SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

(Part One)


(Australia Flag)


(Map of Australia)

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2006:

All of the images below are thumbnails and can be clicked on for a larger image.

I drove from Las Vegas to Los Angeles late Wednesday morning.
My Qantas Airways flight to Sydney, Australia left LAX at 10:30pm.
Qantas 747-400ER
Thursday, December 28 did not exist as I lost that day
crossing the international dateline on the 15 hour flight.


MY TREK DOWN UNDER VIDEO
3 minute video of my journey from Las Vegas to Sydney, Australia.



FRIDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2006:

My flight landed at the Sydney International Airport at 8:15am.
I arrived at my hotel, the Swissotel at 10:00am.
The hotel under the Sydney Tower was conveniently located right in the center of the city.
Swissotel under Sydney Tower

After getting settled at my accommodations I walked all around the city.
I spent a lot of time around the harbour viewing the iconic
Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House.
Sydney Harbour Bridge Sydney Opera House Sydney skyline from Bridge Pylon

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: MY FIRST DAY IN THE CITY VIDEO
10 minute video of Sydney, Australia on my day of arrival.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON FRIDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2006
Hello Everyone!

The last time we talked I was in Las Vegas. On Wednesday I didn't do much except drive to Los Angeles. It was about a five hour drive. It was a very windy day, had a couple of sand storms crossing the desert. Had dinner in Los Angeles before making my way to the airport. Flight left pretty much on time at 10:30pm although it took him damn near an hour to finally get in the air after leaving the gate. Below is an awful picture of the plane that took me to Australia.



It was a very smooth but long flight, about 15 hours. Arrived in Sydney at 8:15am Friday morning, 2 days later then when I Left since we crossed the international date line on the way down. The shuttle service I hired to take me to my hotel was there right on time to greet me and I arrived at my hotel by 10:00am. You can see part of my hotel in the picture below. It is the building under the tower.



It is a very nice hotel right in the center of town. My room looks out on the Centerpoint Tower which is right across the street. Below is my hotel room here at the Swissotel.



After getting settled in I hit the streets of Sydney. I walkded through Hyde Park which is only two blocks from my hotel. The centrepiece of the park is the Archibald Fountain which is pictured below.



Hyde Park is the oldest public park in Australia. It was named after the original Hyde Park in London.



At the park's southern end is the ANZAC War Memorial behind the Lake of Reflections. It was built as a memorial to the Australian Imperial Force of World War I.



Across the street from the park is St. Mary's Cathedral. St. Mary's has the greatest length of any church in Australia



I continued my walk into the Royal Botanical Gardens. Opened in 1816, the garden is the oldest scientific institution in Australia and one of the most important historic botanical institutions in the world.



You get a nice view of the Sydney skyline from the gardens.



Below is Government House located alongside the gardens. It is the official residence of the Governor of New South Wales.



And then I finally got to the harbour and the iconic Sydney Opera House.



The picture below was taken from the Opera House of the Circular Quay skyline.



And the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge is below.



I walked around Circular Quay to the other side and got this nice view of the Opera House from across the harbour.



Next I walked under the Sydney Harbour Bridge.



I went to the top of one of the bridge pylons.



The picture below was taken from the bridge pylon.



On the way back from the bridge I walked through The Rocks and then back to my hotel. I wanted to continue the walk through Darling Harbour but it was clouding up pretty good and figured I better get back. It is raining now as I write this. It was a nice afternoon up until about 4:00, sunny and about 75 degrees.

The forecast doesn't look very good for the next several days. It is supposed to rain all through New Years weekend and into next week. You can see them setting things up for the big fireworks display on the Harbour Bridge on New Year's Eve. I had planned to go to the Blue Mountains tomorrow, but if it's going to rain all day I don't know.

Things sure are expensive here. I bought 4 bananas for a reasonable $4.95. I sure hope they are extra good bananas.

I will write more later,

Tim
Click on email photos for the large full-size photograph.



SATURDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2006:

My rail journey was 65 miles roundtrip from Sydney today.


It was a two hour trip by train on City Rail to Katoomba and the Blue Mountains.
I arrived in Katoomba at 10:30am and road the Hop-On, Hop-Off Explorer Bus to Scenic World.
Downtown Katoomba Scenic World Entrance

I rode all the attractions at Scenic World: Skyway, Railway and Cableway.
In my opinion this is a lot of equipment to view what can be seen better for free at Echo Point.
The Railway and Cableway are said to be "the steepest in the known world."
Skyway Railway Cableway

It wasn't a very nice day.
It never rained, but it was hazy and mostly cloudy with only a few peaks of sun.
First two pictures are from Echo Point & The Three Sisters
and the latter from bush walks extending from there.
Echo Point Three Sisters Blue Mountains Bush Walk

BLUE MOUNTAINS VIDEO
4 minute movie filmed at Scenic World and Echo Point in the Blue Mountains of Australia.

After returning from the Blue Mountains I spent the evening at Darling Harbour.


DARLING HARBOUR VIDEO
8 minute video of my evening at Darling Harbour.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON SATURDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2006
Hello again everyone,

It wasn't a very pretty day today, but it didn't rain and we did have a few peaks of sun. Temps are nice though, mid 70s. Today I traveled to the Blue Mountains, which is a two hour train ride from Sydney. I arrived in the town of Katoomba around 10:30am and spent the day exploring the Blue Mountains.



From the railway station in Katoomba I took a hop on/hop off bus to Scenic World.



The Blue Mountains is a mountainous region and a mountain range located in New South Wales, Australia. The area is listed as a World Heritage Area by UNESCO.



First I rode the "Scenic Skyway" where you are suspended 885 feet above ancient ravines. The Skyway provides a unique thrill as breathtaking views are revealed beneath your feet through the electro-glass cabin floor.



Below is the view from the "Cliff Lookout."



Next I rode the "Scenic Railway" where I descended 1017 feet through a cliff-side tunnel, emerging into ancient rainforest at the Jamison Valley floor. They claim that the Railway is the steepest passenger railway in the known world.



Next I walked through the Jamison Valley on the "Scenic Walkway," which is the longest boardwalk in the Southern Hemisphere at 1˝ miles long.



I climbed out of the Jamison Valley on the "Scenic Cableway." The 1675 foot journey on the Cableway returned me to the top of the escarpment.



The Cableway’s fully enclosed cabin provided a unique vantage point for viewing the Katoomba Falls.



Next I went over to the free Echo Point. Here you get a much better view of the Blue Mountains without all the expensive equipment.



The Three Sisters is a rock formation on the north escarpment and are one of the Blue Mountains' best known sites, towering above the Jamison Valley. Their names are Meehni, Wimlah, and Gunnedoo.



View of Jamison Valley from Echo Point: Three Sisters far left; Mount Solitary left of center; Narrowneck Plateau, far right.



I also did a lot of walking along the cliffs on their bush walks.



A pretty vista below with the flowering tree in front of the Three Sisters.



It wasn't a bright and sunny day but I had a good time on my first full day in Australia.



I caught up with the tourist bus at the end of my bush walk and took it back to Katoomba. I had time for a short walk around Katoomba before my train back to Sydney. Below is the Carrington Hotel.



Below is the main street through town.



I arrived back in Sydney at about 6:00 this evening.

Everyone have a Happy New Year!

Tim
Click on email photos for the large full-size photograph.



SUNDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2006:

I began New Year's Eve by walking over to Darling Harbor and catching a Matilda Ferry to the Taronga Zoo.
Darling Harbor Circular Quay Sydney Harbor

What makes the Sydney Zoo special is the fantastic setting.
Built right on the Sydney Harbour overlooking the city.
Wallobee Koala Bear Goats with a view

TARONGA ZOO VIDEO
5 minute video of Sydney's Taronga Zoo.

It was back on the Matilda Ferry after the zoo
making a stop at Luna Park on the way back to Darling Harbor.
Ferry in Sydney Harbor Luna Park Opera House through span of Harbour Bridge

SYDNEY HARBOUR CRUISE VIDEO
4 minute video of my cruise around Sydney's harbour.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON SUNDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2006
Hello again everyone,

Last evening after I wrote you after returning from the Blue Mountains, I spent the evening over at Darling Harbour (below). Just a short walk from my hotel. It's a tourist area full of hotels, restaurants and shops all surrounding this pretty harbor.



This morning I walked back over to Darling Harbour and jumped on the Matilda Ferry. Below is us sailing away from Darling Harbour.



Reports of this weekend being a wash out were greatly exaggerated. It is beautiful today. Lots of clouds around but still way more than enough sun to roast my poor bald head. In the picture below we had just sailed under the Harbour Bridge.



On the Matilda Ferry we went in a circle all around the harbour making a number of stops at various places. Below we are just leaving the Circular Quay stop.



We got a great view of the Harbour Bridge.



Below you can see both the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House.



Below we look back at the Sydney skyline.



There were lots of pretty views of Sydney from the harbour.



I got off of the ferry at the Taronga Zoo. Below is a koala bear at the zoo. I hope to see more of these out in the wild before I leave Australia.



The animals in this zoo sure have a nice view as it looks out on Sydney and the harbour.



I don't remember what the critter on the rocks is below, but you sure have to admire his view.



I rode the cable car down to the harbour before leaving the zoo.



It was back on the Matilda Ferry after the zoo and more nice views of the city.



We made a stop at Luna Park but I didn't have time to get off and explore.



There are a lot of boats on the harbour today getting ready to see the big fireworks display along the Harbour Bridge tonight.



Our next stop was Darling Harbour where I got off.



I had an hour to kill after the cruise before heading to the airport for my Antarctica flight, so I decided to send this update. I'll be ringing in the new year tonight from about 10,000 feet above the Ross Ice Shelf on Antarctica. This will be 16 hours before the new year gets to you folks back in Indiana. We'll get back into Sydney about 6:00am New Year's Day. It is about a 12-13 hour flight.

Happy New Year!

Tim
Click on email photos for the large full-size photograph.


Click above to continue to my next adventure, ANTARCTICA.

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