden away between Lavender Bay and Clark Park, lies a little green field of calm. Regenerated  by Wendy Whiteley, wife of the prominent and now deceased Australian artist Brett Whiteley. The land belongs to the railway company and was a dumping ground until transformed into a communal garden.  Superb harbour views from the top (as usual) and a secret grotto down the stairs with sculpture art, beautifully designed gardens and picnic tables.

Take a walk along lavender bay past Luna Park, and go up the stairs nearest the toilet block.

Paddington Reservoir

A tiny little space lies in the remains of an old reservoir, a sunken garden. It’s a clever design concept in trendy Paddington, with a tranquil space in the lower, sunken gardens and a grassy reserve on top of the remaining chamber. A great example of modern regeneration and clever, urban architecture.

It’s not a big reserve, but well worth a look if you’re headed to the Paddington Markets, or the Australian Centre for Photography which are all on Oxford street and within minutes of each other.

Nearest the junction of Oatley Road & Oxford Street, known as ‘The Walter Read Reserve’ on Googlemaps.

Blues point

Blues point is on the northern side of the harbour. Nice big green spaces overlook the Harbour Bridge & parts of the rocks including the Walsh Bay Wharfs. It’s a nice spot to sit in the sunshine and relax, or take a picnic. It’s also the home of one of Sydneys more controversial buildings. The Harry Seidler designed Blues Point Tower. Loathed by many locals, it was the first building in a plan of many tower blocks for the area that were never built; it now stands alone, and seemingly out of place on the harbour front.

It’s a nice walk from Milsons point, through lavender bay and onto Blues point.

Most accesible by driving. Can walk from Milsons Point train station, through Lavender bay. one hour (ish)

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Others good spots include…

Hyde park – A favourite with the backpackers and the city workforce. Lunchtimes are busy on a nice day. Also home to the Anzac memorial, giant chess and lots of Ibis.

Bradfield Park – underneath the northern end of the Sydney Harbour bridge, near Milsons point station with nice views of the city at dusk, often busy on nice days.

Shark Island – Ideally located in the middle of the harbour, with no city ferry service. Access via private ferry, kayak or water taxi! See more Shark Island pictures from NYE here!

What’s Your favourite? Have I missed anything?

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Adelaide : Central Markets

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Adelaide has got a great feel to it, we should like to go back one day.

 

Check out my other Adelaide photo’s here!

 

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Sydney : Dusk, the perfect excuse not to get up for sunrise.

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Sydney : Balls Head Reserve

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I’ve been coming to Sydney for years, riding the North Shore Line into the city and always passing through Waverton, wondering about Balls head. They have  this lovely Victorian signage “Alight here for beautiful Balls Head”.

It’s one of those things when, you have plenty of time in a place, and you know you’ll come back regularly that you think ‘I’ll go there one day’ Five years later, we actually got off the train at Waverton to take a look.

Once you’ve meandered down through gentile Waverton, you’re surrounded by Nine square hectares of urban bushland.

Sydney is full of surprises, and having an area of harbour fronted land, with an enormous real estate value as this small urban hideaway is pretty special. It’s incredible to think you’re just a mile or so from the CBD and North Sydneys business district. The area also has a rich Aboriginal history.

Beautiful bushland and great city views. Get away from the city without travelling too far.

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Sydney : The Queen Victoria Building.

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The QVB is probably one of my most favourite places in Sydney. Not because it’s full of expensive shops, and not because it links directly into yet more shops via the basement.

I love it because it’s an beautifully restored old building. Not old on an English scale, obviously…  It’s classy and blends the old with the new seamlessly. Plus, it has some really posh public toilets.

It was originally completed in 1898, and performed many functions. Standing on the site of the original market, it was built to house a concert hall. It became the city library, offices, and other tenants including piano tuners.

I’m pretty much in awe of any beautiful architecture, I can quite happily spend time sitting and staring at all the intricacies and detailing. Stay classy QVB…

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Siem Reap and the Angkor temple complex: Angkor Wat & Angkor Thom.

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We flew from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap, as we had ended up spending too much time in Vietnam enjoying the middle areas of the country and its relaxed beach culture. It was a quick flight, and it ended up buying us an extra day in the Angkor temple complex; pretty much the only thing we felt we absolutely couldn’t miss out on in Cambodia. We’ve already decided we’re going to plan another trip to Vietnam as we decided to leave Ha Long Bay for another time (the weather was so grey, and I would have been so disappointed had it been overcast and not the beautiful blue images we’ve seen in magazines and photographs) so perhaps we can revisit Cambodia too.

Firstly, a little historical context. The Angkor temple complex dates from around about the ninth century, when the king of the time declared independence and created what was to become the Khmer empire. Over the passing of time, war, rebellion, and such like happened and inevitably there were conflicts, death and overthrowing of monarchies – standard historical stuff.

The changing of rulers meant new structures within the Angkor complex, and embellishments on existing ones. Jayavarman VII, is worth a mention. In his thirty odd year rule (from 1181) he was a hero prince who drove away the Cham forces (modern day southern Vietnam) from Angkor. He was also Buddhist, not Hindu like his predecessors and built much of the modern day Angkor site, including a lot of the well-known sites of Angkor such as Bayon, Ta Phrohm & Preah Khan.

In more recent history, the French colonised modern day Vietnam & Cambodia as French Indochina and spent many decades developing and clearing the Angkor sites until political instability and rise of the Khmer Rouge forced a stop. Since the 1990’s the popularity of the site as a tourist attraction has increased and as such, renovations and investments have increased.

That was brief and not very historical but you get the point, lots of groups had a part to play in creating what is the largest historical site in the world. Although it can never be verified some historians argue that up to one million people may have lived in the Angkor region during its peak.

The extended site is absolutely massive, the superlatives are endless and you can easily spend a week here just exploring.  We spent three days here, and I’ve broken the temples down into two posts. This post covers Angkor Wat & Angkor Thom area. The other post is viewable here, and covers Ta Prohm, Preah Khan, Banteay Shrei, Banteay Samre & Ta Som.  There are literally hundreds of other sites with the complex.

Angkor Wat, is the generalised name quite often used to refer to the entire site, but is in fact the centre piece of the Angkor temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world.

Angkor Thom, is the collected area including Bayon temple, Baphuon, Phimeanakas, and the terraces of the Elephant King, and Lepers respectively.