BootsnAll Travel Network

Sydney – The Beginning of A New Journey

A rather turbulent airplane trip over the Tasman Sea (or “the Ditch” as its called here) took me to Australia’s largest city of Sydney. I arrived at the airport and unlike New Zealand I positively flew through customs. I did have one brief stop though. As in New Zealand, my shoes again weren’t quite up to their standards. They were taken from me, washed down with a hose, and then given back to me. This was probably due to the fact that I had answered yes to the question on the customs form that asked if I had been hiking or on a farm in the last 30 days. At the airport exit, I began to look around for Cathie and Trent (friend’s of a friend of my aunt) who were picking me up at the airport. They said they would be holding a sign. For about 20 minutes, I did not see them. I proceeded to ask random mother and son looking couples if they were the people I was looking for with no success. Failing here (and eliminating the people holding signs written in Asian languages), I decided to see if there was another exit to the airport. Soon after beginning to explore, I discovered them at the other exit. They indeed had a sign with my name and had been performing pretty much the same procedure that I had done (except in their case they had to go up to strange men and ask if they were me). After leaving the airport, we went to their house, dropped off my luggage, and whisked back into downtown Sydney.

In Sydney we parked underneath the world famous opera house. Upon leaving the car, we first walked around the opera house. The opera house was somewhat of a surprise. From a distance, it appears to be made up of a solid white material. It is actually built from individual tiles that are actually more cream in color when seen close up. We then went on a harbour cruise. The cruise lasted about 1.5 hours. It went past the central business district and around several of the wealthy and fashionable neighborhoods surrounding the harbor. Sydney was much bigger and more spread out than I had orginally thought. It stretches as far as the eye can see along the very long harbour. The harbour is dotted with small islands that have been preserved as parks. There is also an old fort in the harbor (Fort Denison). We then walked along through an old historical part of Sydney called “The Rocks.”

On Monday, we set out again to explore more of Sydney. This time we took the train into town as they expected parking to be bad. It was once again the Queen’s Birthday. It is celebrated on a different day in Australia than in New Zealand. The funny thing is, both celebrate it on the wrong day. The Queen’s Birthday is actually in April. Even though New Zealand and Australia are independent countries, they celebrate the Queen’s Birthday with a work holiday. In Britain, people don’t get off for the birthday, but I digress. Our explorations in Sydney took us first into a very large Catholic cathedral. We then walked about halfway across the harbor bridge. This is the bridge that shows up in photographs with the Opera House. We watched people partake in the bridge climb. This is a tour where people strap themselves to the bridge with a cable and proceed to walk up to the very top of the bridge span. (Imagine sort of like walking up one of the cables of the Golden Gate Bridge only not so steep and wider). We explored the city some more and then ended the day at the casino (I hope this doesn’t become a habit for me). We each put five dollars in a machine and took turns playing it. The money lasted a lot longer than my last casino foray, but we still didn’t win the jackpot.

On Tuesday, Trent and I took the train to the Blue Mountain town of Katoomba. The main attraction here is a formation called The Three Sisters. The Three Sisters is a rock formation consisting of three different semi eroded rock cliffs that jut out over a wide deep canyon. The bottom of the canyon is filled with a rainforest. According to Aboriginal legend, the three sisters were turned into to stone by their father (using a magical bone) to protect them from an evil creature. Unfortunately, their father lost the bone so they are stuck as rocks (Not the most pleasant way to end your day). The bottom of the canyon can be reached by several ways. The first way is by a series of about 800 steps (called the Giant Staircase) that wind their way very steeply and very narrowly down the rock face. We only went down the steps for a little ways. We chose a more sedate, yet equally fun way, to access the bottom. The canyon wall was originally mined for coal. The coal was brought up using a train that runs a 52 degree angle track. For the geometry impaired, this is very, very steep. The coal petered out and the train is now used to ferry passengers down. We walked around the rainforest for a while and then took a cable car back to the top.

Wednesday was a slow day. I spent some of it planning my trip. I got as far as booking train tickets for Melbourne and finding a place to stay once I get there. Friday night, I watched my first rugby game. Cathie and I stayed home to watch the game, while Trent and his aunt actually went to the game. The game was called State of Origin and was between New South Wales and Queensland. It was the second game of a three game series that is held every year. The players are assigned to the teams where they first played rugby. This often leads to players playing on a team different from where they now play. (Example someone now playing on a team in New South Wales, but orginally from Queensland, would play on the Queensland team). This appears to lead to some interesting rivalries. New South Wales lost the game. I now understand a little more about rugby than I did before (which was zero).

Today, Trent and I went to Bondi Beach. This is one of Austalia’s most well known beaches. While the weather was cold, the water was surprisingly warm and had quite a few people surfing or swimming in it. We couldn’t stay long though as the rain started pouring down.

Tomorrow I leave for Melbourne. As in New Zealand, I am hoping to meet up with people to travel with as I go. Australia will be harder and more expensive to get around in by myself as the country is vast and empty. I am considering taking a package tour if I don’t meet anyone to travel with. The bad thing about taking a tour is that it is more expensive than traveling on my own.

I would like to thank Cathie and Trent for hosting me. They went well beyond anything I could have expected in their generosity toward me.

Side Note: Apparently in Australia, the evening meal is called “tea” which led to some confusion for me.

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2 Responses to “Sydney – The Beginning of A New Journey”

  1. Theo Says:

    You very conveniently don’t explain “why” the shoes’ episode is important to both Oz and EnZed.

    Agriculture is a huge part of both nations’ economy, and protecting their interests is paramount.

    It wasn’t too many years ago that incoming airliners to NZ were subject to fumigants before passengers could leave the aircraft, even before Customs and Immigration checks.

    Your comment about Queen’s Birthday observances in Oz and NZ should be qualified by Canada’s as “Victoria Day”, on usually the third Monday of May.

    The exact reasoning for each independent Commonwealth nation varies, but Queen Elizabeth II is still the Head of State (versus head of government) for each.

    Americans need to appreciate that the world is different beyond their borders.

    The US and Canada fight ag. pests in much the same way with stringent controls.

  2. Posted from Canada Canada
  3. admin Says:

    The shoes episode is somewhat self evident by the fact that I prefaced it with the farm hiking question. I assume my readers aren’t idiots, nor was I making a judgement call on whether it was appropriate or not. I am merely relating the experience as it happened to me. This blog is not about Canada. It is about my experiences while visiting certain countries, hence my not mentioning Canada in the Queen’s Birthday celebration discussion. If I visit Canada, I will write about Canada. I really enjoy your stereotype about Americans needing to appreciate that the world is different beyond their borders, especially since it comes from someone who seems to be obliged to bring up Canada in every entry. You need to learn to appreciate other places in their own right without comparing them to Canada all the time. Not everything is about Canada.

  4. Posted from Australia Australia
  5. Kellie Says:

    Hi Barry! I enjoyed reading your post, as usual. You really make us feel like we’re there with you! I see Theo is trying to enlighten us “naive” Americans again (insert eye roll). Some people have WAY too much time on their hands. Anyway, looking forward to your next post!

  6. Posted from United States United States
  7. Dogwood Dell Says:

    Queensland is South Carolina’s sister state. The two maintain good relationships politically and, I hope, you were supporting Queensland in the rugby match.

    Great sport which I played for three years!

    As to the shoes, NZ makes a point of protecting its livestock -especially the sheep. Outside of food, they are prized for biotch research.

    Keep up the reports & safe travels

  8. Posted from United States United States
  9. admin Says:

    I’m afraid I had to support New South Wales under threat of bodily harm. I was outnumbered by Cathie, Trent, and Cathie’s sister who was a former prison guard.

  10. Posted from Australia Australia
  11. Michelle Says:

    I have to admit that I laughed out loud with this post and comments. Hey Barry, Janice says that her family welcomes you to Canada if you are interested. They are in Alberta but very close to Banf and Jasper in the Rocky Mountains which is quite incredible to see. Are there any pictures from Ausieland yet?nrNorthwest Auntie

  12. Posted from United States United States

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