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Published: March 20th 2009
Wheres me margarita?!
Red kangaroo at Sydney Wildlife World
We had been looking forward to Sydney for several reasons... looking forward to a bit of civilisation after South East Asia for sure, but we were also excited to see family & friends and to see the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. On the plane from Bangkok, we got into the spirit of things by watching Australia the movie, a documentary on the First Australians and listening to Yothu Yindi's Tribal Voice CD!
The Australian Aboriginal culture is the oldest living tradition on Earth, going back 40-50 thousand years before European contact in 1788. Hopefully, over the course of the 2 months that we'll be in Oz, we'll uncover a little bit of that culture. We're also eager to learn about Australia's history as a penal colony and explore some of its convict past.
Having arrived at Sydney's Kingsford Smith airport early on Sunday morning, we made our way into the Central Business District. Our hostel was in a great location on Elizabeth Street, just up from the Central train station. From the hostel, it was about 15 minutes walk to Darling Harbour and 30 minutes walk to the Opera House & Circular Quay. The evening we arrived, we
walked down to the Opera House and had a bite to eat while watching the sunset over the Harbour Bridge - not a bad way to start our trip to Sydney!
The following couple of days we visited Darling Harbour, Sydney Aquarium, Sydney Wildlife World and the Maritime Museum. The Aquarium was a highlight, with an underwater glass tunnel which you can walk through while sharks, stingrays, dugongs and turtles swim right alongside you and over your head! Wildlife World was great also; we got to see kangaroos, wallabies, all kinds of deadly snakes and spiders, koalas, cassowaries and also nocturnal animals such as wombats, possums and bandicoots. Australia is the only continent in the world to have more animals active by night than by day, with nearly 90% of animals nocturnal. At the Maritime Museum, we went aboard a replica of Lieutenant James Cook's ship HM Bark Endeavour. It was an interesting glimpse into what life would have been like for the crew during their expedition along the east coast of Australia in 1770.
On Tuesday night, we visited the Sydney Sky Tower for dinner with Dee's brother Des. The Sky Tower is 1000ft above ground level
Sharks at the Aquarium
Dee in the glass tunnel at Syney Aquarium
and provides stunning views over the city by night from its revolving restaurant. Two nights later, we caught up with Deirdre and Paul for dinner down at Darling harbour. Earlier that day, we had entered a raffle in aid of the Victorian bush fires appeal and managed to win ourselves a bottle of Rosemount Chardonnay and a meat tray! So, in true backpacker style, we traipsed through Sydney's city streets with our meat tray & wine to meet Deirdre & Paul! It was great to catch up with everybody while we were there and hopefully we'll get to meet up again before we head to New Zealand at the end of April.
On Friday, we went down to Circular Quay and caught a ferry out to Manly which is a suburb northeast of Sydney's CBD. There's a lovely beach at Manly and we spent a couple of hours watching the surfers out on the waves. Luckily for us, it was a gorgeous hot sunny day, so it was the perfect place to be.
Saturday's main event was Mardi Gras, so we went down to Oxford Street for a few drinks to soak up the atmosphere before getting our
milk crates and finding a good spot to view the parade. Sydney's Mardi Gras is unique in that it's parade is held at night instead of during the day like most other cities. The parade itself was massive - nearly 2.5 hours long. It was bursting with colour and energy and the atmosphere among the crowd was incredible!
All week, Lorna had been feeling that she would bump into somebody she knew from home. On our way home from Mardi Gras on Saturday night, we happened to bump into a former workmate of Lorna's on George street. They had been planning to meet up while we were in Sydney, but hadn't managed to fix date. So Lorna was delighted that she got to meet her in the end.
We both really enjoyed our week in Sydney. It felt like a mixture of England and the States, in that the infrastructure and skyline reminded of the States, but the English influence could be strongly felt in the street names, bars and old government buildings. It seems like an expensive city to live in, but you can get a nice meal out here for the equivalent of €30 which you
Sydney Opera House
as seen from the water
would never find at home. It's a very outdoor-oriented city and is very easy to get around the CBD on foot. Plus, there are some lovely parks in the city aswell as the harbours that it's famous for. Not to mention, the sun, sand and surf... It's no wonder so many of our friends have come to Sydney and never returned home!
For us, though, it's time to move on again. The next 7 weeks will be spent in a campervan on a road trip up the east coast of Oz! Jucy Lucy here we come...
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