Friday 14th March - Sydney & ferry to Parramatta
Caught the ferry from Neutral Bay to Circular Quay and from
here we jumped on the 12.30 ferry to Parramatta – or
so we thought! In fact we soon discovered it was just a ferry
doing a 45-minute trip around the Harbour, so we were back
at Circular Quay in time to catch the 13.30 to Parramatta
instead. This didn’t matter as we had plenty of time,
and the first little tour went via Darling Harbour and twice
under the Harbour Bridge. We had purchased all-day explorer
tickets so that wasn’t a problem either.
The Parramatta ferry is a fast and very smooth Rivercat service.
The service runs to the top of the Parramatta River, and passes
many headlands with expensive houses. We also saw plenty of
herons and cormorants, especially towards the top of the river.
The Rivercat only stops once on the way, at Rydalmere, and
from here onwards is limited to 7 knots as the river narrows
and the area is bordered by mangroves. The whole journey takes
only 50 minutes. Weather was lovely all day with just a few
clouds and a temperature of around 26°C – a bit
warmer inland compared to around Sydney Harbour.
Did some shopping then caught the train back to Sydney Central
and walked through Hyde Park - this is fairly small but the
central path through it has some superb trees, beneath which
a number of ibises were foraging.
All went up to the Oaks pub in the evening. Had a steak,
which you have to cook yourself on the gas BBQ in the beer
garden. Being a Friday night, the place was heaving.
Today we did the Sydney
Harbour Bridge Climb. Checked in at the reception area just
after midday. The kitting-out and instruction procedure takes
around an hour, but is very professionally done and it seems
nothing is left to chance. You cannot take anything loose onto
the bridge at all, so have to remove watches etc. You can take
sunglasses but these have to be attached to the regulation grey
boiler suit which must be worn. There is also a harness meaning
the suit is attached to a static line on the bridge throughout
the climb, so you cannot fall off. You are given a radio so
the climb leader can tell you anecdotes and information as you
climb the bridge in a group of 12.
Saturday 15th March – Sydney
The first part involves a walk horizontally along a platform
under the bridge to the first bridge pylon on the south east
side. From here there are four steep ladders which get you
up above the road level, and from here on you climb quite
shallow steps over the eastern arch until you reach the top
of the bridge where the two flags are flying. The top of the
bridge is 134m above sea level. All of this was very unhurried,
and there is plenty of time to enjoy the superb views. The
weather was really ideal for the climb, 22°C, wind speed
of 20 km/h, sunny with a few high clouds and very good visibility.
The climb leader takes a number of photos at different points,
which you can purchase later (one shot of the group is included
free). At the top, you cross over from east to west and return
to the first pylon, via the western arch of the bridge. The
whole climb lasts just under 2 hours and involves about 1,500
steps. This was definitely something worth doing and I’d
recommend it to anyone visiting Sydney.
Next, we visited the street market, which fills George Street
(weekends only), and later we had a barbecue on the balcony
with several friends.
Sunday 16th March – Sydney
Drove to Watsons Bay where we had lunch at Doyles fish restaurant
– a very popular spot overlooking the bay. We then drove
a short distance up the hill to The Gap (right on the edge
of Sydney Harbour National Park) - from here there’s
an excellent view of the Sydney skyline in the distance to
the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east.
Next we drove down the coast to Bondi Beach, had a quick
paddle in the sea which was beautifully clear but pretty cold.
Returned to the flat and in the evening we went out for yet
another superb Thai meal at Thai Intra on Military Road.
Monday 17th March – Sydney
Another hot, dry & sunny day. A relaxing day –
just went up to Military Road at lunchtime to do some shopping
and ManLan cooked Chinese food for our friend's birthday in
Tuesday 18th March – Sydney
Hot, dry and sunny again. Walked through Cremorne Reserve
to Robertsons Point. This is a beautiful area surrounding
Cremorne Point, with a number of interesting plants, plenty
of wildlife and fantastic views of Sydney. Continued round
to Mosman Bay Wharf then walked through Sirius Cove and around
the south-western tip of Taronga zoo. On the way we saw an
Eastern blue-tongued lizard on the path. There was supposed
to be one in the zoo, but we couldn't see it! Hmmm.....
We went into the zoo by the southern entrance and took the
cable car to the top of the zoo. The location of the zoo means
it has the most incredible backdrop of any zoo I’ve
visited – you can see the Sydney skyline, Opera House
and Harbour Bridge from many places. Had a look at most of
the animals, the best being the giraffes, kodiak bears, snow
leopard, red panda, meerkats and penguins.
Took the ferry back to Circular Quay. Two protesters had
painted ‘NO WAR’ on the Opera House in red paint
during the morning, and there were at least ten people abseiling
down trying to clean off the paint. This made the national
news in the evening.
VIDEO - I have posted a short camcorder clip (26 secs) -
This is Windows Media Format and is 326KB
Wednesday 19th March – Manly
A superb hot and sunny day with hardly a cloud in the sky.
Took the ferry from Neutral Bay to Circular Quay, then the
ferry to Manly. The Manly ferry takes only 30 minutes and
it’s a very pleasant trip on a large boat.
The main beach was fairly windy today and the waves were
about 6 feet. Went in the sea, which was a wonderful clear
blue colour and reasonably warm, but it was difficult swimming
with such large waves. After lunch we walked a bit south east
to the smaller, but totally sheltered, Shelly Beach. Here
the sand is not quite as fine, as it is indeed noticeably
ground-up shells, but the water was totally calm and we had
a good swim. It was too hot to spend long on the beach, so
we returned to Sydney mid-afternoon. Arriving at Circular
Quay we noticed they are still trying to remove the red paint
from the Opera House – now it has run down the largest
sail as big red streaks. It must be a hell of a job trying
to clean it in this heat, especially with the sun reflecting
off the white sails.
Thursday 20th March – Sydney
A very warm day indeed with temperatures reaching around
30°C. Caught the ferry to Circular Quay then walked around
to the Opera House for a close up view of the paint removal
– which is still ongoing (day 3). They have reduced
the number of red streaks from three to two so are making
some progress! Walked through the Botanic Gardens and again
saw thousands of bats in the trees. Continued on to the Fish
Markets for lunch.
Walked to Darling Harbour and saw two IMAX films. First we
saw the superb “Space Station” in 3D – a
really amazing film partly shot by the astronauts on the International
Space Station. Seeing a 3D IMAX film is an incredible experience
- almost as good as being there yourself! Next we saw the
2D film “Australia – Land Beyond Time” which
was average but not one of the best I've seen.
We then walked to Town Hall and found ourselves in the midst
of a large anti-war demonstration. There was a huge crowd
and many speakers on the steps of the Town Hall. Caught the
train back to Milsons Point. Whilst crossing the Harbour Bridge
we saw a very unusual sight – a dust storm had enveloped
much of the harbour giving an eerie yellow light as the sun
tried to shine through.
Back to: Week 4 (Fri 7th Mar - Thu 13th Mar)
Forward to: Week 6 (Fri 21st Mar - Thu 28th Mar)