My Big Australian Adventure – Part 9

Wednesday 16th April

An early finish from work, coupled with a very pleasant evening weather wise, gave us the perfect excuse to get out and about. We decided we would go to Bondi Beach having not been their yet and of course it is a world famous location.

Before arriving in Australia I had been warned that Bondi wasn’t all that. Well I can now say, without any doubt, I agree. First impressions were that it is a typical English seaside town that had seen better days. Well that probably isn’t totally fair as generally the place was clean and well presented. However it was also overpriced and full of tacky lights and amusement arcades. Although we arrived late evening parking was still being charged at very high rates which continued until midnight. We didn’t bother to stop!

Further up the coast, not all that far, is Watsons Bay. A far simpler and unassuming place. Here we had dinner at the Watsons Bay Beach Club, having had a walk around part of the shore.

At one point during our walk there were some very strange lights under the water. Sometimes there appeared to be three, at others just the one. When we got back to the car there was a dive club truck which I hope explains the lights.

20140416_205855As we drove out of Watsons Bay we stopped to have a look at the Macquarie Lighthouse, Australia’s first lighthouse which opened on 30th November 1818.

Thursday 17th April

Although I have been here on and off for nearly two months tonight was the first time I visited Chatswood, the nearest town from the hotel. It’s a nice town with loads of shops and some very noisy birds!!

I also got a demon hair cut in Westfield.

Friday 18th April – Good Friday

The weather was good in Sydney today, clear blue skies, sunny and mid 20’s so we decided it was the day to ride the ferries!

Sydney FerrysFirst was the F3 from Circular Quay to Parramatta. This took us down river away from the city and sea. The differences in the scenery were amazing, from the built up riverside apartments to the Olympic Park and then into what appeared to be a nature reserve before reaching our destination. Certainly for the last few miles only ferries and authorised boats were allowed through which would suggest some form of protection being in place.

We didn’t get off the boat at Parramatta choosing to head straight back to the city. Generally today was about the journey as much as the destination, although we did decide to disembark at Cockatoo Island and stretch our legs. See my previous post for more details.

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When we finally got back to Circular Quay we had been out for about four hours and the sun was beginning to set.

As soon as we got off the boat we went to check for the next ferry to Manly; 10 minutes, so from one ferry we immediately boarded the next, F1, and were off again. This time we were heading out towards the sea before bearing to the left and docking at Manly. There are no stops on this route but the journey still takes about 45 minutes each way. 20140418_170508At Manly we got off and took a walk up the main street to the beach. On the way we stopped to get fish and chips to eat by the sea, a favorite pastime, although this shop was very different from home. Lauren had fish, chips and calamari; I had calamari and chips – very posh!!

In the rivalry which I understand exists between Bondi and Manly – Manly wins! No contest. For me it is so much better in every way.

When done we walked back to the wharf, boarded the ferry and headed back to the city.

A great day enjoying the sights and the weather. I have said this before, but am happy to repeat myself, the ferry and train services in Sydney are brilliant!

Saturday 19th April

Yesterday was about ferries; today was all about markets. Paddington first, this was the one we missed last week due to the rain, then The Rocks as there is something Lauren wants to get before she goes home and finally Paddys Market for a few souvenirs.

Well that was the plan. We didn’t start our day quite as early as hoped which meant that by the time we finally got to Paddington it was getting on for 2 o’clock. The trip from the hotel involved a train to Museum via Winyard and then a 20 minute walk to Paddington. The market was worth the walk. We spent a good couple of hours drifting round the stalls and stopping to have a rest and a juice.

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When we left the market we had a long walk from Paddington through Darlinghurst and down onto the Quay before walking round to The Rocks. The walk took us through many parts of the city which we hadn’t been before. Some were extremely affluent with multi-million dollar houses, other much less so. In one area we heard a guy describe it to his mate as “The Bronx”. Although I don’t believe that comparison to be fair there was clearly less money about. That said, the houses through all areas maintained a very similar style, many of which would have been the very first houses built on the site.

Thankfully we arrived in time to walk round the street markets at The Rocks, but unfortunately the stall Lauren really wanted wasn’t there. We did pick up a couple of items before starting the long walk back to Paddington. It was far too late for Paddys Market which was going to have to wait for another day.

Our evening was to be spent at the Allianz Stadium watching our first rugby union match down under; NSW Waratahs v Blue Bulls.

The stadium itself was magnificent, so much more than we are used to at Adams Park. However, there were a few things which weren’t as good as home. First the ground was huge which meant that it was possibly less than half full. Empty seats are never a good thing. The second was that the whole place was flood light including all the seating areas which stayed lit throughout the game. Don’t know why but I didn’t like that, I guess it keeps you better focused on the game when the crowd are in darkness. And thirdly it wasn’t London Wasps playing!!

The Waratahs won out in the end 19 – 12 and it was a great evening.

Sunday 20th April

Another road trip was on the cards today, this time into the The Blue Mountains. The first, and only planned, stop was the Three Sisters, a rock formation on the edge of the mountains. This was also the only location we had heard of.

The formation itself and the views out over the mountains and the huge valley floor below were amazing. Absolutely breathe taking. Unfortunately they were spoilt a little by the extremely large numbers of tourists fighting to get the photo, the ice cream and the little plastic gift. One of the things I have enjoyed about Sydney is that there always seems to be space. You don’t feel hemmed in or crowded; at the Three Sisters you were completely surrounded by the hustle and noise of large numbers of people.

We took in the view; took our photographs and left.

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But not before we had a chat with a very nice gentleman who pointed out an aboriginal face in the first of the three sisters; the ruined castle rock formation way out in the valley; the bees nesting in the main rocks with their honey comb slowly drifting down the cliff face and where the echo started at Echo Point. He also agreed that it was best to see, and hear, later in the day when the crowds had gone home and you were alone.

A memorial near to the lookout is also worth a mention. Not only are the statues quite amazing, but the words are very poignant and cut to the very heart of Australia’s history:

Road Builders

20140420_150002From there we drifted around the edge of the reserve stopping and enjoying the views at every opportunity. We also did a little “off roading”, taking a couple of the gravel tracks which took you away off the main roads.

It is a truly amazing place among so many that we have visited this trip. A return to the Blue Mountains is very likely before I leave Australia in a few weeks’ time.

Monday 21st April

The last day of the bank holiday weekend was to be an easy one. Having had a great few days rushing around we decided to slow down a bit.

Paddys Market was the first destination of the day to do some final gift shopping. What a great place; absolutely packed with every kind of tat you never realised you needed, ideal for buying souvenirs.

After that we took a walk to the Botanical Gardens, via Woolworth’s to pick up some lunch, and spent a couple of very pleasant hours doing very little other than catching up on blogs and watching the world go by.

All in all an Easter to remember down here in Sydney.

 

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