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Published: February 26th 2008
Sydney Opera House
Even more stunning in person.
Hello, hello, hello! Great news, we have a new camera and so far we like it a lot. It has a great zoom on it. I’m sure it will take us a little while to get comfortable with it so please bear with us.
Sydney is as spectacular as you can see from the photos. It is one of the Great cities of the World!! The Harbour Bridge and the Opera House are outstanding!! What a beautiful city. It is very cosmopolitan and diverse. This city is full of life and crazy drivers on narrow streets. Speaking from experience, it is a monster to drive in this city because of all the one way streets and the buses and trucks that have trouble staying in their small lanes. None the less, we both agree this is one of the most scenic and beautiful cities in the world.
We were thrilled to be here as we got to spend three days in Sydney with our friends Bill and Sheila. This was Sheila’s first trip out of the country- except for Canada. What a great way to start!
We had a marvelous gourmet dinner at the top of the Sky
Built during the Depression....well designed
Tower, which is the tallest building in Sydney. As you can imagine, views were magnificent. We seemingly never tire of visiting all these towers in the various cities we visit. They provide stunning panoramic vistas.
We signed up for a tour of the city and a lunch cruise on the Sydney Harbour. We saw the city sights and took in Bondi and Manly beaches, where surfing and sun tanning are the main activities.
Sydney has over 4 million residents, which accounts for about one sixth of the total population of Australia.
The next day we took a trip out to the Blue Mountains which are west of Sydney. They reminded us of the Smoky Mountains or a little bit like the Blue Ridge Mountains. They are called the Blue Mountains because of the way the sun reflects off the gum trees, which give a soft blue hue. We stopped at Echo Point to view a trio of precipitous rock formations called the Three Sisters.
We also had a stop at wildlife reserve to see Koalas and Kangaroos. It is impossible to get tired of looking at these wonderful creatures. There were also wombats, many species of
birds, and even a lazy dingo.
At that point Bill and Sheila headed north to the Great Barrier Reef to continue their trip and we headed south of Sydney to spend a few more days looking at the wonderful Australian beaches. Australia is all about sand, surf and beaches. They have miles and miles and miles of pristine sandy coastline.
We stopped along the way to look at lighthouses, beaches, surfers and just stare at the ocean. We know our time here is coming to an end so we want to savor each moment while we can. This is a beautiful country. We spend a lot of time walking along the surf or sitting on park benches watching surfers. We never tire of the abundant time to sit and talk to each other.
South of Sydney we drove “The Grand Pacific Highway”. They are right, it is grand. Plus the $49 million bridge they built allows you to take a walk across it on a pedestrian pathway. The bridge hangs over the water as it hugs the coastline. The quiet and the views are amazing. There isn’t as much traffic as you might expect. On the day
They really look kind of blue!
we were there the water varied from a pale green to an emerald green depending on the depth of the water and the sun popping in and out of the clouds.
When we arrived in a little beach town named Huskisson we discovered that they were having a mini-triathlon over the weekend. The participants seem to be some of the fittest of the fit. They were doing a 250 meter swim, a 10k cycle and then a 5k run. It seems to us that any one of these would be more than enough but there were 1400 people in this small beach town that felt they needed to do all three. We watched the swim and the beginning of the bike race. It was exciting. Not having participated in this kind of event ourselves we were surprised to see how many people had trouble finding their bike, a few seemed to have forgotten their number and had to look at the arm for conformation.
We took time to go see The Bucket List….what a great movie. It is a movie about doing the things that you have always wanted to do before your time is up. That movie
Interesting rock formation in the Blue Mountains
made us very happy that we are on our sabbatical….actually we were already very happy about it. I guess it might be time to make a bucket list of our own!! It might be a little more difficult to write the list because of all the great things we’ve done on this trip.
When it was time to drive north back to Sydney we decided to take the scenic drive through The Royal National Park. It was a lovely tree lined drive weaving in the forest and out to the coast. You have a sense of déja vu as you make this drive as we have all done one of those lovely tree lined drives. The difference here is the type of trees, and you know you are in Australia.
When you are driving in a foreign country you have to be able to laugh at yourself. After almost 7 weeks in Australia we are fairly comfortable driving on the left and there aren’t many surprises. There are many highways, bridges and tunnels that lead into Sydney. It takes both the driver and the passenger to safely maneuver and navigate. We were fairly certain that we were heading
Just south of Sydney
back into Sydney via one of the many bridges. We were carefully watching all of the signs and directional arrows on all 6 lanes of traffic. We are still not sure how we did it but the next thing we knew we were heading through a tunnel. About half way through the tunnel we realize that there is a toll to pay at the end. The lanes are directing cars who have the appropriate sticker and the other who need to pay cash. We hopped in the cash lane and at the end we discovered that we need $4.50 in coins only. Of course we did not have this amount of money in change so there we sat at the exit unable to leave. The cars behind us were backing up and beeping. The Sydney drives are aggressive and have no sense of humor when it comes to idiot American’s backing up the freeway on a Friday afternoon. Fortunately there was a help button. A lady popped out of the cube and came over the help us. We explained that we were unfamiliar with Sydney and didn’t realize we needed coins. She went back in here cube and came back
Surfing spot in Sydney....very popular
with change for us. We didn’t get a smile from her but she did raise the gate quickly. Oh well, one more driving adventure.
When we returned to Sydney, we turned in our rental car, which we had driven from Cairns, which is about 1700 miles north of Sydney. That’s a fair amount of driving, but we took over three weeks to make the journey so we could see as much as possible.
The city was quite crowded on our return. This was due to the QE II and the Queen Victoria being in port, a gay and lesbian parade, a big cricket match, and championship soccer matches. Hotels rooms are packed and crowds converged on the waterfront. We hiked down to the waterfront and walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge on a gloriously sunny day. The views were stunning. After walking the bridge we hand lunch along the waterfront. This is a great town to watch people. We spent the afternoon gazing at the Harbour Bridge and the lovely Opera House. MJ seems to be mesmerized by this building.
Our last day in Sydney was fun, interesting, and a bit adventurous. Bill and Sheila had returned
to town and we spent the day with them. MJ and Sheila took in the Lady Diana exhibit while Bill and Dave explored the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
On our way back from their hotel at the end of the day, the skies looked quite threatening. After walking a few blocks it was apparent that it was going to rain soon. As the first big raindrops began to fall, Dave started to hail a taxi when Merry Jo suggested taking the bus as she saw many city buses going past. We hopped on the first bus we saw and asked the driver if he was going towards our hotel. He replied that he was. This proved to be great timing as the skies opened up and a deluge of rain ensued. It was a veritable downpour and we were safe and dry onboard the bus. He dropped us off a block or so from our hotel, but it was still pouring. We waited beneath an overhang in front of a cosmetic shop for the rain to stop and watched the Sydney commuters get absolutely soaked. After about 10 minutes the rain let up and we proceeded to our hotel. We
Bill Ball at Bondi Beach
Hello Australia! I'm here!
saw on the news later that a month’s worth of rain had fallen that afternoon in 30 minutes, creating flooding and even hail in some locations. The newsman remarked that this type of rainfall occurs about once every 20 years!
Some of the things that we have learned or observed while in Australia:
They are encouraging people to immigrate to Australia. If you live and work here for 3 years you can become an Australian citizen. Australia is trying to increase its population and tax payer base so they are encouraging residents to have children. They give each new mother a check for $4,000 to help with the initial cost of child care. They are asking everyone to have at least three children, one to replace your mother, one to replace your father and one to replace yourself.
We’re not sure what the homicide rates are in this country but they are much less than in the US. On the local evening news they usually tell about car accidents and drownings instead of the most recent homicide. They do have a lot of drownings here due to the serious rip tides.
On our trip to the
Sky Tower - Sydney
Great views from up there.....
Blue Mountains we were talking with a nurse who tells us that her job pays her an extra 26% while she is on vacation. In Australia they start with 4 weeks of vacation time. Any hospital administrators listening?
Most school children wear uniforms. Personally, we’re in favor of this. Saves the parents lots of money on clothing and prevents the kids from suffering abuse from fellow classmates over clothing.
On a highway reader board as we entered Sydney it said, “ “
This sign caused several questions? Where is the purple zone? Do the horses know where the purple zone is? And…most importantly do they have enough horses traveling down this highway that they needed an electronic reader board 8 ft. by 20 ft. ?
The Aussies as a whole love to drink and barbeque. Every place we stayed at that had a kitchen in the room had a barbeque on the premises. Beer is very expensive here compared to all the other nations we have visited.
The Aussies are also very nice and gracious people. They are very polite and informal all at the same time. Always willing to help and like most people we
encountered, eager to talk to Americans. Quite a few of them have been to the U.S. and like to tell you about their trips to L.A. or Las Vegas.
Aussie’s are struggling with many of the health problems that we have in American. 49% of Aussie’s are overweight, they are having a real problem with teenage binge drinking, and this country is number one in skin cancer. The television stations have many public service commercials.
This month February 2008 Australia has had more rainfall than any month in 18 years.
Well…time to go as we are getting on a train that will take us all the way from Sydney to Perth. The journey lasts three days. If you have the time please send us an e-mail. We would love to hear from you.
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