This is a tribute to the last Big VT Meet in October 2016.

Sadly Virtual Tourist is no more.
Thanks to Trip Advisor who bought us out having all intentions of axing us sometime in the future.


So now I am happy to be recording all of my travels on my own travel blog here on blogger.com.

I actually like blogging more than doing tips like on VT.   I use Google and Viator to find interesting things to do when trip planning and booking.com for accommodation.

It was the personal aspect of VT that I liked.  We were a warm, close community that knew each other personally through VT meets all over the world and the miscellaneous forum.   Even if we could not attend one of those meets, there was always the option to go as a bit of plastic.

As a VA  (virtual attendee) you could still be a part of the action, and more so, because you become a tool for us real attendees to have a bit of fun with.  Thus the name, naughty VA’s. 😜


Sydney was to be the last big downunder VT meet up.   Hell... It was the last worldwide Big VT meet full stop!!!

Australia started our meet ups in 2006.   Melbourne being the first one as you have no doubt already read in my Melbourne blog.

So.... Here we are in Sydney.  
Those that attended -

Ann and hubby Howard - aussirose
Ann and Charlie from Florida USA - thetravelslut and theboytoy

Gillian from UK - gillybob
Colin from UK - britannia2
Swee Long and Kak Wan from Penang Malaysia - dahonghua
Dave and Fran from VT headquarters California - ecodave
Billy from Brisbane - bbunter
Sue and Andy from Melbourne - 2cities1love
Albert and Andy from Canberra 
Steve from Sydney - bungalow_bill
Jo from Sydney - josilver
Betty from Pt Macquarie NSW - betska
Denny from Sydney – dennyp



In organising these events I find it easier for everyone to stay at the same place.  With that in mind I had to suggest somewhere that is good value for the price whilst not blowing the budget.   Sydney is expensive!!

The Macleay Hotel fit the bill.   Good price for location, near public transport, pool, bbq area, views over the harbour, especially from the rooftop!   

Community laundry and Woolworths across the road for supplies. The Macleay was considered a great choice by all.



Meet and greet day at the Botanical Gardens.  I hired a spot for us at the horse and foal.

Most of us had met at the hotel. It was like a big happy family get together.

Hugs all round and shopping for breads, meat, cheese, dips and wine at Wollies across the road from the hotel.
Oh btw, the shopping trolley isn't just stuff for our picnic haha.

Everyone chipped in a small amount for bbq's at the hotel for Saturday and Sunday night to keep our costs down. 
 So Gillian, Colin, Howie, Charlie, Ann and I did some shopping for the bbq's and everyone helped out by storing the food in their little fridges at the hotel. 
Great bunch we are.
Didn't get many photos of our meet and greet.  Too busy chatting and having fun.

Then a walk around to the Opera House and Circular Quay for some photography.



I hired a large luxury bus and specifically asked for a driver with a sense of humour to cope with our crazy VT friends.
Numbers were down this year so I had to reduce the bus to a 21 seater.  It was a nice surprise when the luxury bus turned up to take us to our first day out to the Blue Mountains.
1st stop was the conservation hut for lunch including fabulous views over the Blue Mountains.


We then enjoyed a wander around the famous 3 sisters -
3 unique rock formations.

4 Sisters?

Dorrise!  Shame on you mate!

VA's caused total disruption as usual.
Brian, the bus driver thought we had all gone mad.   This first pioneer thought so as well.
Sign post said not to touch. 
Naughty VA's!!


With all the havoc the VA's were causing, we forgot about the time and Brian had to drag us away as we were running out of time and still had the famous Scenic World to visit.
As it was, we only just made it in time to scenic world but ran out of time to go on any of the rides which was a shame.
Scenic World has the steepest railway in the southern hemisphere, travelling down the hill at a 90d angle.
Then there's the cable car for stunning views over the mountains.

It was nice to come back to the hotel and all share in a good old Aussie bbq.
Tomorrow we plan to head off the beaten path and explore some lovely countryside and a picture perfect surf beach including local beer tastings at a small Micro Brewery.



When planning the VT meet, obviously the Blue Mountains was first on the list of things to do.   However I also wanted to incorporate an off the beaten path place.  Something different that our overseas visitors would enjoy.

Hubby and I bought our first house many moons ago in Kincumber on the Central Coast.  

So it was without hesitation that I chose the Central Coast, 1 1/2hrs from Sydney as our off the beaten path destination.

We had a quick stretch the legs stop at the fabulous Hawkesbury River.  I never tired of this lovely scenic place when travelling every day on the train to Sydney to and from work.

Colin from UK and Albert from Canberra



Lunch was somewhere different.  Hardys Bay is a pretty little spot tucked away on the southern beachside of the Central Coast.  

If you look across the bay you will see Sydney northern beaches in the distance across from the mouth of the Hawkesbury River.

 Dorrise from Cairns

Fergy from UK

Jessica from Tongeren

The lady behind the bar was highly amused at our VA's and gladly accepted a photo shoot with them

Bus driver Brian also wanted to get into the fun.  

View over the Brisbane Water heading over to Hardys Bay.  You can catch a ferry from Gosford which is the main city of the Central Coast to Ettalong Beach here.   A lot of people do to visit the weekend markets.



Next stop - Avoca Beach, a popular surf beach on the Central Coast.  Our overseas guests enjoyed it here.

Andy and Sue from Melbourne

Steve from Canberra

Hubby and I reminisced about the good old days living in Kincumber in our first house as we drove past.



By now we had certainly built up a thirst so welcomed the last stop of the day - 6 String Micro Brewery.
The owner was looking forward to having us.

Andy from Canberra with Shazz, Fergy and Victor.

Beer tastings.... and wine?
Dorrise does it in style.

And finally, a VT flag shoot with the owner.

Another fun day finished with a bbq smorgasbord back at the hotel and handing out of the VT goodies from headquarters including new key ring flashlights, luggage handle covers, passport and paperwork folders and passport and credit card protectors.

We did not know that Virtual Tourist would be closing down in just 3 months time.

Tomorrow we were all looking forward to a ferry ride from downtown circular quay to manly beach.



After 2 big days on the bus checking out the Blue Mountains and the Central Coast, we needed to have a nice slow R&R day out.

Manly to hubby and I is a better choice than the other famous beach - Bondi.

Manly has a more friendly, homely feel than Bondi.  Plus the ferry trip is better than a boring train ride.

The Corso in manly is a pedestrian thoroughfare.  Easy to walk down with no traffic to dodge.

We took a slow stroll along the Corso towards the beach.  The Corso is lined with various gift shops and has always had a fantastic ice-cream shop right at the end.

Hubby and I lived in manly for 6 months whilst our first house on the central coast was being built. We lived above Sahib's Indian Restaurant which btw is still here after 3 decades of trading.

So after having seen Avoca Beach on the Central Coast, our guests were now going to see the other famous surf beach Manly.  

The day was nice and sunny and not too windy.  Perfect for eating our ice-creams whilst people watching along the beach.

Kak Wan and Swee Long from Penang, Malaysia

I had a bit of fun photographing the small fountains.

SONG - Kathy from Florida

And a nice street scene pic.

I also found my kind of beauty shop!

I was happy to see that the kebab shop is still here.  Kebabs are still my favourite.



I was nicely surprised that the owner of the New Brighton Hotel had reserved the upstairs part of the pub for our VT lunch party.

After we had eaten, he then opened it up to the public.  I didn't ask for this so it was a nice touch and our VT guests certainly appreciated it.

Victor from Ukraine

Back at the hotel a few of us wandered up the street towards kings cross and found this great little German Restaurant called Maggies for dinner.  I highly recommend it.  Sorry, no photos. The food and beers were too good.

Tomorrow was going to be the last day of the big VT meet.  Off to Watsons Bay for a nice long goodbye lunch.



Last day of the 2016 Sydney VT meet was all about enjoying each other’s company at a stunning beachside pub in Watsons Bay.

We caught the Watsons Bay ferry from Circular Quay.

Ann and Charlie from Tampa Florida

The Watsons Bay Hotel is literally right at the end of the ferry wharf.

My favourite photo above is the famous Doyles restaurant.  It is very expensive.

 Watsons Bay Hotel has the same view and meals are a portion of the price you would pay at Doyles.

I spotted the Doyles boat.

Mmmmm, I could think up a number of scenarios here... Lol.
Photo says it all.

It was nice to enjoy a leisurely lunch whilst recounting the fun times and other travel stories.

Andy, Gillian & Albert

Treshi from Sri Lanka

Billy from Brisbane with Treshi.
Put those sunnies on Treshi. It's very bright out here.

Sadly our wonderful day was almost at an end.  😢
However....  We were about to encounter an incident that almost ruined our whole trip. Check out the link below.

Upon arrival back at circular quay, our ferry didn't slow down.  Instead it crashed right into the wharf.

I was taking photos over the side 5 seconds before the crash.  Hubby and I were thrown from our seats in the back of the ferry.  I swore like a trouper because my knee hit the seat in front and hurt like hell.

Billy severely bruised his hand and thumb.  He was badly shaken and he felt like his thumb was broken.  Luckily it wasn't.

Our dear Ann from Florida fell forward into the seat in front and severely bruised her chest.  You can see her in the video being interviewed as she was wheeled off the boat in a stretcher.

All Ann could think of is not making it to the second part of our big trip.  God love her xx.  Even in extreme pain and finding it hard to breathe.  Ann still showed her lovely warm animated personality that we all love about Ann xx.

Thank goodness she was given the all clear but not before spending a stressful 6 hours in hospital having Xrays etc.

The second half of our big Sydney meet was a first ever.  And now last ever VT cruise.

But first of all, next blog is all about a wander around Sydney including a few 'must see's.



The first part of our meetup here in Sydney consisted of 'must do's'.   Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Manly Beach and a long lunch at Watsons Bay.

The second part was a cruise to islands in the south pacific on carnival spirit.

But before that, here are some 'must see's' around Sydney that you cannot miss if visiting.

A wander around Sydney with Aussirose.


My favourite photo above was taken in the Strand Arcade.  This arcade has quite a history. 
Today it is the ritziest arcade in Sydney with a ton of English heritage.

Hubby decided that he was going to have a haircut at probably the most expensive Barber Shop in Sydney.

So I sat outside and enjoyed people watching whilst also taking some opportunities to quickly snap a few great photos.

Shoe shiners with red bow ties still exist



The Queen Victoria Building is a flash shopping must do that runs underground between Town Hall railway station and to the central shopping district of Sydney.  For me it was a nice stroll window shopping.

Window shopping is good because you get to enjoy without spending any money.

Savings can be used for a beer or two to celebrate total self-control.

And maybe some oysters as well.



Circular quay is a hive of activity.  Buskers on every corner, nice coffee shops, plenty of gift shops and surrounded by the Opera House, Botanical Gardens to the right and Harbour Bridge and The Rocks to the left.
You can easily spend a whole day just exploring this area.

A wander to the left towards the Harbour Bridge affords some nice photo opportunities.



The Rocks is another old area of Sydney.  It houses some great old buildings that used to be wool sheds.  You will also find quaint cobblestone streets with a distinct English feel as well as plenty of Pubs, Restaurants and a fantastic Coffee Shop.
Hubby and I chose a cute B&B to stay in after the cruise which was just a short walk from the Cruise Terminal.



And across on the other side of the harbour is Luna Park which has been in operation ever since I can remember.



It is here that you can catch a ferry going to Taronga Zoo.  We didn't have enough time to do this but if you can fit it in Taronga zoo is well worth the visit.

Tip - catch the bus up the hill and enter from the top - then work your way down to catch the ferry back.

Old photo, sorry.



Some big Cities we have visited, the hop on hop off bus has been so helpful and a good means for transport

Here in Sydney they also have a hop on hop off ferry which is a fantastic idea as well.



China Town is a big part of Sydney.  Dinner in china town is another 'must do'.

Hubby and I caught up with his dad and sister in China Town.  Tom, our Son-in-Law married to eldest daughter Kelli also came along.  Tom was working in construction in Sydney at the same time we visited.


Tomorrow, 10 of us were about to embark on the first and last ever VT cruise.

Please click South Pacific Cruise to check it out.


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