Where two next?

Antipodean travelogue through the eyes of two - one textile and one building lover. It'll be hard to differentiate the two!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Blue Mountains (Day 15)

100 Kilometers West of Sydney lie the The Blue Mountains , the fourth and last UNESCO World Heritage Site we were to visit on our travels.

The Blue Mountains get their name from the fact that they have a blue hue to them. This is caused by the Gum or Eucalyptus trees releasing a blue coloured oil into the air which mixes with dust particles and reflects sunlight. Here's a few pics to give you an idea, the first two pics are of their most famous outcrop, the three sisters.

The tour bus stopped at a number of look outs along the way and we took the pics above from these.
After the look outs we stopped off at Scenic World where you could go on various cable cars etc. and forest walks. The most popular one is where you take the scenic cable car down, complete the 20 minute forest walk and take the scenic cable rail back up. We did the same tour in the opposite direction as after queueing for about twenty minutes for the tickets, I hate queueing, we would have had to wait another twenty minutes to take the tour in the normal manner. We also thought we might manage to loose a few of the other tourists along the way. The best part of the trip is the scenic railway which is the steepest railway in the world and would make a roller coaster ride seem tame by comparison. Sharon admitted later that she would not have got onto it if we had been going down as opposed to being pulled back up. Not one for the faint hearted.
After that it was back to the restaurant for some grub. After about ten minutes Sharon asked me did I notice anything unusual. I replied in the negative where by she informed me that we were in a revolving restaurant. Or to be more precise on a revolving floor of a stationary restaurant. The food was terrible and expensive for what it was and no revolving was going to make up for that fact, I also hate bad food!
After the Blue Mountains we headed back towards Sydney but before we did we had one last stop, Featherdale Wildlife Park. We were tired at this stage and we even contemplated staying in the bus while the others did the walk, but you never know what you might miss?
I did remark to Sharon, however that it would have to take something pretty special to make me take out the camera! Imagine our surprise then when one of the first things to great us on our tour was a Cassowary and they had three of these rare birds in the park! I was like a child.
Not only that, they had Koala's that you could get your photo taken with, without paying an additional fee, Taronga Zoo might take note! Here's a pic of Sharon and myself with the Koala and one or two of them in the Park.
They also had loads of wallabies and some kangaroos, some of them male! (I look forward to the parents explaining the next pic!).

And last but not least my new favourite Australian animal the Cassowary.

He almost looks disapproving! Needless to say Featherdale was brilliant and made the whole trip to the Blue Mountains worthwhile. If you have a choice between Taronga Zoo or Featherdale Wildlife Park, Featherdale is the one, as Taronga pales in comparison.
That evening when we got back to Sydney, I googled restaurants as there was nowhere in the Lonely Planet that we were interested in. I came across a web site belonging to two "foodies" and they recommended a Thai restaurant called Spice I Am . We arrived to what could only be described as a frenzy of activity. It was BYO and it did not take bookings. It also did take out and while we were waiting on the footpath for a table, wondering if it was worth the wait, Toni Collette , of Muriel's Wedding fame, walked out with some grub!
Needless to say we decided to stay after that, I nipped down to the local bottle shop, got a nice bottle of local wine and we had a wonderful meal at an incredibly reasonable price. The second of two great restaurant experiences during our time in Sydney.

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QE2, QM2 (Day 14) Part 2

I think Taronga Zoo was the biggest disappointment of our time in Australia. I thought that maybe our time in Tropical Cairns had made us over expectant and that if we were only visiting Sydney the zoo would have been more appealing. This assumption was dashed when we visited the Featherdale Wildlife Park on Day 15, and were blown away by the place. But again more on that another day. You get a ferry over to the zoo and then a cable car to the top of the mountain where the zoo is situated. The best thing about the zoo, in my opinion, is the view looking back towards Sydney harbour from the top.

When we were walking around Sydney Harbour we noticed something unusual on the skyline.

In the words of one famous Australian " can you see what it is yet?"

If not take a look at the following pics we took, from the detour our ferry took, on it's trip to Manly Beach you might see a few clues.

We happened to arrive in Sydney at a very significant time. The time when the biggest ocean liner in the world, the Queen Mary 2, would be docked in it's harbour. We were in for a few more treats that day as it would turn out, as the second biggest ocean liner in the world, was due into the harbour that evening, the Queen Elizabeth 2 , or QE 2 as she is commonly known.

In order to get to Manly beach you have to pass through it's village first. Here's a pic of the main street in Manly and a couple of the beach.

There are loads of restaurants along the beach front and we decided to eat here as opposed to trying to find somewhere in Sydney. Every now and again you pick a restaurant with little or no expectations as to the quality of food you will be receiving, especially if it doesn't get a mention in the Lonely Planet. The Rouge Mediterranean Restaurant in Manly was one such place, but after we sat down and perused the menu we got a good vibe. It was one of the best food experiences of our time in Australia without doubt! If you click here you'll see we are not alone in our admiration. It was the first of two restaurants that were real finds, but again more on that later.

We headed back to the ferry terminal to catch a ferry back to Sydney and were a little taken back by the throng of people queueing. As it would turn out all the boat owner's in Sydney had set sail and turned out to welcome the historic event of the QE 2 arriving into the same port as the QM2, a very rare occurrence. If one of the liners would, by it's very stature and history bring a degree of excitement, then two brought a frenzy. What resulted was something of a rarity, harbour gridlock!

The ferries just couldn't get through the harbour without many detours and delays causing chaos at the terminal. The fact that everybody in Manly was heading into Sydney harbour to see the spectacle, and the last treat of the day,the fireworks, only compounded the problem. Here's a pic of the queue and one of the QE 2.

We arrived back later than planned, dusted ourselves off in our hotel, and set out again for the darkness of the local park to view the fire works that were organised to celebrate the coming together of the two ships. All the boats stayed out for the display and sounded their horns at the end, it was a really great and unexpected treat. Who would have thought that you would get to see a fire works display in Sydney harbour in late February!

A perfect way to end, our second day in Sydney.


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