Wow. What an awesome week in Sydney. This was one of the most busy, yet memorable weeks travel we have undertaken for quite some time.

Our reason for taking this trip was to create early morning photography at Manly Beach, particularly some slow water wave shots using a “Big Stopper” filter with slow shutter speeds. Mission accomplished. Luckily my partner Tanya stuck to the plan, as I got carried away with the most gorgeous sunrises one can imagine, plus a bit of exploring around the cliffs at the back of Shelly Beach, where we had never ventured before.

Also on our agenda was a trip to the Taronga Zoo to try out a Sigma 150-500mm lens, done! Street photography in and around The Rocks area and finally, review the latest Cirque du Soleil extravaganza Ova, now performing in Sydney.

We booked accommodation at the Novotel Manly Pacific. It’s right on the beach and in a fabulous spot to enjoy the famous surf, sun and nightlife that goes hand in hand with Manly Beach. Nice hotel, good food and bars, sumptuous buffet breakfast and good service. Not 5 star, yet very near the mark. Remarkably, being right on the esplanade, we didn’t hear any street noise at night, which was just what the doctor ordered, seeing we were up before first light each morning to catch those awesome ocean sunrises.

Manly Beach is quite long. It is actually 3 beaches in one, going from north to south, Queenscliffe, North Steyne and South Steyne. Each beach has a surf lifesaving club which patrols their area and there are broad walkways and a bike lane winding from Queenscliffe Beach right through to Shelly Beach, an enjoyable stroll of about 5 kms.

From Shelly Beach you can then go out to the cliffs, taking a pathway right along to North Heads if you wish. It’s an awesome walk through natural bushland, with scenic lookouts across the Pacific Ocean, short trails to historic gun placements and a visit to North Fort.

The Novotel Pacific Manly is situated about the middle of Manly Beach and just one block from the Corso. Perfect for all we wanted to accomplish. The easiest way to get there from the airport is always by taxi, yet you may find it just as exciting to take the train to Circular Quay and the iconic Manly ferry. In peak hour traffic, public transport can be just as quick, much more affordable and a good deal more relaxing.

We spent 3 nights at Manly before moving into Sydney itself for 4 nights at the luxurious Sheraton On the Park. We must say this is perhaps our favorite hotel in Sydney. While there are many good hotels in Sydney, the position of Sheraton on the Park makes it our preferred choice on most occasions. This trip, when checking in they upgraded our booking to a park view room for no extra cost. That’s service.

Some business in Sydney sourcing fine art printing paper and a photography exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW filled in the first day nicely. Street photography at The Rocks and Botanical Gardens, topped off by running into a protest march in Hyde Park made a thrilling second day. And finally our last day at the Cirque du Soleil, which I will make a full post review here soon.

Enjoy the photos below and we hope this post excites you enough to begin dreaming of a trip to Sydney yourself. It’s not just about the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. There is a lot to see and do in Sydney, you will have to return many times to fulfill all your plans.