I was on a 5:30 am flight from Perth to Sydney and had to be at the airport by 4:00 am which was early to say the least!

Hey, when you’re on vacation it’s a totally different ballgame than if I had an early flight time like this for work…am I right?

The flight itself is just over four hours and so a relatively easy one to manage. As we approached the outer reaches of Sydney the bush fires became more prevalent, which you could see from the plane.

Huge plumes of smoke were rising in a series of hotspots directly west of Sydney, and thus casting huge palls of smoke across the entire metropolitan area which were all being driven by strong and gusty westerly winds.

As we approached the airport it looked like a heavy fog had enveloped the city and airport, thus making it nearly impossible to see. In fact, it was so thick that as the plane approached the tarmac it was difficult to gauge the distance until we landed with some force.

Later on in the day a large number of flights were cancelled both in and out of Sydney because to the smoke haze…

The good thing was that I had landed safely and after grabbing my bags caught a taxi into the city.

I had booked into the Harbour Rocks Hotel (34 Harrington Street). Located close to Circular Quay down by the water.

I’d never stayed at the Harbour Rocks Hotel, but had heard great things about it.

The building was built in 1887 on the site of Sydney’s first hospital, by George Evans, a notorious barrister (lawyer). Over the years it’s been a number of things, including a wool store and artist collective. The site was redeveloped into a boutique hotel in 1989 and remodelled in 2012. Inside, you can still find many of the original features.

Check out the breakfast area in the basement – the convicts cut the stone from a local quarry and you’re still able to see the chisel marks in the foundations. Very cool…and so close to history!

Although I was only staying for two nights, the staff were extremely friendly and helpful. In fact, my AC died on the second day and they immediately moved me to another room with no questions asked. In fact, I was lucky enough to be given the Penthouse suite… A huge shout out to Bridget (GM) for her quick action to see me taken care of both efficiently and effectively!

The Rocks neighbourhood is full of historic laneways and charm. It is situated in the shadow of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, with local open-air markets, street food and boutiques a plenty. The area is close the original settlement and has some of Sydney’s oldest buildings and pubs in Australia.

In addition, there are a ton of great restaurants, many with stunning harbour views, plus the Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia is also nestled within this vibrant community.

Clearly, the place to stay when you’re in Sydney!

From the hotel its a 100 meter walk to pubs, restaurants and a further 200 hundred meters to Circular Quay which is the main ferry terminus for the city.

I would highly recommend taking a ferry to Manly. You get a great perspective on one of the most beautiful harbours in the world, not to mention see how the rich and famous live as you glide past the likes of Vaucluse, Double Bay and Point Piper.

On my second morning after an absolutely delicious breakfast (try the omelette – one of the best breakfasts I’ve had) I took an Uber out to Bondi Beach, with my objective being to hike the Coastal Trail from Bondi to Clovelly Beach, which is around a 6.5 kilometre roundtrip.

A beautiful, if not hazy morning greeted me as I arrived at Bondi. It was relatively early so not a lot of people about except the local surfers catching an early morning wave before work.

Such a delightful way to spend the first hour or two of your day. If I lived in Sydney I would definitely want to make a point of walking this trail on a frequent basis. Start at the southern end of Bondi Beach at the Icebergs baths and follow the signs.

The trail travels along the coastal cliffs via Tamarama Beach, Bronte Beach, along the edge of the Waverley Cemetery to Clovelly. If you’re game you can continue on all the way to Coogee Beach (9 kilometre round trip).

You’ll encounter some of the most dramatic views that Sydney has on offer, with a rugged coastline, long drops to the ocean and majestic surf beaches all rolled into one hike.

My afternoon was spent exploring the city centre and in particular the Queen Victoria Building.

This gorgeous building is home to over 170 unique boutiques and is a fascinating place to explore from an architectural perspective.

Completed in 1898 as a commemoration to Queen Victoria on her Diamond Jubilee (60 years), this beautiful sandstone building is a photographers paradise with intricate lead light windows and a magnificent dome.

Absolutely stunning!

It seems that every time I visit Sydney (which has been a lot recently) I seem to discover more and more of this world class city. I can’t wait to visit again soon.

Until next week