Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Sydney Australia is a big place.  It's not close to anything.  That's the reason it was the last outpost of the British Empire.  The reason it's a big place now? A great harbor!

It was the first stop on our trip.  We arrived in Sydney a bit early, "only" 25 hours after leaving home.  Managed to get through passport control and customs in one piece despite failing passport facial recognition and misspelling "Sidney".  Got SIM cards for our phones - Vodafone - and cash from ATM, all without a hitch, then found our way to pick-up point for Uber.  Hitch!  The Uber- Taxi war is in full force everywhere and the front line is airports. 

An hour of stop and go traffic over 15 miles later, we were in Darling Harbor at our Airbnb.  Even though we had to share space with some bugs, served us well and was located close to ferry and train service and had everything we needed.

Old bridge over Darling Harbor

Darling Harbor is touristy

Some things old, some things new

Departing Darling Harbor

Iconic Harbor views

We headed out for the visitor's center where we topped up our Opal (transit) cards then headed for the ferry to Circular Quay (they pronounce it "Key") - the main ferry terminal.  The ferry gave us the classic view of Sydney's iconic​ Harbor Bridge and Opera House.  Once to Circular Quay we boarded another ferry for Manly.  The Sydney Harbor is a scrum of ferry traffic, tour boats and water taxis.  Almost a giant game of bumper boats. There so many boats moving at once, it's a wonder there aren't constant wrecks.
Circular Quay as seen from the bridge

Circular Quay at night

Circular Quay train station

Manly features a wide sandy beach along a boulevard of shops and restaurants, lined with Norfolk Pines and a large park at one end.  We had lunch overlooking the beach and then strolled to the park.  The park was on a small bluff overlooking the beach and was filled with bushes that looked like they were growing bottle brushes.  While we were looking at the bushes, a streak of color zoomed by.  Looking like a refugee from a pet shop, it was a rainbow lorikeet.  Looking around, we spotted many of them.

"No wimps allowed"

Norfolk pine lined beach

Beachfront walk

Flower or bottle brush?

Rainbow Lorikeet

Lunch spot

The view from the Moo

Manly beach

Beachfront restaurant decor

No women need apply?

We returned on the ferry to catch a commuter train one stop to Wynyard, bought some groceries and headed home to collapse.

Manly ferry

Channel markers

Little harbor, big ship!

Sydney commuter trains double as city center subway system

Day two. Rain. 
So, a bus tour.  It took us along the south shore suburbs to South Head, then to the famous Bondi Beach.  Catch phrase for all tours in Australia and New Zealand:  "most/largest...in the southern hemisphere".

Kings Cross, the 1970s called, they want their fountain back...

High class Sydney suburbs

More pet shop escapees?  No.  Cockatoos are everywhere...and noisy!

Rose Bay

Looking back across Rose Bay toward downtown

South Head, looking across to North Head.  The entrance to Sydney Harbor

Macquarie Lighthouse

Opera house and bridge view from Mrs. Macquarie Point. 

One of Sydney's early governors decided that he wanted to leave a legacy.  So he named just about everything he could after himself or his wife.  Macquarie is everywhere!

Famous Bondi Beach

Surfing - all the time...

Bondi Beach murals

Not much action on a rainy Fall day
We met a young Marine from California on leave from his post in China while on the tour and spent the day with him, visiting the very unusual museum of contemporary art and then went on an evening walking tour in the pouring rain.

Opera house on a wet night
Across the harbor from Circular Quay
Luna Park all lit up
Museum of Contemporary Art - leaving!

Walking tour.  Guide was descendant of an original ...uh... settler. (Psst.  Convict!)

Oldest Bar in Sydney...maybe

Oldest bar in Sydney...also maybe...
Oldest Bar in Sydney...also, also maybe, where
Dan and I ate Kangaroo!
Sydney, day three.  Rain is gone!  Sun is out!  Let's go to the Zoo! Hop on the ferry.  Off to Taronga.  A zoo with a view - and lots of Australian animals! (which we weren't likely to see in the wild...)

View from the cable car that takes you from the ferry to the top of the zoo.

Lucky giraffe.

Squirrel Monkey



Aptly-named Rock Wallaby

Hungry Koala
Still hungry Koala

Grey Kangaroo




Red Panda


Red Kangaroo - or maybe a wallaby?

The Taronga Zoo is a lot of fun.  You can see all those Australia - only animals in one place, including the nocturnal ones.

...even this strange turkey.

That afternoon, we ended the day with a hike across the Harbor Bridge, taking the train back from the other side.  It's free.  You don't have to strap in and go on TOP of the bridge.  You get great views of Sydney.  A train ride is involved.  What's not to like?

View from the sidewalk on the bridge


Hi!  (high?)

Sydney is "ferries everywhere!"

Train back across the bridge

On our last day in Sydney, we left Sydney.  Our plan was to take the train up to the Blue Mountains, but trackwork made that a 3+ hour trek in each direction, so we rented a car and hit the highway.  More driving on the wrong side of the road adventures for me.  (no more stick shifts!  See http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/2012/04/driving-in-ireland.html) .  For what it's worth, I now have nearly 3000 miles of driving on the wrong side under my belt.  It almost feels a bit normal, now.  Almost.

This is how we SHOULD have gone to the Blue Mountains...
(bi-level DMUs at Central Station)

This is how we DID get to the Blue Mountains.
(It was quicker than the train-bus-train trackwork detour route)
The Blue Mountains are a popular destination with both tourists and locals year around and that day we went was no exception.  Great scenery and some fun, short walks.  It would have been more fun if we has some more time to take some longer hikes.

At the Blue Mountains

The Three Sisters

The Blue Mountains appear to be a dissected plain

Wentworth Falls
Trail to one of the "Sisters"

A few people out and about...

A sister with a tree on top

Australia, not all Kangaroos and desert...
That about does it for Sydney.  I have A LOT more pictures of the Opera House.  Just ask my family....  

The next day we left for Melbourne.

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