Australia, Blog

Sailing Sydney Harbour on a Shoestring

The Iconic Sydney Harbour is right up there in the must do sailing destinations of the world. It felt surreal to be cruising under the harbour bridge together, on our own boat, half a world away from where our journey began.


Witnessing the tip of Florence’s mast glide under the soaring metal framework of one of the world’s most famous bridges gave us a serious case of the warm and fuzzy feelings. The achievement of sailing ‘half-way around the world’ had passed under the keel thousands of miles ago, yet this had that same landmark moment feeling. Yet another seemingly impossible dream accomplished together.

Photos of Florence with thanks to Marjo and Mark on Ospray

Our arrival in Sydney had coincided with the city’s ‘silly season’; the southern hemisphere Christmas and New Year summer break that still feels so alien to us (Christmas should be cold not hot!). Offices loose their hard working staff, and usually solitary soles like us gain a LOT of noisy, excited neighbours. Neighbours anchored so close we could have a whispered conversation with them, if it was not for their heavily vibrating sound system competing with the revelry on our opposite side. Serenity is not an option. The party season must be embraced if we are to experience the city in it’s New Year celebration splendor.

Where’s Florence?!

Our party season was kicked off with a traditional Aussie Christmas BBQ aboard Osprey with friends Mark and Marjo. Boxing day brought the start of the Sydney Hobart Race, an amazing spectacle, viewed from the northern headland, walking distance from our anchorage.

Next on the calendar was the ‘not be missed’ Sydney New Year Fireworks. The chaos of Christmas served as great training for the mayhem of New Year. Thousands of other boaters jostled for the top viewing spot of the great event. In a last minute ‘we are only here once’ leap, we rafted up with friends Jadean and Osprey right at the heart of the action, in front of the Opera House. Jadean had been holding a great spot for us and their twin engine catamaran proved extremely useful. Their skipper Barry regularly manoeuvred our anchored, 3 boat raft away from other boats who came in late and wanted in on the party. Despite the chaos, the experience of watching the fireworks from Florence was everything we had hoped it would be and made even more special for being shared with friends.

A quiet bay to sleep off the excitement was not to be found. Instead we set about exploring more of the harbour and city. Sydney is ranked among the most expensive cities in the world so exploring on our budget meant picnics, parks, free galleries, museums and events. With free moorings/anchorages and use of our folding bikes, an expensive city became a very cheap month for us. Here are some of our highlights and ways we kept the cost down.

The Botanical Gardens

As we are not city people at heart, we often find ourselves seeking sanctuary from the city in it’s gardens and green spaces. The Botanical Gardens in Sydney has a very interesting history, beautiful gardens and great views, plus it’s totally free to enter.


Getting Around

Sydney viewed from Bradley Head

As with most places we visit we managed to keep costs down while getting around by walking and cycling (using our folding bikes) all over the city and surrounding areas. An Opal travel card made getting further afield very reasonable.Β  Our favourite walks included days wandering around the city sights (Opera House, gardens, Harbour Bridge, The Rocks, Fish Market etc), around Bradley Head and a separate trip up Middle Harbour. We did several other walks, including Bondi Beach to Coogee but preferred the quieter, more natural surrounds of Bantry Bay in Middle Harbour and Bradley Head.


A Day Trip to The Blue Mountains

dsc_0123-2Our day trip on the train to the Blue Mountains, 2 hours inland of Sydney, proved to be excellent value at $2.70 pp (around Β£1.50). With a New South Wales Opal travel card you can travel anywhere in NSW for $2.70 on a Sunday! We joined Mark and Marjo on a day of short hikes around the Blue Mountains, using the bus/train to get between sights. The views of the famous Three Sisters was spectacular but we all said that if we were to return, we would choose to spend more time on the Wentworth Falls hike.

Museums and Galleries

There are lots of free exhibitions around the City. A particular favourite of ours was the Maritime Mu -sea -um where we discovered a yacht the exact same age and size of Florence! It had good reason to be there having been the first yacht to have sailed non-stop around the world by a female solo sailor (Australian, Kay Cottee). Inspiring stuff, yet sad to see so much good, still useful, kit hanging in a museum.

So-long Sydney

The free ‘Opera in the Domain’. You even get to take your own picnic and wine.

Sydney has been everything we expected and more. For two non city folk, we have to admit we really like this place. There are few cities you can sail right into the heart of, safely anchor your home, then experience world class Opera, Fireworks, sites and shows all totally free and available to all.Β  Top that with great sailing, iconic architecture and surprisingly friendly people and we start to wonder why we are leaving. It’s not goodbye Sydney, we’ll be seeing you again one day.

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12 thoughts on “Sailing Sydney Harbour on a Shoestring”

  1. That’s awesome. It’s funny you’re finding the bridge the most iconic item, while I think the Opera House is way more impressive, and I was in awe when I saw that picture in the post! I might be biased because I sail by the other iconic bridge called Golden Gate bridge πŸ˜‰
    Thank you for this incredibly inspiring post! Fair winds!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment Philippe. We agree the Opera House is the most iconic/impressive but you can’t sail under the Opera House, although we loved looking at it. Maybe we will sail under the Golden Gate Bridge one day to compare! Fair winds to you too.


  2. Loving your story! We bought our yacht in Sydney and it was that busy on the harbour on our test sail, I handed the helm back to the agent. Something we already knew, I’m not nearly as brave as you two.
    Fair winds and keep the wonderful posts coming


  3. Hey guys looks like you are having the most amazing time STILL….since we met you both in Fakarava – French Polynesia. Which seems like decades ago. While we have been back at work you guys are still living your dreams… such an inspiration to all. Any way I see you in are “touring” Australia. Are you intending to come down south to Adelaide? If you are we would love to see you both and show you around. We have a good friend who owns a yacht and is into sailing who could help you with mooring etc. You know we don’t sail so don’t really know what you require, but he will help. Rest assure we can give both a great “land base” experience of Adelaide – South Australia. Let us know.
    David and Lisa

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Guys
      Great to hear from you! All this time away just means it will be a bigger shock when we go back to work… When we met you we think our plan was to be away for 4 years, now we have increased that to 6 years, so we are actually only half way through (and about half way around the world). It is still not enough time to see everything we want to see, but it is an amazing opportunity so we don’t complain at all.
      We won’t make it south of Sydney in Australia, the distances are big and this year we are going from here to Thailand, so the further south we go the further we have to go back. Thank you very much for the offer though we would have loved to have taken you up on it had we been heading your way. Maybe one day we will come back and explore by land all the places that we don’t manage to see on this lap of the planet.
      Fakarava was such an amazing place, it is still our favourite place for the natural environment (our favourite place for the local people is now Vanuatu though) we want to go back there at some point. We hope you are planning you next great escape, maybe we can see you there… πŸ˜‰
      Cheers Matt and Amy


      1. Hello, one our new neighbours in the Marina thought we might be you guys (he watches your You Tube videos) because we have a fairly similar yacht to yours. Very similar in fact, she’s an Oyster Heritage 37′ called Velindra, one of Florence’s sister ships! We are in Mackay, Queensland AU. It would have been great to meet up with you, but by the sounds we’ve missed you.. it would be lovely to make contact with you guys and share some stories! πŸ™‚
        Alison and Liam

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi Alison and Liam,
        We would love to meet you and Velindra and exchange stories. There aren’t many Oyster Heritage 37’s around! We are heading back up the coast at the end of cyclone season but it will depend on the weather as to if/how long we are able to stop for. It’s likely to be around June this year, will you still be there?
        Amy and Matt

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Fantastic, fingers crossed for good weather! We will indeed be around in June and it would be so good to meet up with you guys. We will watch your travel plans on your blog, but if you’d like to send an email, Liam’s address is stay safe, cheers for now πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

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