Syndey Harbour bridge and opera house

So many photos must have been taken of the Syndey harbour bridge and opera house. I took a few! On New Year day when I did the bridge climb and we were talking about the bridge I asked a native Sydney resident whether they had taken a bridge picture. They never had!

The first time I saw the bridge and opera house I was not expecting to see them; we had arrived in Sydney late in the day, almost dinner time and our tour guide recommended fed walking from hotel to the circular quay. I wandered out mainly looking for someone to eat. Then I saw them! After about three weeks of being in Australia; these iconic buildings! Wow! That night I ate a pub meal outside looking up at the bridge.

Our tour the next day around Sydney meant we saw the bridge from lots of angles. In the afternoon I took a ferry to Manly and therefore sailed under it.

The following day was nye years eve or as the signs said SYD NYE. In the morning before the botanical gardens closed for the afternoon to get ready for the night I was able to have a wander in them. I saw the opera house and bridge from more angles. There is a gate at the bottom of the Botanical gardens which you can normally walk through and be directly at the opera house but the gate was closed due to it being New Year’s Eve.

New Year’s Eve was spent on a boat circling around in Syndey harbour. Therefore saw plenty of the opera house and bridge and they were lit up. At 9pm and midnight there were fireworks from the bridge. Completely amazing that I saw Sydney fireworks from a post anchored right in front of it. In fact, our boat was part of a light possession with other boats in front of the bridge.

New year’s day I did a bridge climb. The most nerve racking part was taking a breathlaser test! Being on the bridge did not feel that high or precarious as feet on wide pathway far from the edge. Firmly attached to the bridge. Just a couple of ladders to climb. You can not take own camera up there but photos are taken of you with fabulous Sydney backdrop. Of course you buy to add to collection of photos of the bridge!

My Barrier Reef Experience

At the barrier reef we moored at a platform, I got to go see the fish 🐠 staying dry; in a glass bottom boat and going down steps to look at fish 🐟 from a window under the sea (like at an aquarium; but better because this was a window out to to 🪸 🐠 🐟 THE barrier reef 🪸 🐠 🐟 !

I did also get to experience being immersed in the sea. I went snorkelling 🤿 and went down slide 🛝 from the platform a few times.

Looking back a talking point was how we warned that there was going to be a 1.5m swell and we should all take sea sickness tablets. So that put some people off going.

We did all share and pop sea sickness tablets. Then going out the staff on the boat

kept handing out sick bags and stood over us watching, armed with sick bags. So at the time that was rather disconcerting. But in hindsight it is funny and part of the experience I had. I did not feel sick either way so was able to enjoy ice cream on the way back.

Getting ready to go in the sea was a faff as you had to have so much equipment; mask, snorkel, flippers, life jacket, full wetsuit and I think gloves and either a hood or a hat too? On the way to the reef there was a video about what to wear and where to collect it from. Then when it came too it you were left to find the bits yourself in your size amongst the other sizes whilst lots of other people were doing the same thing. I would have far rather been in the sea in a bikini but had to be fully covered I think because of jellyfish. I can fantasise how it would have been floating amongst the colourful fish I saw like a beautiful, thin mermaid.

I believe different parts of the coral are in different states of health. There was plenty of fish where I was. Perhaps scuba diving getting deeper there would have been more fish but I liked the control of snorkelling being able to put head up when wanted as opposed to scuba where you are relying on someone else to get you up and down. Also with scuba that person determines where you go but I was free to have my own little adventure following fish that I chose.

French Island Australia

French island is a an island on a circular ferry route from Stoney point which also stops at Philips island (which can be reached by road). Stoney point / Philip island is about 60km from Melbourne.

I think it is a place you need to prepare for before turning up. When you get off the ferry it feels very isolated! If you go there alone you definitely need a plan and water! Insect repellent could be useful too. Think you can take bikes across to the island or rent a car. … if you have booked in advance. This is not a place where you are greeted by people offering you tours etc… It is a great place to spot koalas 🐨. There are no kangaroos 🦘 on the island.

I did this as part of a tour with Philip island. We went to a farm I think called Bayside Chicory Kiln. In a lady’s home we were given afternoon tea and told about the island. When I visited December 2022 we were told the island only had 110 inhabitants. Electricity only from generators, water from bore holes and no street lights. There is a primary school which at the time had less than 10 children but no secondary school so children then have to get the ferry to the mainland. Being an island they managed to not have any covid cases until January 2022 and by then islanders were vaccinated. If you came by yourself you would easily get an idea of the how unpopulated and dilated the island is and you may enjoy that if looking for peace. But I found hearing from a resident was what really engaged me in the island.

The farm had peacocks 🦚 roaming, a chicory kiln, Horses in the field, Koalas 🐨 in the trees in the garden: although also a lot of mosquitos under those trees hence recommend insect repellant. I did not see other buildings from the farm although a short ride down the road was a cricket pitch. That road had lots of koalas 🐨 in trees which really made the day!

The Dome in Cairns

The dome in Cairns is above the casino and you can spend money about as quick in the Dome as in the casino!

There is an entry fee to look at a range of birds and small marsupials . There are crocodiles and koalas, but of course they all sleepy and still. It does not take too long to look round this for the price.

What elevates the experience is doing the rope courses. It is atmospheric to climb amongst the birds flying around and over the sleeping crocodiles. There is different courses to suit different people or you can do multiple courses the price for extra courses is less then the first course. There is also the opportunity to walk over, outside of the dome; I was not able to do that as it was too wet!

The dome also offers opportunities to hold animals for a photo opportunity, again for a price. My recommendation to get a good photo is to do your photos before going into the dome. My hair is soaking on my photo, I think from the humidity in the dome. This is not a petting an animal opportunity literally you get to hold the animal for seconds for a photo.

Kangaroo 🦘 Island

I spent 2 nights and 1 day on kangaroo 🦘 island. It was evening time on the first night arrived which is the time kangaroos like best so that was the only time saw kangaroos from a bus. The next day and morning left saw no kangaroos on kangaroo island. But both on the way from Adelaide to the the Kangaroo ferry and the return journey I did see kangaroos from a bus. These were the only wild ones saw in Australia.

The full day spent on Kangaroo island was mainly spent by coast so perhaps that was also why did not see kangaroos. But saw lots of other animals. First was on a beach with sea lions then a bird show with raptors and parrots later seals by the coast.

Also went to a place called remarkable rocks. You walk down to them from the road and from the road they do not look very impressive. But once get to them they are fun for posing around and exploring as interesting shapes due to way eroded.

Perth (Australia) Lessons Learnt

1. There are free buses called CAT buses that go on different loops round the city. You just hail them and get on (no ticket needed). There is also a big bus tour which obviously comes with a cost but you get the commentary. As often with those buses the cost for 48hours is not double 24hours, in this case just a few dollars more.

2. The Bell Tower is not open on on a Monday or Tuesday. So I know from outside it is a tall glass building with water in front and lots of padlocks on chains next to the water.

3. You can pay for boat to Rottonest Island. 🐀 🏝 Apparently people tend to spend about 5hours there! The main attraction is quokas which are marsupials but look like rats 🐀 hence Rotto in island name. But you can also see quokas in the zoo in south Perth.

Rain in the Australian desert ….

If you go to Australia in December people before and after will comment on hot and sunny it must be at that time of year. But if you are yet to go and going , yes pack factor 50 etc… However do not get hopes too high on sun!

Look up weather Ullra rock any day you like and you are likely to see chance of rain as 0% for days as it is desert. It rained when I was there though. Not heavily but was cloudy and raining in the afternoon. The rain had stopped by sunset. It was a beautiful sunset and the idea is you stand between the rock and the sunset and then the sun reflects causing magical colour changes on the rock. Due to the weather, the sunset that I was there; the rock colour magic did not happen. It was warm though standing there bubbles in hand and the sunset was beautiful. Apparently although not much rain in the area it can be cloudy. Indeed at sun rise the morning after the night before, the top half of the rock was covered in cloud. It got light without us seeing the sun rise. Again it was not cold being out in the dark or early light.

In contrast to the desert, Cairns is surrounded by rain forest so rain is to be expected. I was there 6 days over Christmas 2022 and it rained every morning apart from morning left. Sometimes could be hot enough to soak you. On Christmas Day I swam in the rain as it was still warm. My Cairns Christmas Day

One of the two days I was in Perth there was also torrential rain.

Melbourne natives will tell you it is rare to have more than a few dry days together. But I saw no rain there.

Alice Springs and desert

Visiting Alice Springs is about seeing a remote place. If you get a window seat you on a plane flying in and out of Alice Springs airport you can get some idea of how remote it. But to really see remoteness then a road trip helps. I flew into Alice Springs then travelled on out tour bus 500km to Ullra rock. You see red sand for miles. Perhaps some camals. We stopped at a petrol station with an emu farm next door from which there was nothing else around. Also we stopped to climb a sand dune from which could glimpse Ullra rock. It was like something from a movie with a toad with hardly any cars on it! Incredible by day but not sure would like to be in a car in the dark, having watched Jeepers Creepers! Plus at night would miss stunning red sand.

Alice Springs itself we did obligatory Telegraph post stop.

We also visited a centre for remote schooling and learnt about how kids are schooled and sent school work in remote areas around Alice Springs. In the shop I bought a book to donate and got to write on a label to go in the front. I think it was a YA book that could imagine a teenage girl reading.

Also went to centre for flying doctors. This included watching videos about there work, climbing into a life size model of one of the helicopters and putting on a head set to get a virtual tour of a helicopter.

Apart from that only other stops in Alice Springs was a war memorial then hotel was on edges. We were advised not to go into the town at night for our safety. So I saw how remote Alice Springs is and how it helps even remoter places but not a lot of Alice Springs itself. I don’t think looking round town would have rang long so happy at all fitted in during short visit.

Meeting her son in Melbourne … and buying a ring 💍

On a Saturday in Adelaide I met a couple of ladies Adelaide chapter. The next day I was flying to Melboune. One of the ladies texted me with her son’s name Thomas and where he worked so I could go and meet him.

The Melbourne flight was not until 11.45 so it was well into the afternoon before arrived in Melbourne. Our bus from the airport took us on an orientation tour with stops at various points including Melbourne market and part of formula one track.

It was about 5 or 6 when got to the hotel. It was exciting coming to a new city and having someone to meet. I got changed in my room with prime view of the cricket ground. Then took the tram a few stops.

The bar I was looking for was near street art alleys.

It turned out on the same street was three venues part of the same venue. Originally I went in next to where I was meant to be going. Luckily they knew who I was looking for and pointed me next door.

Next door was a small tapas bar. I was greeted by a man and thought he may be my man. He was not and said Thomas had just left as they were quiet. Although seemed busy as no tables in the small bar – only bar space. I ordered a beer 🍺 and sat at the bar. The bar tender asked how I knew Thomas; I had to say I did not but his Mum had sent me! He then revealed Thomas was drinking next door but one.

I ate tapas at the bar. Then whilst paying checked where he thought Thomas was. He confirmed next door but one … with girlfriend. Still I went there and for the third time that night asked for Thomas. It turned out he had gone again!

So I never met Thomas, as next day had a trip to French and Philip islands. Day after think I may have known it was Thomas’s day off. Then the Wednesday morning it was time to move on again. Still it was exciting having a quest upon arriving in Melbourne. My first stop in Melbourne after the airport was the market. It is the market where I bought myself a ring for $5 which was cheap like £2.50.

What I would like to do upon an Adelaide revisit.

As I wrote in this Iadeal-aide day I had a fabulous day in Adelaide December 2022. I would love to return; these are the things I would love to do:

1. When I first arrived in Adelaide airport we were on our way to Kangaroo a island. Therefore we just had a brief stop in Glengelg which is a suburb of Adelaide. There is a beach there. I would love to get a tram from the centre of Adelaide out to Glengelg at the end of the line. I would like to spend time on the beach and revisit Bracegirdle chocolate shop and cafe. I imagine there are some interesting sights to see on the tram route.

2. Definitely worth revisiting the botanical gardens.

3. I was based near the Botanical gardens and there is a whole side of the city that I did not explore on foot including China town.

4. Would be tempted to do the factory tour of Haigh’s chocolate. I could not do it when I was there because there were not tours due to being so close to Christmas.

5. Would love to be there during the Adelaide Fringe!

6. Queen Elizabeth statue.

7. Hopefully meet up with ladies from my last visit.