Whale Watching and ... more 'Vivid Sydney' - Darling Harbour


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Published: June 10th 2014
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Our last day in Sydney and it is Bernie's birthday. To celebrate, a whale watching tour has been booked which we are both very excited about as we headed to Circular Quay again to find some breakfast/brunch. We thought that there would be more to choose from for breakfast along the harbour, but most places on the Western side of the harbour (opposite the Opera House) were deserted. We ventured up into The Rocks and ended up going to 'Pancakes on the Rocks'. When we went past last night there was a queue down the stairs and onto the street. The queue was only slightly shorter this morning; Sydney-siders must love their pancakes!

We strolled through The Rocks Sunday market and then wandered back to Circular Quay for our whale watching tour. It's quite early in the season, but we remained very hopeful that we would see some whales. On another glorious sunny day we headed off out through the heads and turned south along the coast. Our guide, Jonah, told us that Whales had been seen down the coast and we would be heading along the coast, down past Coogee Beach to see if we could find them. As we sailed past Bondi Beach we had some dolphins surfing the bow wave so that was a great start to our tour. It's always exciting to see dolphins too.

Success, we found a small pod of three whales, two adults and a calf, that we were able to watch for quite a while before it was time to head back to Circular Quay. The boats have to stay 100 metres from the whales and have to stay at the side of the whales; they are not allowed to impede the whales' forward passage or get in behind them. Of course if the whales come closer to the boat - because they didn't get the Environment Minister's memo about the distance to be maintained between whales and watercraft - that's a bonus. In the main the whales were about 100 metres away from us although they did come up between a couple of the boats at one stage which put them very close to the stern of our boat. That was exciting! We didn't see the whales breach, but we did get some good blows and some tail and fin action.

From Circular Quay we caught the train back to Central Station and walked back to the Metricon. Although we have Opal Cards, this morning we purchased Family Funday Sunday tickets for $2.50 each so that we could catch the light rail down to Darling Harbour this evening. At the moment the Opal Card is not accepted on the light rail. After a shower to freshen up after our cruise we headed out to the light rail stop around the corner from the Metricon and made our way over to Darling Harbour. I told Bernie that he should choose where he wanted to eat since it was his birthday ... and I sort of bossed him into having pancakes this morning.

Bernie's choice was a Spanish meal at Toros Tapas and Bar. We decided on a paella for two - which we were warned would take half an hour to prepare - so we ordered some garlic bread and olives to start with along with a litre of Sangria. We expected the Sangria to arrive in a carafe so we were somewhat taken aback when it arrived at the table in a remarkable vessel comprising a mirror ball topped with a tube full of Sangria. The vessel had a toggle tap to dispense the Sangria into our wine glasses. Great Sangria, crispy garlic bread, tangy olives and a delicious paella followed by churros with chocolate dipping sauce for dessert. Great choice Bernie!

Now apart from a birthday dinner the main reason for heading to Darling Harbour was to take in some of the other 'Vivid Sydney' installations. While we were eating we could hear some sort of performance that seemed to be repeating on the hour. Although we couldn't quite see what was happening, I suggested that it was probably Aquatique, but Bernie didn't agree - he thought that it was further towards the mouth of the harbour rather than in the Cockle Bay area where we were. Unfortunately our 'Vivid Sydney' map was back in our room at the Metricon! Not to worry, Bernie had downloaded the app onto his phone - after dinner we should be able to find all the installations we want to see with that, right?!

When we finished eating we headed towards Star City Casino. It was very, very quiet along that way so we started to feel that we weren't getting any closer to Aqautique so we turned around to retrace our steps. We turned left at the Australian National Maritime Museum and took Pyrmont Bridge over Cockle Bay. What's that? It's the orchestral music again and there's sort of something going on down at water level, but we're now on the pedestrian bridge looking down onto it. In the meantime there are dozens of images being projected onto the roof of the Maritime Museum. It's not quite as spectacular at the Opera House - nothing can compare with the Opera House all lit up - but it is still quite impressive.

Bernie remained convinced that we were still not where we needed to be to see Aquatique. The app showed that we needed to be much closer to the mouth of Darling Harbour so off we headed past the Aquarium and then north along Sussex Street. Once again it was pretty deserted, surely there should be more people about if there's actually something to see in the direction we are headed?? We walked for ages along past the hoardings of the Barangaroo construction zone until, eventually, even Bernie agreed that we had been on one of our wilder, wild goose chases looking for something in the wrong place!! The Vivid app certainly led us astray.

So, we took some more photos of the bridge from a small elevated park, possibly Rodens Lane, Millers Point? Not really having much idea where we were, we contemplated calling it a night and taking a cab back to the Metricon. In the end we managed (no thanks to Google maps on the iPhone) to find our way back to The Rocks. I was keen to find a spot along from Canon HQ where I caught a glimpse of the Opera House the other night with some turrets silhouetted in front of it. It stuck me as a more unique shot than the dime a dozen photos taken straight across the harbour from Circular Quay West. Nailed it! We can call it a night now.

Back in our room, the good old-fashioned paper map that had been left behind showed that Aquatique was indeed located in Cockle Bay right near Toros Tapas and Bar!! Damn. Oh well, next time. I'm sure we'll do Vivid Sydney again ... in a year or so.

Today we covered 21,115 steps or 14.46 kms.


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13th June 2014

Away AGAIN!!
Hi Tracey & Bernie, Sydney looks AMAZING & Darling Harbour is sooooo central to most of the action. I had no idea you are now based in Sydney Tracey, or did I misunderstand your comment about being 'close to work'? I was in Bhutan for my birthday in April and ultra busy now sifting thru 2000 odd photos just to get several hundred for a photobook. Cheers. Caroline
14th June 2014

Just visiting Sydney
Hi Caroline, We were just visiting Sydney and what I meant to convey was that we were near the Sydney branch of my office without specifically mentioning the name of my employer perhaps that's why it sounded misleading? It sounds like you are still fitting in plenty of travel which is great. The furthest we are going overseas this year is Tasmania!! A domestic holiday for a change. Cheers, Tracey.

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