Day 33, MArch 16, 2015: Sydney

We had one more day left on our 3-day ferry hop on/off ticket.  So ,we used it to get across the harbour and downy the way a little to the Taronga Zoo.  Was a really great zoo 🙂  We spent the day at the zoo, took some pic’s and then headed back to the harbour only to get back on the ferry to head directy across the harbour to the north side.  Once there, we walked back to the original side of the Harbour via the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Byt his time it was almost 7:00 and we made our way home for supper and bed 🙂

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Day 32: March 15, 2015 (Sunday): Sydney

Well, it appears I forgot to add a few details yesterday.  During our day in the Sydney harbour area, we stopped at an info centre to see if there were any fishing trip tours.  This whole trip I have wanted to try some deep see fishing, but spending over $100 for half a day has just been too much for me so I haven’t done any as of yet.  So, we stopped in at a info centre and I asked about fishing but they find’t have any tours.  So, since we were there, we asked about the Blue Mountains.  (Since we had missed them in the fog and rain 2 days ago).  Well, it appears that on Sundays, you can travel their rail system as much as you want for a total of $2.50 and this rail system will also take you all the way out to one of the small towns in the Blue Mountains where a hop-on/off bus can then take you around to all of the sights.  So, not only did we get tickets for the hop-on/off bus in Katoomba (in the blue Mountains), we also learned about their rail system and how their Opal card works.  The Opal card is used on all buses and trains and you load it with money and then swipe before and after you get on the train or bus and it automatically takes the fare amount off the card.  Handy-dandy, so off to the corner store we went and got us an Opal card.  It also appears that the train station is about 3 blocks away fro our house, so we could use that to get to and from the harbour instead of the 40 minute walk.

The other detail I forgot to add was that in our walk to the harbour int he morning, we had to of course stop at the Opera House to take pictures and we went inside to take a look and to see what was playing.  For a tour of the whole “House” you could pay the measly sum of $65…. so we decided to just keep that money in our own pocket… 🙂  However, we booked two shows to go to while we are here.  We will be seeing “Club Swizzle” which is a dance/acrobatic program and the opera “Madam Butterfly”.

So, today, Sunday, we got up really early to be at the nearest train station fro 7:00 am to get to the Central station to Katoomba at 7:21 a.m. It is just over 2 hours train trip.  We got up into Katoomba at about 9:30 and got onto the hop-on/off bus.  I saw a church as we rode up main street…. but that unfortunatly was as close as I got to a church.  We could stop at about 20 different stops with the bus but we wanted to go to a couple specific ones.  The first one was “Scenic World”.  It cost extra but we had access to a skyway (tram), sky train and a cable way. The skyway allows you to “walk on the glass floor as you glide between cliff tops above the Jamison Valley.  At 270 meters, it is the highest cable car in Australia”.  The cableway “is Australia’s biggest cable car.  Descend the 545 metres into the Jamison Valley….”  The railway is “at a 52* incline” and is the “steepest passenger train in the world”.  And let me tell you, it was steep…. it is like like the downhill of the roller coaster after the first climb up…. maybe not as fast though but just as scary.  Going back up it, we had to hang on so you don’t fall forward.  Was awesome.  We spent a couple of hours at this area and then checked out one more sight to take pictures (Echo Point) before heading back into the city.

We went home, changed and headed to the Opera House and watched the fabulous “Club Swizzle”.  It was their last performance after 10 weeks.  It is actually a New York production, so no issues with language barriers… lol

We were able to see the bridge lit up and the harbour area.  It all looked fabulous.

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Day 31, March 14, 2015 (Saturday) – Sydney

The downside of being in a private home in a neighbourhood where all of the houses on a street are all connected and some of the side streets, including ours, are so narrow you can barely fit two cars down it at once, is that you can hear everyone talking when they are outside.  and being that it was a Friday night, it was a little noisy so we didn’t sleep as well as we had wanted, but we each had our own room, so that was a bonus 🙂

We got up on time and tried to return the hired car… the streets around here are weird.  Streets in different spots in the area appear to have the same names and some are only one-way.  Thankfully we ran across two guys in another thrifty car near a Hertz rental place who said we could follow them…. we were about 5 minutes away from where we should have been.  Thank goodness those wonderful gentleman honked and flagged us down.

From there we made our way to the Circle Quay (pronounced “key” here).  It was about a 20 minute walk down the road.  This is the area in the Sydney Harbour where the water ferry’s and boats are docked.  We bought a three-day pass for the hop-on-hop-off water ferry.  this also included a day pass to the Torango zoo.  the ferry hits about 5-7 spots that you can get on and off as many times as you like.  We spent the day on the ferry, getting off a few times at a few different stops, including Watson Bay, Denison Island and Darlington Harbour.  It wasn’t very hot out, but Alvina and I both got a little burnt…. again.  lol

We went home and had a quiet evening, but not a very quiet night.  Fortunately we had earplugs from the plane that came in very handy 🙂

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Day 30 – March 13, 2015 (Friday): Blue Mountains to Sydney

Woke up early to our alarm set as we wanted a head start to get to the lookouts and sky train, sky rail and cableway before all of the tour buses arrived.  We woke up to rain and fog so thick we couldn’t see across the parking lot.  So, we just hung out, hoping that the rain would stop and the sun would burn off the fog.

A few hours later…. it was still raining and the fog had not lifted.  To explain…. we were staying in a small town called Katoomba in the Blue Mountains.  The Blue Mountains where all of the small towns are, is on a very large plateau.  So, to look at any of the sights off the edge of the plateau in any fog would be useless.  So we used our time wisely and continued to look for a place in Sydney to stay.  We happened to find a website called “airbnb”.  on this site, private citizens ret out rooms/homes to travellers.  So, we set up an acc’t and put out some feelers.  And at check-out time, 10:00 am we left to head back down the mountain towards Sydney…. still with no confirmed place to stay.  As much as I don’t mind doing things last minute, this was really getting down to “the last minute” and was starting to concern me.  The thought was that if needed, we could always spend a night in a hotel until we could find other arrangements.  However, we had to head into Sydney as we had to return our “hired” car tomorrow in Sydney.

Sydney was about an hour away and we made a pit stop at a McDonalds fro wifi once we got into Sydney.  We were accepted to stay in a home right near the Sydney Harbour in the Darlinghurst neighbourhood.  We went over to the home at 5:00 pm to meet the current renter who gave us the key.  He would be out by 6:00 pm and we could get in after that.  So, in order to “kill” some time, we drove over the Sydney harbour bridge.  8 lanes of traffic, one for bikes and a walkway for walkers.  It was rush hour so we slowly made our way over.  At the next exit we crossed over the highway, turned around and made our way back under the harbour through the harbour tunnel.  And ten we wandered around the area, slightly lost until we found our way back to the house at about 7:00 pm.

And we settled into our home for the week.  It is a 1902 tiny “row” house.  It is 2 stories tall and very narrow.  The steps upstairs are like the stairs found in many European homes….very narrow and very steep.  But we go it for a steal of a deal – $100/night and the owner is out of town so will not be staying here with us.  We are happy 🙂

We set in motion our plans for the next few days ad bought a three-day hop-on-hop off ferry pass for the harbour.  We would use that pass to see some of the sights and it also included a day pass to the zoo.  It will be a busy few last days…. which will be a great way to end our holiday 🙂

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Day 29 – March 12, 2015: Port Maquarie to Blue Mountains

It was a slightly warm night in our room, it appears that there was no a.c. so all of the windows and doors (with screens) were left open for the night to try and stay cool,  We got up and left at 10:00 am (we had to check-out at 10) to head out on the road again.  This time we were heading up to the Blue Mountains which is located just west of Sydney.  Our drive was quite uneventful, we stopped at a few travel info centres to get new maps of the areas we were heading into.  New South Wales is differnt then Queensland was, In Queensland we found a map that covered the whole coast for the whole state.  Here in NSW, the maps only cover short sections so we had about 5 maps for this section of road and it was difficult if we didn’t have the next map as we are not familiar with what towns/cities were coming up next.  But, with travel info centres, we made it to our destination, the Blue Mountains at about 5:30 pm and we checked into our hotel.

After settling in, we started…. or should I say, continued our search for a place to stay in Sydney.  We were concerned about staying in a hostel as when reading feedback on places we were reading about bedbugs,roaches, dirt, noise and other unwanted inconveniences.  And yet we didn’t want to pay over $150/night for a hotel.  So, the search was on for “acceptable” accommodations.

The rain started to fall, torrentially, and then the hail started.  About pea sized hail pounded down along with the rain.  The worry was for the rental car….  lol.  Once the rain stopped/slowed we drove, could have walked, about 2 minutes down the rod to take a look at the three sisters mountain.  It was really dark by this time, but the mountain was lit up with a huge spotlight.  at this time it was drizzling again and we could see the mist coming up in front of the light.  We were hopeful that the rain would be over by the morning.

By the time we went to bed, it was about 15* and we had put non-tank tops on.  I refused to put pants on though….:)  We even had to close the motel windows and sleep with all of our blankets on.  A first for this trip 🙂

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Day 26, March 9, 2015 (Monday): Woombye

We decided to stay an extra day in Woombye as there were further sights to see int he area and we don’t want to get to Sydney too early.  So we stayed on Monday in Woombye.  We drove and did a tour of the Glass Mountains.  The Glass mountains are mountains that many, many years ago were once upon a time volcanos that erupted under ground.  Over time (evolutionists like to say millions of years, but since i don’t believe in evolution, I will say many  many years ago) the ground around the eruption eroded away leaving mountains that are in very different shapes and sizes.

We spent a few hours driving around and then spent the rest of the afternoon by the pool enjoying the lovely weather as we would be moving on the next day.

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Day 28, March 11, 2015 (Wednesday): Byron Bay – Port MacQuarie

We left our wild cabin and drove with no real adventures except getting to see the “giant banana” (that could be bad in so many ways) in Coffs Harbour.  We went tot he actual harbour for a nice little walk and then we drove on.  After about 6 hours of driving, with a few pit stops for Alvina as she wasn’t feeling too well, and we made it to Port MacQuarie.  It seems like a nice little town with a nice little breeze.  It is 8:50 pm and we have not yet turned on our air conditioning and have all our windows open.

We arrived in P.M., found the “Ocean View” motel for a relatively cheap $90 and we moved in.  After a bit, we changed into our swimming gear and walked to a nearby beach, where we were almost drowned by the huge waves.  There really was no swimming, there was swim suit grabbing and trying to stay upright when some of the larger waves hit us.

We are heading out tomorrow again to get us to Sydney.  Another 6 hours or so of driving….

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Day 27, March 10, 2015 (Monday): Woombye – Byron Bay

We headed out at about 9:00 am and headed with great pleasure to where else but…. Costco, just north of Brisbane.  We got some cheaper gas – 121.9 (we are normally paying about 130.9 these days) and then we waited about 20 minutes along with about 40 other people for the store to open at 10.  Who knew we could be so excited to go to Costco…

After that we took a roundabout way to the east of Brisbane as we wanted to  go through the hinterland to get to Byron Bay.  However I think some navigational lessons may be needed, or else there needed to be better road markers, not sure which is the culprit, but we got very frustrated trying to make our way east.  After about 2 hours of driving and several u-turns later, we decided that our frustration level was too high to even enjoy any hinterland if we could actually get to it.  So, we found the nearest major highway and about 4 hours later (5 with the time change), made it to our rainforest cabin.  We settled in, changed and had a quick swim in the bay of the Byron Bay.  We noted that the water seemed a few degrees colder than it had been on the Sunshine Coast.  But once you are in, it seems warm.

While in the water, we noticed the the sun was getting ready to set so we boogied up to the lighthouse to try and get some pictures of a nice sunset.  And while we were there, we stood on the most easterly point of Australia.  Unfortunately, there were too many clouds to get a nice sunset picture.  On our way walking down the hill to our car, we saw our first huntsman spider. It was about the size of our hand and was on a pole we were walking by.  I had to get Alvina to take the pictures as I just couldn’t get close enough to get a picture.

We returned to our rainforest chin in the dark and let me tell you, it is a little creepy to walk along a path to your small dark cabin in the rainforest, but we did make it.  The cabin was one large rooms with 2 beds, our kitchen area and the bathroom was in a small side room.  The ceiling was really high and was just plain plywood.  We had to leave the bathroom light on with the door just open a crack so we weren’t too freaked out when all of the lights were off lol.   During the night we could hear different things hitting the roof and rolling down the roof.  When we got up, we saw a wild turkey on the neighbours cabin, so that was probably some of what we heard.

Alvina and I both agreed that the stay may have been just a little too wild for us…..

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Day 25, March 8, 2015 (Sunday), Woombye (Sunshine Coast)

We attended an 11:00 service at the Eumundi Presbyterian Church.  A very large congregation of about 10 people and the organist was sick…. but we sang some songs that most of would know by heart anyway, one being “Jesus Loves Us”.  And then we were invited to share lunch with them.  Was a pleasant experience 🙂

After lunch we drove around more inland and drove through a very mountains area with many little towns.  We got “lost” a few times and saw a few small towns that weren’t even on our map.  Was a fun couple of hours and then we headed back to our Motel.

When we arrived “home” we were very pleasantly surprised to see that 2 loungers had been put out beside the pool…. they had even been hosed off for us 🙂  And so we spent the rest of the day, from about 2 pm until supper when we bbq’d up some chicken kabobs, had corn on the cob and some salad.  Then when it got dark, at 6:30 or so, we went in for the night.  A very relaxing day.

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Day 24, March 7, 2015 (Saturday): Woombye/Sunshine Coast

We left our motel in Noosa pretty early as we wanted to do a walk in the Noosa Rainforest park.  We completed a 1 km walk with no mishaps and not seeing a whole lot except for a few wild turkeys that seem to be everywhere in Noosa.  We then found a parking spot bear the beach and had a swim in the wonderfully warm (about 24*) water.  It was about 29* at 9:30 when we took our swim.  There were already a lot of people at the beach, swimming, surfing and on their long boards.

And off we went down the road to the very large market in Eumundi.  It tok us about 30 minutes to get there and we spent about 2 hours at the market, walking around and looking at all of the different wares.  At one booth we chatted for a few minutes and the gentleman asked if we were from Canada, and we said yes.  he then said to step around to the the other side of the booth and he showed me a small computer that he was watching a Calgary hockey game on 🙂

After lunch at the car, we once again departed to our next destination…. about 20 minutes down the road where we checked into the Sunshine Coast Motor Lodge.  After chatting with the lady at reception and getting a map, we chucked all of our possessions into our room and headed off to the Mooloolba Beach to catch some waves and get some swimming in.  Was quite fabulous as it was about 32* by this time.

After our 2 hour dip/drip off, we headed to the local store to find some supper.  we decided on kangaroo steaks, corn on the cob and some pre made caesar salad.  I followed the cooking instructions for the kangaroo steaks, BBQ on high for 4 minutes a side as the meat does not have any fat and should be eaten medium rare to keep the moisture.  Once you have cooked it, you are to let it rest for 10 minutes.  I had seasoned it with some seasoning we had bought at a little store “bush herbs” and the meat turned out really well.  It is a red meat and looks a lot like a beef roast does.  However, the texture of the meat is more “crumbly”, like pork.  But all-in-all, it was a success.

Our plan is to stay here one more night…. then moving on south on Monday.

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