on November 11, 2010
The iconic green and yellow ferries ply the Sydney Harbour, being a part of city's public transport system but also an excellent and inexpensive way of seeing the city from the water, and exploring the Sydney Harbour. Ferry to Manly is one of the most popular trips in Sydney (and one of the longest) as it takes the visitor from the ferry terminal at Circular Quay across most of the Jackson Harbour to the north-eastern suburb of Manly with its open ocean-facing beach. Manly is a popular tourist destination, a beach resort par excellence with plenty of accommodation, but Sydneysiders come here of a day or an afternoon trip for a stroll, a swim, an ice-cream or fish and chips. On the way to Manly you can admire different and new angles on the Sydney CBD landscape, including especially the lovely Opera House as well as the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge and the high-rise skyline of the business district. The ferry passes the islands in the harbour as well as varied coastline with many coves and cliffs. After a while, past Bradley Head and Shark Island, a more open area of the harbour and soon you are able to see the cliffs of the North and South Heads of the harbour, beyond which there is the open Tasman Sea. The ferry turns left (north) towards the North Harbour and the Manly Cove, The terminal at Manly is at or near the narrowest point of the isthmus between the mainland and the North Head and the main pedestrianised street of Manly (called in an incongruously Italian manner The Corso) leads pretty much from the wharf to the open-ocean beach. The Corso is lined with typical resort shops selling swimwear and water sports gear, as well as several take aways and ice cream parlours, with the fish and chips being the obvious and popular choice. In the winter months (which is when we visited) it was all very quiet – at least in the late afternoon – but still quite pleasant, without that totally desolate feeling many British seaside resorts get out of season. The main beach at Manly sweeps in a curve over a half mile long, and in addition to that there is also a very pleasant, small Shelly Beach, much more sheltered than the main sweep. There are also several attractions here if you come for a whole day and have a budget to spend, including the Oceanworld aquarium and nearby good walks around the North Head. We did our Manly trip on the winter afternoon, so we caught the purple dusk over the beach at Manly and on the way back could admire Sydney's skyline lit up and glittering above the Opera House roof shells and around the curve of the Harbour Bridge. The ferry cost 13 AUD per person return and thus was a much better value than any harbour cruise would be – and the views were great. On the way out the boat we were on was for a while sailing parallel with a large P&O liner or a cruise ship, and we saw a bunch of dolphins surfing the bow wave of the large white vessel: this was a fantastic experience and even more so as we didn't seek it or hope for it!
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