Monday, 31 March 2014

Being a Tourist in Sydney: Centennial Park

Centennial Park is a large public, urban park that occupies 220 hectares in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney.   The Park forms part of the larger Centennial Parklands which comprises about 360 ha.  Two of the most interesting things for me were the lakes and the variety of water fowl and birds and the immense colony of grey-headed flying fox bats.  These are endemic to the south-eastern forested areas of Australia.  It is the largest bat in Australia with adults having an average wingspan up to 1 m (3.3 ft) and weighing up to 1 kg (2.2 lb). The head and body length averages 253 mm (10.0 in).

One of the things about blogging is the reading that one does when looking up things bout which one is writing.  In this case I became fascinated by the bats because in the evening the sky over parts of Sydney is absolutely filled with these huge creatures as they migrate from their roosts to their eating places - they eat fruit and flowers.  The bats of Sydney even have their own website (perhaps I should say a website devoted to them to be correct).

Immature Moorhen
 Hardhead Duck (back) and Wood Duck (front),   
Australian Wood Duck
Black Swans
Hard Head Duck
Black Swan
Pied Cormorant
Darter and Pied Cormorant
Pied Cormorant nesting colony
Grey Headed Fox Bat (Fruit Bat)
Grey Headed Fox Bat
Grey Headed Fox Bat

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Being a Tourist in Sydney: The Rocks

One of the things you just have to make time for on a visit to Sydney is a visit to The Rocks and the Rocks Market which is partly under the Harbour Bridge.  Mo and I spent a morning there before Fiona eventually caught up with us and took us off to our afternoon adventure.

By the time we were ready for coffee it was packed - and there was a huge garden at the back.
Lots of the old properties have been renovated and turned into shops of all sorts.
How's that for a body?
There were many stalls selling arts and crafts of every description and a lot of food stalls too
The Rocks Market is to the left of this picture under the bridge.  This part of the port area is The Rocks.
On top of the Harbour Bridge (One to jog Kate's memory)
Sydney's oldest pub

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig.

Where, I wondered to myself (there was no one else here to wonder to), did that quote come from.  Then I gradually remembered a bit more and a bit more and then it all came back to me.  It's a nursery rhyme: To Market, To Market.

Pauline's and my annual Northland Adventure ended only too quickly yesterday with my flight from Whangarei to Auckland and then from Auckland to Napier.  As the plane few over the Auckland CBD (Central Business District = City Centre = Downtown dependent upon one's country of residence) I realised how huge Auckland seems from the air.  The area it covers stretches right across the country albeit at a very narrow point.  It has a population of only 1.4 m people but covers an area of 1,086 km².  Hong Kong by comparison has a population of over 7m but covers almost the same area (1,104 km2 ).

The photo covers slightly more than the CBD.  It emphasised to me however just how things have changed with the advent of Google Earth.  Now one can not only see almost any city in much greater detail from the air but one can zoom in on any address and have a really good look.

I arrived home early evening and then after dinner with The Family and a few phone calls I downloaded my photos and my ribs and I went to bed (although it turned out that the recliner is still the only comfortable way to sleep).  Today (Sunday) is the last day on which the Croquet Club's championship matches can be played so guess what I shall be doing today: not blogging unfortunately unless I get some time this evening.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

On My Travels....Again

It's nearly midday on Tuesday in this neck of the woods.  Within the hour, assuming that all goes well, I shall be airborne for Auckland and thence to Whangerei to meet Pauline for our annual trip in Northland.  So there will be a little delay before the remainder of the Australian posts are done and then there will hopefully be some more from Northland.

Bye for now.

Monday, 24 March 2014

The Blue Mountains: Day 2

The second day dawned.  This was a Good Thing.  I know that there are those who believe that one day the dawn will not come although as a concept that is rather fraught with difficulties given that the dawn appears at a different place each of the seconds of each period of 24 hours.  Anyway this isn't a treatise on the end of the world.

The day dawned with some sun.  In fact we had some sun for some of the day and some heavy rain for some of the day: what is loosely called a mixed bag.  It didn't stop us seeing the sights and being Proper Tourists and doing touristy things.

We started with breakfast at The Hatters Café
I so wanted to buy another hat (or two or three).  I could have bought a bowler, a top hat or even a Homburg.  A good leather Australian bush hat would have done though.
Then to Scenic Park with it's cable car across the valley, and fernicular railway and cable car down to the valley floor.
and it's sculptures
Cable car
Some of the original coal mine buildings have been preserved
and the original open shaft is still open to view
with lots of information boards and some excellent sculptures
The scenic railway is the steepest passenger train in the world with a 52° incline
The Scenic Cable Car is 270 metres above the valley floor
with stunning view over the valley through the rain

The waterfall was impressive in its height


More cliffs and waterfalls further round the valley rim.

Then we started the long and tedious hawl back along the Great Western Highway and the M4 to Sydney.  It was like this almost the whole way.  As you can see Sydney is still 26 k away and the traffic in both directions was bumper to bumper and crawling.  That might have been expected leaving Sydney for the Blue Mountains given that it was Friday night but the returning traffic was a puzzle.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

The Blue Mountains: Day 1

We set off just before 7am for the Blue Mountains on Day 4 of my Australia holiday.  Sydney grinds to a virtual halt during the rush hour and so our departure was timed to try and get us out before the rush.  Given that we were going the opposite way to most commuters I thought this would be easy.  I think naive would be a good term to use about my view.  Anyway we were along the Great Western Highway and well into Blue Mountains at Leura by mid morning.  The weather was pretty dismal and the light wasn't good for photography but we determined to make the best of it and had a reasonable 3 hour tramp as well.
The route from Coogee to Leura
The Jamieson Valley
The valley floor with it's tree cover and miles of bush trails.
The Three Sisters from the East
and later, when the sun was coming out, from the west.
The bridge over to the first of the Three Sisters.  Access to the others was stopped when it became too dangerous.
One of the overhangs on the tramp (with well-placed benches for those needing a rest).
The Cascades
The forest stretched as far as the eye could see
The Three Sisters is the Blue Mountains’ most spectacular landmark standing at 922, 918 & 906 metres tall, respectively.   Located at Echo Point Katoomba, around 2.5 kilometres from the Great Western Highway, this iconic visitor attraction is experienced by millions of people each year. 

The Three Sisters is essentially an unusual rock formation representing three sisters who according to Aboriginal legend were turned to stone.  There are various Aboriginal legends but the one I shall tell you has it that three sisters, 'Meehni', 'Wimlah' and Gunnedoo' lived in the Jamison Valley as members of the Katoomba tribe.  These beautiful young ladies had fallen in love with three brothers from the Nepean tribe, yet tribal law forbade them to marry.  

The brothers were not happy to accept this law and so decided to use force to capture the three sisters causing a major tribal battle.  As the lives of the three sisters were seriously in danger, a witchdoctor from the Katoomba tribe took it upon himself to turn the three sisters into stone to protect them from any harm. While he had intended to reverse the spell when the battle was over, the witchdoctor himself was killed. As only he could reverse the spell to return the ladies to their former beauty, the sisters remain in their magnificent rock formation as a reminder of this battle for generations to come.

It was after this tramp that we were fortunate enough to get a tourist bus to take us back to the town where we were staying because the long walk back on the road would have been rather too much for my knee.  Anyway my bus as a mode of transport  proved unfortunate and when the driver had to do an emergency stop my ribs bore the brunt of my fall and one or two were broken or cracked.  C'est la vie.  It wasn't my head or a broken ankle or leg.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Being a Tourist in Sydney: Day 3 (Part 2)

I think that, by now, some of you are getting a bit tired of Sydney.  Don't worry I shall continue to post some more pictures because this is the 'diary' part of my blog being attended to.   It's the part I shall look back at to remind myself what I was up to.  We did, after all, pack a great deal into the short time I was in Australia and Sydney in particular.

On day three after going down the coast and returning to the Domain and Royal Botanic Gardens we walked to Darling Harbour and then to the Chinese Garden of Friendship.  Odd as it may sound this garden which is set between the CBD and its roads and the Darling Harbour with its incredible hustle and bustle of eateries and people enjoying themselves, is an absolute haven of tranquility.  Yes, one can hear the noise of the city outside and yet suddenly that noise ceases to exist in one's consciousness.  

Inside the 1896 Queen Victoria Building with its shops and cafes and magnificent decor and that clock....
.....that wonderful clock with the boat traveling round.  It would really merit a post of its own but I'll spare you that.
Darling Harbour
Game of table tennis anyone?
Part of the Chinese Garden of Friendship with the CBD backdrop which disappears as one walks through the gardens.
with its water dragons - this is a baby
it's a shame there's nothing to give it scale
After that we went to China Town and the market.  Because of the hassle of my knee and all the walking Fiona had brought the car to where we would be at the end of the day after dropping Mo and I off at the start of the walk just before lunch.  So Fiona had actually walked the route twice - but the she's just a stripling anyway.  Despite that it was a bit of a surprise to discover that the few hours the car had been parked cost $46.  Now when I park in the central car parks in Glasgow I shall just think how cheap they are!  It was worth every cent anyway because a massive thunderstorm meant that Sydney was drenched and even saw some minor flooding as the drains struggled to cope.  We certainly saw a lot of people who must have wished that had an umbrella that day.

Tomorrow, you will be glad to know, we leave for the Blue Mountains.