Our friends, Kate & John, (whom we only just met in Fiji back in October) were kind enough to host us for a week at their place in Coogee, one of the east beaches neighborhoods southeast of Sydney. Our visit coincided with both Burns night and Australia Day weekend.
Australia Day is their official national day, celebrating the arrival of the first British fleet at Sydney Cove. It is akin to Independence Day in the US, as it is a huge summer holiday and is the largest civic holiday in Australia.
The place to be on Australia Day is Sydney Harbour, of course. Kate had arranged for us to join them and some of their good friends on a lunchtime harbour cruise so we would be out on the water during the festivities.
We boarded the Constellation at Darling Harbour and headed out into Sydney Harbour.
Right off the bat, we got our first ever glimpse of the Harbour Bridge, which the locals call the Big Coat Hanger. There were even people climbing up on it.
And, as we sailed underneath the bridge, the Sydney Opera House came into view, glistening in the sun. As a former student of architecture, there are certain buildings that are on my bucket list. The Opera House is one of them and our first view of her did not disappoint.
The harbour was packed full of boats, most decked out for Australia Day. And we were all waiting for the Ferry Races. It’s a tradition for several ferries, decked out in sponsors’ colors for the holiday, to race across the harbour, finishing at the Harbour Bridge.
Our boat, the Constellation, started slowly heading out towards where the ferries were waiting to start the race. It was slow going and the ferries were traveling really slowly. One of the harbour patrol pulled up alongside us and motioned for our boat to get out of the way. So we headed off to the side and it looked like we were going to miss the whole thing.
But, at the last minute, we turned and headed back towards the bridge, just as the ferries began to pick up speed. The race was on and we were in the perfect spot to watch it. As we cruised under the bridge just ahead of the ferries, they raced up and we were neck and neck with them as they sped for the bridge. Here is our view of the end of the race.
The Red one, sponsored by Zip Water, pulled ahead and won! And we were right alongside her! It was thrilling to watch the finish of the race and hear the horns blowing to mark the end!
After that, we hung out on the upper deck of the boat and watched a few of the flyovers, which were rather lame, and checked out some of the many boats in the harbour that day.
We were waiting for the Tall Ships race to start. Three tall ships raced from the other side of the harbour headed for the Harbour bridge. While not as exciting a finish as the ferry race, it is always a joy to watch the big Tall Ships in action. They finished at the bridge, with canons firing.
Before we knew it, our cruise was over and it was time to head back to Darling Harbour. We spent the afternoon doing a bit of a pub crawl through The Rocks area of Sydney, sampling microbrews and snacking along the way. Then it was time to head back to Coogee and watch the end of the Men’s Final of the Australian Open.
All in all, a great day! K&J, thanks so much for an amazing time! Can’t wait to meet up with you two again someplace along the way.
Best Aussie Day, EVER!