Finishing Up in Sydney

Our guide at the Opera House called their Chinese New Year’s decoration “the quadratic pig.” I don’t think that’s the sculpture’s real name, but it stuck with us.

Gong xi fa cai! Xin nian kuai le! Happy New Year! Welcome to the Year of the Pig!

Our time in Australia has absolutely flown by. It seems like just yesterday that we were in Hong Kong, and yet sixteen days have passed since we arrived in Perth: six days there, four days on the train, and another six here in Sydney. It’s been an amazing time, and yet we know we’ve only scratched the surface of this big and fascinating country.

We were very hot and tired at the end of our zoo visit and more than ready for a cool ride back across Sydney Harbor on a ferry.

For the most part it’s been very HOT while we’ve been here, from beginning to end. We knew we were coming to Australia in height of their summer, but we (me especially) were honestly not prepared for the blazing sun, high temperatures and the humidity (once we hit Sydney). Still, I’ve never seen skies so blue and have loved being out on and near the water once again – the trade-off has been worth it.

The original main entrance to the Taronga Zoo was impressive, but visitors now enter through a more modern gate.

We traveled over to Sydney’s Taronga Zoo yesterday to check out their collection of Australian animals, excited to see ones we had only previously seen in books, and were not disappointed. Taronga (an Aboriginal word for “beautiful view”) was a wonderful, well-planned zoo, set up high on a hill with a sweeping overlook of Sydney harbor, and with well-designed animal enclosures. The zoo is good-sized without being overwhelming, and has an Australian “walkabout” area as well as a koala walkabout and a reptile section containing giant monitor lizards, crocodiles, and snakes both (highly) poisonous and not (there are also a few SE Asian and African animals, but we did not go over to see them). We arrived just a few minutes late for the koala encounter, where I believe I could have held one of them (swoon), but we still got a very good look at them. Koalas are just as adorable as you think they will be.

The green python was in the traditional python pose. I don’t like snakes, but I loved the color of this guy!
A kangaroo slowed down long enough to pick up a stick to gnaw on – they were very active.

The nocturnal animals were of course asleep, and the platypus and echidnas were hiding the entire time we were there, but otherwise we got a good, fairly up-close look at many fascinating animals. My favorite, after the koalas, was the southern cassowary, the third largest bird in the world, and the bird most closely related to its dinosaur ancestors. The big one we saw yesterday was gorgeous and he knew it.

Mr. Gorgeous. The colors on his neck and head were extremely vibrant. He was also one very big bird.
Bondi Beach

For our last day’s activity we took the train and bus over to the famous Bondi Beach this morning and took a hike along the coastal walk path to check out the ocean views. This morning’s weather was cool and slightly overcast in Sydney (although with high humidity), but by the time we got to Bondi the sun was out in full force and once again the humidity was pushing the limits (it’s been worse here in Sydney than back on Kaua’i). We walked as far as Bronte Beach, with a stop to share a grilled chicken sandwich for lunch at Tamarama Beach, at a spot overlooking the beach. There was a breeze as we walked, but it came and went, and unfortunately when it went away it was miserable, for me anyway. From Bronte Beach we caught the bus back to Bondi Junction, and then took the train to our neighborhood station.

The public swimming pools at Bondi looked very inviting.
One of the many beautiful views along the coastal walk from Bondi Beach to Bronte Beach.
This view, and the plants, reminded me of beach walks back in the day in Southern California.
Lots of surfers were out today at the not-very-big Tamarama Beach.

By the way, we have greatly enjoyed our apartment in the Potts Point neighborhood, a suburb to the east of downtown Sydney. The apartment is conveniently located, and we’ve had no trouble getting out and around from here. The area is filled with lovely older terrace buildings in between some modern buildings and even some art deco stuff as well and we’ve enjoyed walking around and looking at those. Some of the old buildings have been converted into backpacker lodging while others are being or have been renovated. Potts Point sits up on a bluff from the Sydney harbor area and Wooloomooloo (try saying that fast!) neighborhood, so there are some rather daunting staircases to climb if you’re walking back.

These two older terrace homes around the corner from our Sydney apartment have been turned into inexpensive backpacker lodging.
I love the look of this apartment building from the 1920s, sort of “pre-art deco.”
A renovated terrace home – there is also an apartment below street level.
The Butler Stairs have 103 steps and connect the Potts Point neighborhood to Wooloomooloo below. We thankfully didn’t have to climb these stairs, but we loved the view from the top!

Tonight we’ll finish our packing, and eat all of our odds and ends to clean out the refrigerator, making for a very weird dinner (remaining items include two eggs, half an avocado, a lemon, orange juice, wine, a few spoons of yogurt, some blueberries and some grapes). We’ve also got two lovely big slices of banana bread, but we’re saving those for our breakfast tomorrow as we’ll be up early to be on our way to the international airport for our flight to Auckland!

16 thoughts on “Finishing Up in Sydney

  1. Have a safe trip to Auckland! Love to read about your adventure. You guys are such an inspiration. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks, tpol! Hopefully it won’t be too bad of a travel day. I think our biggest issue will be getting ourselves to the airport here in Sydney – we’re using the local trains. I just hope it’s a little cooler in the morning than it has been the past few days.

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    1. Very hot! And Sydney has quite a bit of humidity compared to Perth which made it worse, at least in my case. Still, we’ve had an absolutely wonderful time in Australia and are glad happy with everything we got to see and do. Now it’s on to New Zealand!

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  2. When you do make it back this way I would suggest March/April as being slightly less hot. October/November is also quite lovely here. I have to say though, I’m absolutely loving the hot weather at the moment. Those Blue Sky days are amazing. Especially where I live on the South Coast of NSW where you get gorgeous green and blue seas to go with it.

    You do get quite used to it after a while. I once went hiking on a 45C day in the Southern Highlands, and I regularly walk 5-10km in 30C+ here. 🙂

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    1. There is no way I would come again in the summer – I am really not a hot weather person these days at all. I get hot and then cannot cool off – Brett is shocked by how warm I feel all the time, like I am being heated from the inside. And, humidity only makes it worse. But, the blue skies have been amazing, as has everything we’ve seen and done. We want to come back someday (in your fall or spring).

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  3. Continuing to enjoy following along on your adventures! Your trip has inspired me to do some reading about travel in Australia and I must say I am tempted by “the Big Lap” — a driving trip around all of Australia which seems to require at least six months to do it with enough time to enjoy what one is seeing. So many places, so little time!

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    1. Thanks! I’m very grateful for the blogging support I’ve received from readers.

      When I first read your sentence about driving all the around Australia, my first reaction was NO WAY! But after I thought about it for a while, it became more interesting and intriguing. It certainly would be a fascinating way to see Australia, that’s for sure – just like a road trip around the U.S. All except for the drive across the Nullabor. Not sure I would want to do that again.

      I agree, so many places, so little time!

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  4. So many interesting pictures and your commentary is great. That python’s color is so rich. And kangaroos and koalas. Wow.

    I’m not a hot weather person either, so I applaud your tenacity in that heat. We’ll definitely to a bit later in the year if we go, now that I’ve read about your weather pattern. (OTOH, we’re in another ice storm and power is out all around us. A LITTLE heat sounds good. :-))

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    1. I look back now and have absolutely NO idea how I got through that heat and humidity. Thankfully it’s much cooler here in New Zealand, with almost no humidity whatsoever. And, the car is air-conditioned too.

      I LOVED that python (well, as long as he stayed behind the glass), and loved the way he had draped himself over the stick – classic python. We so wanted to see the platypus, but they never showed and we gave up (same for the echidna).

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  5. I hate the heat and humidity too. It, and the traffic, is what would make me consider leaving Sydney. Can’t see the point in hibernating in air-conditioning. The low 30s, I can do. Once it hits over 35° with high humidity, I’m all done in. Especially if it doesn’t cool down at night. Forces you to slow down and have siestas.

    I’ve been trying to see a platypus in the wild for years. Sneaky animals they are. I’ve seen cassowaries, emus, wallabies, kangaroos, echidnas etc but never a platypus.

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    1. Humidity has turned into my biggest foe. It was always uncomfortable when I was younger, but now my physical reactions are over the top and a bit scary, actually. I would love for us to go back to Hawaii, but I know the humidity would be a major problem once again – I need someplace drier.

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    2. PS. We watched the platypus up in its burrow on a hidden camera when we were at the zoo, but we really wanted to see him or her swimming around in the pools, if only for a moment!

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  6. Is the apartment in the Potts Point neighborhood an Airbnb? Can you please give me the link for the apartment. Thanks so much

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