Into the woods, into the sea

It is a bit hard to believe that I've been living in Sydney for three years. I still remember the day when I broke the news and sat down with a colleague at a local family restaurant in Hong Kong, he said “Three years is a really long time”. I couldn't agree more back then.

When you are in your early 20s, three years makes up almost 1/6 of your life and probably a half of your career, which really means something. Taking a career change, trying out new things or moving to a new country comes with opportunity cost that only increases by time.

I basically spent my 20s wandering around, changing places every few years. With the thought that I might not be in a city for long, I try living up to the motto that I wanna have no regrets when I leave one day. This applies to Hong Kong, and Sydney too.

Australia is famous for its laid-back culture, beautiful coastlines and beaches. It doesn't have all the exciting growth and development that we are witnessing in Asia, where I probably relate a bit more to. Here, shops close early and there's not much night life or entertainment. All I can think of is the beach and nature, which I'd appreciate only at the beginning.

It might be true that every city you live in becomes dull ultimately, only because you're too familiar with it and stop exploring. However, many times, life is about changing attitudes and perspectives, and I'm so glad I see Sydney in another way - beyond the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

These days, my greatest joy of a week is to head out for a short hike. Sydney is privileged to have the best of both sides - the sea and the bush. What's even better, you don't have to drive out too far.

Here, I'm going to share some of my favourite places in Sydney, if you live around or come to visit one day, check them out! 😀

Palm Beach#

Palm Beach does have a special place in my mind. The first encounter was just magical that it deserves to be at the top.

It was towards the end of a long weekend road trip that my friend and I drove down from the north to return our vehicle. On the way, we saw Palm Beach on the map and decided to head over for a short break.

It was a typical scenic ocean drive. The weather was not perfect with patches of clouds, but that didn't bother us too much. Just at that moment, as I was enjoying the view and my last bit of relaxation, the playlist shuffled to a song called 彩虹(Rainbow) by Jay Chou, and when I looked up, there was also a rainbow, hanging over the sky.

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palm beach, one of my fav places in Sydney

Since then, I've probably been to Palm Beach and walked up to Barrenjoey Lighthouse multiple times. It never disappoints, and in my honest opinion, it's better than Bondi. 😏

Diamond Bay to Watson Bay#

I just learned that this is part of the Federation Cliff Walk while writing this post 🤭. The whole costal trail starts from North of Bondi, and extends all the way to Hornby Lighthouse, which is about 5km one way.

I went there first time on a late summer afternoon, and I think it's one of the best trails in the city to experience the iconic coastline of Australia.

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diamond bay

Along the way, there's also the historic Macquarie Lighthouse, which is the the first and the longest serving lighthouse in Australia. The pure white colour of the lighthouse and the blue sky remind me of Eluanbi Lighthouse in Kenting, located in the southmost point of Taiwan.

It'd be really nice to listen to Oceans Away by A R I Z O N A or 国境之南(South of the Border) by Fan Yi Chen while you're in either place.

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playground and macquarie lighthouse from afar

Bradleys Head to Chowder Bay#

I don't get excited visiting zoos after adulthood, but this one is an exception.

Located in the Lower North Shore of Sydney and one of the prime suburbs Mosman, you get to walk in the bush while enjoying the city skyline of Sydney. It is hard to imagine having such a nature reserve while being so close to the hustle and bustle of the city.

The bonus point for the trail is towards the end, where you can take a ride of the Sky Safari, the cable car ride at Sydney Taronga Zoo for free and get a sneak peek of some animals!

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disclaimer: i took this in the zoo🦒

North Arm#

This track leads you deep into the woods in the heart of Sydney. You can either start from H.C. Press Park or from the entry near North Arm Road to fully indulge yourself in the fresh air from the forest and warm breeze from the harbour.

The ancient bush, the meandering creek and the deserted bridge paint a picture like Miyazaki's movie Spirited Away. A dose of sunshine really helps to recharge for a brand new day.

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this is komorebi 木漏れ日, meaning the interplay between light and leaves when the sunlight shines through leaves in japanese

Central Coast#

Central Coast is my getaway. It's just an hour away from Sydney city and the lifestyle there is so much more relaxed (yes, Sydney is considered the most intense place in Australia 😅).

My first trip to Central Coast was in the winter last year. My friend and I stayed at The Entrance, which is a typical small town with a typical simple life. In the daytime, we went hiking and later back to hotel and hit the gym. At night, we'd grab some KFC (that was the only thing available) and binge watching documentaries.

So far I've explored both Bouddi National Park and the trail from Bateau Bay to Forresters Beach.

The entire Bouddi costal walk is 8km, which would take up a whole day if you're an avid hiker. I normally take a shorter route return, from Putty Beach to Maitland Bay, along which you still get to enjoy the Pacific Ocean and the rainforest.

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bouddi national park

Bateau Bay was my latest discovery in my second visit. We picked a weekday when there were rarely any interstate tourists. It was late autumn when some bushes turned red and gold. Locals jogged after a day of work, and everything was just so peaceful.

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view from the bateau bay

Seeing all these sometimes makes me forget we are still in a global pandemic. Changes happen so fast, but the mountain and the ocean remain the same. It keeps reminding me how beautiful this planet is and gives me hope for good things to come.

I don't think I've covered enough, and there are clearly a lot more to be explored in Sydney and beyond. When the day comes that I have to depart and say goodbye, I think I'd have no regrets and everything I have here has made it worthwhile.