Sydney Sky tower
So much still left to do and time seems to be running away from me. I started the day off with the Sydney
sky tower. The $25 entry fee covers the tower, the Oz trail and a culture movie. You have a choice to see the Oz trail and culture movie first or head straight up the tower. The good thing is that there is a waiting screen that tells you how long the wait is for the next Oz trail. When I checked it, there was still another 15mins to wait so I decided to head up to the top of the tower. Your bags get checked here for any dangerous articles and you have to walk through a metal detector. The lifts take you up to the top with speed and your ears pop with the pressure.
Shadow of the tower on the city
When you reach the top on a bright day your eyes are overwhelmed by the sight of the city. The tower goes around in a circle so you get the full 360 degree view. The heat rays from the sun penetrated the glass window and heated the tower up. It felt so nice to sit on the ledge and feel that sun on your face. The views were amazing as expected and luckily there was not too much cloud in the sky so I had a good view of the whole city and far out to the suburbs too. It was good to have free use of the telescopes to get a closer view of sites of interest. You see the back of the Opera house, Harbour bridge, ANZ stadium in Olympic park, Bondi beach, Paramatta and all the other bits that I've forgotton to mention. As it was quite early it wasn't massively crowded or rowdy as it can get when a tourist site gets full.
Views of the tower
There is a cafe down stairs and a souvenir shop selling the usual stuff. I stayed up there for about 40 mins enjoying the warm sun and amazing views.
The Oz trail, the first part is the culture talk. You sit in a dark room with head phones on, turn dials to 1 for English. The first culture video was a couple on a city apartment roof top having a bbq. BBQ's are like sports here, they take it seriously and have it as often as they can get away with it. Also the sports, the rugby and the cricket is important to them. Next talk was about the rainforest, they warn you to watch out for crocodiles and other wildlife. They warn you that there are lots of animals that you can see but you can hear them or feel them watching you.
Views of the tower
The following clip was dedicated to the Great Barrier reef and the underwater experience. Lastly the Australian outback. The temperatures can reach up to 45 degrees during the day and about 0 degrees at night. Always take sunscreen and wear a wide brimmed hat to sheild away from the sun. If you are taking a road trip through the outback bring plenty of water, petrol and warm clothing. After the culture talk you enter a movie type of theatre in these interactive chairs. They give you lots of warnings to tell you that these chairs move, so if you have heart problems or ahve had a recent operation they advise you not to use them. A barrier comes down in front of you like a rollercoaster ride, to strap you in. Be prepared.
Views of the tower
When the movie starts the chairs start moving straight away, they are quite active and rough so hold your head back. The ride takes you through the highlights of Australia. It takes you to the beach, to the great barrier reef, under water, through gorges, river rafting, through the out back, into the rainforests and national parks, all over the place. It lasts about 10mins. The whole thing is pretty cheesy but I guess you should get your moneys worth.
I walked from the Sydney tower down towards Darling harbour where the Chinese garden of friendship is located. As it was still early there was not many people about. I paid the $6 entry and wondered the gardens. Once you come through the main entrance you are faced with a row of bonsai trees and also some dramatic rock sculptures, made from rare Ying rock.
The next main feature if the dragon wall. This was a gift from GuangDong there are two dragons, one that is gold/brown and represents GuangDong and the blue one represents NSW. There is a pearl in the middle of the wall feature which symbolises the friendship between the two states. There were fishes in the Lotus lake, there were quite a few of them swimimming in and around the lotus leaves. Opposite the lake I spot a waterfall and a cascading brook. All around the gardens are lots of flowers, i'm no botanist so I couldn't tell you which flower is which but they sure do look pretty all around the garden. There are a lot of rock features too dragon, tortoise, phoenix and unicorn rock located in the lakes. I maded my way towards The Gurr, the highest point in the garden.
Chinese garden of friendship
It is a hexagonal, two storey pagoda, it had golden roof tiles and intricate wood carvings. After The Gurr, I walked around to the waterfall and sat there for a while and was lucky enought to catch a glimpse of the rainbow that appeared in the rushing waters. By now it was 12 noon and the garden suddenly came to life with tourists and they all were dressed up in traditional chinese costumes. I then realised that costume hire was available for $10 and I really did want to take part. The only problem was that I was alone and had no one to take pictures of me, they let you roam around the gardens on the costumes provided its not raining. Had the assistants not been so busy they could have come through the garden with me to take my pictures but as they explained a tour bus had arrived so they were rushed off their feet.
Chinese garden of friendship
Fair enough. Instead I went to have some tea at the tea house. Oolong tea with har gau cost me about $6-$7, the staff in the tea house was so rude, she looked bored with her job and no patience. She was barking at me as soon as I walked in, before I could even see what was available on the menu, she snatched the money out of my hands and dumped the change on the table. The dim sums take about 10mins so she gave me a beeper, she explained the concept of the beeper to me like I was stupid and at that point I replied "I think I can understand the concept of a beeper!" I gave her the look of death to show her I didn't appreciate her attitude. I think she understood that because she was a sweet as pie when I came back to collect my food.
The lotus pond
The tea was perfect but the teapot was badly designed as the tea kept cascading out of the sides everytime I poured. The dim sum was oversteamed and stuck together, when you went to pick it up the pastry tore and the prawn dropped out!
Next stop Sydney Observatory, I walked there. It was a fair bit away and up a hill too so be prepared. The place is free to enter but you pay for the 3d theatre show - $7. I paid for the "World on Mars" show and then looked around the museum to check out the exihibition, there were several large telescopes and videos that explain astronomy and space etc. Interesting if you like that kind of thing but as I was so tired and not so clued up, I got a bit bored. The show had three other families all with children only about 10 people in total.
The guy gave us all our 3D glasses and played the movie, there was two of them. The first one about flying to Mars it lasted about 15 mins and the second one was about the size of the planets and distance. The funniest bit was when the kids started to catch the stars and the dust that looked like they were falling out of the screen. After the movie a member of staff takes you upstairs to the big telescope and shows you a planet and the sun. As there was lots of cloud about we had to wait until the clouds moved before he could get a clear view. The planet we did get to see was Venus, it was a tiny white dot in the telescope. Each person got a couple of minutes to stand on the ladder and look through the telescope, it took a while for the kids to understand what they were looking at.
Sydney Observatory telescope
Millions of questions later I think the guy was slightly exhausted. The wind was pretty crazy that day too so with the roof open the cross wind was coming right in and giving us all a chill. The next part was finding the sun. He put the filter on and took a while setting it up. The sun was big and red and round, no surprise there.
From the hill I walked under the subway to get to the Harbour Bridge. From here I walked the foot path of the bridge to get to the pylon lookout. The entry fee $9 and a few stair cases to walk to get to the top. At the top you get to walk around the building top and get the views of the Opera house, great views of the bridge and also the view of the city. At this point the wind had really picked up and the weather was making it really difficult for me to get a sunny day shot of the Opera house.
Windy Pylon lookout
From this point you can see the bridge climbers on the Harbour bridge, these are the people that pay $200 to do the climb. There was probably about 10 people in their blue jump suits making their way to the top, on a windy day like this I would be frightened that the wind would take me right off, even if you are chained to the sides. It was great being so high up and have the wind catch your breath.
The day had passed quickly but I had managed to cover a lot of the sites that I had wanted to see. I headed back to the city to meet Mimi, Abhi and Ruchi. Tonight was the night I was flying to Melbourne
with Ruchi for our Victoria trip.
Dinner at En Casa was amazing, a Spanish restaurant serving tapas but also other dishes like pizza and pasta. The place was buzzing when we arrived and we were lucky to get a table without a booking. The food was served pretty quickly we ordered 6 tapas dishes and a small pizza and the four of us was stuffed to the brim.
Luckily from the restaurant Central station was only 5 mins walk away. We jumped on the train to the airport, domestic departures. The terminal is small and all the airline check in desks are clearly labelled. We were flying with tiger airways and found the desk after a bit of walking around. Check in was swift, they DO weigh your hand luggage weight restriction of 7kg. Security has no liquid restrictions but no aerosols are allowed.
The shops were starting to close as we started to make our way to the gate, I believe we were actually catching one of the last flights out of Sydney as planes are not allowed after 11.30pm or something like that. The plane was 15mins late and so we arrived into Melbourne 15 mins late at 11.45pm. We had already decided that we were taking the sky bus into the city. As we came out of the terminal there was no sign of a bus but a note that tells you o go to terminal 1. I think it comes every 1/2 hr. The single journey into Southern cross station cost $16 and takes only 20mins. From Southern cross station we made our way to the hostel, Urban Central, located on city road. The hostel was locked up and you can only enter with a swipe card or buzz at reception.
Foot path on Harbour Bridge
The reception desk is manned 24hrs a day, we checked in and made our way to the 2nd floor. The dorm was four beds, fairly spacious and clean. Perfect for our quick one night stay before our road trip.