Joe's Travels - Round the World 2003

 Diary - Week 4
Friday 7th March - Sydney

 Sydney Opera House

Lovely sunny day, temp about 25°C. Met friends for lunch at the Oaks pub – a huge place with lots of outdoor seating.

A relaxing day then a good night out. Walked up to Military Road – this area has many good restaurants – and had a reasonable Thai meal. Most restaurants here are B.Y.O. although they may also have their own alcohol licence.

Finished off the evening at the Oaks pub.


Saturday 8th March – Sydney

 Sydney Harbour Bridge

After a late start, we headed for Oporto’s famous grilled chicken in North Sydney (the business district) for lunch. They do great chicken fillet burgers with chilli sauce (the Bondi burger).

Then walked across the Harbour Bridge, round the Opera House, and through the botanic gardens. Here, there were literally hundreds of bats in the trees. We continued on to Mrs Macquaries Point, from where you can see a great view of the Opera House in front of the Harbour Bridge. Returned to friends' flat by ferry - a great way to travel in Sydney.


Sunday 9th March – Sydney

 Pelicans near the Fish Markets

Started the day with cocktails at the bar on the 36th floor of the ANA Harbour Grand Hotel. From here there’s an excellent view of the bridge, opera house and the whole of the harbour. Cocktails were not cheap ($17) but they were delicious, so we had to have two!

We then walked across the city, around Darling Harbour and on to the fish markets. This is a wonderful place where you can buy an enormous variety of fish as well as eat them – there are plenty of cafés and restaurants. We saw pelicans very close to, standing on the rocks by the harbour. Weather was partly cloudy today but still pleasant.

In the evening we went for a good Italian meal in The Rocks area of town. Walking back over the bridge after dark, we had wonderful views of the city and opera house.


Monday 10th March – Day trip to Katoomba, The Blue Mountains

 The Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains

Took the train to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains (a 2 hour trip). The first hour of the journey is through the suburbs of Sydney and not very exciting, whilst the remainder of the line travels up through lovely scenery into the mountains. Unfortunately we travelled through some torrential rain on the way, and on arrival at Katoomba it was quite foggy and very cool.

After a good all-day breakfast in town we continued on to Echo Point, from where there should be a wonderful view of the Three Sisters – a beautiful rock formation – however the fog was so dense that we could barely see the nearest trees! We walked a short distance down the cliff walk to Lady Game Lookout, and just then the clouds lifted and we had a great view of the Sisters and across the valley to the other side. Almost immediately however it started to rain so we rushed back to the Information Centre at Echo Point. During a brief break in the rain we ventured out onto the new viewing platform, a large raised area surrounded by a metal handrail, and whilst out there we, and several other people, were struck by lightning. We saw a bright flash and felt a whoosh over our heads, then heard the thunder. It was an extraordinary experience! One person reckoned the lightning had hit the handrail surrounding the viewing platform. We hadn’t heard any thunder prior to this, but didn’t stay out there for long after this!

The rain became heavier so we caught a bus back to Katoomba station and returned to Sydney.


Tuesday 11th March – Sydney

 Ocean Perch on sale at the Fish Markets

After walking across the Harbour Bridge and seeing some of the sights around the harbour we headed for the Fish Markets. Had a good look around at the huge variety of fish, then had grilled lobster for lunch ($17 for half a grilled lobster) and a seafood noodle dish – both delicious.

Caught the tram back to Chinatown, did some shopping, then got train & ferry back to Neutral Bay. Weather was pretty good today (mostly sunny and about 23°C) but once we got back to the flat there was torrential rain, so much so that the Harbour Bridge was no longer visible. Stayed in for the evening and saw a possum on the balcony.


Wednesday 12th March – Sydney

 Fireworks over Sydney

The morning was wet so we stayed in but the weather improved dramatically at lunchtime so we ventured up the road for an excellent lunch at Bistro Niche – pasta and a lovely glass of Evans & Tate wine for just $10. Did some supermarket shopping in Woolworths (nothing like Woolworths in the UK).

Had a look around the wonderful Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace cinema – first opened in 1935, this has been restored to its former glory and makes a nice change from the current multiplex trend.

Saw a small firework display over the city from the flat later in the evening.


Thursday 13th March – Bushwalking in Kuring-gai Chase National Park, north of Sydney

 Lizard in Kuring-gai Chase National Park

A very nice warm and sunny day - about 25°C. Took a train from Milsons Point to Wahroonga, about 10 miles north, and the stop after Turramurra and Warrawee. Walked through the outskirts of this very well-to-do suburb with huge mansions and manicured lawns (both within and outside the grounds of the houses). There were hundreds of tiny lizards scurrying away into the bushes as we walked along.

After about 1½ miles we walked into Kuring-gai Chase National Park, and embarked on our hike down to the river. As soon as we reached the river, we saw our first large lizard – about 50-60 cm long. As we continued alongside the river, we saw plenty more, as well as two or three goannas – the largest being at least a metre long. We had some excellent views of the goannas as it was possible to get really close before they bolted for the nearest undergrowth. The forest was full of gum trees, oozing a bright blood-red gum from their trunks, as well as many other trees including the wonderful scented eucalyptus.

Eventually we reached areas of mangroves, with hundreds of tiny crabs living in their holes, down which they disappeared as soon as they saw us approaching. Whilst walking around the lake, we saw an echidna – very spiny and with its huge long snout foraging in the bush – then climbed up for the last 2 miles of the walk towards Mount Kuring-gai station. Just as we were nearing the outskirts of the town we caught sight of a wallaby bounding away into the bush. The whole walk was just under 9 miles, and we then caught the train back to Milsons Point, the nearest station to where we are staying.

 

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