Day 20 - Monday 23/4
Got up early and said goodbye to Matt, Geo, Xander and Macy. Then we took their dog Muffin (the cutest cocker spaniel you ever did see) for a long walk around the bay. Picked out a few desirable residences en route. Just need a few million readies now.
Said goodbye to Muffin (couldn't fit her in the luggage) then headed for our hotel in the city.
Arrived at The Vibe Hotel and unpacked. Great location on the north end of the harbour bridge with views across the water - can just see one corner of the opera house. A few minutes walk from Luna Park, with it's disconcerting clown's face entrance (you walk through it's mouth).
Walked over the bridge into the city. Ended up in the botanical gardens watching the resident flying foxes (big bats) taking to the air for their nightly fruit foray.
Had dinner at The Rocks Café. Andy had crocodile burger, which was delicious.
Day 22 - Tuesday 24
I got up at 7 and wandered down the hill to the North Sydney Olympic swimming pool. Lovely, open air pool. Felt very slow compared to most of the others.
Took a trip to the Museum of Contemporary Art, which had recently had a $53 million make over. Some great works. Really liked a lot of the video installations.
Heavy downpour and thunder during lunch with Geo. Said farewell again and went to the state library to see Ann exhibition of natural history paintings and illustrations by John Lewin.
Day 23 - Weds 25/4 - Anzac Day
Got the world's slowest train to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. Very cold wind blowing, so stopped for a couple of warming coffees before heading down to the trails.
After stopping briefly for photos of The Three Sisters (huge stone pillars rising from canyon floor) at the viewing platform, we headed down The Giants Staircase - 900 steps down to a trail which wends it's way along the valley. Lots of interesting (and unidentified) bird calls. Not many people. Returned by the cable car, which was expensive but worth it for not having to climb up and out again.
Day 24 - Thurs 26/4
First stop, Sydney observatory. Really interesting place, which did a lot of pioneering work on astrophotography.
Walked via the Chinese garden to Oxford st, which seemed pretty seedy. Think Soho 20 years ago.
Next stop the Art Museum of NSW, which I walked around whilst Andy went in search of flying foxes to photograph. I spent a couple of hours going round the museum, which had some great works, plus the Archibald portrait show on. Also good.
Met Andy in the botanical gardens at "Bat O'clock" to watch hundreds of them taking off as dusk fell.
Day 25 - Friday 27/4
Checked out of hotel and headed to Mascot to pick up the van. Suffered the intensely annoying woman on the counter then a one and a half hour wait whilst they fannied about. Finally got out of the city at 3:30 and ended up at Norah Head holiday park.
Walked to beach as the sun set. Tons of frogs singing away in the ditches as we came back.
Day 26 - Sat 28 April
Pretty grey day today.
Set off up the highway towards Myall lakes, stopping at Pacific Palms on the way, since the road further north was closed until the afternoon (no idea why). Stopped at Elizabeth Bay for lunch and went for a stroll on the headland on the lookout for koalas. No joy. We did see a sea eagle though. They are huge!
Didn't like the look of any of the local campsites so drove a little further to Sandy Head NR, where we stopped in a state run site, Sandy Gap (very basic). Right next to a gorgeous beach, where we went for a long walk.
Returned to find a group of kids setting up camp next to us with music blaring. They turned it down, but it put us on edge a bit. They actually left later on anyway. Had a very early night.
Day 27 - Sun 29/4
Glorious sunny day.
Left campsite via an unsealed road which sounded like it was going to shake the van to bits.
Drove up to Bellingen - a relaxed new-agey town where we had a fantastic brunch. Then we set off into the mountains to Dorringo Rainforest NP, high up on a plateau above. Got some advice about decent walks in the time available (it was 1 pm). Took a brief detour to see the Skywalk - a 20m jetty suspended over the forest canopy. Actually much more spectacular than expected, with amazing views over the terrain. Then we hit the NM "Wonga Trail" which led down onto the valley floor, amongst massive trees and vines. Not a great deal of wildlife but we did see a lyrebird and heard lots of Eastern Whipbirds, with their incredible, loud, electronic sounding calls. Enormous ferns growing high up in the trees. Saw a Regent bowerbird back at the start - vivid gold and black.
Stopped to watch several grey-faced pademelons (cute mini wallaby).
Andy found a leech on his leg, which was easily flicked off.
Stayed the night at Moonee Beach. Rain settled in turning heavy in the early hours.
A bit of drama in the night - Andy found another, previously undiscovered leech, feasting on him. That made a lovely mess when he squashed it on the sheet. Yuk. Amazingly, I slept through that.