Winter is Coming! Not that you’d know it in Sydney … if, like me, you’re from the Northern Hemisphere (I’m from the UK originally), Winter means horrible rain and grey skies, dreary short days and freezing cold nights.
Well, a Winter in Sydney may just pleasantly surprise you!
Don’t get me wrong, it still gets cold, and it may rain occasionally, but for the most part, it sunny skies and surprisingly mild days, which means ther4e is no excuse for hibernating for the next few months! Now is a great time to get out and about in Sydney and see what this amazing city has to offer!
Here’s a list of my 5 favourite things to do in Sydney once Summer has gone!
Whale Watching (May to October)
Starting around May, right up until October, you can watch the humpback whales as they migrate up and down the coast. You can do this on one of the many whale watching cruises that leave from Sydney Harbour and, for those on a budget, it’s easy to find a good deal too! I did this last Winter and it was amazing! We saw a mother and baby and several breaches. Keep an eye out for that gust of air popping up from the water!
If a cruise is a little out of your budget, or you’re not really a boat person, that’s OK! Kill two birds with one stone – talk a walk along the Bondi to Coogee Trail and try and spot them from there! A group of friends and I were playing barefoot lawn bowls in September the year before last in Waverly and managed to catch a glimpse of a couple of whales who breached a few times! The trick is to keep an eye out for the boats who are doing the cruises … if they’re staying in one spot, or there’s a few boats in one area, they’ve spotted something that you might want to see too!
Vivid Festival (27th May – 18th June)
OMG!! This is one of the best things in Sydney for me! I’ve been in Sydney 3 years now and have never missed Vivid. Not sure what it’s all about? Well, it’s only the most amazing light and music festivals in Australia! I know, a light festival kinda sounds lame but trust me on this! Every year, in the last week of May, Vivid brings Sydney to life with some pretty awesome light displays on some of the world’s most iconic landmarks in Australia – and the world! You’ll see the whole of Circular Quay, Town Hall, Darling Harbour and Martin Place lit up, and this year, they’ve added Toronga Zoo and the Botanical Gardens in the mix too! Stills sounds lame? Check out this video of the ‘Lighting of the Sails’:
What’s great about Vivid is that is free!! Seriously, check it out!
Christmas in July (25th July)
Say What?? Everyone knows Christmas is in December! But here in Australia, it just doesn’t feel quite right having Christmas on the beach – it’s great and all, but a little weird. So, we expats decided that we shall have Christmas on the beach, but we also want Christmas when it’s cold! Hence Christmas in July!
Last year, a group of my girlfriends and I hired a house in the Blue Mountains and we went all out for Christmas in July – it turned out to be the most Christmassy I’d felt in the three years I been in Oz! We had a fire, and blankets, and a huge roast dinner. We gave out Secret Santa presents and played Cards of Humanity. It. Was. Awesome!
Sydney Winter Festival (30th June – 17th July)
The Winter Festival is fun and cheap – what more could you want! You can go ice skating at Bondi beach, there’s nice little winter markets that might remind you of home (gluhwein anyone?), pop up bars, giant slides and inflatable balls that you can walk on water in (that’s if you can stand up – it’s harder than it looks!)
While you’re down in Darling Harbour checking out the Winter Festival, visit the Chinese Garden of Friendship too – less than $15 to get in and it is so chilled out. Even though it’s right in the middle of the CBD, you feel like you’re miles away from anything!
State of Origin (Starts 1st June)
Whether you like sports or not, State of Origin is not just about a great game of football (NRL), it’s about everything else that comes with it! Think of it like this – when you’re watching the Premier League, or your country’s equivalent, there’s always that friendly banter and rivalry with people who follow a different team to you … but when you’re watching the Euros, or the World Cup, it doesn’t matter who your team is, everyone is now rooting for the same guys! It’s the same with State of Origin for the Aussies! 3 games (and Sydney is spoilt this year with 2 being hosted here), 2 states, 1 winner! Last year, Queensland took it, the year before, NSW broke their 8 year drought to take the win and we’re hungry for that trophy again!
If you really want to get in to the Aussie way of life, or even if you just want a good night out with new friends, State of Origin is a great time! Follow the atmosphere down to just about any pub in Sydney and keep your fingers crossed that the boys in blue bring it home!
Don’t know the rules of the game? No worries! Check this out!
A Trip to the Snow!
I never thought that the first time I went Snowboarding would be in Australia! I never even knew there was snow here to board on! But sure enough, if you head down to the ‘Snowy Mountains’ in
Winter (Thredbo or Perisher), you’ll get to try out your skills. They’ve already had their first snowfall down there this year – although it’ll be a while before there’s enough powder yet. I’ve been twice now, once to each of the mountains and each time was so much fun! Personally, I think Thredbo is better for the complete beginner, like I was, and Perisher is great for those with a little more confidence! Saying that though, you can get lessons and the instructors I had at both were amazing!
A trip to the snow isn’t cheap but if you look in the right places, you can get a pretty sweet deal! Ask our friendly staff at the Sydney Central Backpacker reception what deals you can get for your snow trip, or any other tours you may want to do around Sydney!