Climbing Above Sydney

Everyone has seen Sydney from the sea, but have you climbed above the skyline for an alternate view? The Sydney Bridge Climb allows you to do just that!

Climbing Above Sydney

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Matt Keedy on February 1, 2003

Cruising from Sydney to Cairns along the Great Barrier Reef was a vacation of a lifetime. From climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge for a bird's-eye view of the Opera House to snorkeling along the reef, this vacation was full of luxury and adventure.${QuickSuggestions} I wish I had included the pre-tour to New Zealand on my itinerary--all of the passengers who went loved it. Come ready to do as much or as little as you like. Make sure you are on deck as soon as the ship sails, as there is nothing more spectacular than cruising out of Sydney Harbour on a beautiful ship. The whole harbor gets excited, and soon you'll find ferries ringing their horns and sailboats, cutting your wake.

Even if you have never snorkeled, don't miss a chance to put your face underwater on the reef. The staff is helpful and lets you practice in the pool before going ashore. I guarantee you will see a whole new world. What a great trip!${BestWay} Go on a cruise and let the captain do the driving! No need to pack and unpack, search for accommodations, make arrangements for dives, etc. Everything is taken care of for you. The guide boats come up to the ship and pick you up--what could be easier?

Regent Hotel

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Matt Keedy on February 6, 2003

The Regent Hotel in Sydney is now a Four Season property and enjoys an excellent location on George Street with views of the harbour. Following a 17-hour flight, we arrived at the hotel and were thankful we could book massages for that same afternoon. There is a full service spa at the Regent and they have a special jet-lag package that I highly recommend. After hours of travel, we both felt truly reinvigorated, awake and relaxed! The spa has a steam room and sauna, and there is a full service gym and rooftop pool area.

The concierge was helpful in arranging dinner reservations at Quay and Rockpools, as well as obtaining tickets for the Sydney Bridge Climb -- all of which I highly recommend (see articles in my journal).

Our room was "standard" -- but don't let that be deceiving -- we had a marble bathroom and luxurious furniture which was inconsequential when compared with the view. We were on the 17th floor and looked out over Circular Quay and the Sydney Opera House. Make sure you request a harbour view room as the view is spectacular -- when you wake up, you can watch commuters coming off all of the ferries, and at night the sunset and lights on the harbour guarentee sweet dreams!

The hotel has an award winning restaurant called Kables which we did not eat at but seems to be on most lists of award winning spots to dine in Sydney. We did find the hotel lobby bar to be a congenial congregating place and enjoyed the piano player each evening with cocktails before heading out for our dinner reservations.

The Regent Hotel is very centrally located. It is only a block to the Circular Quay and ferries, and the Opera House and Botanical Gardens are just beyond. It is also just a few blocks walk to the Rocks area and the Sydney Harbour Bridge (and BridgeClmb tour). You can't get more centrally located in this vibrant city.

There is a Starbucks across the street if you can't live without it. Rockpools Restaurant is down the street, the Museum of Modern Art is across the street, and the Overseas Passenger Terminal with Quay and Cruise Restaurant is just beyond.

We were highly impressed with the Regent: the staff, the location, and the facilities were all beyond first class -- and with the stregnth of the US Dollar, it was a very affordable option!

Four Seasons Hotel
199 George Street
Sydney, Australia, NSW 2000
+61 (2) 9238-0000


Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Matt Keedy on February 4, 2003

This could be the worst meal of your life and you would still tell friends how great it was because of the view. Fortunately, the food and the view both compete for your attention, making this one of the best dining experiences ever. Quay was rated the Best Restaurant of 2003 by the Sydney Morning Herald.

Let's start with the view. It is on the top floor of the Overseas Passenger Cruise Terminal, located directly across the water from the Sydney Opera House. Lined with floor to ceiling windows, the harbor is your, uh, your oyster. During the day, nothing can beat watching the ferries pull in and out of Circular Quay, the sailboats in the harbor, and the ever-changing play of light and water on the white shell roof of the Opera House. The view is completely unobstructed.

The food was fabulous both times I went (once for lunch, once for dinner). My dad had the oysters served on ice with chardonnay vinegar granita...a unique and tasty presentation that left him salivating for more (he ordered them again on our second visit). I had the mud crab in tomato sorbet. Again, a dish that made me wonder who ever thought it up, but left me thanking its' creator with every delicious morsel!

At night, with the lights turned down and the Harbor Bridge and Opera House lit up, this is the best dining view of Sydney possible. Classy. Romantic. A place for celebration. Don't think another second - book your table now!

And for a preview of the view - go to the website The quote on the homepage sums it up: "There are few restaurants in the world offering such fine cuisine in such a spectacular setting!"

PS - The US dollar is very strong against the Aussie dollar, making this a VERY affordable splurge. A three course meal and two bottles of wine for two was under $100 US.

Quay Restaurant
Circular Quay West, The Rocks
Sydney, Australia, 2000
(61 2) 9251 5600


Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Matt Keedy on February 4, 2003

I have eaten at Rockpool twice -- once in 1998 and again this past February. Since its opening in 1989 it has become regarded as one of the most innovative restaurants not only in Sydney, but the world. Award upon award has been lauded on Rockpool, however, I must say I was more impressed with my first visit than my second.

Located in the heart of the Rocks district -- across the street from the Museum of Contemporary Art -- Rockpool has an excellent location for visitors to Sydney. The restaurant design has won just about as many awards as the chefs -- it's a modern interior fit within the shell of an 1860's building.

When I first visited Sydney, Quay Restaurant had not yet opened (see review), thus, I think that I found Rockpool anti-climatic since it cannot compete with the view offered by Quay. The food was excellent and I would still recommend including it on a visit to Sydney -- however, I would make sure to eat here BEFORE eating at Quay because comparisons are inevitable and Quay will win any competition because of its location alone.

As far the dining, Rockpool is open for only for dinner (6-11pm) and closed on Sunday and Monday.

Most of the dishes are Asian fusion and include lots of seafood. My father and I had the lobster and it was wonderful. Sample menus can be found on the website: .

107 George Street
Sydney, Australia, 2000
+61 (0)2 9252 1888

Clipper Odyseey

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Matt Keedy on February 4, 2003

Pure Bliss.

A small luxury cruise ship which holds only 128 passengers...but we only had 70 on our cruise, which made a nice convivial group. The staterooms are spacious -- ours had two twin beds, a sofa and coffee table by the picture window, TV that played evening movies, and bathroom with a tub/shower combo. The closet space was also quite generous. Since all staterooms are very similiar, the difference in price is more a reflection of which deck you are on - not necessarily the square footage or amenities in the cabin. The exception is suites with balconies.

Two of my TOP 10 Travel Experiences are from this trip (and I am pulling from travels on 6 continents and 60+ countries). The first was sailing at dusk out of Sydney Harbour. We enjoyed cocktails on the deck as we waved to tourists at the Opera House and then proceeded to cruise through a sailing race taking place in the harbour. The second experience the made this trip, was snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef.

Cruising north from Sydney we stopped at Noosa two days later and then continued cruising along the reef making at least one stop a day. Most days were divided between time at sea and expedition stops, using the ship's zodiacs to land on deserted beaches or reefs. Sightseeing consisted of a combination of hikes, snorkeling, and bus trips to local attractions. On several occassions, local guide boats picked passengers up from the ship and took us to various snorkeling and picnic spots.

During the day, most passengers relaxed around the pool. Umbrella tables were popular for those who chose the soup and sandwich buffet served in the lounge. In the evening, during the cocktail hour before dinner, our expedition staff and cruise director talked about the next day and any "business" - then, being a single seating, everyone headed down to the dining room at the same time. After dinner, the Library Bar was a popular gathering spot.

Because of our small group, the hotel staff went out of their way to create special events - such as a full service dinner on deck under the stars, watching the Southern Cross. Absolutely spectacular!

This was a fantastic cruise - made even better by having such a small number of passengers. Some of our passengers had been on the cruise before which was in Tasmania and were offered a 2 for 1 fare to stay on board for this cruise. The following cruise was to Papau New Guinea and a similar offer was made to us. Although the majority of the passengers were older, they were quite an active bunch - snorkeling, hiking, etc.

The cruise included a 5 day pre-cruise in New Zealand. Go to for more info.

Clipper Odyseey
11969 Westline Industrial Drive
Sydney, Australia, 63146-3220
(314) 655-6700

Climbing Above Sydney

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Matt Keedy on February 12, 2003

Highlights (i.e. best things to do, memorable moments, etc.):
This was my third visit to Sydney, but my first opportunity to climb the world famous Sydney Harbour Bridge. Today the Bridge Climb seems to be the hottest attraction in town, and I can see why! I was in town with my 62-year-old father, who is afraid of heights; after a little coaxing he agreed to go. Opera House tours are passé -- these days, everyone is climbing the bridge.

Starting the climb is like going through a maze of steel, but the last hour was spectacular as we climbed to the peak and posed for pictures with the Opera House below. It was exhilerating! My dad boasts to his clients of his accomplishment. I too find myself telling people headed Down Under that they "must" do the Bridge Climb! The government must feel the same way -- the next day I was at the Opera House and looked up at the Bridge. There was a group hoisting an American flag at the top of the Bridge. As it turns out, the government was hosting families of 9/11 victims and the NYFD. The first place they took them was on the Bridge Climb.

Quick tips/suggestions :
The tour is three and a half hours long. The climb is gentle, with a slow rise and there are frequent stops along the way to learn the fascinating history and amazing triumph of human will that went into building the bridge. The first hour is for orientation and "suiting up" -- details can be found at . The cost is about $100 US and worth every penny!

Best Way to Get Around (i.e. walking, driving, taxis, public transportation etc.):
All tours start at the visitors center at 5 Cumberland Street which is in the Rocks area of Sydney. Hardly a tourist makes it to Sydney without spending at least a half a day in the Rocks area, where the original penal colony was settled. It is now full of smart shops, restaurants and hotels and is easily walkable from the Opera House.

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