We did not arrive in Sydney until late evening on the 21st March, so there wasn't much to do apart from go for an explore on the main street and have the obligatory daily hot chocolate.
On the 22nd we had arranged to meet with Amy, a fellow ex-Waitrose employee who had spent the past couple of weeks in Sydney so was able to show Kate and I around a little bit. The weather was beautiful and we played the classic tourists taking hundreds of photos with the opera house in the background. After a hard morning taking photos we decided a refreshing drink was required. This soon turned into a massive plate of possibly the most delicious pancakes ever. Yum. A stroll through the botanical gardens finished the day nicely.
Whilst Amy had been in Sydney she had been staying in a district called Newtown so Kate and I got a bus over to meet her there on the 23rd. Plenty of quirky little shops and the best second hand bookshop I've seen. It was more like a library there were so many books, and of course I could not resist one.
We'd both heard lots of great things about Taronga Zoo so we decided the see what all the fuss was about. Unfortunately we decided to do this on a very stormy day but we reckon the continuous sound of thunder definitely enhanced our experience. When you first arrive you can take a cable car ride that gives a beautiful view over Sydney harbour and the city as a whole. It takes you over some of the animal enclosures too. We saw all sorts of different animals but I'll give you my top three favourites in no particular order; the platypus, the pygmy hippo, and the enchidna which I was calling an enchilada for far too long. The hippo was so cool as you could see it swimming around under the water through a glass screen, and the platypus was just so weird it was fascinating.
More storms forecast for the 25th but luckily they held off long enough for us to explore Darling harbour in the morning. We discovered a little haven in the middle of the city -the Chinese gardens of friendship. Really beautiful and it felt like we'd been transported to a whole different city. In the afternoon it rained (quelle surprise) so we went to the museum of contemporary modern art. Usually I'm not really into art museums but this one was actually well worth the visit!
26th- Guess what, more rain. However this did not put us off from exploring an area known as 'The Rocks' which is where the convicts set up camp back in the day. It's obviously a much older part of the city with plenty of cobbled streets and information about the history. We visited the Rocks discovery museum which was really interesting. We also chatted to an aboriginal artist who was displaying her work and she told us of her grandfather who had been one of the main aboriginal activists in the 1970s, and she told us if her childhood growing up under surveillance and constantly on the move.
27th - We really wanted to go and visit Manly whilst we were staying in Sydney, but we were running out of days where it wasn't going to rain, so we decided to go on Thursday regardless of the weather. Unfortunately it rained, which was a massive shame as it would clearly be stunning in the sunshine. It was weird being so close to the city, yet the whole vibe of the place was completely different. Very relaxed and slow paced! Loads of surfers around and we did manage to get a walk along the beach in between the showers! We stayed there late and had dinner out - TREAT!
28th - I did not think it was possible to pack so much into one day, but apparently it is as Friday taught us. It was our last full day in Sydney and we had already had to extend our stay so we could see the blue mountains in good weather, so we decided to book a day tour. The day started with an aboriginal culture show where they introduced and shared some of their culture. This involved Kate and I going on stage and pretending to be emus. Next was the three sisters, massive rock formations that jut out of the side of a sheer cliff face. It was raining a bit (or course) and there was some low cloud but it made it look all the more dramatic. Next stop, scenic world. We went on the worlds steepest railway.......
After a lunch stop was the featherstone wildlife park. We got to see and get our photo with a koala up close, and even better got to feed the kangaroos. You had to be careful of the emus though as otherwise they'd come and take the kangaroos good right out of your hand (imagine sidmouth seagulls and but 100 times larger!). Then it was time to see the Tasmanian devil being fed. Their jaws are so strong that he just crunched up the rabbit and the bones as easy as anything. We also discovered what the word 'kangaroo' actually means. It's an aboriginal word which means 'I don't understand'. It comes from when the Europeans first came to Australia and they asked the aboriginal people what they called this animal. They responded kangaroo kangaroo kangaroo.
Finally we ended the day by going around the Sydney Olympic park from 2000 and then a river cruise from their back to the city centre.
29th - Today we packed up our things as we hit the road once more. First things first though, we went to Bondi and amazingly the sun came out! Yayyy. Bondi was a short bus journey away from the city, and unlike Manly seemed very touristy. However it was awesome as I recognised loads of places from the TV programme 'Bondi Rescue' which I once watched religiously. We walked along the beach front. I was secretly hoping for the shark alarm, or for a dramatic rescue to take place but nothing dramatic happened at all. In the evening we caught the bus to Newcastle, the country's 7th biggest city about 2 1/2 hours north of Sydney. It's good to be on the move again!