It’s a taken a while coming, 4 weeks to be precise but I am in Australia and had to say goodbye to lovely New Zealand on 18th November 2012. When I landed, it hit just how much I have done in New Zealand and in a way I thought if I go home now, I would be happy. It makes you wonder about travelling because you are always seeing and experiencing so much, are we really taking in as much as we should be, do we become blasé about it all?
I arrived into Sydney and met my friends, Sasha and Ash, for a much needed cup of tea and catch up followed by dinner and I knew I already liked Redfern where my friend Sasha lives. The following days were spent in ‘The Shire’ and Cronulla, the famous place that I heard being talked about during my years living in Edinburgh. To me it just seemed like anywhere else, the Kirkcaldy to my Burntisland, but it’s steeped in history for my Australian friends coming from ‘The Shire’. There is even a TV show set in Cronulla- Puberty Blues.
On my first day in actual Sydney City, Wednesday 21st, I went Whale Watching from Darling Harbour, sailing under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and caught my first glimpse of The Opera House. Oh my, that was a surreal feeling, such an iconic building and I was actually looking at it, taking photos from a ferry boat. We carried on sailing through very chopping waters, a few passengers not enjoying the experience and wishing they had stayed on dry land, the hope of the whales kept them going. Sadly no whales were to be found. It’s the end of the season they said, the chopping water makes it harder to see them they said. Fortunatly for me, I wasn’t unwell so when they offered us a free voucher to go whale watching again I jumped at the chance. Not sure exactly how many other passengers wanted to go out again.
On Thursday I felt like a proper tourist, me and a friend from New Zealand, went exploring the Botanic Gardens, we rode on the Monorail, we walked passed The Opera House and we even walked over the Harbour Bridge which is free, unlike the $200 climb over the top. Sitting on the other side of the harbour looking out to The Opera House, I just kept thinking, I can’t believe I am actually in Australia, I am actually on the other side of the world. Of course I’ve been on the other side of the world for the past few months, but still, I was actually in Sydney, actually seeing this building that I have known in pictures for almost all of my life. After our mission across the bridge we felt in need of cake, thanks to my trusty Rough Guide (which is not as good in Australia) it recommended ‘the best cake in Sydney’ on the other side of the water, at the Rocks- La Renaissance, it would be rude not to go, off we marched. It was delicious cake from a French Patisserie and it took a while to eventually choose my cake- passion fruit and berry mousse wrapped in a light delicate sponge, YUM! Best of all was sitting outside looking out to The Opera House eating the best cake in Sydney!
Friday was my next and final opportunity to see whales, third time lucky I was hoping- Kaikoura was a fail due to a massive storm hitting the day we arrived. Up early and in rush hour on the train to Circular Quay, I met my ferry and we were off on much calmers seas, beautiful sun shine and it was glorious, after the previous disappointments I was just enjoying being on a boat in the middle of the ocean and not being the slightest bit cold. After a short while, we saw our first ‘blow’ the air that the whale pushes out of the blow hole which enables them to be spotted. We were told it’s a mother and calf so we followed them for the next few hours and they were joined by one or two more. I know I’ve said it before but seeing these really wild animals in their natural habitat is just magical, it’s so exciting, so full of suspense and such wonder, but it makes you think what else is lurking in the sea. I didn’t get to see much of the whales, just their backs, being humpbacked that was quiet important and their fins but a couple of times we saw the tale and that was spectacular, but sadly my camera was taking a series of photos and missed the tail as it popped out both times, I asked a friendly man on the boat to send me his photo of the tail, but I think he and his wife are still travelling, so it might come in the New Year, but still I have committed it to memory and hope it lasts my life time. Like I said it was the end of the season so I think I would like to go whale watching again to see them at the height of the season, where there are more and they are more playful. Often they are interested in the boat and want to play with it, but the ones we saw, were more interested on swimming to where they needed to be. I am still really happy that I have seen them.
My second week in Sydney, I was staying with, Ash, who I had lived with in Edinburgh. When I arrived at her house it was the hottest day I had ever experienced in Australia and I was carrying my rucksack and was feeling a bit delicate from drinking the night before with Sasha, Ash and co. What else could we do but go for ice cream and hunt for salt and vinegar crisps, I knew Irn Bru would be too much to expect. The rest of the week at Ash’s was spent, resting, booking flights for my January adventures and visiting famous Sydney beaches- Bondi and Manly.
Bondi was a bit underwhelming, I said to Jane, yes the one from NZ, “is this it?!” She said, that is exactly what I asked a guy the first time I came. We ate ice cream and chatted. The next day, I went to Manly, I put on sun cream and lay on the beach for a little while, then went swimming, in warm water!!! When I got out there was an announcement to say “there is a large number of Blue Bottle jellyfish so if you don’t want stung, don’t go in the water” well, that was me staying on dry land for the rest of the day. I lay back on the beach, chatted to the girl next to me and read my book for another wee while. My mistake was not re-applying suncream after being in the water. Sitting on the bus back to Ash’s I could feel my legs getting hotter and hotter, I knew I was burnt but by the evening it was like having a hot water bottle on my legs in 30 degree heat, yuck. Note to self always re apply suncream.
Tropical birds in Ash’s garden
Another tropical creature, his name is Carl, he is not the biggest that visit’s Ash’s garden.