W1702 – Sydney walkabout

In my last post, W1702 – Sailing into Sydney, I described how we sailed into the iconic Sydney Harbour and under the Harbour Bridge around an hour early, nearly catching us out. We were due to be in Sydney for two days, from what was now around 9:30am the first morning to around 6:00pm the second late afternoon.

In an earlier post I have said how I had booked most of my shore tours back in the UK long before we sailed, to ensure I got the tours I wanted, and to secure a discount. I had booked two fabulous, if arduous, tours for Sydney – one for the first day afternoon, the other for all of the second day.

My tour for the first day afternoon was to climb to the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge, and then do a guided walk around the Rocks area of the city. This is a very physically demanding tour, climbing steep ladders and staircases as well as walking along narrow steep walkways. Unfortunately the cold/flu bug that had been affecting me for the past few days was still very active, and I was feeling very weak and unwell, and sadly I was in no condition to tackle the bridge climb.

My girlfriend accompanied her Aunt Annie and the other lady from our dinner table, Mary, ashore for a look around the Circular Quay area using a combination of ferry and taxi, but alas I didn’t feel well enough even for that. So there I was, for the first time in one of the most iconic destinations in the world, stuck on board ship going nowhere! All I could do was hope that by resting up I would be well enough to venture ashore the next day.

The tour I had booked for the second day in Sydney was a full day 9 hour tour up into the Blue Mountains, including a trip on a very steep mountain railway and on a cable car. Once again, fabulous as this trip was, there was no way I could manage to do all that. Fortunately this time my ticket did not go to waste, as Annie wanted to do the tour, and we were able to transfer the ticket into her name. Afterwards she reported that the scenery and rides were wonderful, but that the lunch was a shambles and that everyone was putting a complaint in – more stress that would have made the day even more impossible for me to cope with.

However I can’t complain too much, as I did feel well enough to leave the ship for a few hours in the morning with my girlfriend Carol. We took the ferry as she had done the day before, and headed for Circular Quay via a chemist shop to stock up on cold and throat remedies.

The first thing I was excited to see and photograph were the ibis – but to be honest they were so abundant that it didn’t take long for me to start thinking ‘oh – only an ibis’ and pass my gaze elsewhere!

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If the theme of Auckland was reflections of one building in another (see W1702 – Unexpected Auckland), then the theme here was the mix of the old and the new buildings together:

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Then, at last, I caught my first glimpse of the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge ahead:

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As we walked towards Circular Quay there were quite a few sculptures, some more identifiable than others:

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Reaching Circular Quay, we walked around it while I did my tourist impression by taking hundreds of snaps of the Bridge and the Opera House and anything else that caught my eye:

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While we were there, a nice lady called Barbara from our ship offered to take a picture of Carol and me together:

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Perhaps rather ironically we could see groups of people making the climb up the Harbour Bridge, and exploiting the zoom on my camera I could see just how steep some of the climb was. My friend Robert was doing the climb again that morning – he did it when he went around the world last year and enjoyed it so much he wanted to do it all again – but I don’t think he is in any of my photographs:

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The abstract shapes of the Opera House caught my eye, especially the patterns made by it’s roof tiles:

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We then moved on to the Botanical Gardens, in search of a café where we could have a much needed drink and a rest. Here another statue caught my eye as well as the obvious trees, plants and flowers, including a 100 year old Dragon’s Blood tree (or Dracaena draco) very familiar to me from the Canary Islands – see L1602 – Here be dragons. A sign indicated that the tree had toppled over in 2008, and rather than risk snapping the top off by trying to straighten it again, they decided to leave it in it’s lopsided state:

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At the café there were many birds including the inevitable ibis helping to clean the plates on the outdoor tables:

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Next to the café was a lovely pond and I was busy photographing that when Carol nudged me and pointed out this lovely bird that was posing for me just feet (or should that be one foot!) away:

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As we returned through the park I snapped some more birds:

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Reaching Circular Quay once more the haunting sound of a didgeridoo filled the air, and we followed our ears so that we could watch and listen. Carol was invited by the musicians to join in:

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Making our weary way back to the ferry, one last combination of the old and the new together, and one very new building caught my eye:

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Returning to the ship via the ferry we were both very glad to get back on board and able to rest our weary bodies after such a lovely morning ashore. Returning to our cabins for a snooze allowed us the energy to be back up on deck for the sail-away out of the harbour – this will be the subject of my next post.

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