Australia: Sydney and Manly with the Fergusons

Leaving Fiji in the rain I had to connect in Auckland to get to Sydney, meaning an 8 hour journey.  It also meant that some duty-free rum I had bought in Fiji was going to be confiscated by security in NZ (stupid rules) but at the last minute a nice AirNZ employee told me I needed to go through NZ immigration and check-in my hand baggage with the duty free rum.  I thought I’d pulled a blinder when I got through in the nick of time with my rum safely stowed below with a fragile sticker attached.  That was until I arrived in Sydney only to receive a sopping-wet, alcohol-stinking backpack!

Sad sight.  Remains of a premium bottle of Fijian Bounty rum:

I was hoping for the famous Australian sunny weather on arrival so was disappointed to descend in cloud.  Apparently this had been the worst summer for years and years leading me to curse my luck!

My luck took a turn for the better when an information assistant at the airport took a liking to me and gave me a weekly Sydney transport pass with 4 days left worth AU$62 (£40).  Result!

Using my pass I got to the hostel and bunked down for the night.

The next day I was up early to join a free walking tour of the city.  Similar to previous free tours this was awesome and really informative (OK so not totally free because you’d have to be Scrooge’s meaner Scottish cousin to not tip the guide). We took in sights of the harbour bridge and opera house; as well as being filled in on the history of the convicts and settlers etc.. finishing up in the botancial gardens where we saw cockatoos, lorikeets and one of the  largest species of bat in the world, the Grey-Haired Flying-Fox Megabat.

Spotted a Rainbow Lorikeet feeding in the bushes:

Ugly Australian White Ibis.  These guys walk around like they own the place and because they are indigenous they can’t be moved on:

Megabats hanging out in the Botanical Gardens:

The menu for that evening was ‘skippy’ with wedges and carrots, which I must say was absolutely delicious:

The following day I took a walk over the harbour bridge for some sweet views of the city before catching a boat to the pretty Darling Harbour and then a stroll through Chinatown.

View of Sydney Harbour from the bridge:

Impressive engineering.  The Sydney Harbour Bridge (aka “The Coathanger”) is the widest long-span bridge in the world and the tallest steel arch bridge:

On my last day in Sydney I made the short trip to the infamous Bondi Beach where I got some awesome body-surfing in.  I then spent a while watching the real surfers hanging-10.  I’d been told not to expect much from Bondi but I thought it was a really cool place to hang-out.  I was surprised at how beautiful it was with the white sand and crystal clear water so close to such a huge city as Sydney; and the best thing about going to the beach in Australiia is fresh-water showers and public BBQs!

Bondi Beach, impressive:

That evening I caught the 45 minute ferry to the northern beach suburb of Manly where I was met by Mrs Ferguson neé Cranney and welcomed into the Ferguson household with a delicious Thai noodle soup.  After a couple of hours Ed showed up after returning from a business trip to Darwin and we caught up on the last 8 months or so which included their wedding which I sadly missed in October (I worked with Ed and briefly lived with him during my 3 years at KPMG, and 3 months before I left for my trip he had suffered a week ski-trip with the Booth/Walmsley family).

The next day was a Friday which meant work for the Ferguson’s and for me a spot of tootling around Manly checking out the world’s best surfers warming up for an event the next weekend; and using my last day of the Sydney travel pass to catch the ferry and back to the city centre (literally caught the ferry there and the next one back, just ‘cos I could!).

After another delicious Thai meal from Laura we had a fairly early night as Ed was pooped from his intense work schedule.

The next day we started the day with a cracking fry-up (really getting spoiled after weeks of ham and cheese butties in NZ and Oz) before hitting the beach for a spot of surfing.  I actually managed to achieve what had eluded me for the past 8 months and stood up confidently for several seconds before the wave died out 🙂

We utilized the public volleyball courts on the beach to have several competetive but really good fun games with some Yanks that were on a work placement in Sydney.

How fitting to finish of an Ozzie day of beach, surfing and volleyball with a barbie in Ed’s backyard.

For my last day in Sydney we walked 20 minutes to the sheltered, snorkelling and diving Shelly beach up the headland. As I was coming in from a snorkle I spotted something larking about in the sand and on closer inspection realised it was the Wobbegong shark I had been told I may spot.  The Wobbegong is a totally harmless sand-coloured, ugly, bearded bottom-dweller and he was just sucking up and spitting out sand in search of some tasty morsels no doubt (Unfortunately I hadn’t taken my camera in so you can google an image if you desire!).

Ed and I on the walk to Shelly beach overlooking Manly Bay:

Just off the path, where hundreds of people walk back and forth these impressively named Water Dragons soak up the rays:

Shelly Beach.  No surprise that on a sunny Sunday in the middle of summer the beach was packed:

After utilising the public beach barbies to cook up some gourmet burgers we returned to the house as the weather started to come-in.  That evening I thanked the Ferg’s for their totally awesome hospitality before heading back to the city centre where my night bus to Byron bay would be leaving.  Ed caught the 4 hour flight back to Darwin.

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