May 31 – On To Sydney
Beau was awake fairly early this morning but I didn't want to get up yet so he took his guitar beach side while I snoozed awhile longer. Once I did get up we had some breakfast and then enjoyed our coffee while sitting on a bench over looking the ocean. We then showered and finished packing before hitting the road. We followed the Great Pacific Drive along the coast on our way to Sydney instead of taking the main motorway. We stopped in the industrial city of Wollongong for a lookout at Flinders Point where there was also a light house. The view was disappointing since in one direction there were smoke stacks and in another scores of massive tankers. We continued along the coast relatively unimpressed with the coastal views. We did cross of the Sea Cliff Bridge where the highway is actually above the ocean. We stopped at another lookout for a look back at the bridge. This lookout was also the spot for the areas hang gliding club and there were a couple guys getting ready to go out as well as one paraglider who had just landed. We got back on to the main highway and followed it into Sydney. We had to be careful about which route we were taking as Sydney's major highways are toll roads. This meant we had a bunch of stop lights to go through but we had minimal traffic. We decided to stop into Sydney's Olympic park. We went to the parks information center and got the insider details on what to check out. We were told to go up the Novatel Hotel to the observation deck they had on the 17th floor. We headed over and up and got let into the observation room and had a pretty cool view of the Olympic Grounds from above. Once back down on the ground we had a little walk outside before heading over to Bicentennial Park for some lunch. This area had been an industrial wasteland prior to the Olympics but it got cleaned up allowing the native mangroves to rejuvenate and native bird species to return. We made burgers again since we still had two left. They were delicious but man were they messy. We got the bikes out and went for a ride in the park. We went along a large pond as well as a bay which was a ship wreck area. We also bicycled up a spiral path to the top of a hill which gave us a pretty nice view over the area as well as of the setting sun. Since the sun was going down and we were lacking any high vis gear we headed back to the van. We got back on the road to find our campground. Unfortunately we were now out in rush hour traffic and were stuck in stop and go traffic up a hill. We eventually made it to the campground and got ourselves a powered site for 3 nights. Since we had such a big and late lunch we just had tomato soup for dinner. While we were eating there was a ballsy possum who was looking for dinner too. He just waltzed into the outdoor camp kitchen and under the picnic table that we were sitting at. He then proceed to climb all over the counters, toaster, microwave and fridge. He didn't even care if you gave him a nudge with your foot. It was crazy and kind of gross. Beau was pretty wiped and dozed off while I read for a bit before bed.\
|The Sea Cliff Bridge|
June 1 – Sydney
We had set an alarm this morning so we could get moving fairly quickly. We wanted to be in to Sydney before 10:30 as that was when a free walking tour started. We headed down to the camp kitchen and made some breakfast. There was another couple in the kitchen and we started chatting to them. Turns out they were from Edmonton. Another couple came into the kitchen as well and they were from Central Saskatchewan. Who knew we'd run into so many Canucks here? We got ourselves moving and hopped a train into town. We arrived at Circular Quay and found some other people who were also looking for the free tour. We found our tour guide Greg who is also the owner of the tour company. The tour is run on a tips only basis. The tour got off to a late start as we were waiting for a few more people to join us. Greg started out with a quick Australia history lesson. Sydney was the first British settlement in Australia. He then took us down to wharf where we got a good look at the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. Next we headed into “The Rocks” which is the oldest part of the city although not too many old buildings are still standing. By old I mean under 200 years. We then head up into the city along George Street which is one of the main drags and across Martins Place which is a pedestrian walk. We took a break in Hyde Park for lunch before making our way back down through the Royal Botanical Gardens. We ended our tour over looking the Opera House and Harbour Bridge but on the other side of Circular Quay. The whole tour took about 3hrs and the guide was really nice and helpful. He gave us all maps and marked out on them some place to get cheap drinks and cheap food. After the tour Beau and I had a peek in the Opera House and also a look at the shows being offered. Unfortunately nothing looked all that interesting and things were a little out of our budget. It there was something we had interested in seeing we might have splurged a little. We took some more pictures and then got talking to two guys from our tour group. One guy was from Calgary then other was from Hong Kong. Our fellow Canadian, Ben, decided to join Beau and I as we were headed to check out a Boomerang School. We purchased a boomerang decorated with a kangaroo and it is actually made by an aboriginal tribe. After our purchase we headed down to the Elephant Cafe and got some $3 beers. We swapped travel stories with Ben for a little while and then parted ways to go find some dinner. We headed down to a pie stand that Greg had marked on our map called “Harry's Cafe de Wheels.” It's a famous pie stand that celebrities, like Col. Sanders, have eaten at. I got something called a Tiger Pie and Beau got a Curry Tiger Pie. It's a meat pie topped with mashed potatoes, mushy peas and gravy. It was very tasty and only about $6. We walked back over to the Opera House to check out the Vivid Lights Festival. There are all kinds of light projection on buildings around the city. The lights on the Opera House looked much cooler in the brochure than what was actually being shown. There was some cool stuff on other buildings but overall it was underwhelming and very busy. We had thought about going out on a “Party Tour” tonight offered by the same guy as our walking tour but we were feeling pretty beat so we decided to head back to the park.
|Sydney Opera House|
|Hyde Park Fountain|
|Sydney Harbour Bridge|
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June 2 – Rainy Sydney
Our morning started off a little slow but we got some laundry washed and dried so we were ready to face the day with clean underwear. It was very grey and overcast when we left the park and decided we should bring the umbrella with us. Lucky for us we did. We reached the subway station before it started raining but our trip in was very dreary. We headed to the Central Station and on the Paddy's Market. This market is a farmers market/Chinese knockoff market. There were a bunch of Asians selling fruit and vege as well as clothing stalls, souvenir stalls, and everything you can think of stalls. We did get a free reusable bag out of going there though. We had a little walk around and then headed into China Town for lunch. Our guide yesterday had marked out for us a cheap little food court. Beau and I both had Japanese but there was this amazing looking stir fry place that I was a little sad I hadn't ordered from. We sat down to eat and got talking to our neighbours who were Sydney locals. We talked about places to go and they also told us we had to try Emperors Custard Puffs from the little stall across the street. It was more of just a window in the wall but there was a queue out front. We just got a couple to try but they were delicious. Sort of like custard filled waffle balls, yummy. We were hoping the rain would let up so we could check out the Darling Harbour area. We started walking that way but the rain was still coming down. We ducked into the exhibition center where the Australian Home Show was going on. It cost about $18/person we decided against going in. At this point we had exhausted all our options so we went for a beer. There was $3 beer at Bar Century which we nearby so we went in. It was a bit dingy inside but there was cool view of the street. It was only about 3pm but there were already a few drunks. Some odd ducks started chatting with Beau on and off and after about an hour or so we were both kind of glad to get out of there. We headed back to Paddy's Market to pick up some fruit and vegetables. We even found longans there which were our favourite fruit in Asia. We weren't really sure what to do with ourselves after that though, we now had a full bag of food to cart around and the weather had started to clear a bit. We popped into a Maccas for a little wifi and an ice cream then headed back. Since we had had suck a big lunch we just did cheese, avo and crackers for dinner. We then watched Green Lantern and I read a bit. We are crossing our fingers for better weather tomorrow.
June 3 – Manly
The weather gods did not hear our prayers and we awoke to another wet one. We were meeting my high school friend Sarah Bilyk, now Sarah Clayton, in Manly today. Manly is supposed to be a nice beach side community similar to Bondi beach but obviously we weren't going to be able to enjoy it's finer side today. We drove to Manly and managed to avoid Sydney's plethora of toll roads. It was pissing down rain when we arrived. We were a little early for our rendezvous so we decided we'd check out the visitors center and maybe use the internet at the lib. We found out from the visitors center that almost all parking in Manly was to a maximum of 2hrs but the library was open today. We walked over to the library but it didn't open for another hour. We headed back to the info center because there was a McDonalds there and we checked our e-mail. We want back to the van to find another parking spot before our meeting. We found a 2hr spot but it wasn't super close in, it wasn't a long walk but when it's raining any walk is too long! We met up with Sarah and her husband Lee outside of the visitors center and headed to a little cafe for lunch. It was great to meet Sarah's hubby and catch up. It's been about 7 years since we've seen each other. We finished lunch and Beau had to go move the van since our 2 hrs were up. Lee went with him while Sarah and I walked over to a bar called the Ivanhoe. We got a couple of drinks and then the boys joined us. Apparently they circled the block and parked on the same street as before just a little closer in. We repeated this again later on when we changed venues and went down to the Shore Club. It had finally stopped raining. We ran into some friends of Sarah and Lee's who had just gotten engaged. We had a really nice time with Sarah and Lee. Sarah and I still got on really well like we did in high school and her husband is a really awesome guy, Beau and him got on really well too. If we come back through Sydney before leaving we'll definitely be giving them a call. They are also talking about moving back to Canada so hopefully we'll see them again before another 7 years pass!