A Travellerspoint blog

November 2 Sydney, Australia

Sydney: Queen Victoria Shopping Mall, Paddy’s Market, Wonderful Architecture, Harbour Stroll, Opal Museum and Opal Cutting

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November 2 Sydney, Australia

Slept in a bit, a leisurely start to the day, for a change. After 40+ days on the go one gets a little travel-weary and it’s nice to sleep in once in a while. Today was that day for us. And then we were off the for day, walking (actually did over 18,000 steps today!!), first stop the Queen Victoria Building. What a fabulous building it is. Three stories of shopping, high end stores, boutiques and restaurants, and it is massive. It has a 3 story grand Christmas tree up already boasting 50,000 Swarovski Crystal bobbles and Santa was starting his season today. So many cute little children all dressed up to sit on Santa’s knee and get their Christmas photo taken. Seemed a bit early to us, but such is life in Sydney. Apparently Santa wears shorts on Christmas Day here haha.

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This mall used to be a big train station and has been redone, refurbished and now a trendy shopping centre and tourist attraction.

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From here we went to Paddy’s Market, in the lower level of Market City, and more like a local’s street market with bargain prices and lots of tourist souvenirs. Of course we had to do some shopping here.

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Next we walked along the Wharf enjoying the weather, the tourists, the sights and sounds. We stopped for an appetizer and beverage at a little cafe on the wharf and took a selfie with one of the waitresses. They were celebrating the ‘Day of the Dead’ and the whole staff was dressed and made up in the costumes.

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And look at this car...a Maclaren! Terry was pretty excited to see it just driving down the streets of downtown Sydney!

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We stopped in at the Opal Museum for a short visit but the only photos we have from there are with the stuffies on the display dinosaurs haha. Seems the dinosaurs depict the era from which the opals came. Who knew?

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We were about done at this point, so we walked back to the hotel, grabbed a pizza along the way which we enjoyed in our hotel room while we packed (and this was a bit of a challenge!). Seems we’ve picked up a few items along the way so one of our carry-ones has been expanded to become a checked bag and our fingers are crossed that it gets home when we do. And that’s a wrap on the day, only one more day to come....Carol on the go for one more day....

Posted by carolonthego 11:51 Archived in Australia Tagged victoria market the of car queen building day dead paddy’s mclaren Comments (0)

November 1 Sydney Australia

Sydney, Australia - the Zoo, the Ferry, the Marine Museum, the Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus

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November 1st Sydney - The Zoo, the Ferry, the Marine Museum, the Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus

Up and out of the hotel early, ready for a full day exploring some of Sydney’s highlights. We had purchased an “I-Venture” pass, which was a good investment. It includes 5 of the city’s highlights at a reduced cost, and we get to chose which places we see/go, as our 5. We recommend this, if you come this way.

We walked to the harbour and boarded a ferry for the Taronga Zoo.

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We were especially interested in the Australian exhibits, as we have seen many of the other animals in their natural habitat (lions, tigers, giraffes, elephants, etc.). We spent some time with the kangaroos,

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the koalas,

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and other animals. So cute!!

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We also let the stuffies make new friends (remember? We are travelling with our grand daughter’s little stuffed animals, helping them to make new friends, and we make these photos into a storybook for her when we get home). So the stuffies made a few new friends, too!

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The Taronga Zoo in Sydney is incredible. We recommend you see this if you visit Sydney!!

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We went back to downtown Sydney, and caught the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus and rode it around for a couple of hours, giving us an overview of the city and some of the highlights. The architecture of the older buildings is amazing. The city is clean, safe, and very comfortable. Traffic is a little crazy at peak hours, but we tried to avoid those times.

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We stopped at the Maritime Museum which was amazing. If you get here, go there! We toured a submarine and were overwhelmed by how compact it is. It was decommissioned in 1999 and carried 69 marines when is service. It gave us a new respect for the marines who lived and fought on these submarines for long stretches of time. Wow!

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Then we toured a war vessel, which was decommissioned in 1989, and were again amazed at how huge and yet compact it was, and how tiny the living quarters were. For prairie folks, we had an eye opening experience.

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The Museum itself is vast and offers many displays and exhibits to entertain and teach us about marine life! We highly recommend this Marine Museum if you ever visit Sydney. You won’t be disappointed.

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We had put in a full day, so we stopped for a bite to eat and a beer on the rooftop of one of the buildings in Darling Harbour. We watched the people rushing home from work, and the tourists moving from one highlight to another.

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And then it was time to call it a day. We walked back to the hotel ( about 30 minutes) and crashed. Another amazing day with new adventures! And that’s a wrap on the day, more to come. Carol on the go...

Posted by carolonthego 23:57 Archived in Australia Tagged sydney harbour bus on zoo museum off marine kangaroo darling hop taronga Comments (0)

October 31 Sydney, Australia - Halloween

Sydney, a visit from an old friend, Manly Beach, Hemingway, the Wharf, Halloween!

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October 31 Sydney, Australia

Happy Halloween!!

Today we were up early and said farewell to Sharon who was leaving our trip and heading home. Sharon and I have been travelling together since September 21 and have had a marvellous time, so many memories, such amazing friendship bonds! Terry and I saw her to the Limousine to to take her to the airport, said our goodbyes and wished her well. She was looking forward to getting home to her kids and grand kids. We will miss her!

Terry and I, back in our room got ready for the day, grabbed a quick bite of breakfast and then met Bill Crispin in the lobby of the hotel to spend much of the day together. Bill and his wife Judith live in Queanbeyan, Australia. They were part of an Australian group of teachers who visited Alberta in 1999, and we were their hosts while they were in Alberta, Canada. They stayed in our home and we so enjoyed getting to know them over several days. When they left to return to Australia we were hopeful that we would meet again...that reunion happened today!

When we were planning to come to Australia, we connected and made plans for this day. Bill caught the train to Sydney and met us at our hotel. We had a lovely day together! We travelled by ferry to Manly Beach, where we walked the beach and reminisced about those days 20 years ago, and brought ourselves up to date on family, etc.

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We walked along the boardwalk for a while, then stopped for a refreshment at Hemingway’s restaurant. There was much history in this building and we chatted for an hour or so. Then we moved on, enjoying the area, the weather, the conversation.

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After a time, we took the ferry back to Sydney where we walked through the downtown streets and then stopped for a bite to eat. In no time at all it was time for Bill to go, and we walked home to the train station where he took his 4 hour trip back to Queanbeyan.

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It was so nice to reconnect, visit and share stories about our current lives. Such a great fellow!

After Bill left we refreshed in our hotel room and went out for a walk, to the Wharf area at Darling Harbour, on Halloween night! It was a happening place with hundreds enjoying meals in restaurants by the water and many cruise ships heading out for Halloween parties in the Bay. Oh My! Wasn’t that interesting. Here’s what happens in Sydney on Halloween night. Lots of party, lots of young people, lots of beverages, and lots of fun!

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It was enough for us, and after 16,000 steps in the day we decided to retire, and headed back to the hotel about 9:00 PM (I know, we are getting old), and crashed in our hotel room. Life is good, we are celebrating that we can make it until after 9 PM and still feel good, and still find our way back to the hotel.

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And that’s a wrap on the day, more to come. Life is good, Carol on the go!!

Posted by carolonthego 23:16 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

October 30 Uluru to Sydney

Ayers Rock at Sunrise, flight to Sydney, beautiful sunrise, dinner with the cousins

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October 30 Uluru to Sydney, Australia

Today we were up and on the coach by 4:30 AM! It was our last day in the Outback and we were to see the Field of Lights and watch the sunrise on the Ayers Rock. Another bucket list item!

The coach picked us up and we drove for about 15 minutes in the dark before coming upon the Field of Lights. This was an artist’s project. This critically acclaimed Field of Light Uluru by the internationally celebrated artist Bruce Munro, was intended to be a short term project but due to popular demand has been continued indefinitely. And I can see why! It is incredible. It is his largest art work today. It covers over 7 football fields and has 50,000 spindles of light, the stems move and way, changing colours frequently and present as a cluster of bright flowers in a field, changing colours every few seconds, from ochre to deep violent, blue to gentle white. So amazing!

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We walked through this incredible maze of sparkling lights, admiring how it brought a beautiful, soft light to this sacred site, setting the stage for an outstanding sunrise. Really it was surreal.

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Then we gathered to watch the sunrise over the field of dreams and the Ayers Rock, while sipping hot chocolate and biscuits. As the sun rose, the colours and shadows on the Rock changed and danced as we were mesmerized by the beauty of it all. It was a pinch-me-moment, one that I hope you get to experience! Check this off the bucket list, with gratitude.

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We were back to our hotel for a few hours, then check out, and off to the airport to fly to Sydney...our Outback experience comes to an end.

The flight was about 3 hours and uneventful. We checked back into the Radisson BLU Hotel. We were off to have supper with the cousins. My cousin Denise Wood, originally of Black Diamond, then Airdrie, and now in Kelowna, BC and her husband, Don had just arrived in Sydney to spend time with their daughter, Alana and her husband Mike and kids who live near Sydney. We met at a lovely (and expensive!) oyster restaurant near the Opera House and on the water!

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It was such a fun evening connecting with them again, and enjoying a delicious seafood meal together. Stories and memories filled the conversation and great food filled our bellies and we shared memories and strengthened family bonds. Life is good! Family is everything! Thanks to Don for the dinner and to all for making the efforts to make it happen.

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We parted company and walked back to our hotel, which is near the harbour, crashed for the night and slept like babies (well, we slept well...sometimes babies don’t sleep through the night but one of us did!). And that’s a wrap on the day. More to come, Carol on the go!!

Posted by carolonthego 02:53 Archived in Australia Tagged sydney lights of sunrise family rock field ayers gathering Comments (0)

October 29 Ayers Rock / Uluru, Australia

Uluru / Ayers Rock, a long drive from Alice Springs, beautiful countryside, the centre of the centre in Australia,

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October 29 Alice Springs and Ayers Rock

Alice Springs: early morning pick up by coach to drive to Ayers Rock began at 7:00 AM. Our trip was to take 6 hours, with two stops, 450 kilometres . The coach was almost full, 50 people, all taking the same journey. It is a straight road, called Stuart Highway, with only two right hand turns!! The bus driver joked about it when he made the two turns, wondering if you could manage to make them, given that he hadn’t made a turn for so long. He was quite a character and gave us an interesting commentary along the journey.

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The first stop, about an hour into the trip, was a little gas stations, grocery / snack store with a few animals and a washroom facility. We made friends with a resident camel (see selfie!) and an emu! We also grabbed a quick breakfast sandwich and a coffee.

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Back on the road, after another hour or so, another stop at a larger facility with similar amenities. It was noted as the ‘centre of the centre’ meaning it was at the centre of Australia from north to south and east to west.

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There is a monument erected there, indicating this notoriety.

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Along this highway, the primary transportation route between Adelaide or Darwin and the Outback there are many huge trucks, called Road Trains, which carry supplies to the Outback. They can be as long as a small train and one must take great care if trying to pass them as it takes a looong time to get by their extensive length! These trucks can haul over 175 tons of goods and have a maximum length of 53.5 meters and they burn a litre of diesel every 400 meters!

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We passed the Pine Gap Satellite Tracking Station, which employs 1500 people of which 900 are American. Their top secret job is to track satellite activity world wide!

We made one more stop along the way at a big sand dune, which I climbed to see a large salt water lake, and from where we caught our first glimpse of Mount Connor. Some people mistake this for Ayers Rock, which is similar in shape, but Ayers Rock is much bigger.

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We passed the Finke River, a dry river bed (lots of water one meter under ground), is the oldest river on planet earth, over 300,000,000 years old!!

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When we arrived in Ayers Rock at 1:30 PM, we were taken to our hotel. We had an hour to get settled before our afternoon tour headed out to the Cultural Interpretive Centre. We spent some time watching the Aboriginal artists painting, saw a video on the cultural and sacred beliefs of the Aboriginal community, viewed many artifacts, heard about the traditional stories about Uluru (Ayers Rock) and wandered through the Souvenir Shop. It was most interesting, but no photos allowed so you’ll have to use your imagination...

From there we went to Ayers Rock, and began a tour to learn about the Rock, how it was formed, and the history. It is the oldest continuous civilization in the world, spanning over 30,000 years! It is the largest rock structure in the world. It was beyond amazing!!

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Uluru (the aboriginal name) or Ayers Rock (named by the first European to discover it in 1872) is the world’s largest monolith and rises 348 meters above the surrounding desert plain. The monolith is oval in shape, measuring 3.6 km long by 2.4 km wide, with a circumference of 9.4 km. It is composed of sandstone and the rock changes colour according to the position of the sun. Uluru is within Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which was established in 1958 and official ownership was given to the Aboriginal people in 1985. In 1987 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

For many years people have been able to climb one part of Ayers Rock. The Australian Aboriginal People have been opposed to this, indicating that the site is sacred ground; at the same time it has been deemed unsafe to climb the steep rock. So just a few days before we arrived the rock climbing has been banned! There was much controversy over this decision and a good deal of media coverage in the days before we arrived. That small area has been fenced off, however, the rest of the rock is free to walk around and ‘touch’. Our tour guide gave us a wonderful overview of the history and traditional stories of the rock. And yes, we did touch the rock!!

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As a side note, there are very few mosquitos in this area, however, there are millions of little black flies that are most annoying!! They do not bite, but with the extreme heat and dry air they are seeking moisture, so dive for your eyes, nose, mouth and ears. As a a result it is recommended that you wear a net over your face. At first we thought this was a bit bizarre, but bought one anyway. About one minute into the tour we were covered in little black flies and going crazy...put our nets on as fast as possible!! So grateful we bought them! Lesson: listen to the advice of your tour guide!

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Uluru is at its best at sunset, when it is coloured a fiery orange-red by the sun’s rays. We witnessed an amazing sunset, complete with wine and cheese. It was another pinch me-moment as a couple of hundred people cheered on the sunset and took thousands of pictures.

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About 20 minutes after sunset, we boarded the bus and headed back to our hotel, ‘Sails in the Desert Hotel’, which is a 5 star resort. We stopped for a quick bite before retiring for the night. Bed came early as we have a sunrise tour tomorrow morning at 4:30.

And that’s a wrap on an amazing day! More to come...Carol on the go!

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Posted by carolonthego 03:42 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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