So warm and bright after the bitter cold of humid winter; alive city but relaxed; we took our first walk from Circular Quay up to the Rocks, where we’d be staying in the YHA with a view of the Opera House. There are large bats roosting in the trees but just a few compared to later in Cairns.

The City’s ferry service took us to the beach at Manly, a famous place for surfing, although we did not see any surfers today, perhaps too overcast!? A few interesting shops, in one of which we bought a painting.

Manly Beach
Aboriginal painting

Out of the city, we tripped up in to the Blue Mountains. On the way we visited Featherdale Wildlife Park and saw Kangaroo, Wallaby, Koala and Southern Cassowary. The Cassowary is an enormous bird, with a bright red blue neck and head, with dangly wattle, that contrasts with the rest of it’s solid black body. Atop it’s head is a casque of keratin/bone which makes the Cassowary look particularly dinosauresque. Currently scientists believe the casque is used as a resonating cavity and decoration to attract a mate. The bird’s real defence is it’s powerful jump and two feet kick.

Southern Cassowary with many smaller green friends

Different in appearance to animated Taz, real Tasmanian Devils do however have the same screech, ferocious feeding and ability to move very quickly. Devils are nocturnal, so I only saw a fuzzy blur as one popped out of the den, zoomed over a tree trunk and then disappeared back in to darkness.

A Tasmanian Devil whizzing past

Echo Point, Katoomba, looks out across one of the most famous views in the Blue Mountains: The Three Sisters, Meehni (922 m), Wimlah (918 m), and Gunnedoo (906 m). The Aboriginal legend of the forming of the sisters varies slightly depending on who is telling the story, but the common idea is that to protect the sisters from a monster or tribal war, an Elder in their tribe used his powerful magic to turn them to stone. Once the danger was dealt with, the Elder would change them back from rock to people. Unfortunately, something unexpected happened and the Elder or the magic was lost and so the Sisters stand as rock for evermore.

There is a path from Echo Point down to a lower viewpoint and then, after some minor scrabbling, out on to “Honeymoon Bridge” and the first sister, Meehni. To me, it felt like Meehni was wobbling, the same feeling as when there is a small earthquake in Taiwan. However, I was assured this was just in my mind!

The Three Sisters
Beyond a Sister, the green valley and far mountains

Further around the cliffs, “Scenic World” runs a cable car across the valley. The journey across gives great views of the Sisters and Katoomba Falls. After going across, another cable car goes down a way and there are some short walks through the forest.

Katoomba Falls

The trip bus back from The Blue Mountains dropped us at the Olympic Park area, and we enjoyed a lovely sunset ferry trip back to town.

Sydney Harbour Bridge on the way back from Olympic Park

Surrounding Sydney Opera House are the The Royal Botanic Gardens in the “Domain” area. The Gardens are large and open free to all. It was very relaxing to sit in the shade of a tall tree, listen to the parrots squawking in a tree on the shoreline and just watch the light twinkle on the estuary water. In the evening we went to see the ballet Coppélia inside the Opera House. Great fun & finger sandwiches!

Sydney Opera House surrounded by Botanic Gardens

During our last couple of days in Sydney we visited various museums and galleries.

The Australian Museum has existed for 190 years and contains a massive and varied range of exhibits about nature, culture and history. A whole day there doesn’t do it justice. The documentary exhibition about impact to, and abuses of, Indigenous Australians following the immigration of Europeans and British Colonisation was both informative and heartbreaking.

On the far side of The Domain from the Opera House is The Art Gallery of New South Wales. Inside has a little of everything, arranged over several floors, which makes a very interesting variety of art to discover! I liked the aliens and Aboriginal patterns the most.

Aboriginal patterns
Aliens in The Art Gallery of NSW

Circular Quay is also home to the Contemporary Art Museum, adjacent to the wharf where giant ocean liners dock. The feature exhibition was L.E.D. digit based works by Japanese artist Tatsuo Miyajima, which where bright and reminded me that it is Christmas time.

After this week in City Sydney, our next stop is up north to Cairns, on the east coast of Queensland ….