Sydney and the Blue Mountains
25/03/2008 - Australia
Guess who??!! OK, so you know its us - hopefully you all still remember us, the pictures in the Gallery should jog those poor overworked memories! We are the tanned ones ;-)
We're down to our last day in OZ now, the month here has really gone quickly but we have managed to fit a huge amount in as i'm sure you have been realising if you're ploughed all the way through the blogs - congratulations, and well done to you if you have! On we go...
Day 76 Bridge Climb base S33.8575 E151.2074 Alt 61m
Flying Fox Colony S33.8642 E151.2170 Alt24m
Top of the Harbour bridge arch S33.8522 E151.2108 Alt 134m
One we have been looking forward to since leaving the UK, today we got to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Thankfully the weather was sunny and warm for us which made the pictures look great. We were in a group of 11, only a couple had a fear of heights! We were changed into our lovely sexy one-piece jumpsuits and then anything you took up had to be clipped on to you : hats, hankies, sunglasses etc. No cameras allowed (so you had to pay their prices if you want them!). A short introduction to climbing ladders followed, and we were led off to the start of the climb. You are clipped on to a guide rail for the entire climb, so there's no way of falling or getting lost in the maze of the bridge structure. Both of us were quite surprised that there wasn't more of a climb, and other than aforementioned ladders it's really just a steepish walk to reach the top. The views were stunning, as you'd expect, especially of the Opera House and harbour area. At the top of the Bridge you are 134m above the water. On returning to ground level we took a walk around the harbour, past the Opera House and in to the Botanical gardens where we had been assured we would see a huge colony of Flying Foxes (huge bats!), and we did. Cameron wanted to see them all flying off at dusk, so we sat about for best part of an hour waiting for them to wake up. Eventually most of them did, with a lot of chattering noise and a lot jostling and fighting amongst themselves! Suprisingly, given that its a huge city, food was hard to find this evening, unless you wanted a food court meal - McDonalds, Subway etc - but eventually we were pointed in the direction of a hotel which did good steak and pizza in it's basement for buttons. It was now dark, so we headed up the Sydney Tower for a 360 degree look at the city by night. Impressive views especially the huge electrical storm that was happening way over the north of the city. We also got free entrance to OZTREK which is a virtual motion simulator ride taking you all over the country and on which Nicky felt quite sick, and so had her eyes closed for most of it!
Day 77 Manly beach S33.7928 E151.2877
Opera House S33.8579 E151.2151
Olympic Park S33.8476 E151.0661 Alt 70m
Poor dinner place (La Flare) S33.8593 E151.2096
Its been raining overnight, and is a bit dull outside. It's also Good Friday and the city seems to have shut down - where is everybody? Answer, they've all got the ferry to Manly as we found out once we arrived at the ferry terminal to do the same! However we got great views of the harbour and bridge on the ferry ride, and once there headed to the beach where we got fish and chips for lunch (and managed to eat them without losing any food to the crafty seagulls that hang nonchalantly around us). Thankfully, there were some other stupid people who fed them (it always seems to be the Japanese - perhaps there are no seagulls in Japan?), so we were left alone). Leaving the surfers to their cold beach, we headed back to the city and caught a train out to Olympic park to see the stadium from the 2000 games. Unbeknownst to us. the huge Sydney Easter Show was taking place, from what we could gather its a huge festival, fairground, agricultural show and carnival all wrapped into one - and hugely expensive to get in, so we didn't bother! We contented outselves with a walk around the outside of the main stadium and then as nothing else seemed open we went back to town. NB. Never go to Sydney for the Easter weekend folks! In the evening we stopped off at a harbour side cafe for some dinner, and after waiting 20 mins for our drinks we enquired as to where they might be - and 3 waitresses spent the next 10 mins running around trying to sort it out - seems our order had been lost (not that they were admitting it), and our food wan't coming either! The waitress serving us had all the personality of a zombie and a face that of someone chewwing a wasp and sounded like Borat's sister, but we did get a free beer out of the mess so Cameron didn't think her that bad on consideration! We went to the Opera House later (pun intended - you'll get it later (pun not indended)) to watch Jools Holland and his band perform. It was amazing, our tickets were right at the side of the stage, front row, and we had a great view of the entire band - all 20 or so of them! The music was toe-tapping to put it mildly, and loads of the audience were soon on their feet dancing away. We also bumped into a couple there who had been out at Ayres Rock with us, and they had also been to the GP - are we following them or is it the other way around?
Day 78 Lunch on The Rocks S33.8587 E151.2081 Alt 51m
Star City S33.8679 E151.1958 Alt 10m
Another grey day in the city but it did eventually brighten up by the afternoon (we're saving a fortune in sunscreen!). We took a walk around the Rocks area, and found some lunch in a little cafe. The Rocks was very busy today due to the huge weekend street market which had loads of stuff we wanted to buy, but as we have no way of carrying it and are very close to our baggage limits we had to keep our hands in our pockets (Take note folks expecting presents!). We walked across the Harbour bridge, this time right to the centre so Cameron could get his GPS reading for our climb a couple of days ago - obviously his phone was not allowed with us at that time! After this we caught a ferry to Darling Harbour to have a look about and pick up our tickets for the Rocky Horror Show - which we're off to this evening. The theatre at Star City is part of a huge complex incorporating a casino, endless loss-of-orientation inducing corridors, hotels, bars and eateries, and we spotted a likely looking place for dinner later. On returning a couple of hours later after getting dressed for the show, we found the most enourmous queue for the buffet. Nicky wasn't keen, but Cameron thought it was moving OK (and had seen a reason for sticking with it earlier), so we stayed in line. 25mins later we made it into the restaurant. That too was massive, basically this was an all you can eat buffet on speed. There is a huge range on offer, Chinese, Indian, Italian, a Carvery, Salad bar, Sish bar (some people just filled up plate after plate with giant prawns!), soft drinks & tea and coffee were also free. If you had room after, the reason for patience was apparent : it was chocolate all the way with dessert; choc pudding, choc sauce for your belgian waffles, a choc fountain, caramel shortbread, choc mousses etc. etc. We did our best, but were ultimately beaten after the 4th slice of shortbread, and waddled off to the theatre. The Rocky Horror Show was superb, all starting at entry to the theatre, with some members of the cast wandering around the audience, in full costume, giving lots of people a start when they turned round to see them sitting next to them, or standing on the seat behind, making them walk between their legs or stoking their hair etc! After the show itself the cast and audience (yes, even Cameron) got to their feet for a final performance of the Time Warp. Fantastic fun! It's just a jump to the left...
Day 79 Blue Mountians YHA S33.7183 E150.3104 Alt 1041m
Echo Point S33.7325 E150.3119 Alt 1040m
Onwards again, this time our destination is the Blue Mountains. Just a short 2 hour train ride from Sydney, so we arrived just after lunch. The YHA here is an old listed building in art deco style, which has been refurbished and is huge (it's been rated the best in NSW many times). After grabbing a quick bite to eat we caught the explorer bus for a tour about the area, our aim being to rekkie what we wanted to do tomorrow. That suprisingly took only an hour, and we found most things are actually within walking distance of the YHA, though it's a bit hilly - which probably puts most people off walking around. The most difficult decision we are having to make is whether we visit the chocolate shop and museum for Nicky (well it is Easter after all), or the Toy and Train museum for Cameron! Maybe we can fit them both in! As it got to dusk we walked down to Echo Point to see the 3 Sisters rock formation lit up at night, quite impressive, but our pictures weren't quite so good - it all looks very red! Afterwards we found a good pub in town, and had a few beers while listening to some live music, then grabbed a takeaway pizza (Yes mum another pizza!)back to the YHA to watch the late night showing of the Malaysian GP, for some reason they didn't show it on TV live here, so we had to wait until 11pm, oh well - this at least made it easier to intimidate the remaining people in the TV lounge into our selection of viewing! (And yes it was James & Martin on the lip ribbon mikes for us too!
Day 80 Honeymoon Lookout S33.7274 E150.3169 Alt 995m
Common Ground Cafe S33.7173 E150.3112 Alt 1040m
Due to late night it was a later start this morning, and we caught the bus down to the Mountains where we strolled through the forest and past a few waterfalls to reach Scenic World, the naffly named place (surely they can come up with something better) where you can get a cable car, or the World's steepest railway down to the rainforest floor. The Railway at some points is on an angle of 52 degrees, and the kids sat behind us were screaming they were "going to die" as we descended - unfortunately they didn't! At the bottom we took our guided handsets, and headed off around the multitude of boardwalks learning all about the old mine and the forest. Overhead the thunder started to roll, and people were soon galloping for the main station in preparation for the downpour to come. We didn't - we soldiered on under our trusty brollies to the bitter end of the numbered listening points (49) - and the rainforest canopy is pretty good at syphoning off all the water - so we didn't get very wet at all! The magic advantage of staying down longer was that as we finally took the cable car back to the top, the sun had come out, and there was a beautiful rainbow suspended over the valley below us - it was so beautiful - everyone was just gasping outloud! We walked a little further to see the 3 sisters in daylight, and then on again to Honeymoon lookout point to catch the last bus home in the rain. For dinner we tried a busy looking little cafe which was very old fashioned and quaint inside, and soon as we discovered run by a complete family of hippies dressed in a quaker-style, very nice, worth a visit, odd and we're sure they put some 'unusual' ingredients into some of their food...
Day 81 Bondi Beach S33.8911 E151.2785
Back to Sydney YHA on the train today - right next to Central Station. Disaster on checking our emails to find that one of our Indian flights had been cancelled with a week to go - thanks Spicejet! So a frantic internet search commenced, until we gave up and phoned India and got transferred to their later flight (though no longer direct & takes much longer). Sorted again, we caught another train and then a bus out to Bondi beach. It wasn't as hot or sunny as we would have liked, but didn't seem to put the surfers off. We had a paddle, a milkshake and a game of frisbee (having carted the bloody thing half way around the world Nicky was determined it would get used at least once!), before heading for home as the thunder clouds rolled in across the bay to give us a spectacular last picture of Sydney. Tonight it's beers, packing, beers, and that'll be about it!
We hear its been snowing at home (cheers for the Piccys from the Constable family) - excellent, that gave us a good laugh! Tomorrow we fly on to India for the final stage of our trip, bit of a culture shock expected! We'll see you all very soon, less than 3 weeks to be exact. Congratulations to Andy and Sophie on the arrival of baby Holly & to Douglas & Deborah on their engagement!
Laters dude. xx