We Aussies get up very early. At the beach it’s not unusual to see people surfing and running along the sand at 6am. That’s why breakfast is a big deal in Australia and coffee is huge. You’ll find loads of places for breakfast, serving everything from eggs Benedict to green eggs [with spinach] and ham, to wonderful breads. I’d order a long black, a bowl of fruit and yogurt with granola on top, and then a couple of poached eggs with crispy bacon on the side... and maybe a detox juice.
Walk it off
For the best view of the Opera House, turn right from Circular Quay – where the ships dock – into the cobbled lanes of the Rocks, where the convicts transported from Britain first built their shanty town. From there, head up George Street to the QVB, a beautiful old shopping centre named after Queen Victoria (below). After another cup of excellent coffee, I’d walk back to Circular Quay and around to the Royal Botanic Gardens, then past Government House, where the governors of New South Wales lived and ruled. Look for Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, a sandstone rock hand-carved into a bench where the governor Lachlan Macquarie’s homesick wife, Elizabeth, would sit, look out at the water and think of home.
Wander around the corner to Finger Wharf at Woolloomooloo Bay, where ships used to pull in to unload wool. The timber sheds have been converted into a hotel and flats – it’s where Russell Crowe lives – and at the end of that pier, there are five very good restaurants. Pick any one!
Swim it off
Of course, you would have made sure you’ve got your swimmers because you never know when you might need them. While you’re having lunch and a glass of wine at Finger Wharf, look up at the cliff and you’ll see a public pool that juts out across Sydney harbour. I suggest you go for a swim in the sunshine to work off lunch – and catch a great view of the harbour.
It’s mid-afternoon, so it’s time for a cocktail. Go to the rooftop Café Sydney at the Customs House or sit in the Opera Bar (above) at the bottom of the Opera House, looking out over the bridge as the sun goes down – it sets around 5pm at this time of year. I’d order a bourbon sour or a pisco sour.
Supper in Surry
Jump in a cab to the buzzy suburb of Surry Hills where there are loads of great places, from Vietnamese to Thai, whatever you like. And then it’s time for bed, because tomorrow you’re going to be up early...
A ferry ride. Go west from Circular Quay up the Parramatta River, the setting of the great Peter Carey novel Oscar and Lucinda. Or go east to Rose Bay, Vaucluse and Watsons Bay, which has amazing beaches and harbour views.
As told to Claire Webb
Cruise the world
World cruises, ranging from 50 to 180 days, are growing in popularity. Most passengers opt to do only a part of the full voyage, say from Southampton to Cape Town, and leave the UK in January to escape the worst of the winter. But you can often join these ships later or take the cruise in reverse.
UK TO SYDNEY
Most cruises to Sydney plot a course via the Caribbean, the Americas, across the South Pacific to French Polynesia and New Zealand, in a voyage of around 50 days. The other option takes you south, via Malta, Dubai, Mumbai and Singapore.
UK TO HONG KONG
You can go west, usually via the Caribbean, the USA and Sydney, which takes up to 80 days. The shorter option is to go the other way round, via Singapore, the Suez Canal and the Med.
UK TO CAPE TOWN
This is a relatively short hop, of about 20 days, sailing via Madeira, Tenerife and Namibia’s Walvis Bay. It’s one for ocean-lovers, too, as half your days are spent navigating the Atlantic. The route is popular with cruisers who
want the best of both worlds, and many finish their holiday by extending their stay in Cape Town to head off on
a safari or to explore South Africa’s vineyards.
Radio Times Travel offer
North America and a Transatlantic Voyage, 14 nights from £1,899pp, 7-night full-board cruise on Queen Mary 2, 8-day North America Tour including New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Niagara Falls. Click here for more details and to book.