A Travellerspoint blog

Day 48 Sydney

Koala, kangaroo, emu, wombat, Tasmanian devil

sunny 30 °C

When we landed in Sydney we were greeted by a very friendly chap driving one of those 'beep beep' buggies around the airport. He helped us move a very tired pair of kids along to baggage reclaim, in fact he took Nat and the kids right the way through on the 'beep beep' leaving me to race them. Great! He advised us to take the kids to a place called Featherdale Wildlife Park, in Blacktown, about 30 kms West of Sydney, rather than Taronga Zoo which is the obvious choice right in the city. So today we though we'd do just that.

The day was promising to be a real hot one, with 27 degrees forecast. We head from Tamarama through the city and over the Anzac Bridge.

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The park is well known for a large collection of koalas, they must have some 40 odd in total including some babies. We are at the koala sanctuary as they are taking each of the koala out for their weekly weigh in health check. They cling to the staff just like babies. We have the pleasure of meeting Kane who is out and available for stroking and pictures.

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The whole park is very open, with wallabies just hopping past, koalas in the trees above us and various birds and chickens just strolling around. We take the chance to feed the baby emu.

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Dottie is in her element. She loves all the animals and is very comfortable approaching and touching them. We feed kangaroos next.

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And Dottie poses for the camera giving us her very best photo smile, that looks more like a grimace.

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It's hot and we make sure the kids are well creamed up, drink lots and we wet Finns head to keep him cool. He seems to like the animals too. In the farmyard section we are surrounded by goats, sheep, chickens and pigs and the goats attack our biggie for anything they can eat, including Finns toes.

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There are loads of birds here, particularly birds of prey, hawks, falcon, eagles, owls, lots of them. I rather hope they are rescue ones as I hate to see them caged like they are, they should be out soaring through the skies. Shame. My favourites are the Macaws

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It was actually 30 degrees, it felt hot, and on our drive back we were all keen to find some other ways to cool down. We found some courtesy of our pool

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A lemon, lime and bitters ice lolly

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And an ice cold VB.

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I'm surprised to discover the advertising strapline for Victoria Bitter remains the same as it was 24 years ago......."a hard earned thirst....needs a big cold beer.....and the best beer is Vic.......Victoria Bitter". I certainly feel I've earned it today

Posted by cpbrooks 13:32 Archived in Australia Comments (4)

Day 47 Sydney

Opera, rocks, tower

semi-overcast 24 °C

Fabulous to catch up with Uncle Alan and for Great Uncle Alan to have some bonding time with Dottie and Finn. It wasn't long before Dottie and Great Uncle Alan were best buddies.

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Parking up at Watson's Bay we take the ferry over to Circular Quay. It's surprisingly quiet at Watson's Bay for a Sunday (I think that's what day it is) and we literally have the ferry to ourselves, but once we reach Circular Quay we are amongst crowds and the atmosphere is great.

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Alan has been here since he paid £10 for a ticket over from the UK in 1970 (£10 Pom) and he tells us how the AMP building in the following picture used to be the tallest, now dwarfed by numerous other newer constructions. It's still a magical place to be.

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We get a coffee fix at the Sydney Opera House and it seems odd to think of Sydney without it, but Alan tells us of the opening night when he was here in 1974 and how he has performed here on numerous occasions (Alan sang in the choir). I can't remember Sydney without the Opera House, surely it has been there always.....what must it have been like when Sydney had no Opera House and no Bridge?

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Nat is amazed to discover that the Opera House is covered in tiles, a bit like bathroom tiles, with grout and everything. The uniformity of the design and the way the tiles accept the sunlight is fascinating. It is impossible to stop taking pictures of this incredible architectural delight. She is a beauty.

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We make our way up to The Rocks, which is the old part of town, the original Sydney, full of old(ish) buildings, the oldest pub in Sydney, a street market and numerous cafeteria and restaurants. The streets are full of the smell of cooking. It's right next to Circular Quay and our route round the quay takes us past wonderful flower displays, the purple jacaranda trees, street performers and lots of bird life.

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The folks coming in on the big cruise liners literally step off the gangplank straight into the heart of the city. We take advantage of a sunny spot at Swagman's Post Courtyard Cafe and enjoy lunch and a couple of beers, before heading off to the Sydney Tower (formerly called Centrepoint, 24 years ago) at Market and Pitt.

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The view from the top is always a bit disappointing in many ways for me. It's almost impossible to see the Opera House and although you can see the bridge it's overpowered by the imposing sky scrapers. The best view for me is East, looking out over Elizabeth Bay, Double Bay and Rose Bay towards Vaucluse and Watson's Bay. I love this view

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We take the ferry back to Watson's Bay and come to the end of a great day with Alan

Posted by cpbrooks 00:06 Archived in Australia Comments (5)

Day 46 Sydney

Sculpture, festival, car hire, run

rain 17 °C

Up early enough to watch the sun break the horizon and slowly creep into full view over the Pacific. Sadly, I think it has it's work cut out today, as no sooner has the bottom of the sun cleared the horizon the top is entering the thick grey cloud that covers the sky and is bringing us rain.

I find the motivation from somewhere to go for a run heading off at 6.30 for Coogee. There are already lots of people out, walkers, runners, cyclists and surfers, even on a day like this. I head down the Coastal Path through Tamarama, Bronte, Clovelly, Gordon's Bay (I'm pleased to see they still remember you here Gordie), right to the Southern end of Coogee. Soaked from the rain, but lifted shortly after the turn passing Dolphins Point as I spot a whale just off the coast. Wow. Not sure what type but saw a full tail out of the water. I'd encourage anyone who is able to run, whilst you still can.

Its at this point that I get confused about what day of the week it is. Not being at work the 'bad' weekdays and the 'good' weekends merge into one. It's weird how work differentiates them so, when in fact they are all 'good' days when there is no work. Even on a two week holiday it usually starts on a weekend, has the middle weekend where you discuss how fast or slow the time is passing, and then the horrid last weekend where you get the back to Monday morning blues. How nice it would be not to have to work and enjoy all 'good' days (I'm looking at Jennie, Geoff, mum and dad here...and anyone else who has escaped work and the 'good'/'bad' day regime). Anyhow, I eventually work out its Saturday so it's a proper 'good' day.

Coogee is rather further than I'd thought and I end up doing 7 miles, but a very enjoyable 7 miles which is made easy by the new environment and lots of things to see. It's the 16th annual Sculpture By The Sea (sculpturebythesea.com) exhibition here this week which provides some very interesting scenery. The Coastal Path is lined by sculptures from Bondi to Tamarama.

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Our morning is spent trying to organise the rest of the trip. Our week in Cairns planned for the 8-14 Nov is proving difficult due to the massive Eclipse 2012 festive taking place in Northern Queensland between the 10-16th. A full 4 minute total eclipse, best seen from Northern Queensland. Not ideal. It took most of the morning just to find a car and we've ended up getting an old Corolla from a bloke with a Cockney accent. Not sure how that will turn out, but no choice really. There are no campervans anywhere, which is what we originally planned. Just bad luck on the timing. It looks like accommodation will be fine, all the festival goers are in tents and vans in the middle of nowhere, and hopefully our standby flight on the 8th will be ok, fingers crossed.

A walk with the kids along to Bronte for a few beers on the front, checking out some of the amazing houses along the route, and home early for baths and bed

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Posted by cpbrooks 11:43 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Day 45 Sydney

Bridge, opera house, manly

sunny 21 °C

Heading up the coast from Tamarama we make our first stop Watsons Bay. It's a beautiful spot, with a great view of the city and a lovely yacht filled bay. We plan to come back for fish and chips at Doyles when we get the chance. Not today.

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Fortunate to get great weather for day 1 in Sydney we decide to maximise out city coverage and go for the Opera House, Bridge and Manly. We head for Mrs Macquaries Point. The view from here is just iconic. The Opera House backed by the Sydney Harbour Bridge. This is Sydney. I love it.

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The lady in the little coffee kiosk tells us that business is poor this year, numbers are down and she worries about what is happening in the US and Japan. She. She makes nice coffee though....and her ice cream is to die for!!!

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All parking meters here take credit cards, how cool is that. Sadly it's about £5 per hour where we are so hopefully you can appreciate the cost of me showing you the 'babe' as we are now referring to it. It's a Ford, it's small, fast and can fit into multi-storey car parks. After 6 weeks in the beast and the beauty, this is sheer heaven. No toilet though!!

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Heading North to Manly over the Sydney Harbour Bridge gives us the chance to get the classic bridge photo

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It's then only a short drive over to Manly, a first for all of us, despite my previous time in the city. Dottie massively enjoys the pavements water fountains and is extremely miffed at having to move on for some lunch.

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Nat eventually gets to replace her Havaianas, although I only remember one pair breaking and she buys two.....odd that!!! My thoughts go to what needs to go to keep under our 3x23kgs baggage limit.

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The beach here at Manly is perfect, it's the best sand I have ever had the privilege of building sandcastles with. We all dig a hole, make sandcastles, make lobsters, whales and enjoy being with the beach. What a great space.

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Back to Tamarama via the tunnel and the end to a great day.

Posted by cpbrooks 01:35 Archived in Australia Comments (4)

Day 44 Auckland to Sydney

3 hrs, 3D, 2 hrs, goodbyes

sunny 33 °C

It's change over day again. Fortunately it's overcast which makes leaving New Zealand marginally easier. Neither Nat or I feel like we have been here long enough. We need to be at Britz at the airport to give the van back at 10 so spend the morning sorting, packing, petrol, gas and dumping (the campervan kind). The Manukau campsite is the closest to Auckland airport and we are amongst a few people doing just the same. Left over food gets put in a blue basket in the kitchen, along with sun creams, guide books and all sorts. I'd imagine someone could survive very nicely just hanging out here, surviving on the blue basket.

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We end up with our familiar 13 items to keep count of but have to do a very public bit of luggage suffling between bags to get all 3 of our hold bags to be no more than 23kgs. We've no room to take on anything new as all 3 bags are exactly 23kgs once suffling concludes. Good news is the flight is empty enough to check us straight in and they take all our bags and the car seats. Contrast in cultures is demonstrated by the next two pictures. Our stuffiness back home just wouldn't allow these.....

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The 'relax' as opposed to 'wait in lounge' just sums it up for me.

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It's really odd getting on a short flight but knowing we'll end up in Australia. It's such a long trip from the UK, Australia and a short 3 hour flight just don't go together. Dottie checks they treat our bags well as they get loaded on the 'Spirit of Australia'

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Dottie is so comfortable now she is 2 and in her own seat. She loves the bit where we whizz down the runway and soon settles in to the in flight entertainment and her 3D colouring book.

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Safely in Sydney, the first time for Nat and following a 24 year absence for me, we are both very excited. Its 33 degrees but forecast to be mid 20s the rest of our week. We pick up our Ford with just 3000 kms on the clock and head for the East coast beaches and our apartment at Tamarama. The view from our balcony alone makes it worthwhile. A walk along the coastal path to Bondi for pizza and beer tops off the day. We drag the kids through the 2 hours time difference in the hope they adjust as soon as possible.

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Posted by cpbrooks 13:09 Archived in Australia Comments (3)

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