23.01.2010 - 31.01.2010
We spend over a week in Sydney, which is a long time for us to stay in one place, but it's a big place and we move about. Starting in a hostel in the city centre, I see much of the city by foot. Sydney is where Europeans first settled, so has a fair amount of history and there's plenty to see aside from the obvious sights. The botanic gardens are fantastic, while at Kew you have exotic plants in glasshouses, here they can all grow out in the open! They're also home to hundreds of bats who hang in the trees and some exotic birds. It's a bit of a cloudy day though and Sydney Opera house looks more cream in the dull light! I love it as a building though, it still looks striking and modern, yet retains its 70s charm when you're up close.
We're in Australia for Australia Day, which is a public holiday to celebrate (or perhaps not for the aborigine population) the day that settlers first arrived in Australia. They're a very patriotic country and really get into the party spirit for this day. Alex has a friend called Charley now living in Sydney and we manage to find ourselves at her work BBQ on Australia Day Eve. Steak! Charley kindly puts us up for two nights in Newport, which is a beach suburb north of Sydney. We spend Australia Day on a very packed Newport Beach surrounded by Aussie families. It feels like we're doing it the Australian way, not just with the tourists. In the evening we have drinks in a place called Manly, so named apparently because the settlers thought the aborigines to be very manly!
After Newport we spend a couple of nights by Bondi Beach and then finish up back in the city centre. We take a ferry out to Tarongi Zoo, giving me my blue sky view of the Opera House!
We go to the zoo as we're fascinated by the animals of Australia. As an island that has been separated from other land mass for so long they have had their own line of evolution, thus creating crazy things like marsupials (animals with pouches). I really want to see a platypus, but alas they're shy and none of them come out of hiding. A disappointment, but there's plenty of kangaroos (including ones that live in trees), koalas, odd birds and a sleeping wombat. I also get to see more elephants, with the first baby to be born in Australia in the zoo!
It's funny to see one of the zoo's star attractions is a rare penguin called Mr Munro! I suppose I should have bought one, but no, I didn't.
Before leaving Sydney I visit my dad's cousin (someone help me out on what relation that makes him to me...), who now lives south of Sydney. It's great to catch up with a family member I never knew, makes the world feel that much smaller. We're now in New Zealand and will be here for 4 weeks altogether.