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Published: October 23rd 2012
15 October 2012 Monday. Linda, Will, and I were not scheduled to be at Dancing Dave
's home until noon, so we had some time to tour the Sydney CBD. Our first stop was the Queen Victoria Building right around the corner from our hotel. This shopping arcade was once left as derelict, but some historic preservation people recognized its worth and saved it from the developers demolition crew and turned it into a posh fashion designers mall...Victorian of course. We could only afford to window shop. Next we walked to Chinatown which isn't worthy of the name China or town as it is only about two square blocks with mostly Thai and Korean shops. We did find a store where we purchased some souveniers for our grandson Liam.
It was time to catch the train at the City Hall station and forty minutes later we arrived in Hornsby and caught a taxi to Dancing Dave
's home. Denise was gardening while being observed by her cat Roco. We were welcomed and taken inside for a tour of the home and back garden. David turns out to be another Rennaisance Man as he is a master carver/sculpter of drift wood and a connaiseur of
fine art and music. Surprisingly, he doesn't play any musical instrument, despite his love of music. His skill with his point and shoot camera is unsurpassed due to the lens he has attached to it...a fine instrument indeed. He is particularly great at portraits as every Travelblogger knows which he credits to putting his subjects at ease by looking at them while the camera is held at waist level...he can look down at a swivel screen to make sure the subject is in the frame! He then took Linda, Will, and me for a practice mini-trek beyond his backyard along the Great Northern Trail to look at the flora common to the bush.
After this practice run, David, Denise, Linda, Will and I, drove to a riverside cafe in the Berowra Valley for lunch. We then took the ferry across the river and drove to the Berowra Valley Regional Park where we parked and proceeded on our trek. David hadn't told us what to expect, so after awhile, as we approached this long incline, I asked when we were turning around. As it turns out there was much more in store for us! We followed the Berowra River for
what seemed like miles, but Denise told us we had only traveled about one mile, which she kindly revised to 3 miles round trip after she saw our exhausted expressions. The trek was a truly Aussie experience. We saw a wide variety of flora and fauna, including a wild Echidna, one of the few mammals that lays eggs. Few Aussies see one in the wild during their lifetime, and we saw one on our first trek...what a priveledge!
Well, we survived to tell this story, and returned to David and Denise's home to relax and have dinner. At dusk the local birds arrived on their porch to eat at the bird feeders; including lorikeets, a female Giant Parrot, and a copper colored dove. Denise served spring lamb and a salad with sweet potatoes and other fresh vegetables. Here we learned of her skills as a chef; skills that complemented David's. We talked into the evening. At 9 pm Denise drove us back to the hotel and picked up her daughter who was nearby. What a special day for us!
16 October 2012 Tuesday. Our flight for Christchurch didn't leave until the evening, so we had until 3 pm
to tour Sydney some more. After checking out of the hotel, Linda, Will, and I walked down Pitt Street to the Rocks area which is the original settlement of Sydney with old warehouses converted into chic stores. Linda found a store selling opal jewelry particularly interesting and after an hour or so had purchased Christmas presents for all the women in our families. We stopped at a few more stores and finished off our list. Then it was lunch at the Orient Hotel, one of the original hotels in the area. We then wandered back to the hotel and waited for Mike and Betty to return from their walk. At 3 pm we caught a taxi to the airport, checked in for our flight, and at 6:30 pm flew to Christchurch. We arrived there at 11:30 pm, caught a shuttle to an airport hotel, ate a late night pizza, and turned in. This was the beginning of our two weeks in New Zealand.
We realize we didn't do Australia justice by only spending three days in Sydney. We fully intend to return some day.
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