Australia, Trip 3 – Part 6

A lazy weekend was in order! That was my thought and that is exactly how it panned out.

On Saturday I needed to go into Chatswood to do a little shopping and get my hair cut; regardless of where you are and what you are up to in the world the routine chores of life continue on. That sorted back to the hotel, drop everything off and then out in the car.

So far this trip I haven’t been up the north coast and so I decided a drive, perhaps a walk and some time just relaxing on one of the beaches north of Sydney would be the way to go. From North Ryde I headed out towards Manly Beach. From there I continued heading north enjoying the amazing views out across the golden beaches which are so typical of this part of the country. Not being in any particular hurry there were various detours when something caught my eye or a sign pointed off to a beach that I hadn’t been to previously.

It was a glorious day weather wise and so generally the beaches were busy with surfers enjoying the waves and families having fun in the water or the sand.

Australians are known for enjoying the outdoor life style and clearly the weather plays a part in this, but it still surprised me how many families had taken their lunch or dinner outside and as a complete group were enjoying the day and their time together. Sadly not something you see too much at back home.

2014-10-11 16.13.42At one point, I didn’t note exactly where, I saw a number of people para-gliding off the cliffs. As I pulled up to look one guy was about to launch himself right from the edge of the road! After several false starts he was off, but I am not sure the thermals were as good as he hoped because after I got back from a short walk he was back where he started but this time packing all his gear away.

Continuing north I headed through Dee Why, North Narrabeen, Mona Vale, Newport, Avalon, Whale Beach and finally into Palm Beach the home of the television series Home and Away.

At Palm Beach I parked the car, took a stroll and then just sat and read my book as the sun slowly set over paradise.

2014-10-11 18.46.15-2Sunday was to be another easy day, but this time in Sydney. I needed to get back into the city just to remind myself how wonderful it actually is – not that I really need to be reminded!

No car today, train from North Ryde to Milsons Point.

During my last trip over I walked the bridge from Sydney to MIlsons Point and grabbed some food from a small take away under the approach ramp. Today I intended to do the reverse walk and so decided to have lunch at the same place I had been before. Definitely a good choice, The Seafood and Burger Cafe, well worth a visit!

A small market was taking place in the arches and greens surrounding the bridge and station. I had a stroll and then headed for the bridge itself.

Everybody knows Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s famous the world over not least for the iconic pictures of the fireworks at new year and to celebrate the Olympics in 2000. It is one of those destinations in the world that is instantly recognised. Although not brave, or perhaps stupid, enough to walk over the highest parts of the bridge, simply walking across at road/rail level offers some amazing views of the harbour, the city and the structure itself. What continues to amaze me is the overall size of the bridge. Not only the height and the length, which are clear to all, but it is wide enough to carry trains in both directions as well as six lanes of vehicles and two walkways – pedestrians one side and cyclists the other.

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From the bridge I walked down through The Rocks, round Circular Quay, past the Opera House and up in to the park. More time sitting, reading and people watching was in order.

While in the park one of the cruise ships which moor up at the international terminal in Circular Quay edged out from the dock and headed through the harbour towards the open sea. These ships are huge, it is difficult to image how they float without tipping over. There seems to be so little actually in the water.

A great, lazy weekend enjoying the good weather and the amazing views.

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After such a wonderful weekend out in the glorious warm spring sunshine the beginning of the following week came as such a shock. It was just under 30 degrees C on Sunday but on Monday the temperature had dropped as a major storm approached New South Wales. In my hotel Monday evening I watched the storm roll in. The rain, thunder and lightening were so intense, it was if the gates of hell themselves had opened.

On Tuesday morning heading into the office it was noticeably colder but it still came as a shock to find that roads within the Blue Mountains had been closed due to snow! Pictures were circulating round the office of the maintenance crews making snowmen while out on the night shift.

SnowAs appears to be the way in Sydney no sooner had the storm arrived, it was gone and the last couple of days of my visit the weather was back to its glorious best.

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My Big Australian Adventure – Part 14

Well it’s nearly done! Only one more weekend in this beautiful land down under and so I have to make sure that I get those last few things done before I leave as I don’t know when I will be back. But one thing is for sure, I certainly plan on coming back and seeing a whole lot more of this wonderful country!

So my plans for the weekend:

  • Sydney for a few drinks tonight.
  • Sydney Museum and Paddys Market Saturday.
  • Sydney in the sunshire on Sunday; hopefully.

I wonder how it will actually pan out?

Friday 2nd May

I met the guys in the Opera Bar, underneath the Sydney Opera House and had a drink there before moving on to the Glenmore Hotel, which has a fairly elevated position in The Rocks. From their roof terrace you get spectacular views out across Circular Quay to the Opera House beyond.

Some food and a few drinks ensured a great night was had by all.

Saturday 3rd May

As I finally got back to the hotel about 1am, my Saturday morning was delayed into the afternoon and so my plans for the day were somewhat curtailed!

When I was ready I set off for the train only to find that due to engineering works the trains had turned into buses. Most people who know me are aware that I don’t do buses. I hate the fact that I don’t know the routes or which stop they are at; but I was brave and ventured on the the train replacement service.

The bus was packed, but free which I was surprised by. Are train replacement services fee in the UK?

From North Ryde I got the bus to Chatswood; end of that service so I knew where I was. Then I got the express bus to Wynyard; only one stop so again very easy. Then I walked to Paddys Market and bought the last few gifts that I wanted for people back home.

After the market I took a stroll round Darling Harbour, up through The Rocks and surrounding districts and then back down through the street markets to Circular Quay.

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The Rocks really is a stunning and, for me, evocative place. The history of Sydney is right there for all to see.

By this time it was getting late and so I decided that I would walk across the bridge to Milsons Point, a place I had been meaning to see for a few weeks.

The views from Sydney Harbour Bridge are, as you would expect, amazing, especially as the sun was beginning to go down so all the city lights were coming on. The harbour was a non-stop buzz of boats, small and large, heading off in all directions. Looking up as you crossed you can see all of the bridges bones exposed.2014-05-03 16.27.36

I found a cafe in Milsons Point to get something to eat and then walked around the water front, under the bridge and past Luna Park, Sydney’s very own amusement park.

Finally it was time for the return bus journey which was just as straight forward as the one out.

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Sunday 4th May

The sun was shining bright when I got up so I deceided to head for the caravan and camping show which was being held at a race course on the way to Parramatta just past the Olympic Park. I spent the majority of the day looking at different forms of off-road accommodation from caravans, to campers which fit on the back of a pickup, to adventure trailers with tents and cooking facilities all fitted. I wonted to get some idea of what was available for when I come back to Australia for by “Big Overland Adventure” but I think it is safe to say I left more confused than when I arrived. What was very clear was just how important this form of holiday still is in Australia; the choice available was mind blowing.

So that was my last weekend of this trip, but there are still a few more days to go.

My Big Australian Adventure – Part 5

Friday 4th April

Today is just another work day for me, but Lauren and Tania have headed off to Chatswood to get the food for tonight’s BBQ. Trevor is cooking again so hopefully we will have better weather than last week.

Food brilliant; weather better. Managed to eat outside before the heavens opened. All being well we will get a whole evening by the pool before we head home.

Saturday 5th April

This was Lauren’s first full day in the city so we were up early and on the train by 9. First stop was the street market in Surry Hills.

We headed for Central Station and then walked up into the Surry Hills district. This is described in many of the guide books as an artistic, bohemian, area and you can see this as soon as you get to the main shopping streets. There are cafés and shops selling shops, art and second hand goods everywhere. But there is a well maintained, well look after, well-loved feel about the place.

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Sydney refers to itself as the “City of Villages”, and when you walk through Surry Hills you can certainly feel the village atmosphere.

On the corner of Crown Street and Foveaux Street, in a small park, is the market we have come to see. Held on the first Saturday of the month, it is full of second hand clothes and furniture as well crafts and other handmade products. Lauren was clearly in her element, which will not surprise you if you have read her blog!

After the market we took a walk up and down Crown Street, dipping in and out of the various shops and enjoying the atmosphere of the place.

Our next destination was The Rocks district which is the original convict built settlement right next to the harbour and bridge. Not being in any hurry we took a slow walk through Hyde Park, past the ANZAC Memorial and on to George Street, taking a short detour through the incredible Queen Victoria Building which houses a top end shopping centre. This is an amazing construction of stone, iron and glass.

George Street runs straight into The Rocks and the weekend craft markets. We spent a good few hours exploring the stalls and shops as well as walking around the perimeter of the district to see the unspoilt areas which allow you to image just how it would have been for those men, women and children getting off the ships after so many weeks at sea all those years ago.

I have written about The Rocks in previous posts, but there was one little gem that we found this time. Having been out for so long it was time to eat so we took a chance and stepped into The Swagmans Café. We took a table on the street so that we could do some people watching while checking out the menu and waiting for our food. Lauren had a vegetarian toasted sandwich and I had a Wagyu burger.

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The food was absolutely brilliant; definitely to be recommended. If you are in Sydney and feeling hungry look this place up!

After The Rocks we walked around Circular Quay and over to the Sydney Opera House. As always the area was full of people going to and from the theatre, restaurants and bars. Round the back of the opera house there was a wedding taking place which, in our humble opinion, was a little odd! The happy couple were taking their vowels looking out over Sydney Harbour Bridge with the Sydney Opera House behind them which sounds wonderful, but there were loads of strangers gawping within feet of them!!

Having enjoyed a great, sunny and warm day out in Sydney, Lauren and I headed back to the hotel to put our feet up and plan out next trip.

Sunday 6th April

The weather forecast for Sunday was wet! At times, very wet!

Rather than spending the day walking in the rain we decided to head out in our Ute and explore the countryside south of Sydney; the destination I had in mind was Kangaroo Valley.

Ute – an abbreviation for “utility” or “coupé utility” –  historically an Australian-designed “ute” has been a 2 door vehicle based on a passenger car chassis, the term is also used to describe vehicles which would be called a pickup truck or truck in the rest of the world.

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We headed out from North Ryde taking a route past the Olympic Park and across the Parramatta River; as we left the city we took the opportunity for a detour and headed off in to the Royal National Park. The scenery was spectacular with the tall trees and deep valleys. This route was considerably longer but well worth it. Some of the turns were particularly tight and I had to be careful not to put too much power down as the back of the car is extremely light and happy to kick out at any opportunity. Wheel spinning was the norm until I sorted out the right balance between gears and power.

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It seemed that all too soon we were leaving the forest and driving along the top of the cliffs looking out over the sea. Every so often we would come to a village with a sandy cove. Surfers were nearly always visible enjoying the waves.

Sea Cliff BridgeAt a place called “Sea Cliff Bridge” the road literally left land and was carried out into the sea.

We stopped at Kiama to see the natural “blow hole” rock formation which is right on the sea front. As the waves roll in the water is funnelled through a short tunnel and then blasted up it to the sky through a vertical hole.

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Finally we were heading back in land and through Kangaroo Valley. More amazing scenery much of which was farm land; in many ways reminding us of home with the cattle grazing in the fields.

Unfortunately the valley didn’t live up to its name and after about 450km driven today we still haven’t seen a Kangaroo! Better luck next weekend hopefully.

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