1166_36 – A giraffe with a view at Taronga Zoo

Best of Both Worlds

Touring around Sydney

Sydney, Australia  January 10-12, 2003

Last Updated 10/19/2010

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Hello, all, from DownUnder in the beautiful city of Sydney, Australia! As most of you know, I headed out for my Australian adventure last Friday night. Alas, my plane had mechanical trouble and by the time I reached San Francisco, the daily flight to Sydney had left 20 minutes earlier. So, I got to spend 24 hours in San Francisco. At least the airline paid for the hotel, but still...

Michelle, who leaves fairly close to the city, came and took me shopping and into town for a wonderful Italian meal. Afterwards, we went up to Coit Tower and saw some gorgeous views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.


My 1st Day in “Australia” – In San Francisco!
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Coit Tower
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Beautiful San Francisco
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That evening, I finally got my flight to Sydney and arrived early here early Monday morning. Tricia, one of the locals, met me at the airport, along with Rowan (who I was supposed to travel with from San Francisco, along with DJ). Monday we went to the beautiful Sydney Aquarium at Darling Harbour (which is quite near my favorite hotel in Australia, The Grace, where I had an awesome room with a sitting area and a king sized bed for the days previous to the convention). At the aquarium, we made the acquaintance of a rather psycho platypus that was dashing from one end of its habitat to the other, beating the living daylights out of the little yabbies that lived in the area and just generally wreaking havoc. Of course, I visited my old friend, a huge saltwater crocodile. I had photos of him from my last visit and I took a few new pictures. The Great Barrier Reef area was as gorgeous as I remembered but the most fun was walking through the shark tanks where they swim over, under and around you. That evening, we dined at one of my favorite restaurants, Jordons, sampling an interesting "greenish" white wine (I believe it was called Lost Bock) and indulging in calamari (some of the best in the world), grilled octopus, fried flathead and the Jordon's wonderful chips. The view of Darling Harbour, all lit up with lights at night, was simply magical.


My old friend at the Aquarium
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Tuesday, I took a guided tour out to the Hunter Valley, which was green and beautiful and covered in wildflowers. Our guide told us that only a few weeks ago, the area was quite brown from drought but they've had some rain recently. There were a few places where you could see the evidence of the brush fires they've had in the area. It's close to time to pick the grapes, so it was fascinating to see the grapevines laden down with the fruit. We had a tour at one of the wineries where they explained the whole process. At that particular winery, they still pick all of the fruit by hand. There was much wine tasting and a tasty lunch...and then more wine tasting in the afternoon as we visited a few more wineries. It was quite hot, around 100 degrees, but there was a nice breeze, at least.


Lovely grapes on the vine
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Wine casks
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Some local flora
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More flowers
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On Wednesday, Tricia hired a car and drove Rowan, DJ and I up into the Blue Mountains. We had lunch at a fantastic old place in Katoomba called "The Paragon". It was full of the old Art Deco type fixtures and had been there in the resort town forever. It was just gorgeous and quite an experience to get to dine there. Of course, the most exciting “find” in Katoomba was that we found out where Thor and the Asgard have been hanging out these days! (See below!)

Then we headed on up to see the main attraction in the area, which are The Three Sisters, some quite distinctive rock formations in a deep valley. After having a look, taking some pictures and then shopping, we headed on down the road. We stopped at a little park and hiked down some very steep, rocky steps to a pretty little waterfall. I believe it was called Katoomba Falls, although it's possible the actual "falls" was further along (there were paths to go right on out to the edge of the valley). After that, we went and took a skycab across the valley. We wanted to take the train down to the bottom, as well, but for some reason they stop running at 4:50 pm, even though it is summer and tourist season. They wouldn't even let us shop in the gift shop. Tricia then took us to see one of the old old hotels, the Hydro Majestic, which has a gorgeous view out over a valley. Alas, the tea room was closed and a haze had come in, but it was still fun to have a look around the refurbished old Victorian hotel. We were thirsty so we found a little local shop in Katoomba to stop in... it was a tiny little general type store and we saw a cabbie sitting outside, eating fish and chips. Tricia pointed out this meant the fish and chips must be really good there, so she ordered us a bag of chips. They were hot and crispy and probably the most awesome french fries (chips) I've ever had.


The Three Sisters
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The Asgard!
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The Paragon
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The Paragon
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Koalas are big in the Blue Mountains!
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Katoomba Falls
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Thursday we finally managed to meet up with Mon, who came up from Melbourne Wednesday night. We all headed out to do some shopping and then off to take the ferry to Taronga Zoo. The zoo is perched on the edge of a hill overlooking Sydney Harbour. I hope some of my photos turn out, because my camera decided to act up (although it has straightened out since). The views were simply spectacular. You can take a cable lift to the top and then walk back down, seeing the animals as you go. We concentrated mostly on the Australia animals. We were lucky to catch the Koala's being fed and we actually saw an echidna, out and about and digging around. The wombats were hiding from us...but we did see quokkas and kangaroos (Tricia was annoyed because I tattled to the kangaroos that she had fed us "Skippy" burgers the night before for dinner) and wallabies and bilbies, and spinifex mice and so much more.


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The banana plant flower!
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Echidna
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The Opera House
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Skippy!
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After the zoo, we finally connected with Lorrie (who had also come over from the States) and we all took the ferry to Manly to have dinner and celebrate DJ's birthday with more friends.


View of Sydney Harbour
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DJ and the Stargate
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The Cocktail Party

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