Liz and I always try to get the most out of our travel experiences, including layovers. And recently we had a flight from Singapore to New Zealand that included a stop through Sydney, Australia with a 9 hour layover. Normally we wouldn’t want to have a 9 hour layover, but since we had never been to Sydney before, this seemed like the perfect chance to do explore a destination that we had always wanted to visit…and do a bit of geocaching in Australia for the first time!
9 Hours in Sydney, Great for Geocaching in Australia
Our flight from Singapore was an overnight flight, so we arrived in Sydney first thing in the morning. Having nine hours in the middle of the day seemed like the perfect amount of time, almost a full day to explore! Luckily the Sydney airport had lockers so we could lock up some of our belongings so that we didn’t have to haul it all around town. This is an important consideration if you want to go geocaching during a layover. Then we hopped on the train that took us from the airport direct into the city.
After asking around, it appeared that the best place to exit the train would be Circular Quay station, right in the heart of town and near all the attractions, like the famous opera house. We had previously downloaded OpenStreetMaps to our Garmin Oregon 650T and even downloaded some caches around the Circular Quay area. So we were ready to see what geocaching Australia was about.
After a quick, but expensive train ride into Circular Quay we were ready to see what the area had to offer. We wanted our first cache in Sydney and Australia to be a memorable one, so we searched and found that there was a cache hidden up on the famous Harbor Bridge. So we pulled it up on our Garmin and started the walk up the bridge to our first Geocache in the Southern Hemisphere.
Finding Our First Geocache In Australia!
After exiting the train in downtown Sydney, we followed the Garmin directions to the first cache. It took us on a walk through a very historic district of Sydney called “the rocks.” This is one of the first areas settled in Sydney so long ago, when the “convicts” were brought here to colonize. We enjoyed strolling through the area and reading some of the historical signs, as well as admiring the old architecture.
The walk eventually led us to the Sydney Harbor bridge, and we realized that the cache was up on the bridge. We were lucky to have such a beautiful Spring day in Sydney, and we really enjoyed the view as we walked across the bridge. The Harbor Bridge overlooks the harbor and the beautiful iconic Sydney Opera House. But being such a nice day, there were many people out enjoying this perfect weather; so we had to be a very discreet in our search while the joggers and walkers were passing us by.
After a short walk, we came up to the GZ and near our first geocache in Australia. We searched around for this magnetic cache for a bit, then finally found it. Our first cache in Australia. “YES!!!” we shouted.
READ MORE: What’s in a Geocache? Treasure?
Introducing Geocaching to Muggles in Australia
After taking a couple of fun pictures of our first cache in the middle of the bridge with the Opera House in the background, we were off to continue exploring this historic area of the city. You know the feeling, after finding one cache you just want to keep going! So we looked up another cache on our way back down toward the Harbor, and we noticed another nearby us tucked away in a small area with a couple of benches. So we decided to go for it.
This was supposed to be a quick and easy grab, but we were having difficulty being inconspicuous because there were a couple of business ladies sitting on one of the benches enjoying their lunch break. We didn’t want to draw attention to the “muggles” if we could help it. After a bit of time, it was obvious that they were eye-balling us, especially when we approached the area where they were sitting. So we confessed to them what we were doing.
They were super intrigued about the whole concept and began asking a lot of questions. After a bit, they even began to help us look for the cache! Now that they were in on the hunt, we didn’t have to be so sneaky in our search. It didn’t take us long to find the cache, very cleverly disguised too! The two ladies were amazed! They loved the idea that you can geocache all around the world, and they even posed for a photo with us and the cache! After showing them what was inside and explaining a bit more about our geocaching adventures, we said our goodbyes and were off again.
Enjoying Sydney Harbor on a Beautiful Day
Our next stop was the main Sydney Harbor area. This area was buzzing about with street performers and lots of outdoor cafes. Walking around the harbor Liz and I kept saying how cool it was that we were in Australia, after all, it wasn’t our ultimate destination on this trip. So to be able to stand in front of the Opera House knowing that we were in Australia was a great feeling!
Walking around the harbor on such a beautiful day was just perfect. We even decided to stop at one of the outside cafes for lunch. Now, keep in mind that Sydney is extremely expensive…especially this area. Regardless of the price, we happily enjoyed an enormous (and tasty) burger, fries, and a local craft beer while sitting outside soaking up the sun and gazing out at the harbor. After a couple weeks in Thailand eating rice and noodle dishes, that was the best tasting burger – and the view was amazing!
Exploring Royal Botanical Gardens Park in Sydney, Australia
After our lunch we walked to the other side of the Opera House and into the Royal Botanical Gardens Park. This is an enormous park area, with a quite a lot of things to look at, and there is a lot of history all around the area. From famous speeches, to important landings of settlers and dignitaries on the continent. But best of all, this park it is completely free to explore! Not only was this beautiful park full of rich and vibrant flowers, it was also full of some great geocaches.
We walked around the water’s edge to the other side of the small bay in search of a couple geocaches. As we walked further, we noticed the views of the opera house and harbor bridge getting even better. This walk in the park was exactly what we needed to enjoy Sydney during this layover.
READ MORE: Why Go Geocaching
Soon, we arrived at our destination where some caches were hidden. So we began our search for a couple of park themed caches. These guys were all a little different, from small nanos to small sized tupperware containers. And there was a great EarthCache there as well that had an amazing view!
After finding a couple of caches around the park, we enjoyed just sitting back and relaxing while taking in the views of Sydney. This park was just beautifully manicured and full of unique trees and colorful flowers. It was such a gorgeous sight, and to have the iconic Sydney Opera House and the Harbor Bridge as a backdrop made the perfect setting. We had to keep pinching ourselves that we were in Sydney, Australia.
Geocaching in Australia During a Layover in Sydney…SUCCESS!!!
After a lovely stroll around the park, it was time for us to head back to the airport to catch our flight to another beautiful country, New Zealand. We hopped back on the train to the airport, made a stop at our lockers to pick up our gear, then headed through security and to our departing gate. With plenty of time to spare, we felt like we made the most out of our time in Sydney during our layover. Not only were we able to get out and stretch our legs after a long flight, but we were able to see the iconic sights of Sydney and even grab a few geocaches!
We highly recommend that if at all possible when booking flights, give yourself a long layover in a new city so you are able to get outside the airport to explore. But you MUST do your research well in advance. Check for adequate transportation to and from the area you want to explore, download good maps so that you don’t get lost (and bring a paper map just in case). Also if you are traveling internationally, check regulations to see if you are even able to leave the airport and if you need a visa.
We loved our short time in Sydney, and while we know we didn’t get to see everything that it had to offer, we did get to experience a lot in our 9 hours in Sydney.