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|
|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|
|Flower or bottle brush?|
|The view from the Moo|
|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.
|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!|
|Looking back across Rose Bay toward downtown|
|South Head, looking across to North Head. The entrance to Sydney Harbor|
|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|
|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!
|View from the cable car that takes you from the ferry to the top of the zoo.|
|Aptly-named Rock Wallaby|
|Still hungry Koala|
|Red Kangaroo - or maybe a wallaby?|
|...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|
|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)
|At the Blue Mountains|
|The Three Sisters|
|The Blue Mountains appear to be a dissected plain|
|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...|
The next day we left for Melbourne.