Sunday, February 1

Paula: The disappointment from yesterday was compensated with an absolutely perfect day today in Sydney. Immediately after breakfast we headed to Circular Quay, Sydney's most well-known area with a lovely harborside and views of the Harbor Bridge and the famous Sydney Opera House. The cloudless, blue sky made the Opera House and its unusual design even more striking. We admired the groups scaling the Harbor Bridge (you can walk along the top of bridge for only $150/person) but were very content to have our feet firmly planted on the ground.

We also enjoyed walking though a craft open air market in an area called The Rocks. This was the site of the first European settlement and holds many historical cobblestone streets and colonial homes. After the market, we walked to the other side of the harbor to get a close look at the Opera House. We also checked on performances available during our time here and at the kids' request will see another Shakespeare play on Tuesday evening. We were a bit disappointed to find that the seats for the current opera started at $300/ticket! The kids were more interested in the Shakespearian performance, so that's what we settled on. We have read that the design of the Opera House was quite controversial but to us it was a masterpiece. The roof line appears like sails or shells and in fact fit geometrically into a sphere.

The Opera House lies on the eastern tip of the harbor and the beautiful botanical gardens extend from the Opera House south along the coastline. The gardens were lovely and provided lots of space for resting and enjoying the view. To our surprise we also wandered into an area where thousands of Flying Foxes (fruit bats) were residing high in the trees. We learned from one of the naturalists that this bat camp was actually doing significant damage to the trees. We saw several of the bats fly and their wing span was a yard or more. The gardens were also home to a variety of birds, many of which we have ever seen before.

After taking in the gardens, we decided to take a hike or as they say in Australia, a "walkabout" along the coastline just south of the city's center. The walk began at the well known Bondi Beach and followed the coast for over 4 miles to Coogee Beach. Both beaches were spectacular and crowded with Aussies enjoying their weekend. Bondi Beach was a wide and very long white sand beach. Despite the size, it was crowded with people on the sand and in the water. The waves were large enough to entertain both boogie boarders and surfers. The water and sand is clean and refreshing. We spent quite a bit of time here before continuing the walk. The coastline was on rocky cliffs in spots but gave way to five or six other beaches along our trek. At some of these beaches, swimming was not advisable but despite this there were swimmers and surfers enjoying the waves. In one area, an underwater nature trail has been established for snorkelers and divers. We also saw lawn bowling clubs and lots of beach volleyball. Each beach was clean and well supervised by lifeguards. There were facilities, snack bars and even grassy park space at each beach which made picnicking easy. Several beaches also had salt water pools right along the beach front.

It seems that Sydney takes recreational space quite seriously and has provided wonderful areas, readily accessible to those looking to enjoy the outdoors. We have been very impressed by Sydney and look forward to several more days exploring here before heading back to Cairns on Wednesday.


Katie's Kwick Kwacks: Sydney's Harbor Bridge. Today we saw and learned a little about Sydney's famous Harbor Bridge. Here are some of my impressions and learnings.

In the heart of Sydney is an enormous bridge known worldwide. This bridge, located in Port Jackson, is a breathtaking sight. The beautiful Harbor Bridge is commonly known as "The Coat Hanger," for its unusual shape. It has an amazing round top and hundreds of steel pillars hanging down from its enormous upper arches. We learned that the bridge was completed in 1932, and was for a long period of time the longest single span arched bridge in the world. It connects the heart of Sydney to the northern part of the city and provides pectacular views from the harbor. We could see the Opera House along with other beautiful buildings looking out to the bridge. We even saw some guided groups walking on top of the bridge, connected to it by a harness. We decided this was a little too much for us, but all agreed that it would be a pretty amazing experience. So, there's a little information on the Harbor Bridge, and my next Quack will be about the Opera House.

David's Daily Dump: Impressions of Sydney. Our time here in Sydney has been absolutely wonderful, and has put Sydney on top of my all-time favorite cities list. It is beautiful, bustling, hip, and as New Zealanders put it, "magic." It is a great walking city, with lots of open gardens, boardwalks and pedestrian zones. I loved seeing the harbors, Bondi beach, Circular Quay, and most of all the Opera House. The Opera House looked so cool jetting out into the harbor welcoming ships to Sydney. I am also enjoying the hot weather here, but feel a bit guilty hanging out on the beaches while my friends and family are bearing below freezing weather in Boston. NOT!!!! I love having two summers in a year! Anyway, Sydney has been my favorite city that we have visited so far. The rest of our family admits that if they had to live in a big city, this would be a great one.












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