Day 5 (Temp is 13 degrees)
Landed in Sydney after flight from Beijing via Hong Kong at 08.00 hours. Easy airport and got a taxi to our hotel in the city for $55AUD. The train runs from the airport to within a 5 minute walk of the hotel so we will know better the next time. Really jet lagged so we have a snooze until mid afternoon. Head out for orientation and wander south to Hyde Park, the ANZAC Memorial, Australian Museum, and NSW Government Buildings along Macquarie Street. It is dark in Sydney about 17.00 hours! Of course it's late autumn here now.
From here we walk North about 15 minutes to the Sydney Opera House and look across to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Fantastic sight!!
After walking around the Opera House, we go along Opera Quays and have dinner at a nice waterside restuarant. Food and service are excellent, pricey though at 100AUD for just two main courses and a couple of drinks. The view of the Harbour Bridge illuminated while we ate outside under heated canopies (it was raining) was worth it though.
After dinner, we walk on arould Circular Quay (passenger Ferry Terminals) and around to the Harbour Bridge. We head South from the Bridge down Kent Street through an area called The Rocks (nice oldtown feel) back towards the hotel. It starts to rain torrentially! Thank God the hotel gave us a loan of two umbrellas!
Day 6 (Temp is 15 degrees)
We slept in this morning (after huge walk last night) and did'nt leave the hotel until 09.30 hours. We go to the Train Station at Martins Place (30 second walk) and get a train to Circular Quay (Sydney Daytripper Ticket $17AUD) where we can catch a ferry around to the Australian National Maritime Museum at Pyrmont Bay. Interesting place where we get to see the HMB Endeavour, an exact replica ship of Captain Cook's ship when he discovered and claimed Australia for the British Empire in 1771.
After the Museum, we wander around the wharfs of Darling Harbour and Cockle Bay, full of nice cafes, etc. Really nice area. We head across Pyrmont Bridge and towards the city crossing the main shopping areas of York and George's Streets. Toreential rain again so we hop on a bus to Circular Quay and then a train to St. Jame's Station near to our hotel.
Headed down to Circular Quay on the train tonight for some food. Got back to the hotel and booked tickets for the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb tomorrow morning and a show (When the Rain Stops Falling) at the Sydney Opera House tomorrow evening.
Off to bed!
Day 7 (Temp is 13 degrees and very windy!)
Headed down to the Sydney Harbour Bridge to do the Bridge Climb with www.bridgeclimb.com at 08.55 hours. Cost $189AUD plus another $64AUD for various photos but well worth it. This is Sydney's number one attraction where you get kitted up in a suit, safety harness and radio comms and "climb" the Bridge to the very top of the arch. "Climb" is too strong of a word as it is more of a gentle trek upwards which most people could do. The views from the top are amazing. Very professional outfit and highly recommended for any visitor to Sydney, young or old.
Eithne went browsing while I did this as she did not feel up to it. The climb takes about 3 hours ish, so we met up again at Circular Quay (about 10 minute walk away) and had a hot chocolate before taking a Ferry across Sydney Harbour to Manly. Nice quiet little place with a small town feel. This was the first holiday resort in Australia and is a big surfing location with waves coming in to it's exposed Pacific side. Quiet and easy swimming on the sheltered Harbour side. Basically, Manly is on a headland (northside) at the mouth of Sydney Harbour. The shark nets caught our eye!
Back on the ferry about 16.45 hours and walked back to the hotel for a quick shower and change. Out again to eat at Wolfies Restuarant at the oldest area in Sydney, The Rocks, beautiful meal. Then on to the Sydney Opera House to see "When the Rain Stops Falling". A brilliant play which we really enjoyed. Nice way to see the Opera House rather than the obligatory touristy tour of the building. We really enjoyed today in Sydney.
Day 8 (Temp is 11 degress and very windy!)
Up early (06.45 hours) and down to St. Jame's Train Station where we booked two Blue Mountain Explorer Tickets to Katoomba, the gateway to the Blue Mountains. On arrival (two hour journey), we jumped on the Explorer Bus (all included in the $51AUD ticket) and headed off around the 30 different stops. The weather was appalling, cold, foggy and heavy rain. At Stop 12, we visited Scenic World where despite the downpour, we took the train (steepest train in the world) down to the bottom of Jamieson Valley (600 metres) and walked along the bottom for the return trip back up by Cable Car. Because of the dense fog, we could not see the key attraction, the 3 Sisters formation.
We got back on the bus, soaked at this stage, and had to skip the other scenic sights of Echo Point, Cascade Waterfalls and Honeymoon Lookout because of the rain and fog. Got off the bus in Leura where we went to "Bygone Beauties" a real quaint tea shop/tea museum which houses the biggest collection of teapots in the world. Fabulous place to spend an hour. We had "Devonshire Tea" (NSW tea with hot scones, cream and jam!!) before heading to the Train Station for our return trip to Sydney. Really quaint towns, very different from Sydney but needs the weather to get the best from a visit.
On return to Sydney, we checked out the location of our Car Rental pickup and decided to order a take away and have it delivered to the hotel for a bit of TV and relaxation before leaving Sydney tomorrow.
Day 9 (Temp is 11 degress and very windy!)
Checked out of our hotel today, picked up our rental car on William Street (Thrifty Car Rental) and headed south on the Coast Road, destination Tilba Tilba, New South Wales. We travelled on the coast road, and detoured onto the Pacific Drive Road wherever possible for fantastic views of the ocean. At about 13.30 hours, we stopped at the waterside Wharf Restuarant at Kiama for lunch where Eithne had a little too much Australian wine!
Unfortuntately, we did not arrive at our destination until about 18.00 hours, too late to see the mountain views. After introducing ourselves to the hosts, Stuart and Philip (two "guys") and meeting the other guests, we headed down to the larger village of Central Tilba (population 80!), a National Trust Village, to the Dromadery Hotel for some very "basic" grub and a beer. Real aussie local pub with some very colourful characters inside!