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January Sydney + where for seeing critters and walking in the mountains, seeing natural beauty?

January Sydney + where for seeing critters and walking in the mountains, seeing natural beauty?

Dec 1st, 2008, 12:12 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,338
I agree with DownUnder about Phillip Island <http://www.penguins.org.au/> but including the Koala Conservation Centre <http://www.phillipisland.net.au/koal...lacentre.html> and the Great Ocean Road <http://www.greatoceanrd.org.au/>. However, if pressed for time, all three could be done in 3 days. You could accomplish priority 1 & 2 during this trip using Melbourne as a base.
Orlando_Vic is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2008, 05:31 AM
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Thanks for continuing to give us advice. The trip is still a month away, so we have time to make adjustments.

We backed off on using a private tour to go to Walkabout Wildlife Park and the Kuring-gai National Park for Sunday and will probably try to go on our own via train and taxi, allowing us to decide at last minute. If we are feeling lazy, we can just take ferry to the zoo (not my preference) or take the ferry to Manly and/or do some of the walks we have read about.

Husband has decided he is agreeable to renting a car once in Canberra downtown, so we will drive to see Deep Space Centre and maybe both Namadgi and Tidbinbilla.

Saturday - day trip by train to Blue Mountains with walk in canyon, bus around to viewpoints, etc.
Kay2 is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2008, 07:47 AM
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The ferry to Manley is a good antidote for arrival day jet lag. If your international flight arrives in Sydney sometime in the A.M., by the time you get to your hotel, it will probably still be too early to check in. Just leave the bags there and take the ferry to Manley. The motion, fresh air and sunshine will help stave off your fatigue. Back at your hotel, have dinner and then go to bed a little earlier than normal.
Orlando_Vic is offline  
Jan 29th, 2009, 11:23 AM
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Back from the heat wave in Sydney!

We expected it to be warm for summer in Australia, but we managed to experience the highest temperatures in 3 years! We watched the temp on the monitor in the Toronto airport continually drop below 0C as we waited for our plane, so it was quite a contrast.

Air Canada was fine in coach, very similar to various US airlines with the in-seat entertainment. Full plane over, almost empty coming back.

Following advice on this board we checked that we had food and told the customs inspector about our granola bars, candy, etc. and she sent us through the quick lane without x-raying our bags. Easily found the train station and purchased rides with credit card. Hotel was just blocks from Central and our room was ready when we arrived.

We spent the day walking--stopped at hotel pub known for $9 steak, but we had salad for lunch--then down George St among the shopping throngs to Town Hall, Victoria Building, the Quay, the Rocks, the Botanic Gardens, the ANZAC memorial, etc. Restaurants seemed a little expensive to us, but we usually picnic and buy at groceries anyway. We took pictures of the first ibis we saw before we realized how they were everywhere. Enjoyed looking at the bats and cockatoos. Lots of friendly, helpful people everywhere.

Next day we had open until 6pm, so we took the ferry to the zoo to get in a ride, see the views, and see any animals/birds we might miss in the wild. Disappointed that the platypus house closed, penguins were nesting (saw one), got crowded early, and refreshment stand was selling melted ice cream. But we saw lots of birds and animals and the stand replaced the ice cream. We returned in time on Sunday to attend the dance/music demo at the Australia Museum--small and enjoyable.

The meeting included a harbor cruise one night that was interesting--I think the opera house is much more attractive at night and Luna Park is great to see.

We took an afternoon ferry to Manly, got some fish and chips, walked along the shore, and bought some aboriginal pieces at a shop. Good selection compared to other places I saw later. It was REALLY HOT along the beach, so walking was no fun. I waded in the surf, but I couldn't get into standing in the breaking waves with a hundred people being corraled by the lifeguards. Hubby enjoyed the people watching.

The Greyhound bus to Canberra was great. Sit back and enjoy the view while someone else drives and the air conditioning tries to keep you cool. We took the local one way and the express the other. That way we saw several towns along the way. Everyone we met told us how horribly brown and boring the drive was, but for us it way interesting to see and not brown at all.

We rented a car in Canberra. My husband was amazed that Avis didn't even want to see his drivers license. We rented an automatic, started out after rush hour, and had printed directions with all left turns to get us started. He did great! Only forgot twice. The busy large circles/roundabouts were the most challenging part.

We first went to Namadgi Info Center--my thought was to get information and return the next day really early for the Yankee Hat hike. But the sky was overcast, so we decided to go ahead and it turned out great--a little hot, but bearable without the sun. IT WAS GREAT!!! One other couple was driving out as we drove in, so we had the kangaroos, birds, aboriginal rock art, and the scenery to ourselves. The only horrible part was the flies--they even loved the DEET we poured on ourselves and our clothes.

We drove up to the Deep Space Centre where we took lots of photos, husband watched the videos, and we ate lunch.

We didn't expect to fit in more than 2 stops, but we were finished so we crossed the road to Tidbinbilla just before the visitors center closed to ask about the platypus. The naturalist said chances of seeing one were slim, but we might see a ripple on the water toward dark. They told where someone had seen a koala that day and suggested we visit the new boardwalk area. The park stayed open until 8pm. So, first stop was the trail to the playpus pond. We settled in on the ground (forgot to bring binoculars!), watched the swans, geese, ducks, and a kangaroo that came to lounge by the water. Then we saw our first ripple, that turned into a v-shaped movement, then a furry rump from a dive--platypus! We stayed at least 1 hour, watching up to 4 at a time, sometimes only seeing ripple and bubbles, but others seeing their bills and backs as they skimmed the surface, once the entire body swimming just under the surface 6 feet from shore, and always the rump when diving. What a day!!! I think they came out early because it was overcast. We finally went to see wallabies and the koala (if that what the mass in tree was), but it started pouring rain when we reached the boardwalk area, so we waited for the storm to pass and called it a day. We were glad we did because a real thunderstorm came through later. Back in Canberra we saw an oppossum in a tree.

We decided to spend the next day in town and fretted over keeping the car, but were glad we did with the heat. We started with the War Memorial (free parking), picked up the guided tour and were still there after 3 hours. Great place and interesting to hear a different perspective. We drove to Parliment House (free parking in garage) and walked around by ourselves and up to the roof--husband was amazed to see one of the original copies of the Magna Carta on display in a nondescript booth with no one looking at it. Nice surprise for him.

We dropped the car and pulled our bags along to the bus station, which was a zoo mobbed by Australia Day travellers. We were told to wait for an announcement 15 minutes before our bus that never came, so we joined the mob by the bays and searched for our bus (parked behind the others because no open bays), everyone helping each other to find the bus. Glad I had my husband to stand by the bags while I snaked my way through the crowd--several lone travelers were frantic.

We did do the day trip by bus/train to the Blue Mountains. Because of track work, we had to take a bus part way, then train, so the trip took longer than usual, but we helped some Korean women who were baffled by the entire arrangement. The hop-on hop-off bus companies did not adjust their schedule for the train change, so there was a wait to get a bus. I later saw that we could have just paid by the ride on the Trolley company that also serves as the local bus. We would have spent a lot less than the $20 all day pass. The drivers were helpful and we did do the entire circuit, hearing the tourist spiel. The heat was awful and the winds were gusting so hard people were actually pushed backward at Echo Point. So we had to scale back our hiking plans. We walked from Echo Point to the Falls and a kiosk recommended on here for lunch, then rode the bus all around to Leura Cascades and walked to Honeymoon Lookout, caught the bus to Scenic World, down the incline rail, around some of the boardwalk, then back up the train, on the bus, back to the train. While the area was pretty, we didn't enjoy it as much as we would have if it wasn't so hot and crowded! We had to forgo the walks in the open sun along the windly cliff edges. The screaming, running kids at Scenic World were awful. We did enjoy the rail and the mining history. Nice folks in the gift shop. I think I sweated off at least 5 pounds between Canberra and the Blue Mountains.

Our departure via train to the airport was uneventful. We checked in with carryon and one of my bags was slightly heavy, but the agent just suggested taking something out and putting it in another bag or wearing it.

Immigration/customs in Vancouver was slower than in the U.S. Immigration/customs in Toronto moved at a snails pace. We spent more than 1 hour in line so we couldn't catch an earlier flight, spending 4 hours for the next one.

Thanks for all the helpful advice. Next time we will have to get to Tazmania or Kangaroo Island!
Kay2 is offline  
Jan 29th, 2009, 01:32 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
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Great you had a generally good trip Kay and yes to me the Blue Mountains, a bit over-rated in parts is best got around if you can without the hordes.

And yes, those Koalas are not the most active types, even ignoring people for the most part but sounds like you had great wildlife in the wild turning up for you.

We have just possums here by the way or that's what we call them - just think President Obama and drop a PO or OP off the front to start with PO.

Or if ever a Jet Jackson watcher - his sidekick was Ickobodmudd or something as he used to say "with two Ds" but there's actually three, so in threes, onr P, one O and two Ss,
Bushranger is offline  
Jan 29th, 2009, 05:07 PM
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Forgot one funny part of our first day driving on the left. We back carefully out of the lot onto the street, making sure facing the correct way, then proceed forward to the corner where a cyclist dashes in front of us, then turn and proceed to encounter a woman pushing a baby carriage across the street, so we were happy to finally get on the parkway with fewer hazards, only to motioned over at a roadblock for a breathalizer test.

We were laughing hysterically after that--defensive driving test, breath test, what next?

Bushranger, your posts on this board were very helpful. We did think the Blue Mountains geographically interesting and pretty, but just too accessible and popular. Reminded us of Gatlinburg in US or Zakapone in Poland. We simply loved our visit to Canberra and really think it is underrated by many people based on what we read in advance. It was the highlight of our trip!

Now if we can just convince people that the v in the water in our photos is a platypus!
Kay2 is offline  
Jan 29th, 2009, 05:31 PM
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Yep Kay, it can take a little bit of getting used to driving on other side of road to what one is used to, did it OK without too much drama first time in Europe and then second time with wife and MIL in her car and she more or less demanded I drive when we were going somewhere, only having landed a few days before and whether it was her yapping away or not and my attention was distracted, we nearly got tangled up with an oncoming car as I was doing a left turn - old habits are hard to lose.

I've never really been a radio telescope or whatever fan and so whilst I've driven down Canberra way a few times and used to live much closer I still never got to those reserves but Canberra is close to a lot of lovely country bordering and in the Snowy Mountains.

I was going to add re the expensive meals, that yes there are a lot of eating places down around the Harbour/Rocks area etc., and they're all priced to the max. - probably think tourists are always easy enough with their money!, so at least you know now there are local pubs, even all around CBD fringe where you can get good value meals, sometimes even as low as $6 -7, and a beer from a tap will be so much cheaper.
The harbour is known for seafood restaurants and Doyles is a quite renowned one and you can take a ferry over to Watsons Bay for expensive fish and chips on the wharf as some call it but if you walk back from the wharf, it is one large complex with a pub on the corner of the road and last time I was there, fantastic sea food basket in the pub for only $12.

A site to put in your book for next time is www.shopadocket.com.au and you can print off vouchers for buy one, get another free - makes for cheap eating out too.
Bushranger is offline  
Jan 29th, 2009, 07:14 PM
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Australia has about 26 possums, order Diprotodontia,in nine families, while the Americas have one opossum, family Didelphidae. Both are marsupials. They are about as closely related as us and elephants. [Actually I do not know that and it is to be taken figuratively.]
Saltuarius is offline  
Jan 30th, 2009, 05:20 AM
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The possum we saw was totally different from the US opposums, so I believe they are not close relatives.
Kay2 is offline  
Jan 30th, 2009, 01:02 PM
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Re. the Blue Mountains, as I think I mentioned on your other thread, there are parts of the mountains that are quieter. Echo Point is of course very busy, but even on weekends there are walks where you won't meet anyone.
Susan7 is offline  
Jan 30th, 2009, 05:45 PM
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Susan, I agree.

On the walk between Leura Cascades and Honeymoon Lookout we probably only met 6 people. More accessible and easier route such as Scenic World = more crowded. Unfortunately it was so hot and windy we didn't feel up to the steep declines or climbs that would ensure a quieter experience. And the train/bus delays and our unfamiliarity with the area slowed us down in knowing where/when we wanted to go. One bus driver was very nice and gave us lots of advice that we must go to Scenic World next, take all the rides, then go to a waterfall and spend an hour there until he would pick us up again, etc. When we insisted we were going to find a trail to walk instead he was really affronted. If he hadn't insisted how great it was, we probably would have skipped Scenic World all together. The bus to Blackheath only ran twice after we arrived on the first train, so we had to choose Blackheath or Katoomba.

So, Blue Mtns are nice, but for natural experience needs to be off season just like in any other national park.
Kay2 is offline  

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