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7 Things we LOVED about Sydney (and 5 things that surprised us)

Their Sydney home for our Denver home – an exchange in January meant snow for them and sunshine for us! A nice family from a suburb north of Sydney wanted to go skiing in Colorado and we were happy to exchange for warm weather and an Aussie adventure.

We knew we would love Sydney, but many things surprised us – in a good way!

  • The Sydney Opera House. Okay, this one is obvious but true. The opera house is just so beautiful and photogenic from all angles. We enjoyed walking around the city and capturing it from all perspectives. The Harbour Bridge adds to the scene.
  • Everyone is soooo friendly. Need help or suggestions? Just ask a local. After we had confirmed our home exchange, we received a couple more offers we had to politely decline. One family said “come on over for a BBQ anyway”, and we did! What a great way to make new friends! Bonus – they taught us a bunch of Aussie words. Homeexchange.com members are the nicest, smartest and most fun people on the planet. Seriously!
  • Public transportation is excellent, very clean and timely. There are ferries, trains, and buses to take you wherever you want to go, plus Uber. Much of Sydney is also very walkable.

  • Beaches and more beaches. We knew Sydney had nice beaches, but we had no idea there are so many – more than 100 in the city and many more up and down the coast. There are surfboards on car racks everywhere – there really is a beach culture here similar to Southern California. And where there isn’t a beach, there is dramatic coastline.
  • Sydney has great parks and gardens. Their huge Botanic Gardens borders the harbour. Look for festivals, concerts and even movies taking place in the parks.
  • Wine country is just a couple hours away. Take a scenic drive north to Hunter Valley and do a winery tour or three. From casual to upscale, these wineries take their role of pleasing your palate quite seriously. You will probably see a few roos in the area, too! We highly recommend taking a couple days and enjoying one of the BnB’s in the area.
  • The Blue Mountains National Park beckons just an hour west of town. This World Heritage area has waterfalls, eucalyptus forests, caves, scenic walks, cafes, art galleries and lodging. Enjoy at a slow pace or high adventure. Info mentions wineries, but there is only one winery here and it’s only open weekends – so plan accordingly. Leura is a particularly inviting little town to enjoy shops and cafes. There are several National Parks within a couple hours’ drive of Sydney. 


  • Bats?! We expect to see them in caves and rainforests, but not in a major city. In Sydney at dusk they fly everywhere, even over the Opera House, and they are HUGE with wingspans of over 3 feet. They eat fruit and hang in the trees. The locals are so used to them that they don’t pay any attention, but we found them fascinating.
  • Flocks of white cockatoos. At home, we only see cockatoos in cages, but here they fly around in big squawking flocks.
  • Strange bird sounds. The birds here are very vocal, but in a fun way. Ever heard a kookaburra call? Google it. It gave us a good laugh as an alarm clock.
  • It can get HOT in their summer. It was up to 40C / 104F during our visit, but also down to 23C / 73F when the clouds moved in. Fear not, Sydney folks dress very casual, but bring sunscreen.
  • We expected a nice city experience, but were surprised at how much there is to enjoy in and around Sydney. There is no way to be bored with such a variety of activities – seashore, mountains, cities, shopping, vineyards, arts, music, or just gawking at the harbour views.

Two weeks in Sydney was a great way to begin our “down under” adventure! This was the first of 12 home exchanges and it was a beautiful home, lovingly furnished and included their car. We enjoyed texting with them as they enjoyed the Colorado snow.  You can find their home exchange listing at: Sydney Home Exchange. Here’s our quick walk through.

So plan your trip to Sydney. You won’t regret it.

More than 500 homeexchange.com members are in the Sydney area! They seem to be a well-traveled crowd with lots of vacation time. 

We’re heading back to Australia soon to experience Tasmania, Melbourne (Great Ocean Road), Perth, Brisbane, and Cairns (Great Barrier Reef) – can’t wait! Here’s our plan for March thru June 2017. Any suggestions?

1 Comment

  1. July 25, 2017 at 2:55 AM — Reply

    As a Sydney sider with 13 years under my belt, this made me positively nostalgic. You’re so right that Sydney is just about the best city in the world, especially if you dont like cities !

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