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Carry on Sydney

4-8 April 2010

I leave Newcastle with a sparkling hangover and Mr and Mrs G dropped me off at Cardiff station (yes, that’s what is it called) to get the train to Sydney. The train journey wasn’t as spectacular as I was hoping for but it went by quickly and I managed to get to Milsons Point where my ‘lodge’ was based. On their website, they proudly state that the lodge is situated 6 minutes from the station and this turns out to be a blatant lie as I struggle to drag my luggage over quite steep hills and then a steep flight of stairs to the reception.

The lodge has a bizarre statue outside but the good news is that I am on my own in a 4 bed dorm and whilst the shared bathrooms are a bit further away than I would like, it’s all very clean and comfortable and as I find out in the morning, the included breakfast more than makes up for things.

The weather isn’t too bad and surprisingly the forecast for the next 5 days isn’t great so I decide to head out and make the most of it.Milsons Point is across from the main CBD district and as I soon find out, across from the infamous Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. To say that I am disappointed with the Opera House is an understatement and I can equate it to when you ask for the latest flash stereo for Christmas when you are a kid but you get a crappy Toshiba radio instead (only joking pair-runts)

For a start it isn’t white, it’s more a magnolia colour and I am hoping that it just might be that the dull light is making it look uninspiring. I walk across the Harbour Bridge which is far more impressive and makes for a good viewing platform for taking photos of the harbour and The Rocks. Sydney is very cosmopolitan with a lot of Asians and Indians as inhabitants and even though it’s a Sunday and there are a lot of people around, one still manages to have personal space and not feel crammed as one does in Londres.

I have a wander around the harbour area, check emails and decide to go and watch ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ in the evening. I have read the first two books in the trilogy and feel annoyed that I will never get that time back as I really don’t see what all the fuss is about, however, the other options are less appealing and the film may be better than the book. [Joey, if you are reading this: yes, I will still replace your book that I borrowed!]

I walk back over the bridge and feel completely safe as there are a lot of people around still, including an extraordinary number of joggers and it would seem that it is all the rage to run the distance of the bridge several times and look kool. I get back to still find that I have the room to myself and I have a good night’s sleep.

The next day the weather is overcast and not hugely warm but I decide to get the ferry to Manly and attempt the 10 km costal walk from Manly to The Spit. This is a popular route and the ferry is packed with tourists and the name gets itself from when Captain Arthur Philip was exploring the harbour in 1788 and he saw a group of well-built Aboriginal men onshore and proclaimed them to be ‘manly’. Sadly, I do not see any manly men of my own but then I am trying to stop cruising around harbours.

Luckily, the rain holds off and the walk is pleasant even if the other walkers I encounter are a little unfriendly (i.e. people who are running the walk or power walking push past without ‘an excuse me’ or any other such pleasantries) I fail to see any of the manly Aboriginal rock paintings because they are not sign posted and I finish the walk at the Spit and get a bus back to the town centre. I hang around The Rocks area (this is the historic heart of Sydney) and then head back for an evening of watching TV in my room.

I don’t do much the next day (Tuesday) as I am booked on a tour of the Blue Mountains on the Wednesday and am hoping the weather holds. I visit Bondi beach because that is what everyone does but I cannot say that I am overwhelmed (South Africa’s beaches are far more superior) but it doesn’t help that the weather is overcast. Still, there is an impressive coastal walk with some incredible rock formations and some Aboriginal art (hoorah, at last) of a whale. I am still on my tod in the room and I have an early night as I am up at 6am to take advantage of the breakfast before being picked up for my tour of the Blue Mountains.

Yes, you’ve guessed it: it was pouring the morning of my tour to the BM’s. There are 24 of us on the tour with a mixture of British, Ozzies and some Belgians and there is a Scots girl on her own, so we end up sitting together and she turns out to be great fun. I realise that I haven’t really spoken to anyone for the last 3 days, so it’s nice to have someone to chat to! Dave is our guide and he’s a retired gentleman of 65 and judging by his incessant talking, I don’t think he’s spoken to anyone for the past 3 days either. Whilst most of his commentary is interesting, I don’t think I need to know huge detail about the road works on the way to the BMs. At one point he says that he is going to stop talking to rest his voice but this only lasts a matter of seconds and soon I begin to feel my ears bleed.

The Blue Mountains are a section of the Dividing Range and they get their name from the blue mist that rises from millions of eucalyptus trees and hangs in the mountain air. The rain does stop by the time we get to the lookout points and the scenery is actually more dramatic with the low cloud than it would be with brilliant sunshine. All in all, we visit Kings Tableland, Wentworth Falls, Katoomba and the Three Sisters and scenic world. Scenic world involves a short cable car ride and a scary railway journey back to the top. The tour finishes with a 30 minute river cruise along the Parramatta River back to Circular Quay in central Sydney. It has been a great day, despite Dave’s discourse.

It’s my final night in Oz and I feel like I should be heading out for a celebratory beer but 1) I cannot afford it and 2) I have knackered and have another early start tomorrow to get my flight to Christ Church, New Zealand. I am looking forward to a change of scenery and to being somewhere where my pathetic pound stretches a little further.

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