Breakfast was terrible! Joining the mass of kids and teens who were sharing our hotel, we sat down for our free continental breakfast in what looked very much to be a school cafeteria. To my surprise they did have gluten-free cereal; half a box they took 15 minutes to find in the back of their pantry. However, in keeping to the school cafeteria theme, it was closer to looking and tasting like gloppy paper-mache. And so after a couple of glutinous bites I resigned myself to having a banana, severely missing the wonderful cooked breakfasts we’d had delivered to our room aboard the Zaandam. Fortunately the day was bound to get better, not even the downpour of rain could, mind the pun, dampen our spirits. Today we were setting off to enjoy the wonders of the Sydney Aquarium and Wildlife Sydney!
Similar to Sealife in San Diego, the Sydney Aquarium, located on Darling Harbour, was an amazing showcase of aquatic life interrupted by the odd Lego sculpture. Almost exhausted with visiting Aquariums, it had been the promise of viewing Australian specific wildlife that had excited me and provoked me into nagging Martin that this was one of the “must-see” things we had to do while in Sydney. Neither of us were disappointed! From Platypuses to Penguins, Clown Fish to Crustaceans we meandered our way through the winding corridors filled with exhibits.
Aboriginal Platypus artwork
Just like in San Diego - lots of Lego people
Jo and a camel (I have no idea what this has to do with sea life!)
A little green lizard
A very scary model shark
Lego and Penguins
Most amazing of all were the glass tunnels that had you walking through giant aquariums filled with an extensive array of sharks and stingrays, and vibrantly coloured fish. One was named the Great Barrier Reef Exhibit where you could catch a glimpse of the aquatic life that lived in Australia’s famous reef. Every type of shark imaginable swam around you as you travelled through the Shark Tunnels. Sydney Aquarium even showcased a Shark Nursery and Hatchery where baby sharks were raised to be released in the wild to grow to be the man-eaters we fear most whilst swimming. (Australia, I learnt, seemed to have a rather strange rapport for animals that could maim or kill you). But to me the most amazing exhibit of all were the tunnels that went through the Dugong Lagoon. The strangest looking sea mammals I had ever seen, two lazy Dugongs, with an unusual grace for their size, swam around us as we tried to understand how it was that sailors could have ever have mistaken them for mermaids.
Martin walking through the underwater tunnel
Fishies and Shark!
Martin and Jo and the Dugongs
Having whizzed through Sydney Aquarium we went next door to Wildlife Sydney. A wonderful zoo / wildlife center focussed on the unusual animals that call Australia home; Kangaroo’s, Kookaburra’s, Wombats and Wallabies.
At the entry to Wildlife Sydney
An extremely scary insect!
Jo and the Cassowary (statue) - as it's apparently the most dangerous bird in the world
Kangaroo - would not stand still for long enough to take a good picture
One of many deadly Aussie snakes
Rex the salt water crocodile - looking much smaller than her really was
The Australian Outback Exhibit
And of course there were Koala’s! Since arriving in Sydney I had been whining to Martin about how I had wanted a photo with a Koala, and for a few extra bucks I was allowed in their arena, and got just that. Just like living teddy-bears, the Koala’s were adorable, and even inspired Martin to join us in our picture-taking.
Martin, Jo and Charlie the Koala
Surprisingly, by the time we had finished wandering around both the Aquarium and the Wildlife Centre it was still early afternoon. With all the walking we had done we were exhausted! Time for lunch!
Thankfully the ugly weather had disappeared while we were inside, and the day had turned really hot and sunny. Darling Harbour was a buzz with people. The harbour was busy with seadoos and cruises. People were hustling and bustling everywhere. Maybe it was Christmas shopping that was drawing the crowds, but in truth there were more people standing around licking ice creams than in the mall shopping. It just seemed to be the place to be.
We found a great restaurant called Blackbird to sit down, take in the harbour views and enjoy lunch. Feeling a little adventurous Martin ordered a Crocodile burger, while I had a Kangaroo steak. Still feeling too exhausted to do much more for the day we ended the afternoon with a couple of 45 minute 3D movies at IMAX Sydney; apparently the largest IMAX theatre in the world. One movie was a documentary about tornado chasers, and the other was a heartwarming, and tear-jerking, documentary on one woman’s dedication to saving the lives of orphaned elephants, and another woman’s plight to do the same for orangutans. Amazing, restful, possibly a bit wasteful of an afternoon, but regardless, we had enjoyed ourselves and looked forward to another day tomorrow, playing tourist in Sydney.
Water feature at Darling Harbour
Crazy busy Darling Harbour
Martin's Crocodile Burger
Jo's Kangaroo Steak