We arrived in Sydney Australia after an overnight flight and we were beat. We picked up the cars, we rented 2 smaller cars instead of 1 van because it was significantly cheaper. Then headed to the little house we would be staying at in a suburb called Eastwood. We were so tired we just stayed there and tried to not sleep until bedtime. I didn’t make it. I fell asleep for 30 minutes and it felt great. The following day was our wedding anniversary. We found an Outback Steakhouse and had a wonderful romantic dinner, well as romantic as it can get with 4 kids in tow. Justin and I thought it was pretty funny that they have Outback Steakhouses in Australia. It is exactly the same as the ones in the states, except the staff’s accents are not fake and they don’t sell Fosters, apparently it is not Australian for beer. We knew that when we arrived in Australia we would be replacing some items that we had run out of or outgrown. Everyone kept telling us that Australia is “just like the United States.” Well, they are right. It felt very familiar. There are a few differences like driving on the opposite side of the road, they DON”T sell Aussi hair products and Burger King is called Hungry Jack, but other than that things felt familiar. We spent a day getting the things we needed and the rest of the time visiting some sites. One of the days we took the River Cat (ferry) for 10 kilometers into Sydney harbor itself. It was a great trip down the river towards the harbor and we got to see some fantastic sites. While riding the ferry we got to ride under the Harbour Bridge. It is huge. We also saw quite a bit of people walking along the structure to get to the very top of the bridge. That seemed like a terrible idea. I have been told that each person is strapped to the next and so forth, great if one moron falls they all do. Needless to say we were skipping that particular activity. Once off the ferry we walked around the harbor and headed to the Sydney Opera House. It is very impressive and I loved the magnificent view it has of the surrounding area and the harbor is indeed very nice. I was surprised that the Opera House is off white and beige. Seeing pictures of it I always assumed it was pure white. Also, the entire outside structure is covered in 4x4 inch tiles. The structure itself resembles large shells and it took over 15 years to build. The architect finally resigned after many delays and cost overruns. We walked around the outside and took in the views from every point. I can see why this location was picked for this impressive building, it is quite a stunning area and building to welcome people arriving from the sea. We heard an Aboriginal man playing a didgeridoo near the wharf. We listened to him for a while and then the kids got a photo while looking at some boomerangs.
|Sydney Harbour Bridge|
|Sydney Opera House|
|Danielle and Eden looking at the boomerangs with an Aboriginal man|
We headed over to visit Darling Harbor. We walked a few kilometers though town to get to Darling Harbor. This harbor is geared more towards shopping and entertainment, definitely less industrial. We walked around and lo and behold found an amazing park were all the kids enjoyed some play time. Although it is summertime in Australia, the weather during our stay was not very warm. We had lower temperatures and cloudy days, but none of us minded.
Another thing that we enjoyed while in Australia was visiting an animal sanctuary. I had never encountered these animals before and at this place we could touch most of them. We saw kangaroos, koalas, echidnas, wombats, and dingoes. The koalas were the most adorable animals. They had quite a few babies and it was fun seeing them snuggle with their moms. Although it is illegal to handle a koala in New South Wales we were given permission to pet it while taking a photo with one. They are so soft! Yet I did see one of the handlers arms after one of the koalas scratched her for no reason. Ouch!! We also got to pet the kangaroos and wallabies. Almost as soft as the koalas. One of the mothers had a little joey in her pouch and every once in a while he would peek out of the pouch, very cute. I was a little nervous that one of them might try to kick me, but thankfully that never happened. They must be pretty used to having people around.
|Eden and Caroline with a Koala|
During our visit they had an echidna presentation. We headed over to that. Caleb had done a school project a couple of years ago about echidnas and until then I had never known this animal existed. They kind of look like porcupines, but they do not “throw” their quills. We got to touch and pet them also, very different feeling, sort of hard and scaly. Their noses are pretty long in order to dig into to ant hills to eat. During the presentation they were feeding them and I will admit that the smell of their lunch made me gag, some kind of raw meat and fly eggs, yum.
|Caleb with an Echidna|
We also enjoyed presentations on dingoes and “little” penguins. They are actually the littlest penguins that exist and are found along the western coast of Australia and are actually called little penguins. We watched a Tasmanian devil run around this enclosure repeatedly. I felt sorry for him and it made me appreciate seeing animals in their natural surroundings so much more. We saw an enormous crocodile with his mouth gaping open. He had a huge mouth and I could see how he could easily swallow someone whole! I watched him for about 10 minutes and he did not move a muscle. There was a nice animal handler who was transferring a snake and a lizard who stopped pulled out each animal and let the kids pet them. Eden was terrified and so to show her that it is not so bad, only because I don’t want her to have unreasonable fears, I touched the snake. Yuck. My fear is NOT unreasonable to me! Once Eden saw me touch it she mustered up some nerves and pet the snake herself and said, “It’s kind of slimy.” I thought it felt leathery. We had a really wonderful time at the animal sanctuary. It was neat to see animals that are not in the US.
|Kids examining a snake|
A couple of side notes: They do call everyone “mate” in Australia, so this cliché is true. I did think it was funny. Lots of people told us they love our “cute accents”. Not sure what they are talking about because they are the ones with the cute accent. Driving on the left side of the road is getting pretty easy. We knew parts of Europe would be expensive but were very surprised that Sydney was so expensive, considering the strength of the US dollar. It was a close second to Singapore.
|Black Necked Stork|