Thursday, December 22, 2011

A few days in Sydney, Australia

We flew to Sydney on Sat. Dec 10 after spending far too many hours cleaning our flat to ensure we got our 2700 dollar bond back.  The building managers are actually really great people but OMG did they have hawk eyes for detail when it comes to cleaning.  I thought I had a high standard of cleanliness, but I've met my match.  Things like water marks on the edge of the cupboard door frame had to be polished.  It was really over the top!  Jason was asked to clean the shower several times. I actually had to scrub the inside of the dishwasher!!  The cleaning marathon came after a late night of ‘intelligent’ packing.  Everything we own had to be sorted into four separate containers.  One suitcase each, for our trip to Sydney, the outback and the Blue Mountains.  Another container for wrapped Christmas presents (I have never been ready for Christmas by Dec. 9th before).  Another, different suitcase for snorkeling and beach stuff for the Sunshine Coast and Heron Island part of the trip.  A fourth container for stuff that we needed while living in Brisbane but not needed while on the road like completed school work, lunch boxes, uniforms, work clothes, souvenirs, etc.  It felt like a huge accomplishment to finally turn over our keys and head to the airport.  
We did not arrive in Sydney until 9pm.   It is an hour and a half flight and an hour time change.  There was also a noticeable temperature change.  Sydney is 1000km South (so away from the Equator) so it is a bit cooler here than the more northerly located Brisbane.  Our weather during our Sydney stay was actually quite cool and rainy – a bit of a disappointment.  We stayed in an area of Sydney called "Wooloomooloo".  I think I chose accommodations there just so I could have fun saying Wooloomooloo.

Wooloomooloo Bay (a block from our hotel)

The next day, we made the best of the intermittent rain and got out when the sun peeked out and dashed into a museum or cafe when it down poured.  Sydney itself is a great city for walking around.  It is on the water and there is a long walking path around the harbour and of course the Opera House. 
Picnic by the Sydney Opera House

Walking around Sydney, Australia
Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House and Sydney Bridge
Sydney's central business district
Huge open air swimming pool near Wooloomooloo Bay

 Sunday was Jason’s only day to site see with us (and the best weather day) so we walked around a lot. 

 Just when we thought the day had cleared and we would take the ferry to Manly Beach to meet up with Denis and Gabrielle and their kids (see earlier blog about the O’Carrolls – Western Ontario colleague and friend also on sabbatical in Aus.) it started to really pour.  We took shelter in the covered snack bar at the ferry terminal and had lunch. 
 Since a beach day was not going to happen we wandered some more and took time to watch a very talented street performer.  In fact Jason was selected to help out in the show by holding the 12 foot unicycle for the street performer to climb on.  When the performer asked for a 7 or 8 year old volunteer Zac got involved in the show too! 
Zac joins the show.
You can imagine his delight when he promised to pay him $5 for helping out.  He had Zac put on a safety helmet and glasses and sit on the ground. 
Zac with helmet and 'safety goggles'

Then he mounted a small unicycle and jumped over Zac.  Very funny and not too scary for me to witness. 

Then he had Zac throw up a juggling club to him once he had climbed up the 12 foot unicycle.
Street busker juggling fire, knife and club on 12 ft. unicycle.
 The street performer was clearly talented and had a very charming funny rapport with his audience.  We learned later that he is the 2011 World Champion Unicyclist and married to an Australian Actress.  By the end of the show he actually paid Zac $10 dollars!!  You should have seen the smile on Zac’s face.  He was so chuffed.  It really made his day, he kept talking about  it for hours. 
We made our way to Darling Harbour.  When Jason and I had the opportunity to visit Australia 9 years ago, one place that I remember well was Darling Harbour.   I had memories of Serenna playing in a sunken water feature when she was two years old.  It was a thrill to find it again and watch my two kids playing in it. 
Serenna and Zac in the water feature, Darling Harbour

 Darling Harbour is a wonderland for kids.  There is the Aquarium, the Australian Outback Experience, IMAX theatre, and more. 
An amazing all lego statue at the Aquarium.

amazing lego detail

Since it is the week before Christmas, the entire Darling Harbour is decorated for Christmas with HUGE blow up Santas (and in some cases Koala Clauses) all around the harbour.  We made a game of spotting them all.
Blow up Santa in Darling Harbour, Sydney

Koala Clause

There is also a nice play park for kids so when the sun came out we hung out there. 
Playing in Darling Harbour play park
 When it started to rain we went to the IMAX theatre and saw Puss In Boots (3D). 
When the show got out we had some dinner and then listened to some Christmas carols being performed by a lit up Christmas tree – all lights, no tree.
Lights only Christmas tree in Darling Harbour
Darling Harbour at twilight
taking a rest at Darling Harbour
The next two days were work days for Jason.  He was giving talks at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, and working with Denis so he was up and gone early each day.  The kids and I had a slower start to the day as we had really packed it in the day before.  Zac is such a homebody.  He would have been content to play and read (and yes we are back to homeschooling this month) in the hotel room all day.  By noon we got out as hunger was motivating us.  It was intermittent rain once again so we decided to do the double decker “Hop On, Hop Off city tour bus”. 
Open air bus tour of Sydney

We got off at the Marine Museum as we wanted to check out the submarine, the battle ship, the 1600s gunner ship and the 1800s tall ship.  Being in the submarine was the highlight. 

Battle ship and submarine at Marine Museum

We got to look around tour inside this Submarine.

Being in the submarine was the highlight.  It is really compact in there.  The sleeping bunks were everywhere – in the narrow corridors, in the dining area, in the control rooms...  They all looked narrow and short!  There were also dials and valves everywhere. 
Penni-Sue climbing down into the submarine

This is where they launch the torpedoes from. We now know how to take down a battleship.
Zac in a confusing mass of dials and hardware inside the sub
Serenna entering a different section of the sub.

The coolest thing we learned on the 1600s ship was how to go to the bathroom.  Toilet details are always fascinating, especially if you are 7 years old.  To go to the Loo to do number two, you go to the front of the boat and lean your butt over the edge.  Once finished you’ll need a wipe, so grab that length of frayed rope and put it too use.  As a courtesy to your shipmates, do not forget to give the rope a rinse in the bucket of sea water placed nearby!
Zac learns about the cannons on the 1600s ship.

Lighthouse and Tallship at the Marine Museum.

By 5pm we were on a ferry on our way to meet up with Jason and have dinner at Gabrielle and Denis’s home.  The ferry ride gave us yet another angle to admire the Opera House from.
Opera House from the ferry.

Bizarre entrance to Luna Park (amusement park) in North Sydney.

Our ferry stop was at Luna Park, an amusement park.  We did not go in, but the entrance gate sure makes an impression.  We had a very nice dinner with them and the kids played and played!  Denis dropped us back at our hotel by bedtime. 
On our third day in Sydney, the kids and I made more use of our 24 hour bus ticket and went to the infamous Bondi Beach. 

We wore our suits but we did little more than splash in the waves.  The water was noticeably colder here than the Sunshine Coast.  It was beautiful and dramatic though with lots of wind and grey clouds with spurts of sunshine.  Bondi Beach is known for its surfing and we saw the surfers getting tossed about.
Serenna and Zac at Bondi Beach.

Surfer looking for some waves at Bondi Beach.

Before our tour bus ticket ran out we headed back to the city for some lunch and more site seeing. 
Serenna enjoys "Devil's Delight" chocolate pancakes for lunch.

Zac spent 2 of his 10 dollar earnings on a matchbox car and I bought Serenna a word search book.  Zac and Serenna have been enjoying that at every opportunity.  In fact it has made homework time at restaurants even less appealing when they could be doing a wordsearch instead!
We went back to our hotel in the late afternoon for a swim in the tiny indoor pool.  When Jason returned from work that evening we went out for a lovely dinner. 
The best way to homeschool.

Back at the hotel it was time to pack for our flight the next morning.  We are ULURU bound and looking forward to it.
cool tree in the botanic gardens

1 comment:

  1. LOve it Penni-Sue - love the photos and your words. xoxox