Day-1 Sydney: Sydney City Center and Haymarket

I have always wanted to visit Sydney and I always pictured visiting Sydney on the New Year’s Eve. I have had this idea to spend New Year on big cities where the fireworks are spectacular with the background of its famous landscape. Like firework in the New York City with the background of Brooklyn Bridge or Liberty Statue, firework in Sydney with the background of Opera House, firework in Dubai with the background of Burj Khalifa and so on. But somehow i skipped Sydney on 2019 New Year’s eve (I instead spent New Year’s Eve in Manila, Philippine), and visited Sydney 2 months later on late February 2020.

To make it even weird, it wasn’t my original plan to explore the city. My initial plan was to hike Mount Kosciusko. But, due to the raging bush fire in New South Wales and other part of Australia, most of the national parks were closed. I then switched my plan from solely hike Mount Kosciusko to full blown exploring the very heart of Sydney. The plane ticket to Sydney was already purchased months ahead anyway, so switching my plan was the best idea at that time. Weeks before the departure date I developed 6 days itinerary to explore central Sydney, eliminating potential visit to neighbouring places such as blue mountain, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park, and many other beautiful places in New South wales, outside the city of Sydney.

In the following posts, I will detail my trip day by day, area by area, so hopefully after reading all the 6 posts, you’ll get the glimpse of how interesting Sydney is and may as well adopt this itinerary whenever you visit the wonderful and beautiful Sydney.

On day 1, I choose to explore Sydney’s City Centre and Haymarket, right after I landed.

How to get to the City Centre from Sydney International Airport

There are many ways to get to the city center from Sydney’s international Airport. Both private and public transportation systems are excellent and reliable. Since I travel solo, I chose to go by public transport and not renting a car instead. I purchased an Opal Card, the smart ticketing system to be used for all public transport and applicable as follow:

    • All Sydney Metro, Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink Intercity trains
    • All buses in Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Hunter and Illawarra
    • All Sydney Ferries and the Stockton Ferry in Newcastle
    • All Sydney and Newcastle Light Rail

For adult Opal card, the minimum top up value is $ 20. It can be purchased online and, on the Sydney International Airport’s Train Station. I bought it in the airport for the practicality. To get to the city center, I hopped on T8 green line to the city. Here’s the Sydney City Center Network Map

To get on the train we simply tap in the Opal Card to the tapping machine on the entrance gate at each station, and tap it off on the exit gate. For the Bus, the tapping machine is inside the bus, while on the Light Rail, it’s located on the Opal Card Reader on the waiting shelter (not inside the light rail). The ferry tapping system is also the same with the train (on the entrance and exit gate). Among those, it’s easier to forget tapping-on and tapping-off when riding a light rail.

Direction to T8 Train Platform 

Direction to platform 1

So, here’s where I went that day, I tried to go to a nearby places, so I won’t lose my time on the journey and tried to get the most of the time exploring and enjoying each place.

Lunch at Ho Jiak Chinatown

Before I went to Museum of Sydney I had a lunch at Ho Jiak in Chinatown. It’s a Malaysian Restaurant and it’s vegetarian friendly, and it’s close to where I stayed. I ordered Vegetarian Char Hor Fun (Stir fried flat rice noodles with vegetables, tofu & starchy egg gravy) for $ 19. The portion was quite big and it’s tasty like Chinese food.

Vegetarian Char Hor Fun (Stir fried flat rice noodles with vegetables, tofu & starchy egg gravy)

Museum of Sydney

This is the first place and first museum that I visited in Sydney. From the outside, the building looks very artistic, modern and sleek. It wasn’t built from historical building like some museum. The exhibition was centered around the history of the Sydney, the early expedition towards the discovery of Australia, some art exhibitions. It also has collections related to a certain events and history in the past. It was a great introductory museum to some selective history events of Sydney.

Museum of Sydney’s Interior

Exhibition at Museum of Sydney

Collections from the Museum of Sydney

Interior of the Museum of Sydney

State Library of New South Wales

I am a big fan of architecture and love taking pictures of building dimension and space. The main reason I visited this library is because the library was on a historical building and the space on the main reading room is beautiful. It is the oldest library in Australia and was built from 1905 to 1910.

The library has 3 buildings, the main building or the original building was called The Mitchell building. The second additional building was built 20 years after the completion of Mitchell building, namely The Dixon Wing. It’s located on the south side from Mitchell building. The third building is the Macquarie Street building, built in 1983-1988 and renovated on 2011-2012.

Main entrance (main building) of State Library of NSW

Main reading room at State Library of NSW

The Macquarie Street building, third building of State Library of NSW

Hyde Park Barrack

My visit to this place was unplanned, and it was an impulsive decision. As I passed this historical place on my way to St Mary’s Cathedral, I saw the gravel on its garden decorated with pinkish gravel with many spots of white gravel grouped as triangle. Turns out it’s part of exhibition titled “Untitled(maraong manaóuwi)” by Jonathan Jones. When I got there, the exhibition building was closed already, and I was so attracted by the gravel pattern so I found myself enjoying the almost-empty space basked in the patterns.

Hyde Park Barrack with Jonathan Jone’s Exhibition

St Mary’s Cathedral

After visiting Hyde Park Barrack, I visited the St Mary’s Cathedral. It’s the only cathedral I visited in Sydney and probably one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen. And I love that It has a beautiful garden on the back of the church. St Mary’s Cathedral is the longest church in Australia and was built from 1866 to 1928.

St Mary’s Cathedral and flowers

St Mary’s Cathedral

Circular Quay

Aside from visiting Circular Quay, i wanted to get up close and personal with the Sydney’s Opera House. But, seeing from afar was way more attractive for such a landscape photos, not to mention the Sydney harbour bridge with its sparkling lights. Soon i found myself caught up on a certain spot and took pictures of both Sydney’s Opera House and Harbour bridge for hours. I wasn’t quite satisfied with the angle, since i couldn’t get both the opera house and Harbour bridge from my spot (few days later i managed to find out where is the best spot to get both pictured together!

Pro tips: Circular Quay along the way up to the Sydney’s Opera House is not the best spot if you want to get both Sydney’s Opera House and Sydney’s Harbour bridge in one pic.

Sydney’s Opera House at night

Sydney Harbour’s bridge, taken from Circular Quay

As you can see, from where i took this picture, the Sydney’s Opera House is on my left, and sydney Harbour bridge is on my left, so it’s impossible to get both in one picture. However, the Circular Quay area is so hype and lively during the night, with all the cafes and pub along the street, and the magnificent Sydney Opera House stands beautifully overlooking the bay. That includes the comforting sea breeze.

I was ecstatic as ever, and tired at the same time, ready to explore more the next day. For the video, you can also check the highlighted Instagram story from my IG handle: summerlilybee.

Asana Kusnadi
I'm Asana Kusnadi from Semarang Indonesia. Some of my friends call me Mei, it is taken from my Chinese Name. I was born in Semarang, capital city of Central Java and lived there until I graduated from University. After graduated i worked in Sumatera island and it's been almost 9 years now i live in Riau Province

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