Australia, 2007


Home Up: Holidays Next: Melbourne
Fig tree with buttressing roots, Botanical Gardens

The weather in Sydney was very variable, with short rain showers sweeping across the city. It was pleasantly warm, at about 24° C and on the first day we enjoyed a stroll through the Botanical Gardens where we saw an avenue of large fig trees with buttressing roots. They're not figs of the edible type you can grow in the UK or buy in the shops, but most attractive to look at and various animals like to eat them.

Straw necked ibis, Botanical Gardens

Further on we saw a cluster of birds rooting around where people were feeding them. The straw-necked ibis were common, not just in Sydney, but wherever we went, along with various parrots and sulphur-crested cockatoos. I didn't get good shots of many of the birds, and the few I did get were in Melbourne. The seagulls and European starlings are ubiquitous.

Flying foxes, Botanical Gardens

As we approached the shop and restaurant at the centre of the Botanical Gardens, intent on lunch, we heard and saw hundreds of flying foxes roosting in many of the trees. They were pretty noisy, and a few flew around intermittently, but sadly never close enough for me to get a decent picture. On another occasion it had rained not long before we walked through the gardens, and it was pretty smelly, too!

Yellow-kneed spiders, Botanical Gardens

There were quite a few spiders with vast webs throughout the gardens, many living quite close to each other. I doubt they're particularly friendly towards each other, but imagine their webs don't actually come into contact. These were by no means the biggest we saw! They got bigger as we travelled further north, with the Queensland ones being the most impressive. I get the impression the bigger they are, the less poisonous, so these yellow-kneed spiders are not desperataly dangerous, though they could probably give you a nasty bite.

Jenny near the Harbour Bridge Flying foxes, Botanical Gardens Flying foxes, Botanical Gardens

We went to the Sydney Opera House to collect tickets to a ballet which I'd ordered online months previously, and took the opportunity to take the obligatory bridge and Opera House photos. Sadly, the weather wasn't brilliant, so it all looks rather English. We weren't complaining, however, as it was a good deal warmer than at home in the UK and felt decidedly summery to us, although you can see from Jen's hair that it was quite windy!

The ballet I'd bought tickets for was Don Quixote, choreographed by Nureyev in the '60s, with excellent costumes and scenery. It's an exciting, comic ballet, and the Australian Ballet put on a thrilling performance which was a delight to watch.

The Opera House at night

We took a boat trip around the bay to get a look at more of the place, but in the end I didn't take too many more photos. We had decided to go on round to Darling Harbour to visit the aquarium and wildlife centre, so when the boat called in at Circular Quay, where we'd embarked, we sat tight. A bunch of Americans all got up and hovered around, but didn't actually get off the boat, even though the gangplank had been put in place only feet from where they were standing. Then they got in a panic when the crew cast off and we continued on our way. They were all there and ready to get off; why didn't they actually do so? Beats me. Anyway, they had to catch a bus from Darling Harbour back to their hotel.

Bronze fountains near Circular Quay Bronze fountains near Circular Quay

Wandering around near The Rocks, we came across a series of bronze fountains in a square. First there was some confusion between Jenny and me about who would actually take the photos, then as she passed the camera to me the wrist strap somehow caught on something, jerking the camera out of both our hands. When I picked it up and took it out of its leather wallet, I found the case had sprung open and of course, it wouldn't work. I managed to spring it closed again, and all was well, but it did misbehave itself on several occasions, with strange messages and requests to switch off and on again.

Opalised plesiosaur skeleton

In an opal shop, looking for loose opals to take back home, we saw this opalised fossil plesiosaur skeleton, in which the skeleton has been largely replaced by low-grade opal. It's not unknown for fossils to be opalised like this, and the shop also had various other animal bones and teeth on display.

Duck-billed platypus movie

<<< MOVIE We visited the new Wildlife Centre in Darling Harbour next to the aquarium. It was really rather good, with a lot of thought put into the displays. I didn't take too many photos, but was pleased with this short movie of the platypus, which was clearly visible, and doing its stuff properly. We reckon the keepers plant fragments of food in regular spots where the beast can be seen by the public.

Australian lungfish movie Sea cucumber photo

Shark movie

Coral fish photo

<<< MOVIES We needed a beer to give ourselves time to digest what we'd seen, so hit a nearby bar. We had no idea what to order, so I admitted my ignorance to the barman, who kindly gave us a drop each of 4 locally-brewed beers, the first of which we liked a lot. The others were good too, but we liked the Red Back best. We had to remove the slice of lime he put in each, as that didn't do anything for us. Then we went into the Aquarium, which was equally good.

<<< STILLS I apologise for the music that accompanies the shark movie. It's easy to forget the camera has a microphone as well! The lungfish was rather less cooperative than the platypus, unfortunately. We noted that whereas the platypus had lots of info displayed for people to read, the lungfish had more or less nothing, yet it's at least as important an animal. The staff we mentioned this to seemed bemused, as if unable to grasp the significance of our point. We gave up. The red, yellow and blue thing on the far left is a sea cucumber. I've never seen one such bright colours before!

Lights reflected in Darling Harbour From the Aquarium we walked down the boardwalk that surrounds Darling Harbour, looking for somewhere to eat. After looking in several, we finally settled on Nick's Seafood Restaurant, which was pretty big and very busy. We needn't have worried, as the service was excellent, as were both the food and wine. I thought at first it was a bit pricey, but then I worked out the bill in sterling and realised what good value it had been.

Cabbage Tree Bay Trees at Manley We wanted to walk along some coastline, preferably scratting about in rock pools to see what the local marine biology looked like, and there seemed to be a nice walk around Manley, so we took a ferry across there. The sky was blue and the sun shining as we arrived, and we walked to the east coast and then south a bit, arriving shortly at Cabbage Tree Bay, where we found the excellent Bower (I think) Restaurant right on the seafront. After lunch we wanted to swim, but had no togs, so walked back to Manley, thinking to buy the minimum, but by the time we arrived it had clouded over and was blowing quite strongly. Instead, we walked along the north coast of the bay, hoping to revert to Plan A, but the wind was so strong, we realised that even if we could find rock pools, we'd see nothing through the rippling water. The angle of the trees suggests this wind blows most of the time!

Blue Mountains Blue Mountains Blue Mountains

Jean and Greg Joss, who Jenny knew from her work, kindly took us into the Blue Mountains on Good Friday. We'd wanted to do this trip since booking up to come to Sydney, and were looking forward to it, but sadly, the cloud was really low, and most of the views were obscured by mist. We still had a very good time, and the canyons certainly are spectacular, but it would have been better with a bit of sunshine. Some people seem to feel the need to climb up and down vertical cliffs, as you can see from the third photo, but I think I'll just let them get on with it!

Next: Melbourne

Last updated 5th June, 2007 by Rob Clack