In no fewer than seven online guides to Sydney did I read that taking the Manly Ferry was considered the "Number One" thing to do in Sydney.Now I often sit uncomfortably on the fence when it comes to doing what you're supposed to do and seeing what you're supposed to see when travelling. Sometimes it's worked well for me and other times it hasn't. I won't shy away from doing it but I don't feel bound, and indeed I'm occasionally put off by, anything that seems "overdone".
Taking the Manly Ferry is certainly not "underdone" and the boats we boarded there and back were full to bursting. There is a reason for this and its pole position in most guides and guide books. It allows for exceptional views of Sydney Harbour at a relatively low price (a return ticket costs $14 AUD or a Day Pass for multi use on buses, trains and ferries costs $21 AUD).Manly itself isn't that great. It's popular with the Bondi Beach overspill of backpackers and is also a popular beach for locals and holidaymakers. I also enjoyed spotting some classic art deco architecture in many of the beachfront hotels and bars as well as the Manly Wharf building. My conclusion is that though it may not be the Number One thing you do in Sydney, as in the best thing you do in Sydney,t it does make for an excellent first thing to do as it allows you views that other journeys on foot won't provide, like a closer look at Fort Dennison and the small white lighthouses dotted around the harbour's waters.It will also help you get your bearings of this vast city, take some weight off your feet and cool off in the refreshing (i.e. bracing and biting) sea breeze.There were also some unexpected highlights. As well as witnessing some near misses with adventurous sail boats of all shapes and sizes, we saw a seal briefly pop up and show off a fish in it's mouth.We also had a seagull fly alongside our ferry nearly the whole journey back and we were also treated to one of the best Hawaiian shirts (with clashing hat) being donned by one of our fellow passengers.Therefore the tenuous moral of this story is even if you think you know what you're getting because it's in the guidebook, you can always be pleasantly surprised, even if it is just thanks to a Hawaiian shirt.
Frances M. Thompson
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