1. Go up onto the Cahill Walkway. And walk along it. Take time to photograph in both directions (I was a bit pressed for time, so didn’t). Access from Circular Quay is via an elevator at the Opera House end of everything, beyond the train station, at ground level.
2. Overseas Passenger Terminal. The view from here is wonderful, especially if the upper level balcony is available and there is no cruise ship in town. Their lookout tower is even better – allowing you to look around to the bridge as well as over to the Opera House.
3. Mrs Macquaries Chair. For Vivid, this is a slightly unusual suggestion, as the Opera House is only floodlit from the opposite side, rather than seeing the decorative light painting. But getting that iconic view with the harbour bridge lit up is still a winner.
4. The Manly Ferry. Whether you do this by day or by night doesn’t matter. Just do it. Unless you are off to the Zoo, in which case, take the boat. The views over the city from the water just can’t be beaten.
Take your best photography kit. Whatever you can lay your hands on. A sturdy tripod and a hands-free shutter release are two real key pieces of kit. And take your widest angle auto-focus lens, you’ll want it at some point. I took a range of lenses and used most of them.
For shots close in to the Opera House, or overlooking Circular Quay, my 10-22mm f3.5 generated some incredible shots. For anything slightly further away, I often found my 18-135mm f3.5 did a great job. I varied exposure length and ISO to get different effects as well. For walking around the smaller exhibits in areas where hand-held was better, my 24mm f2.8 pancake lens was worth its weight in gold. Easy to handle, wide-enough yet tight-enough field of view, great crisp images handheld at 1/10s at not excruciating ISO.
We had an AirBnB apartment with a kitchen, so we cooked for ourselves one meal a day (and had daily cereal with fruit for breakfast). Our only two dining out experiences were necessity driven.
Old Town Hong Kong in Barangaroo was the first place near Darling Harbour we could find that had something I could maybe eat without too many problems, and also a queue less than 20 minutes. The food was good but not great, I wouldn’t rave about it, and I wouldn’t advise it for sensitive / reactive coeliacs – I know I probably did damage, but I had no reaction.
Café Villa at North Fort was the only food option available without walking at least 35 minutes back to Manly. Not long after we ordered, a bus went past – the bus goes two hourly, and part of me wishes we had been on it. Being Italian in focus, the menu is extremely limited for a coeliac who doesn’t like mushroom risotto. I had a salad, which was nice but unsatisfying on a cold day.
We flew Air New Zealand. As always, the service was comfortable enough. However, the seats on Trans-Tasman A320’s feel even more restrictive in space than domestic flights. Also, disembarking has become a long slow process in the back end of the plane since the seat-only option was introduced. Sydney Koru was nice, albeit unsurprisingly busy on the Monday of a NZ long weekend. The food was good, and the GF apple and cinnamon muffins were divine (I was prepared for them to be rocks of sadness, so was more than pleasantly surprised. I think I had 3).
Sydney is incredibly easy to get around as a tourist. Well, mostly. The bus routes can be complex, but google maps / Transport NSW both make navigating the buses 100x easier than it used to be. We caught a few trains, a handful of buses and a ferry. Not a bad haul in 3 days. We did a massive amount of walking though, when staying in the CBD it really is the best way to get around, until you are too tired to do it anymore. We did get lost-ish once, when apple maps directed us through Wynyard Station without telling us that’s what it was doing, but that’s about the worst of it, and not even that bad. Having a tall, easily identifiable, building to call home-base helped though.