The discovery of the harbor at Sydney was in 1788 by British Captain Arthur Phillip. He labeled it "the finest harbor in the world." Today Sydney a remarkably clean city and well known for two famous landmarks: the Harbor Bridge and the Opera House.
As we disembarked from our sea home we were looking forward to exploring both plus some other sights. We had made arrangements with Princess to book a room for us at a hotel as we intended to stay a couple of days before flying home.
While this may sound like an advertisement for Princess, it is not. What we are trying to express is the satisfaction we have had with their service. This is the first time we had them book for hotel time in addition to the time we would spend aboard. In both cases, the hotel in New Zealand and the hotel in Sydney were first rate. The photo at the top left is a taken from outside the entrance while the upper right is taken from the inside looking toward the exterior. The two lower photos were taken from the third floor balcony where Princess maintained their information center for their guests at the hotel.
As we left the ship, the Regal Princess, we boarded a bus that would take us on an all day tour. Our luggage was already on its way to the hotel so we didn't have to worry about it. The first stop was at a zoo.
We could have used a bit more time at this stop. We were only given 30 minutes! We later learned that the reason for the short stop was that our bus was delayed from leaving at its designated time due to a problem with customs. One of the passengers tried to smuggle a banana off the ship. A big No No!
We learned the next day that other groups were given an hour. We complained to Princess who in turn passed it along to the company who provided the tour. This zoo is nothing like the game refuge we enjoyed in Tasmania. All of the animals were in pens with little interaction with the visitors. We found it interesting how the kangaroos differed in color from white to grey to brown. It was the first time we saw a baby in the mother's pouch.
Our next stop would be at the Blue Mountains -- the Grand Canyon of Australia. On the way to the Blue Mountains we stopped for lunch at an Imax theater. Not only was the food good (included with the tour) but the movie was astounding! The movie took us into the canyon, into and through caves and around the unique trees and plants that grown only within the canyon. From there we traveled for about an hour to the edge of the Blue Mountain canyon.
The blue haze in the canyon is caused by the eucalyptus trees that grow in it. Through a series of studies researchers have found that the trees release eucalyptus oil through evaporation from the leaves.
The lower two pictures show a formation of rocks called The Three Sisters. According to an aboriginal dreamtime legend, three beautiful giant sisters named: Meehni, Wimlah and Gunnedoo once lived with the Katoomba tribe in the Jamieson Valley. These maidens were in love with three brothers from the Nepean tribe but marriage was forbidden by tribal law.
The brothers were brave warriors and decided to take the maidens by force. A large tribal battle forced the witchdoctor of the Katoomba tribe to turn the sisters into stone. He intended to restore them after the danger had passed. Unfortunately, the witchdoctor was killed in the battle and to this day nobody has been able to break the spell and turn the three sisters back to their natural form.
Origin of the Name Katoomba: It is generally assumed that the name "Katoomba" is a corruption of an aboriginal word meaning "Shiny, tumbling waters."
The photo on the right was taken from the back deck of the Pavilion. The Pavilion is a combination restaurant, motel and tourist trap.
An aboriginal descendent makes his living posing for pictures. The big stick he is holding is a hollow tube called a diggery-do -- an ancient musical instrument. We found them for sale at numerous tourist traps for $150 and some as high as $500. It all depended on the size and the artwork painted on it.
On our way back to the hotel we took this photo to illustrate "common" housing we saw along the way. The roofs are tile.
Since the day was still young, 5:00 pm, we decided to walk around a bit. The harbor is always bustling with activity by water taxies and transportation boats. These boats are, in effect, water buses taking their passengers to areas all around the harbor.
If you look at the top left picture you can see the Regal Princess is still at anchor waiting for her appointed time of 6:30pm to depart on a reverse path from which we had come. She will not sail under the Harbor Bridge as there isn't sufficient clearance. She will take the longer route to the sea.
The Harbor Bridge is the longest single span bridge in the world. In addition to providing four lanes of traffic for motor vehicles it also provides for two separate railways. We often saw two trains crossing.
The bottom left photo shows people standing at the top of the arch of the bridge. It is a four hour tour that costs $150 per person. When the person shows up for the tour they are issued coveralls without pockets. They are not allowed to carry anything with them--not even a comb. The tour consists of a walk by climbing the steps and along the steel walkway up the arch of the bridge to the center. Each person is attached (locked) to a life line that is fastened to each person in the group. The purpose is to prevent suicides. The reason they aren't allowed to carry anything is because it could fall onto traffic below. It took 10 years for Sydney to get the insurance in order to put this activity into place. Yes, the tour was considered in the design of the bridge. No, we didn't take it.
Views Around Town
It's only a couple of blocks from our hotel to the harbor. We had our first glimpse of the Sydney Opera House as we walked along the pier. This model boat was very well done and finely detailed. We never were able to figure out how it fit in with the vendors along the way.
As in any big city, there are the street musicians.
(Left Photo) This guys music sounded a bit wooden. He is a wood carving that was placed outside the entrance to one of the many tourist traps.
(Right Photo) The mime attracted our attention by doing nothing. We were amazed at how long he stood motionless.
Along the pier walkway we saw a number of unique sculptures. The fountain sculpture on the right was dazzling.
The next day we decided to buy an all day pass, hop aboard a water taxi and tour some of the stops around the harbor.
As we waited for the taxi to arrive we were entertained by this street musician with the big grin. He brought back memories of our days in the Caribbean as he was playing a steel drum. Crystal couldn't help but notice the bird of paradise plant nearby.
The photo on the left is the Governor's Mansion in Sydney. He is a well liked individual and opens the home on one of their holidays so that they can tour it. The homes shown in the right photo sell for $300,000 and as high as $600,000 if they are located on the water. The Australians have a name for the people who live in these exclusive homes. They are called Dinks -- Double Income No Kids.
While on the harbor tour we learned that a stop was at the Sydney Zoo. I guess we were still interested in seeing animals so we decided to hop off and take a couple of hours to go through it.
We seemed to have walked into bird land. The variety of different birds and their songs were something to hear. In many cases, we could hear them singing but couldn't find them in the trees.
The picture (bottom left) houses a mixture of parquets, cockatiels and the like. I found my digital camera had a real problem trying to auto focus on the subject.
Although they are not birds, we found this pool full of penguins to be fun to watch. As they swim through the water they literally look like then are flying. When they leave the water their motion up to the rock is fluid i.e. they fly out.
The babies (lower right) are drying themselves in the sun having just taken a dip in the pool. This is another example of being able to tilt the viewfinder on the camera. In order to take this photo Lynn had to reach over a six foot high stone wall and tilt the camera down.
If you look at the "cave" entrance in the upper left photo you can see the penguin shown in the lower left photo. The 200mm zoom feature of the camera is nice to obtain close-ups when far away.
The Kimono Dragon on the left isn't as shy as the one in the enclosure. Possibly it's because the dragon Crystal is petting is made of bronze.
These koala's were quite at home in their favorite haunt, a eucalyptus tree.
The Australian version of a porcupine is the Echidna. Their quills are about 2 inches long with blunt ends.
We didn't expect, when we entered the zoo, to see animals from outside the country. Although Lynn had seen elephants many times he said it was the first time he had ever seen a stripped horse.
I guess we were in the Africa portion of the exhibit.
This little guy was a real ham. Actually, he wasn't all that little as he stood about 5 feet tall. The seals had just finished performing for a show when we walked up. They were swimming in the pool willy nilly. Crystal started to shout, "Stand up, stand up." It must have gotten the attention of this seal as he leaped out of the water and posed for us. What a ham.
This is a snow bear. Notice the rockwork behind him. Actually, the rock is made from concrete that is formed, shaped and stained for color. Lynn's last project at the Saginaw Children's Zoo used the same technique to construct an exhibit for river otters.
We didn't expect to see tortoise.
We got back aboard our water taxi and continued to the next stop. On the way Lynn asked an attendent "What time is the last tour of the Opera House." When he said it was at 3:00pm we decided to stay aboard without stopping at the naval museum.
Sydney Opera House
On our first day in Sydney the sky was clear and the sun was shinning. The photo on the above right is how the weather was on the second day. Fortunately, we had taken the time to walk around the Opera House the day before and took some pictures when it was sunny.
As we walk along the pier we begin to notice that multiple levels of walkway are becoming evident. From a distance one doesn't see this.
In the topmost upper right photo look at the crowd gathered below the roof of the Opera House. The crowd you see are those who are gathered around the art merchants display shown in the bottom left photo.
Next look at the "front" of the building (upper right photo) where it looks like a ramped stairway. That is where the lower entrance is for the shops that are built below it as shown in the bottom right photo.
There are no merchants at the sea side of the building. Note the glass under the roof of the building.
We are standing at the level of the bottom of the glass. If you look at the upper left photo you will see the red beams shown in the left photo.
The glass spanning the beams create a roof for this space. It is a foyer to one of the entertainment halls. It is attached via a series of expansion connections to allow for the movement of the building from either heat, cold or wind.
Note the glass at the bottom. They are sloped to delete glare on the inside of the foyer.
The roof of the Opera House is covered with millions of glazed tiles. The left photo is a detail of how two sloped sections come together to a roof drain.
The photo on the left is of a cutaway model. There are five major rooms where performances are undertaken. In the model, the room created just below the roof is the symphony hall shown in the lower right photo.
In addition to the five major performance halls there are two smaller ones for performances not requiring special acoustics or sound considerations. One of these is the area shown in the left photo.
The photo on the right is for opera performances. Note that the walls are black. The reason is that it causes the audience to focus on the stage without distraction. They have a rule that when the performance begins the doors to the hall are closed. This is to not disturb those who were on time. For those who arrive late there is a television in the foyer for them to watch the show. If there are breaks in the performance the doors are opened for them to enter at that time.
Our guide told us that there have been occasions where "heads of state" were not let in because of their arriving late. On a humorous note she told us, "One time there was a new employee. She was instructed to not let anyone into the hall after the show had started. The mistake was that the performer, who played Caesar, in the show was to enter from the rear of the hall about 10 minutes after the show started. Sure enough, here comes the actor all dressed up as Caesar and she refused to let him in. He had to run downstairs and make his way on to the stage through the basement."
The main structure of the Opera House is of structural poured concrete tees and beams. We are standing in a parking area under the building. While the photo doesn't show it, each beam has an angular shape versus being just straight up and down on the sides.
The above photo is a postcard. While we were there the Opera House wasn't lighted.
We hope you enjoyed your brief tour of the Sydney Opera House. Lynn has 65 photos of this building. What you have just seen is a brief overview of a very interesting building.
On the next day it was time to go home. We set our clock for 6:30am so that we could eat breakfast provided by Princess. During breakfast they loaded our luggage on the bus for our trip to the airport. The flight by air was smoother than the one we had on our flight to New Zealand. Forty two hours later we again went to bed at home.
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