After my three months of various bits and bobs, it’s time to settle down. (For one thing, I need to work to rebuild my funds for future travel and adventures around this crazy country!) The point of me undertaking a working holiday visa was to live life in a different country, as I haven’t ruled out emigrating to another country in the future if the UK still isn’t doing it for me. I know far too many backpackers who merely experience an extended vacation full of the stereotypical tourist things, and as a result barely scratch the surface with what the country has to offer.
I am now working as an au pair for a wonderful family living in Killara, NSW, about a 20 minute train journey from central Sydney. The family are total Sydneysiders and I am using this to my complete advantage when it comes to my days off as they are definitely not short on good things to do in Sydney! After picking their brains a few days before my weekend off I decided my first adventure would begin with a trip to Balls Head Reserve in north Sydney, with the promise of a bushwalk or two, some beautiful views of Sydney Harbour and maybe even some native wildlife if I was lucky! Handily, Killara is on the same train line as Waverton – the station closest to Balls Head Reserve, and so for the grand total of $2.36 on my Opal Card I found myself in a rather cloudy and overcast (but nevertheless, warm!) Waverton with no idea where to go next! Sadly I am not notorious for having a great sense of direction. I am, more or less, the reason Google Maps exists.
After sacrificing a little of my 400MB of monthly data (seriously Australia, catch up! That is not a standard rate…at least not by UK standards!) I found my route and began to wander through Waverton in the direction of Balls Head Reserve. There’s a few quaint little tea and coffee shops that I passed en route, which I made a mental note to come back and purchase from later on in my day and promptly forgot about until I got back home! Smooth Kate, smooth.
After a 15 minute walk I found myself at a dead end in a car park full of white vans. Not where I intended to be at all, but it did provide a rather nice view of the Harbour Bridge…
A promising sign of what was to come! Awkwardly however, I’d passed an American couple about two minutes previously who had asked me for directions, and I had no idea where they were meant to be going but announced (rather proudly) that where I needed to be was just down this hill. Naturally I then had to backtrack on myself, performing something not dissimilar to a walk of shame as I passed them, only for us all to then realise we were going to the same place! Oops!
After reading countless signs about various routes and walks that could be embarked upon I picked one and headed in that vague direction. If truth be told I wasn’t took fussed about going on a specific walk to see 200 varieties of leaf and identify the bush’s birds, I was happy to just wander about and maybe find somewhere with a good view for a spot of lunch. Which is exactly what I did…only I managed to gatecrash quite a few Valentine’s Day picnics in the process!
I’m ashamed to say this became a recurring theme to my day. Naively, I hadn’t realised that setting out to a well known and used picnic spot on Valentine’s Day would result in many an embarrassing moment. As I don’t have a Valentine (please don’t get out the violins just yet ladies and gentlemen, I’m all good with that!) I had decided today would be a day that I spent with the one I love the most – myself! Always good for the soul I find! Only this was not so great for the soul, though thankfully out of the four picnics I stumbled across only one couple looked a bit annoyed. I can only pray that there were no proposals planned for that day, as I definitely do not want to feature in their “how did he propose” story for the rest of eternity!
Aside from this slight hiccup, I thoroughly enjoyed Balls Head Reserve. The views of Harbour Bridge were all that I was promised, and after a bit of adventurous clambering down the rocks I even found myself in a position to paddle in the water – if only there had been a bit more sunshine it would have been perfect!
After I’d exhausted all that Balls Head Reserve had to offer I made my way back to Waverton station (forgetting all about my pledges to indulge in a tea break in the area) to embark upon the second half of my adventure. My au pair family had recommended making my way to Milson’s Point and walking across Harbour Bridge, and with most of the afternoon free I figured this was as good a time as any! So that is exactly what I did, and some blue sky even tried to make an appearance for the benefit of my photos!
As with any significant bridges these days, there were random padlocks dotted around. I’m not too sure I agree with the symbolism of attaching padlocks on to bridges, especially as the Locks of Love bridge in Paris is having to have padlocks removed due to the weight of them all threatening the safety of the bridge itself! However, I was forced to reconsider my stance when I came across this padlock…
My initials! Found on a day I had dedicated to myself! It’s the little things in life, you know?!
After my rather delightful stroll across the bridge I found myself in The Rocks, which I can safely say is my favourite part of central Sydney. Coincidentally I stumbled upon The Rocks Weekend Market and spent the rest of my afternoon pottering about, chatting to those manning their stalls and even indulging in an ice cream!
After a quick break in the visitors centre (where I went to town on free pamphlets! I intend to make a huge scrapbook of my adventures upon my return, and who doesn’t love a good pamphlet in there as well as all the photos?!) I decided it was time to head home. I’d had a lovely (cheap!) day out sightseeing and taking in the sights of Sydney, clocked up over 17,000 steps on my Fitbit and thoroughly enjoyed my Valentine’s Day all by myself. I’d wholeheartedly recommend Balls Head Reserve to anyone who wants some great views of the Harbour Bridge, a nice picnic spot and a few walks too.
Until my next adventure! 🙂