Sydney Opera House in clouds and rain

Raining on my Birthday Parade in Sydney

Posted on Posted in Photography, Sydney, The Good Stuff, Travel

The rain used to follow me on vacation, it became a running joke with friends and family that a gloomy cloud resided over my head and went with me on vacation.  At some point, the cloud went away for a few years but then on my third visit to Sydney over my birthday weekend, the cloud returned with a vengeance.  While you can plan for weather, I was not prepared for three days of unending, unyielding rain in Sydney.  I had plans for my birthday and wanted to do really cool things like a helicopter over the city (for the photos),  a yacht ride in the Sydney Harbour and walk from Bondi along the coastline just enjoying the view and stopping at a café or two along the way.  The cloud had other ideas essentially making my weekend in Sydney very gloomy.  I had to fight off the natural reaction to have a pity party in the hotel under the covers with room service and movies. I’ve held off writing about the rains in Australia as they were  not the sunny, happy, pretty days that we all like to read about.  That said, my adventures are of the good, bad and crazy variety so it’s time to share, plus I like the photos as a contrast to the normal sun drenched absolutely gorgeous Sydney we normally see.

Sydney Opera House in Rain
Sydney landmarks in the rain – Opera House and Harbour Bridge

The weather app indicated that I had 1/2 day of sun on the day I arrived and I tried to make the most of that on my Chasing The Sun post.  I would luck into overcast, cloudy, rain here and there on Friday to do the Sydney Bridge Climb before the heavens opened up and the sky cried for days.  I wanted to cry for days (I may have shed a tear or ten in between cursing the universe for ruining my birthday weekend in Sydney).  Each morning, I woke and approached the room darkening shades with the hope of pulling them back and viewing the sun and blue sky.  Each day, I was disappointed.  I had traveled too far to give up, although with 11 out of 16 days of rain, you would probably understand if I cried “uncle” and hid under the covers until the flight home.

Sydney Bridge Climb in rain
Climbing in all weather – the Bridge Climb in the rain

What can you do in the rain in Sydney?  You actually have many indoor options, but for me as I had done all the major sites on prior visits, I had very few left to choose from – go to the movies or go to the art gallery, neither were of interest to me.  I would ask the concierge for an umbrella (these rains called for the big hotel umbrella) and start to wander the city.  I walked down to the Opera House and began the trek back through the Botanical Gardens.  Despite the rain, I wasn’t alone as others were trying to make the best of Saturday.

Sydney in the Rain
Walking in the Rain in Sydney
Sydney Wedding in the Rain
The wedding must go on! The rain in Sydney did not stop love in the Botanical Gardens

My friend would meet me for dinner and we walked to Darling Harbour and luckily we found a table outside on the dock, under the canopy and if the wind didn’t change, we were dry (our look by this time was a mix of wet dog, old lady and silly as we just laughed instead of crying).  We watched all of the people trying to escape the rain (not possible), walk in the highest heels and shortest of dresses (crazy!) and then were surprised by the fireworks.  Fireworks tend to make everyone happy and forget your woes for a few minutes. While the winds didn’t change, somewhere between our entrée and the fireworks, the canopy sprung a leak directly over our heads and onto our table.  We laughed because what else can you do?  We were moved inside to order dessert and wine.

Sydney fireworks in the rain
Sydney fireworks in the rain at Darling Harbour

On my actual birthday, I would listen to the young concierge that it was fine to go to Bondi Beach via the Hop On Hop Off bus (big mistake).  While not a fan of the Big Red Bus, I reluctantly bought my ticket and boarded the bus.  Due to the rain, the upstairs was obviously closed but the water was raining inside the bus so only a few seats were dry (it was a comedy of errors, this bus) and the aisles were more like a slip and slide in a dangerous way (I would email the bus company and they never replied).  We arrived at Bondi and the winds were howling, why I thought this was a good idea?  I managed to walk toward the beach on the grassy side, take a few photos and seek shelter for the next bus to come get me.

Bondi Beach wind
It was super windy with rain at Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach in the rain
Bondi Beach in the rain – not quite the birthday I imagined


Back in town, I would spend my last night walking to Circular Quay hoping to have dinner somewhere nice with a view.  The first place I tried was closed for renovations, the second closed for a private party (I kept laughing at my luck) so I decided to go all out at the Park Hyatt Sydney – it was my birthday so why not splurge?  The hotel restaurant was empty on the Monday at 7 pm.  The hostess was nice as  I explained it was my birthday and wanted a special meal – she sat me with a view of the Sydney Opera House.  My dinner was decadent – Australian beef, truffle oil, Shiraz, chocolate cake and a special surprise (more chocolate to indulge in).

Park Hyatt Sydney Birthday
Celebrating my birthday in rainy Sydney with great views, lots of chocolate and wine

My birthday weekend in Sydney was not quite a total washout but  it wasn’t all that I imagined either.  I could have easily have stayed in the hotel with a pity party but pushing through I was able to see the city in a different light (well, not much light).  So as much as you can plan for weather, sometimes the universe has a different forecast for your journey.


2 thoughts on “Raining on my Birthday Parade in Sydney

  1. Glad you didn’t go the pity party route. We like to say, the worst day traveling is better than the best day at home. Glad you (kind of) enjoyed yourself. One of these days, we’ll make it down under!

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