Where Vibrant Sydney Turns Electric: A Photo Essay


If Sydney were a movie genre, it would be a romantic comedy.

From its beach communities to the bridge and opera house; the Royal Botanical Gardens to its youthful, good natured, forwarding thinking population, everything in Sydney is a little sharper, a little more vibrant and a little better than your city.

The city explodes with color and energy from its unmistakable skyline to events like Vivid Sydney where stunning light shows project onto buildings across town for two full weeks in May. It is a charming yet sophisticated city where rather than mere birds in the trees, there are rainbow lorikeets and cockatoos.

In the evening, everyone drinks yet by 6am the whole city runs, bikes or is otherwise engaged in any number of high octane activities, all of which involve a bathing suit. It is an economically thriving city where the pies have meat and everyone have a sense of humor, a charming accent and ‘heaps” of fun against the backdrop of one of the world’s most beautiful natural settings.

Not convinced? Here are a few photos from my day in Sydney and the neighboring Blue Mountains to convince you…

During Vivid Sydney, the entire city lights up but nothing is more transfixing than the Opera House. Whether you are standing in front of it or looking at it from across the harbor, as the sails animate, so too does the city.

Bondi’s beach is one of Sydney’s most famous. A twenty minute cab ride from downtown, in Bondi, you feel like you’ve stumbled upon a quaint beach town, yet you haven’t left the city. All across Australia, swim clubs build pools into the rocky shoreline and no pool is more iconic than the Bondi Icebergs. Not only is it the most picturesque pool in New South Wales, but the epic walk from Bondi to neighboring Bronte beach starts where The Icebergs end.

If you’d prefer a Mountain View to a beach sunset, a two hour drive into New South Wales’ famed Blue Mountains will provide you with not just extraordinary views but hikes and wildlife viewing.

Sydney’s bird life is on point. Many of the birds you find zipping around Sydney, you can also find in pet stores and zoos across the United States. Among the most beautiful is the rainbow lorikeet. These stunners travel in noisy flocks and can be seen anywhere from the Botanical Gardens to the countryside.

The first time I came to Sydney, I took an early morning walk through the Botanical Gardens and fell in love with Sydney. The view spans from the skyline and the Opera House across to Luna Park and beyond.

The Sydney Bridge is a flamboyant one on its worst day. On New Year’s Eve, it explodes with fireworks as the world’s first city enters another year but when it lights up for Vivid Sydney, with the Opera House in the background, it is something to behold.

Though the birds of Australia are beautiful, they are also loud and these cockatoos in Sydney’s Royal Botanical Gardens are often heard before they are seen. Though fun to watch in the air, their gymnastics in the trees as they move from branch to branch is nothing short of Olympic.

The Blue Mountains are full of Eucalyptus trees and in the summer months, the heat warms the leaves which then emit a mist giving the entire range a bluish tint.

Sydney’s Luna Park, with its old-time Ferris wheel and other carnival rides is equal parts awesome and nostalgic. During Vivid Sydney, Luna Park truly embraces its old school nature  with a dazzling show projected onto the park’s fun house.

Read more about Matt’s Australian adventures in the 405 Magazine:

A Bounty of Beaches: A selection of sandy bliss

“Sunlight reflects off the gleaming white trunks of towering spotted gum trees, giving the littoral rainforest a mystic, muted green glow as you cruise down a modest paved road toward Pebbly Beach in southern New South Wales’ Murramarang National Park. Your neck is a touch sore, because more than once in the 10 kilometers since the main road, you’ve slammed on your brakes in an attempt to identify a mysterious marsupial glimpsed fleetingly as it hops, creeps or scampers across the road. You’ve watched enough Animal Planet to know that Australia is wild, but you didn’t know exactly how wild until you pull into the parking lot of Pebbly Beach and open your car door.” Read the full article

and in Travel Age West: 

What to Do in Southern New South Wales

“Besides the squawks of a handful of mischievous cockatoos pecking around the river’s edge, the morning was quiet. New South Wales’ Clyde River estuary system was glassy as our kayaks slid into the water. The riverbanks were dotted with ramshackle oyster sheds, where old boats began sputtering to life as their owners headed toward the oyster farms for a day’s work.” Read the full article

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