Anticipating the Antipoedean Antics

Trip Start May 30, 2005
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Trip End Sep 30, 2006


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Flag of Australia  ,
Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I had to get up early and onto the MRT for my 9:30 flight to Sydney. I'd already checked the ticket to make sure that I was in the right city on the right day at the right time. When I arrived at the airport I found out that the flight was with Singapore airlines, excellent. As you may have guessed front he build up when I got to the front of the queue they had no record of me flying with them, but after they had a quick look at my ticket they politely asked me to go to the other terminal and catch my flight with Qantas. Sorry!

The flight was excellent, long enough to catch up with some of the more recent cinema releases. Everything was going smoothly until I realised that I had some nuts in my bag, possibilly some soil on my shoes and I'd been in a rural area in the previous 30 days. The Ozzies don't like you arriving in their country under these circumstances, so as soon as they saw my declaration I was off to the special zone at the side of the airport. It was all pleasant enough and the woman had a good chat with me as she searched through each and every part of my bag. I'm just glad that the search stopped there!

After spending about 4 months in non-english speaking countries I was wondering how I could make more difficult for me down under, you know, to keep it exciting. My solution to this problem was to go without a guide book, and even better not to find out in advance where I could find a bed for the night. It had the added bonus of also saving me about 20 quid! This was real travel without safety nets.

I'd heard that the King's Cross area of Sydney was where much of the budget accomodation lay, so that's where I headed. I really didn't like the look of it, let's just say it's probably not the nicest part of town. I phoned up my friend Nikki that lives in Melbourne, she'd asked around some of her friends that live in Sydney if I could stay with them, but they all came back blank. When I told her that I was in King's Cross she said that staying in a hostel there would probably be an 'experiance'. She then suggested that I get myself and my backpack down to Bondi Beach while we were still together. I headed straight back onto the train and got down there. I found a really nice hostel just down from the beach and crashed in my bed, it'd been a long and stressful day.

I was a little worried that I'd not like Sydney. I'd found myself liking cities less and less over the past few months, and in my mind Sydney was just one big city. How wrong could I be? I was completely blown away by Sydney, it's amazing. So far on this trip I've really rated Beijing and Hong Kong, I have to say that for my money Sydney beats both of these hands down.

The obvious first stop is the Harbour area, to see the Bridge and the House. They are fantastic, I literally spend hours around the area. Over to the Opera House to get the best view of the Harbour Bridge and then to the Bridge for a view of the House. It's possible to do a bridge walk, which takes you right over one of the arches, it costs at least 160 Ozzy Dollars (60 quid). However being a canny Scot I found out that it's possible to head to the top of one of the pillars that support the bridge for a measly 8.50 Dollars, that's about one twentyith of the bridge walk price. You may not be able to climb as high, but I tell you that the view is still breathtaking. Plus there is loads of information on the climb up to let you know everything about the bridge that you were afraid to ask, and then some more.

It was strange walking through the city. On one hand it looked so familiar as it could be almost any city in the UK, modern buildings and names like Liverpool Street, Hyde Park, Oxford Street. But then you'd see some strange bird with a long beak scavanging amoungst the seagulls. The differences were really brought home to me when I took a walk through the botanical gardens which are right next to the central harbour. I found some cockatoos on a grassy verge and was really pleased to get close up to them for a photo. Then over the crest of the hill I saw a group of people up to something. I wandered over in case it was interesting and it was. There was a local guy with some bird feed for the Lorikeets. They look like big budgies, he gave me some feed in my hand and the birds came flocking to me. A bird in one hand, two in the bushes, and another on my shoulder for the Long John Silver look, brilliant.

I met up with Shane that I'd met in Burma a couple of months ago. He'd lived in Sydney a few years ago so was able to show me around a little bit, round the centre pointing out the areas where the ozzys used to congregate for the Olympics to watch the big screens. He then took me down to The Rocks, which is the area underneath the Bridge on the south side. Full of cool little shops and old buildings since it's one of the first places that was build when the British arrived. We spent the afternoon there before he had to head back to Manly, so in the name of sightseeing I went with him. It's a half hour ferry ride out towards the coast. It passes right past the Opera House giving you the exact same view as one of the expensive Harbour tours. The ride was great as you just see how amazing much of the rest of Sydney is, with many people living with great views over the huge harbour.

As I was getting off the boat I bumped into this guy called Daz from Sheffield that had been in the same dorm room as me for a while in Bondi. Shane had to nip off while Daz and I had a quick look round Manly then headed off for some pool and schooners. We ended up speaking to some locals and having a great night up there. This prooved to be very fortuous as one of the girls, Kimi, only worked till mid afternoon and was happy to show me around from a local's point of view.

In the true style of the ozzies she'd turn up just as it was getting dark with her sunnies (sunglasses to me and you) on top of her head and they'd stay there all evening. She took me to Darlin Harbour, a very chilled and relaxed kind of place where people just wander around not doing very much. She also took me to a point on the harbour, just past the Botanical gardens where you got the best view of the Bridge and House lit up at night. Absolutely stunning. You may have guessed that I in fact got a bit obsessed by the Bridge and House while I was there, it was possible to see it from so many different parts of the city, that you just couldn't forget about it!

I was shown Russel Crowe's House (Can you believe that he's actually a Kiwi!), despite its location I think that he could have got himself something a bit nicer. It looked a bit like a post industrial warehouse on the water edge. It was also right next to the famous (apparently!) "Harry's Pie and Mash" shop. Where of course I had a pie, and mash, and gravy, and mushy peas, yum yum.

I had to visit the zoo as well, the best way to catch up with these crazy oz animals. When I arrived I found out that the special "up close and personal" session with a Koala was open. So I purchased my 3 dollar ticket and headed straight there. Standing in the queue with a bunch of kids, I didn't care. A couple of them tried to skip past me but there was no way I was going to loose my place in this queue. Now these animals are great, the keeper said that they sleep till they're hungry and eat till they're tired. They look so cute and fluffy it's unbelieveable. I of course got my piccy taken with them, sadly it wasn't smart enough to look at the camera. It really set me up for the whole day. The rest of the day at the zoo was just a come down from that. It was nice to see the Wallabies (probably called wally), and the Kangaroos (I'm guessing Kanga). The Wombat was great, I'd call him bat the Wombat. Gus the Duck Billed Platypus was great, and apparently unusually active. One animal that I'd never seen before was Edna the Echidna, sort of like a porcupine or hedgehog but with the funniest little walk as it waddled along.

They had a bird show where the trainer stood at the front while birds flew back and forwards to her, explaining about each in turn. The training involved to get these birds to fly back and forward was amazing. They had some really big eagles as well, kind of scary for the local bird population. The world's smallest penguin also live in Austalia, and in the spirit of the ozzies naming things, they're called "Little Penguins", they're fantastic to look at. All in all I had a brilliant day at the zoo, and they practically had to throw me out at the end.

Since I'd found myself staying in Bondi more by chance than design I decided to move up to Manly for my last few days in Sydney. To be honest Bondi is a bit over rated and there isn't anything there other than beach, bars, cafes and fast food places. Manly is just so much nicer as it's a kind of town in its own right, with proper shops around. Plus it has the advantage that you need to take the superb ferry into the city. Kimi suggested that we could visit Palm Beach which is where the beach scenes for Home and Away are filmed, but I decided to decline the offer as I can't really say that I'm that much of a fan. Instead she took me around the headland at the harbour's entrance so see some fantastic views.

As you can tell I had an amazing time in Sydney. There is a rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne it'll be interesting to see both. Melbourne is really going to have to play a blinder if it's to beat Sydney. In fact I don't think there are many cities in the world that could actually beat Sydney for visiting. Now all I have to do is sit back and wait for the cheque from the Sydney tourist board, I need it after Sydney, it's really expensive compared to Asia. I spent more money in a week in Sydney that I did in a month in Burma, be warned!

I'm off to Melbourne next to visit a friend of mine, so maybe she'll be able to show of Melbourne to its full potential.

Till next time folks.
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Comments

rose0
rose0 on

Sydney
Enjoyed hearing about Sydney, we are going on the Van Gogh in January 2007...v. excited as I was a kiddie in NZ years ago, and we are visiting there as well.

Good tip about the 'canny Scot' method of climbing high on the Harbour Bridge, but not having to pay so much for a comparable view.
We will now probably take your recommendation.
Good site!

Best wishes

Rose0

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