A Mimi on the Move: Friendly, Clean, Beautiful Sydney

Sydney’s Old City sits nestled beneath the city’s modern, towering skyline. Photo by Pam Johnson

Editor’s Note: Pam Johnson and her husband Woody are in the midst of a yearlong trip abroad, visiting 12 countries in 12 months. Pam will file monthly stories along the way.

By Pam Johnson

The kookaburra laughs
The cockatoo squawks
The waves crash the rocky shore
Endless trails traverse…
Along the coast, into the bush, through the rainforest trees…
Skirting beautiful Sydney
Its bridges, its opera house, its parks,
And its mighty skyscrapers
A gem of a city on the edge of a magnificent land.

What you’ve heard about Australia is true: It is laid back, friendly, and people do say “G’day, mate.” There are koalas, kangaroos and parrots, palm trees, tropical breezes, and rain forests. In a nutshell, Australia is a delightful destination, and another country you should put on your travel bucket list.

We made Sydney our home for the month. And we fell in love with it….to the point where I teased one of my daughters that I wouldn’t be too unhappy if she moved there. I’m sure we would have been content anywhere we chose to stay. It came down to Melbourne, Adelaide, or Sydney, but because of our flights in and out of Australia, Sydney won out. And we’re glad it did.

First of all, it’s a beautiful city. The city skyscape is stunning. The Sydney Harbour Bridge and the iconic Sydney Opera House accentuate an already incredible view. A lot of green space—parks, gardens, and trees—break up the metropolis. And it’s so clean! In the past year of travel and all my years of traveling before, never have I seen such a clean city. No garbage or cigarette butts in the train stations. No litter in the parks. No trash on the sidewalks. It’s just clean. I’m embarrassed for the rest of the world, including our beloved United States. If a city as large as Sydney can keep things almost spotless, then so can New York City, Tel Aviv, Casablanca, Kathmandu, and everywhere else. It’s an admirable quality, and I commend Sydney for setting such a great example.

Secondly, we really appreciated the ease of public transportation. We actually stayed in the town of Revesby, about 30 minutes outside Sydney. So, we used the train system several times a week. The trains pass through most small towns in the suburbs, so it’s easy for people to commute. You just tap your credit card (or Opal Card if you have one) on a device when you enter and exit the stations. This works for the trains, ferries, light rails, and buses. We’ve used public transportation in all our countries this past year, and Sydney’s was the most user-friendly and convenient. (However, what you gain in ease, you do lose in unexpected adventures.)

Lorikeets are among the exotic birds that can be found living wild in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Pam Johnson

Thirdly, and this may make you laugh, the birdlife makes Australia extra special. I love birds, and throughout my life I’ve had my fair share of feathered friends. However, I never got my one heart’s desire: a cockatoo. Imagine my delight to discover, in Sydney, they fly around wild. They are so gorgeous (as well as noisy—my parents are probably glad I never got one). We also saw lorikeets, kookaburras, galahs, parrots, ibises, mynahs, and more. They sing (or rather squawk) all day long, creating such exotic background music. My favorite was the call of the kookaburras, which sound like monkeys chattering in a jungle.

Finally, not only is the city beautiful, but so is the surrounding area. We took a day trip to the Blue Mountains, about two hours from Sydney. Besides the picturesque mountains, forests, and waterfalls, there are historical and charming towns to visit along the way.

Then there are the fabulous beaches—great for surfing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. We also enjoyed ferry rides around the many lovely harbors. Just a boat ride along the coastline would be a perfect way to spend the day in Sydney.

Here are several “good-to-know facts” about Sydney/Australia:

  1. There’s a hefty fine for littering.
  2. 85% of Australia’s population is within 30 miles of the coast.
  3. The best coffee is at Bar Bellaccino, where they serve Crema D’Oro coffee.
  4. The best hot chocolate is at Guylian, on the Harbour and at The Rocks.
  5. You CAN see performances at the Sydney Opera House.
  6. There are lots of free museums in Sydney.
  7. You can walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge for free.
  8. You can climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge for $230 USD.
  9. Check out the fabulous underground bar scene in Sydney.
  10. You can flip the seats on the trains, so they face the direction you want to sit.

Now, it’s time for our long trek back to the Western Hemisphere, to Ecuador, where we’ll spend our final month abroad.

If you’d like to hear more about our travel adventures and see more photos, please visit my blog and follow me on Instagram and TikTok: @amimionthemove. Check back next month to read about our time in Ecuador.

Australia’s Manly Beach. Since 85 percent of the country’s population lives within 30 miles of the coast, Australia’s beaches are a popular destination for surfing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Photo by Pam Johnson

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