Australia – Part 4

Sunday 4th September

For our first full day in day in Sydney, we wandered down George Street intending to get a train to North Sydney, however, due to repair work we ended up going to Circular Quay to catch a ferry to Milsons Point near Luna Park, this took us to Kirribilli, where Graeme stayed when he lived in Sydney many years ago. After a nice coffee and pastry there, we then walked back to the city via the iconic Harbour Bridge, despite it being a little windy on the bridge, it provided great views of the harbour and the city.

The city side of the bridge took us back to The Rocks where we stopped for lunch in the busy market being held there. The morning’s weather was wonderful and we eventually got to a ’taps aff’ situation before it started raining, the only shelter we could find was in a pub, this time the Mercantile Hotel, this was an Irish bar and there were 2 guys, Martin and Shaun, playing some great tunes, so good in fact that we spend the afternoon in the company of a bunch of nice people before heading back to the hotel for a wee rest. I was pleased to see that a piece by Vhils was still in place in the Rocks.

We had a choice of places to go for dinner, but ended up heading north to Surry Hills to visit Hotel Harry which is an old haunts of mine, as expected the food, beer and ambiance was just right for us, a nice leisurely stroll back downtown finished off another great day.

Monday 5th September

I got up early this morning to catch a ferry up river to meet my cousin Betty and her daughter Fiona. Jim stayed behind to go on a tour of the Opera House, intending to join us later. The trip up river on one of the fast river catch ferries was a pleasant way to spend a morning. After lunch at my cousins house we went down to the famous Sydney Rowing Club at Abbotsford, where we met up with Jim after his Opera House tour, later in the evening the rest of the family arrived and we had a lovely family meal. After dinner we returned to the ferry wharf, there were a bunch of guys fishing off the wharf, it was fun to see one of then land a whopper. The trip back down the river was quick and easy, it was great to see the city ablaze with lights.

Jim told us that his tour of the Opera House was very interesting and informative, especially since they have just completed the renovation of the concert halls, this was due to the 50th year celebrations and to provide better acoustics and accessibility. After a stop for lunch, Jim caught a ferry from Circular Quay to join at Abbotsford.

Tuesday 6th September

Another early start for us this morning as we went to catch the bus for our Blue Mountain Tour, unfortunately we had selected the last pickup point and the time we boarded it was pretty full. We then quickly made our way out of the city to our first stop at the Featherdale Wildlife Park, this park was interesting but very similar to the one we stopped at in Melbourne, this gave us the chance to have a quick morning cuppa.

We then headed up into the mountain region stopping at Scenic World where we experienced 3 different cable cars and funicular railways, Jim bottled out on riding on the cable car roof, but he did take a good photograph, all of this is situated around an old mining region which afforded us some spectacular views of the rainforest and the 3 sisters rock formations, we then stopped of at the Echo Falls Viewpoint for even more views.

We returned towards the city sropping at the Olympic Park area to catch a ferry back to Darling Harbour. We returned to the hotel for a chance to recharge (ourselves and phones) before heading out to a Japanese Ramen restaurant on Liverpool Street, for a nice meal, a pint in a pub across the road finished it all off. As Wallace and Grommet would say, we had ‘a grand day out’.

Wednesday 7th September

After a fun morning trying to get the microwave working in our apartment we made our way to Town Hall station to catch one of the double decker trains to Bondi Junction where we hoped to meet Dan’s Challenge to find a Starbucks and Lego Store everywhere we go, we were successful in both. Jim thought it was unusual to sit upstairs on on one of Sydney’s double decker trains. We found the Lego Store easily but were a wee bit disappointed that there was nothing specific to Sydney or Australia in store, after taking a few photographs and having a look around we boarded a bus to Bondi Beach.

It was wonderful at the beach, the sun shone and the water was warm, we both took off our shoes and socks, rolled up our trousers and went for a paddle, the only thing missing was the knotted hankie hat, we strolled along the shore watching all the surfers, settled on the beach for a bit of sun bathing before heading along to the North Bondi RSL for a well earned beer and lunch. Another stroll along the promenade with a brilliant ice cream before heading back to the city on the bus, it was another great way to spend a day.

Once back in the city we went over the Pyrmont bridge to find a laundry for us to visit in the morning, later in the evening we visited the nearby Lal Qila Indian restaurant for a really good meal, then returned to the hotel weary but happy to have had a good day.

Thursday 8th September

An early start for me as I delivered our bag of laundry, (to be collected later), while Jim had his breakfast, we then decided that as it was much warmer, that it was time to break out the shorts. Bags packed we then went down to catch the ferry to Manly Beach for another day of sun, sand and surf. We caught a ferry to Manly and after crossing over to the beach side we quickly discovered the it was much windier than expected, so it wasn’t a day for lounging on the sands, spotting a little sheltered looking bay in the distance, off we went to find Shelly Beach, a nice little spot with a convenient bistro where we sat for a coffee and cake break. There was some interesting wildlife in the area, there loads of Gulls, Australian Brush-turkeys, and we even came across a 6 foot Diamond Python sunning itself on the rocks at the side of the path and we even saw 2 water dragons having a territorial battle on the path side.

We decided to make better use of our time, so after a quick lunch, we headed back on the ferry to pay a visit to the Sydney Tower Eye observation deck, this gave us some stunning 360 degree views over the city rooftops. It was soon time to collect our laundry so we crossed the Pyrmont Bridge to do so, while there we came across a good looking Chinese restaurant and decided to call back later for our evening meal, which did live up to expectations. Another good and interesting day.

Friday 9th September

For our last full day in Sydney we ventured out in a rainy morning and travelled by train to Newtown to find Enmore Street, listed as the 24th coolest street in the world, as Dan had informed us. I had visited there in 2018 and the Enmore Theatre was a regular place for Graeme to see bands when he lived in Sydney.

Newtown is indeed a pretty cool place with many independent shops, restaurants and cafés plus the street art scene is very active with plenty of murals by The likes of Fintan Magee, one of my favourite Australian artists. Surprisingly one of the largest murals was painted by AsOne, a Glasgow artist, on the side wall of a house currently owned by a fellow Scot who we met outside, he told us that it may have to be removed later due to cracks in the building. We had a nice lunch on one of the cafés on King Street before heading back into town to visit Chinatown and Paddy’s Market.

In the evening we went to see the Opera House illuminated specially in tribute to Queen Elizabeth, which was very appropriate and impressive. To use up our remaining travel card credit, we took a ferry ride back to Darling Harbour where we stopped off for a nice Italian meal to finish off our stay in Sydney.

Sydney Opera House Tribute to Elizabeth II

Saturday 10th September

An other early start for our flight to Cairns, fully packed and ready to travel, we waited outside the hotel for our car to the airport where we quickly checked in, passed through security then relaxed in the departure lounge for boarding. The flight left a little late but we arrived in time for pickup to Port Douglas around 1 hour further north. The countryside here certainly is much different from our other stops, with sea and beaches on one side of the road, with rainforest and hills on the other, some sections of the road was like driving on the A82 in the west coast of Scotland but with glorious sunshine. Once checked in to the hotel and having unpacked our cases we went for a stroll around the resort before having dinner in the bistro then having a fairly early night

Sunday 11th September

In the morning before breakfast we took a stroll down to the nearby beach, it was as spectacular as you would expect for North Queensland with miles and miles of pristine sand. A quick shuttle bus service took us into Port Douglas town where there was a local market running, we had a nice breakfast with some local food in the market before exploring the town. We eventually ended up at the marina where we were spoiled for choice on Great Barrier Reef tours, we eventually choose one for tomorrow then went for lunch in Paddy’s, a local bar, only to be served by a young couple from Glasgow. Back at the hotel we lounged by the pool, had a swim and relaxed with our books in the sunshine. Whilst in town earlier we did some shopping, which meant that we could have a nice relaxing dinner on the terrace outside our room with a glass of chilled wine to end this phase of our holiday.

[Return to Australia 2022]

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