We set off from Wollongong on an adventure to Sydney Airport to pick up a couple of people who flew in from Merimbula, and then headed to the Adina Apartments located on the Wharf at Darling Harbour. Everyone was so excited to be on the Home and Away tour, there was lots of chatter. Once we arrived, we were shown to our rooms to unpack our belongings and have a bit of down time to become acquainted with each other. It was a beautiful beginning to new friendships. We strolled along Darling Harbour Wharf taking in the sights of the many cafes, restaurants, boats, ships and Ferris wheel, looking for a nice, cool place to sit down and eat lunch. There was an impressive and wide array of cafes to choose from with burgers, hot chips and sushi being the popular choice. After we were full, we walked up through Darling Harbour to the Chinese Garden of Friendship (we thought it was very fitting!) where we were able to enjoy the peace and serenity of the beautiful landscaped gardens, waterfalls and rock formations. We happened upon a bearded dragon and a water gecko, such a massive contrast between the bustling city and the little pocket of nature we were exploring. Later that afternoon, we strolled along the bustling streets to Laksa King Malaysian Cuisine where we sat down for an inviting dinner. By the time we finished, it was nearing 7:00 PM so the rush to walk back to the room to watch Home and Away was on! Tonight’s episode was particularly exciting as we were going to Summer Bay in the morning for the Home and Away tour. It was becoming real! By the time H&A was done, some of our group were ready to turn in but an adventurous few walked over to Darling Harbour Wharf to look at the pretty city lights.
There were big smiles all around as we headed off on the Home and Away tour. There was lots of chatter about what everyone was going to purchase from the souvenir shop. We arrived in The Rocks to board the Home and Away bus and enjoy an official guided tour of Summer Bay. Tim Franklin (who played Colby on Home and Away, not that anyone in our group could have missed that important piece of info), surprised everyone when he appeared, walking up the path to board the bus to hang out for a bit. He was so lovely, welcoming and graciously answered the many questions everyone had for him. The bus meandered up the coast of Sydney’s Northern Beaches to Mona Vale beach for a photo session with Tim. We got so caught up taking pictures that we almost forgot there was the opportunity to purchase some souvenirs before boarding the bus again to Palm Beach. We ate lunch at the Palm Beach Surf Club Café, not far from Alf Stewart’s Boat Shop, before cruising around to the Bait Shop Café, the filming location of MANY episodes of our favourite show. We enjoyed a walk along the jetty and took in the amazingly beautiful serene view before driving to Avalon past some of the residential houses used by the characters in the show (we kept an eye out for Lynne but she mustn’t have been home). It was a wonderful exciting day and when asked, the travellers said the best part of the day was “Meeting Tim, going to Alf’s Tackle Shop and enjoying us all out being together and having fun.” To finish off the day we had dinner Beer Deluxe at on King Street Wharf Darling before heading back to the room to watch, can you guess? Say it with us… Home and Away.
We drove to Bronte Baths for a swim but, to our disappointment, the pool was closed for cleaning and the beach was closed to swimming due to large surf! We strolled along the Bondi to Coogee path instead, taking in the beautiful salty air and enjoying the view. We were not disappointed for long when Anthony Harries (Hoppo) from Bondi Rescue came running up the beach, carrying his surfboard under one arm. What a sight! He was more than happy to chat with our little group of Trusted Travellers, some of them being lucky enough to have a quick happy snap with him. After Bronte, there was only one place on our itinerary – the world-renowned, Australian Icon known as Bondi Beach. We were lucky enough to get photos with THE Jethro James from Bondi Rescue and a few of the other guards. We ate lunch in the Pavilion on Bondi Beach and decided to take our last afternoon in the city a bit easier than our last few action-packed days. We strolled back along the path, taking in the sights of all the beautiful murals painted on the walls of Sydney’s most famous beaches. In the afternoon, we returned to the city for a bit more souvenir shopping at Market City in Haymarket – Some of us picked up some great items and gifts for family, a memento of a great adventure; Others went back to Darling Harbour Wharf to gaze in oar (get it, awe?) at the size of the ships moored there. It was finally time to wind down and, upon our return to the Adina Apartments we had a refreshing dip in the pool before enjoying dinner in our rooms while watching none other than Home and Away. Again, some of our small group were exhausted, others enjoyed a late evening stroll along the Harbour Wharf and out to Barangaroo to take in the sight of the many restaurants and lights one last time.
Home day! We packed up and swung by the airport to say goodbye to a few of the travellers. The remaining group took the scenic route back to Wollongong – We toured through the Royal National Park to Bundeena which was a stunning way to finish off the trip. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and this trip was no exception. We got back into Wollongong, swapped socials with our new friends and started planning the next trip away together. Until next time!