Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Her Love of Sydney

Sydney, Australia is my favorite city in the world! The beautiful harbor, bridge, Opera House, architecture...it's everything about the city that made me fall in love. I asked Sean if we could spend a day in Sydney, just hanging out and seeing all the sights. We worked it into the schedule this past Monday.

We started first thing in the morning taking the train into the city to avoid the traffic. I had not been on a train into the city (only out) and I really liked the sights as they came into view.
Changing trains at Central station
Since it was almost lunch time, we headed out to my favorite beach in Sydney in an area called Manly. The harbor ferry ride took about 30 minutes. We got to see some of the same sights as we did on the cruise Saturday. What we didn't get to see Saturday that we did get to see Monday is the opening of the harbor where the ocean flows in. I don't know what it is about this spot that I love but I am in awe and enamored with it. I had a great big smile on my face as we crossed this spot.
The entrance to the Harbour
The lunch in Manly was delicious and a first for me. We had kebabs. I am not going to be any good at explaining what it is, so Sean is going to try.

Kebabs are a popular fast food dish in many locations in Australia. They consist of sliced lamb, beef, or chicken, slowly roasted on a vertical rotating spit then served on pita bread and filled with your choice of lettuce, tomato, sauce and cheese. Although they are popular in Australia they are not easily found in the United States so we will have to enjoy a few more before heading back to America.

We sat at picnic tables right on the beach so that was incredible!

Area to eat by Manly beach
After lunch, we walked down to the water so I could touch the Pacific Ocean. The sun was shining and it was a little warm, but the water was cold - fitting since it is technically winter here (though I think Mother Nature has forgotten that fact, 70 degrees is not winter weather, though none of us are complaining). I didn't want to leave that spot but the ferry was waiting so we had to go.
Amanda touching the Pacific Ocean
The ferry we rode from Manly
We tried to visit an open market with lots of stalls for souvenirs but it was closed so we rode the light rail around the city and returned to the harbor. We walked down to the amusement park which is at the base of the harbor bridge and spotted a cruise ship leaving Sydney. It was an impressive and awesome sight to see so we sat on the harbor front for a few minutes watching it sail away. 
Cruise ship heading out to sea
There was one more spot in Sydney that I wanted to see so we headed to the area known as The Rocks. This was the first part of the city that was built and the architecture is incredible. We came across a monument in this area to the first people who inhabited the country of Australia. Carved out of sandstone, the monument was so impressive that we stopped to admire and reflect upon what we saw and read.

Monument to the first settlers from England
After a quick stop at a cafe for a drink and snack, we headed out of the city.

Sydney Harbour at night
 Do you have a city that you love as much as I love Sydney?

Happy Travels,

His: Steaming on Sydney Harbour

A few months ago my dad messaged me on Facebook and asked if we would be interested in a Sydney Harbour cruise. Amanda would have been content floating on the harbour inside a rubber dingy so being able to cruise on an seaworthy vessel sounded like a great idea. The boat dad found was a 1902 steam powered boat. Its name is the "Lady Hopetoun" and was once the Governer General's boat. I loved this vessel as it held about 40 passengers and there was plenty of room for everyone and no need to fight for space to take photographs.

 The Opera House, Fort Denison and the Harbour Bridge
As the Lady Hopetoun is a smaller vessel it was able to get up close to the coast line and into shallower waters than many other vessels. The cruise took us past many of the iconic sights of the harbour including the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. After passing these sights the cruise went into to the western part of the harbour which is not as well traveled. There were several islands in the harbour, in addition to many harbour front houses. Amanda asked me to buy her one for Christmas but sadly I had to tell her that it was just a wee bit out of my budget right now.

Sydney Harbour Bridge
I remember reading Bill Bryson's book "In a Sunburned Country" a few years ago. In the book he talked about walking around Sydney Harbour and being able to see the Harbour Bridge from just about anywhere in the harbour. I discovered he was right, as many times you would cruise around a corner or behind some houses still be able to spot the bridge out in the distance.

The cruise was a great way to see all of the sights of the harbour. Being on the smaller ship was a blessing as you never felt crowded and was almost like being on your own personal charter boat without the exorbitant price tag. I have lots more photos to share so continue to scroll down to see the rest of the photos.

Part of the Sydney City Skyline

The Sydney Opera House

Luna Park (an amusement park by the harbour)

Many parts of the harbour have cliffs

Amanda would love one of these houses for Christmas
The Harbour Bridge seems to be visible from just about anywhere on the harbour.
Cockatoo Island, an old Navy Facility
A tug boat in front of ANZAC bridge
The photos of the harbour are stunning but do not begin to do it justice. If you ever get a chance to cruise on Sydney Harbour I highly recommend it as there are few better ways to relax on a sunny afternoon. What is your favorite view of the harbour?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

His and Her Sunday Social (Week 60)

We are in Australia and enjoying a relaxing, quiet Sunday. We had lunch with Sean's aunt and uncle and afternoon tea with his cousins, but now we are chillin' and enjoying a few minutes of calm.

The Sunday Social questions this week are all about food - a favorite topic for both of us - so without further ado, here is the Sunday Social...

Sunday Social

1. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Sean: Chicken! I would be sad if all of the beef, pork and turkey suddenly dissapeared but I would be crushed if I couldnt have chicken anymore.
Amanda - Chocolate. :) Yum yum!!

2. What’s your guilty pleasure/comfort food?
Sean: Most of them are Australian foods so I am having a wonderful binge fest while I am here.
Amanda - I look for dessert items when I need comfort. Items such as chocolate mousse or chocolate bread pudding works for me.

3. What’s the weirdest/craziest thing you’ve ever eaten?
Sean: Probably the chicken hearts that I tried at a Brazilian restaurant a few weeks ago. Not crazy about them but glad I was brave enough to try.
Amanda - I am not an adventurous eater at all so I have no good answer for this one.

4. What foods do you avoid at all costs?
Sean: Spicy foods, tomato and kiwi fruit.
Amanda - Coconut, onion, peppers (capsicum here in Australia)

5. What food items remind you of your childhood?
Sean: Sausage rolls, meat pies, mixed lollies, rooster rolls. Basically all of the things I am enjoying while we are in Australia. YUM! 
Amanda - My mother's homemade chicken and dumplins. Yummy!!!

6. Share one of your favorite recipes and the story behind it.
Mac and Cheese Dog Casserole is a comfort food for both of us. It is chunks of hot dog in a made-from-scratch mac and cheese. The sauce for the mac and cheese includes beer, ketchup, and mustard. It is delicious and simple to make. Perfect for a week night when the day has been hectic and you need a comforting dinner. Click the picture below to see the recipe.

Choose a question to answer below and join in the fun!

Happy Sunday,

Saturday, July 27, 2013

His: Kangaroos on the Farm

Amanda had been wanting to see kangaroos in the wild since we touched down in Sydney last week. It seemed that every day people would promise her that she would see wild kangaroos but no matter how many kilometres we drove there were no roos to be seen. After 6 days we still hadn't seen any wild kangaroos (although we had seen a wild koala and an echidna) and Amanda was getting quite disappointed.

The 3 roos that came to the farm for brekkie
   My dad called to Amanda early on Thursday morning to tell her that there were 3 kangaroos enjoying breakfast down near the back of our farm. Amanda almost jumped out of her skin as she was so excited to see them. We put on our warm clothes as it was still pretty chilly outside and we slowly walked down to see if we could get closer. We were able to get pretty close to them and get some good photos of them enjoying their breakfast. Shortly after we headed back to the house they hopped off to their next destination but at least Amanda was able to see wild kangaroos. Whether we see more on the trip is anyone's guess but at least we got to see them at least once.

Friday, July 26, 2013

His: Day Trip to Ancient Glacier and Sawn Rocks

On Wednesday we took a day trip to see some of the scenic Australian bush land. We traveled through some quaint little country towns which will be covered in a future post but we also saw two unique places that were just breathtaking.

Ancient glacier valley
The first place we stopped was a river where there was a glacier millions of years ago. It was off a small country road with just a small sign pointing to the ancient glacier spot and we almost missed the turnoff. We hopped out of the car and looked down to see an awesome river that had been carved out. There was plenty of rocks for you to hop around on and even Dad's little Dachshund had a good time climbing on the rocks in the valley.

Rocks embedded into the bedrock by the glaciers
Some of the rocks had a unique feature where smaller rocks have been embedded into the bedrock in the valley by the glacier. The immense pressure and weight of ice of the glacier would have pushed the smaller rocks into the bedrock and made them into one big rock. This made a interesting effect and can be seen on the photo to the left. The area also had a small waterfall and many different boulders in the middle of the valley. I had a lot of fun hopping from rock to rock and looking at the different formations.

Sawn Rocks
We had to walk about 1/2 a mile from the car park to see the second place --- the Sawn Rocks formation. On the way we saw an echidna which was not something you see in the wild every day. After walking for about 10 minutes we came across the viewing platform for Sawn Rocks. The cliff is a couple hundred feet high. The rocks have taken on a hexagonal shape so they look like logs hanging on the side of the mountain. Amanda said it reminded her of the logs used in log cabins at home. You could see where some had broken and the bits were lying on the side of the creek below. It is amazing to see a cliff of this size anyway, but to see the rock formation was truly impressive. I can't imagine how Mother Nature managed to form the rock into that shape. It was definitely worth the 10 minute walk.

Even though both of these attractions are off the beaten path it was well worth the drive. I had never been to either of these locations so it was a new experience for both Amanda and myself. Because it was in a remote location it was nice and quiet and not crowded which made for a better experience. I hope we get to have a few more experiences like this before we head back to the United States.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

His: Waterways Wildlife Park

      One of the things Amanda enjoyed on our last trip to Australia was being able to get up close with a koala. We have been spending the last few days with my dad and step mum in a small country town (Gunnedah) and there is a wildlife park and sanctuary nearby. We went to the wildlife park to see the animals and the chance to get close to a koala.

      The name of the wildlife park is Waterways and was designed by a lady who loves animals. Not only does the park host a bunch of different types of Australian wildlife but it also is a sanctuary for injured and sick animals. If there is a injured animal on the road or somewhere nearby people are able to call her and the animal will be brought to Waterways to be brought back to health. On average an animal is bought to them every 3 days. I am sure countless animals have been saved through the efforts of this amazing lady and her staff. The fee to get in is very inexpensive so local businesses sponsor certain habitats to help offset costs. It is truly amazing to see the community rally around this woman and her great cause.

      One of the main attractions at Waterways is being able to get right up next to the koalas. The state (NSW) does not allow people to hold the koalas like you can in QLD but you are able to get up next to the koalas and pet them. We were escorted into the koala enclosure by a staff member and were invited to pet the koalas. Their fur was nice and soft and felt more like wool, rather than fur. In fact the handler said that koalas have wool which sounded strange but made a lot of sense after petting them. The last time we handled koalas in 2006 we held them for a quick photograph and then quickly taken away for the next person. I thought this was a much better way to interact with the koalas as they would not be nearly as stressed as being passed from person to person and you got a lot more time with the koalas then you do when you are holding them. If given the choice I would choose petting them as you are not stressing the animals out and you got a lot more time to savour the experience.

There is a lot of other animals in the park besides the koalas. There are kangaroos, wallabies, emus, kookaburras, dingoes and many other animals. For $5 a person it was a great way to spend a couple of hours with some of Australia's wildlife and help out animals in need. If you are ever in the Gunnedah area, you need to come check it out!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Her Favorite Australian Town Names

I absolutely love driving around Australia, going in and out of all the small towns that dot the countryside. This is mostly because the names of these towns are so much fun. Enjoy this list of town names from all around New South Wales, Australia.

Which town name is your favorite?

Happy Travels,
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