“We ain’t afraid of no bears……”

I said that today we were going on a bear hunt (excellent book which my grandchildren love), because Ann wanted to come face to face with a koala. And why wouldn’t she? Of course, Carolyn wouldn’t go along with the story because koalas are marsupials and not bears. Whatever!!

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So, “We’re going to the zoo, zoo, zoo”, except there are two. One required a ferry ride and the other a walk to Darling Harbour. Of course we walked…my legs are already short so why wouldn’t we go for further wear and tear? Said zoo offered a controlled walk around (just follow the path) and was simply showing Australia’s indigenous animals, birds, butterflies, reptiles and….marsupials. We ambled around, although I ran through the butterfly section as I cannot bear anything flying around me.

Various animals (in fact, most of them) completely ignored the visitors. Even the ‘Roos failed to hop over and, ever thankful for small mercies, the massive crocodile didn’t snap out of his trance-like state in his pond. Aptly named Rocky, he is a mean looking old boy. Finally, we got to the koalas and what were they doing? Sleeping in their trees. Anyway, cameras were poked in their general direction, one decided to eat his way through the leaves of his tree, whilst the others curled themselves up, oblivious to the keepers, visitors, noises, etc. Still, we had achieved our goal and Ann has seen koala bears (sorry, Carolyn).

We then happened upon the most amazing eatery in the midst of towering office blocks. Simply called ‘The Canteen’ it offered food from stall after stall, each with a particular theme. Between the three of us we chose an amazing salad, a panini with more filling than you can imagine, and roast beef on a bed of pasta. All excellent and we grabbed a small table and marvelled at the youth of our fellow diners. I suppose they are used to the tourists joining them.

We then elected to go off to do separate things. Ann wanted to explore the botanical gardens behind the Opera House, whilst Carolyn and I wanted to play hopping on and off ferries. We actually called in at Manly again for a last look at the surf and enjoyed a very exciting ride back as the ferry dipped and rolled in the large sea swell.

As tonight was our last evening in Sydney, we once again walked down to the harbour for dinner and, for me, a bottle of Dirty Granny cider. Our main aim was to see the city lights. Beautiful. Sadly for me, it is time to say goodbye as we join our cruise ship tomorrow and set forth on the next leg of our amazing tour Down Under.

Carolyn’s Curios & Curiosities

After seeing a significant number of artefacts in local tourist shops made out of ‘Kangaroo Scrotums’, all I could wonder was whether the plural should have been ‘Scrota’. Apparently, both are acceptable according to the OED et al. Although, Henry V also came to mind with “…balls, my Liege”! Aussies, eh?!

As Kath remarked, today has involved walking – quite a bit of it – again! However, despite our hotel being uphill (and steep albeit short) from Circular Quays, we ambled and breathed.

There are, of course, different views about zoos. In the centre of a city, the one we saw wasn’t a safari park by any means but the animals appeared to be very healthy and the zoo staff knowledgeable and caring. Koalas, Kangaroos and Cassowary, I’d seen but my favourite named animal was the Quokka followed by the Spotted-tailed Quoll.

Sometimes, some people got ‘silly’!

Our afternoon trip to Manly emphasised how small our world really is. As a couple walked past, their accent indicated their likely derivation from the UK. “Whereabouts in the UK are you from?”, I ventured. It transpired they were from the next village to where Ann was born and brought up! Small world!

With its aboriginal heritage and immigrant development, names of towns and districts seem to be either copied from the UK or variants of aboriginal words. ‘Woolloomooloo’ is a district of Sydney and we were told on our guided bus tour that it means small kangaroo. Needless to say, I had to research it and, apparently, it is actually derived from the name of the first homestead in the area, Wolloomooloo House, built by the first landowner John Palmer. There is debate as to how Palmer came up with the name with different Aboriginal words being suggested. Anthropologist J.D. McCarthy wrote in ‘NSW Aboriginal Places Names’, in 1946, that Woolloomooloo could be derived from either Wallamullah, meaning place of plenty or Wallabahmullah, meaning a young black kangaroo.
In 1852, the traveller Col. G.C. Mundy wrote that the name came from Wala-mala, meaning an Aboriginal burial ground. It has also been suggested that the name means field of blood, due to the alleged Aboriginal tribal fights that took place in the area, or that it is from the pronunciation by Aborigines of windmill, from the one that existed on Darlinghurst ridge until the 1850s.

So, there!

We now set off to board the MS Noordam and look forward to many more sights, smells and sounds which will include the music in B.B. King’s Jazz Club on the ship. The music to date has comprised of buskers by the Quay – classical pianist, guitarist and Irish hatted accordionist. The guitarist was inventive and excellent with a superb rendition of Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’. Great memories to take with us.

Ann’s additions

After a morning of Australian fauna, I followed this, to complete the picture, by an afternoon of Australian flora at the Royal Botanic Garden. It’s a refreshing walk right around the Opera House and along Farm Cove to Mrs Macquaries Point and ‘Chair’. It’s a rock formation, named after, Elizabeth, the wife of a former Governor, and an excellent photo opportunity – were it not for all those pesky tourists!

The gardens themselves are extensive and peaceful, especially the pond with, what I believe to be, lotus.
Many other garden flowers are such as you might find in England but taller and, therefore, more impressive. Most native trees are very tall, and many exceptionally old, but difficult to photograph successfully with an iPhone. This particular example of labelling had been commandeered by an avian occupant of the park! We visitors made the most of the photo opportunity!

A gentle stroll back to our hotel completed the afternoon and my Fitbit was pleased to report over 2,000 calories used! Result!

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