Small Town Kids in the Big City

Sydney Travel Blog

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One of the animal photos at the museum. Think this one won the competition for best portrait. Deservedly.

Before our trip I did a bit of asking around Perth for people’s opinions about Sydney. The general consensus was that it’s not so great – too busy and hectic.

 

And yes, it’s difficult to avoid the feeling that life is a lot faster paced here … something that folks from a sleepy little death-toll town aren’t going to react well to, but our experience was really quite pleasant. The busy-ness didn’t really get to me, the public transport is terrific, the speed cameras are signposted well in advance, and for some reason all the drivers seemed really courteous. Also, even though the old age of the city (by Australian standards) is very apparent in parts, around the harbour it really is breathtaking. Maybe it’s one of those places that are good to visit, but would grind you down if you lived there for too long.

Flying foxes! They make this really bizzare sound that I initially thought was a weird bird. Then I started looking around and every tree in sight was crowded with them!

 

The hotel we stayed in was easily the best lodgings of our trip (Mercure in city centre – with a cheap deal from Wotif.com!), and little extras like a “pillow menu” seemed like revelations when compared to the drab hotel experience in Wollongong. We were even able to satisfy our voyeuristic urges with a couple of office windows to look into, and spy on the workers.

 

On our first day we checked out the National Museum (intending to get an overview of the whole thing before closing time, but instead getting stuck on an awesome exhibit of wildlife photos), and walked amidst hundreds (thousands?) of flying foxes/fruit bats in the trees of the botanical gardens (which are apparently pests, but it’s a pity – they look and sound awesome).

The bridge and O house.
I also got my first close up look at the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House, and was surprised to find that its colour comes from a covering of tiles smaller than the palm of my hand.

 

The next day was spent on a bus tour that took us to Bondi Beach, the Gap (the cliffs where the harbour meets the ocean), and plenty of lookouts that really showed off the whole harbour area. Our tour guide was an unexpectedly cynical man, who was actually great - we had a few good laughs and it was a nice change to hear a local’s real opinion about the tourist attractions, not just something taken straight from a brochure. The rest of the day was going to be spent at Taronga Zoo, but Debbie became the victim of a dive bomb attack from a seagull with pinpoint accuracy, so we decided to go back for a shower and leave the zoo for another time.

Bondi Beach, as seen on reality TV show ... but then again what isn't on reality TV these days?

 

Other moments worth a mention include; fraternising with the locals at a music quiz night (we didn’t win, but I'd say we performed admirably), being cooked dinner by celebrity chef Kylie Kwong, and seeing the city skyline at night from the ferry heading back from Manly beach. The zoo was worth the wait too, with the setting being as much of an attraction as the animals. I thought it was pretty special to be able to jump straight off the ferry and into a chairlift that took you over (and into) the zoo itself. Plus, I couldn’t help but be fascinated by the chimpanzees who suddenly decided to scream and chase each other while we watched (it reminded me a lot of that opening scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey).

 

But it was on our last day that we had perhaps our most memorable experience – climbing the Bridge!

 

We’d seen a few pictures of the bridge being built, with workers sitting on beams 100m above the river without a harness or any other kind of safety equipment, so it was a little surprising when we had to go through a huge amount of safety preparation and bureaucracy before the climb.

You think the hire company will notice anything wrong with the car if we return it now?
After signing a disclaimer, watching a training video, and putting on a special one piece suit designed to not distract traffic, you are forced to give up all possessions including your camera and hat – and they put you through a metal detector to make sure your not hiding anything (well, anything metal anyway). From that point everything has to be attached to your suit so that it’s basically impossible for anything to fall. Even the handkerchiefs they provide have to be attached to your wrists. Then you go through a “climb simulator”, which is just a couple of ladders and a platform – and after a test of the radios they provide (so you can hear the guide talking to you) it’s finally out on to the bridge.

 

After all that safety stuff it’s hard not to get a bit nervous when you start the climb, but the way they’ve designed it there really is no way to fall off – even if you wanted to (sorry, no dramatic suicides today). It was great to come up by ladder through the road level and shock some of the regular pedestrians (who stopped to wave and take photos), and yes the views at the top are spectacular!

 

And so ended our little east side jaunt.

The view from the lookout at the end of the bridge.

 

Once again it was a little heartbreaking to know we were returning to the real world with all its rent, bills, and full time employment … but at least we had a great souvenir of the city we were leaving behind … plenty of photos -

 

And two big boxes of Krispy Kremes.

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One of the animal photos at the mu…
One of the animal photos at the m…
Flying foxes! They make this reall…
Flying foxes! They make this real…
The bridge and O house.
The bridge and O house.
Bondi Beach, as seen on reality TV…
Bondi Beach, as seen on reality T…
You think the hire company will no…
You think the hire company will n…
The view from the lookout at the e…
The view from the lookout at the …
Sydney
photo by: Sunflower300