Summer Days in Summer Bay

We started our trip on Friday by meeting friends in Wollongong and headed to The Grounds of Alexandria for lunch. The Grounds is a very special place; we enjoyed patting their goats and exploring all their beautiful and colorful new Valentine’s Day decorations. 

After lunch, we headed to the city. The weather was good, so we were able to walk around the old sandstone areas of The Rocks, cross parts of the Harbour Bridge, and check out the massive Ovation of the Seas ship docked at Circular Quay. 

It was then time to check into our hotel, the Ibis Darling Harbour. 

Unfortunately, someone called it the “Bin Chicken” after the slang for IBIS, and the name stuck even though it’s a fabulous hotel with great rooms and staff who really looked after us! 

It was a great time to visit Sydney, as it was also Chinese New Year! From our hotel at 9 pm, we were able to get front row seats for a spectacular show featuring 300 synchronized drones, changing colors and forming into huge shapes like dragons and Chinese symbols for luck and prosperity. 

On Saturday, we headed out to Bare Island fort at La Perouse with its 130-year-old bridge and magnificent views of Botany Bay before driving up near the Sydney airport runway to do some close-up plane spotting. 

Then it was time to head to Bondi for lunch at North Bondi RSL. We had hoped to see the Bondi lifesavers, but the huge North Bondi Surf Club Classic was on, so we sat back and watched a couple of races before heading somewhere quieter and with more shade… Paddy’s Market. 

Paddy’s Market is always fun and always busy, but being right in Chinatown during Chinese New Year meant it was the busiest we have ever seen it. All across Chinatown, there were dozens of dancing lions and performing cultural groups, even right in the middle of Paddy’s Market. It was great fun, but it was also pretty loud and very crowded, so it was time to head back to the Bin Chicken before heading out to dinner. 

Just like the night before, the Bin Chicken gave us front row seats for another spectacular show, this time fireworks at 9 pm. 

Sunday, however, was the reason we were all here. It was finally time to go to the Home and Away sets and meet one of the show’s biggest stars! 

We all got on the bus and were so excited to see Kirby appear and spend the next hour or so on the bus with us, even sitting next to one of our group for most of the trip! 

After hearing so many great stories about the show and the characters from Kirby, we then all got off to get photos and signatures with Kirby and the opportunity to buy some cool Home and Away merchandise. 

We then toured some of the Summer Bay sets, got photos with the Summer Bay lifesavers and their rescue equipment, and heard many new stories about the show and some of its greatest characters! 

After a huge day, we had some lovely dinner and headed back to the Bin Chicken for, you guessed it, another spectacular fireworks show at 9 pm! 

Monday was our last day, and after a great breakfast, it was time to sadly check out of the Bin Chicken that had been our home for so many adventures and get onto a ferry to explore Sydney Harbour one last time on a sensational sunny day! 

The giant Ovation of the Seas cruise ship was now replaced by the Disney Wonder cruise ship, which was also very big but swapped giant pandas for giant Mickey Mouse ears! 

We went past Luna Park, The Harbour Bridge, Fort Denison, and saw all the ships like HMAS Tobruk at Australia’s largest naval base, Garden Island, before getting off to explore the Opera House and to enjoy one final, awesome lunch together before we all headed home. 

Wow, what a trip! 

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