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One of the places we had considered staying at when we were planning the Sydney part of the trip is the Lord Nelson Brewery and Hotel.  The Lord Nelson is one of a handful of pubs that claim to be the oldest pub in Sydney.  It is located in The Rocks, which as mentioned previously, is the original site of the British penal colony and the birthplace of Sydney.  It was interesting to read that in the 1800’s pubs were required to offer rooms to their customers.  This, according to what I have read, was to protect pub customers from leaving the pub late at night and being robbed or worse.  It also provided a place for those who imbibed too much.  We ended up not staying there because it was pricey and because, as the rooms are above the bar, which has live music in the evenings, it was said to be a noisy place to stay.

However, we did want to go there to have a beer.  Tony is quite the beer aficionado.  We did a lot of beer tasting while in Australia.  So on one of our three days, we walked to The Rocks and then tried to find the Lord Nelson.  It was quite a walk with a lot of hills but we finally found it!  By then we were not only thirsty but very hungry.  We ate delicious bar food (I think mine was seafood chowder) and enjoyed a couple of their beers.

The Lord Nelson is a wonderful place to go for a brew and a bite!  If you go, make sure you go upstairs as you will find a lot of memorabilia on display.  It’s quite the mini-museum!  It’s near the observatory so you might want to take the walk up the hill to check that out, too.

Lord Nelson Brewery & Hotel, Sydney, AUS

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The second day in Sydney, we checked out of our hotel but left our luggage stored there because that was the night we were staying at the zoo.  That gave us from ten in the morning until seven to keep busy.  We ended up walking a very few blocks from our hotel to Darling Harbour.  Darling Harbour is home to the Australian National Maritime Museum, the Sydney Aquarium, Harbourside Shopping Center, the Star Casino, and a plethora of entertainment opportunities.  After walking around a bit, we hopped on a double decker bus for a Sydney tour.  It was one of those deals where you pay one price and you can hop on and off at any time.  We were on the top deck which was wonderful for getting an unobstructed view of Sydney, however, it was bad for getting off!  Several times we tried to get down to the first floor to get off of the bus at a stop (you aren’t supposed to be standing or walking while it is in motion) but we wouldn’t make it to the stairs, let alone down the stairs, before the bus started moving and we’d have to get to our seats!  Not good.

Finally, we got off at the Sydney Opera House.  There were lots of people getting off and more getting on so we made it off in time!  Whew!  From the Opera House we walked to Sydney Harbour where we got some lunch and did some shopping before getting on the ferry that took us across the harbour to the Taronga Zoo.

Some photos of the buildings in Sydney and of the Sydney Bridge…

Bus stop at The Rocks.

Darling Harbor, King Street Pier

Darling Harbour, shopping center in background

Downtown Sydney

Approaching Sydney Bridge by double decker bus

Underneath the Sydney Bridge

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Sydney–Australia

Our last stop on our Australian vacation was Sydney.  When we planned the trip, there really was nothing in particular that we had on our list to do when we got to Sydney.  Shortly before we left for the trip, Tony did find an overnight stay at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney.  He booked that but there was not much else we had on our list.  I had read about Sydney and had wanted to visit The Rocks but was okay if we didn’t do that.

The Rocks is the area where Sydney was founded.  It is the oldest section of Sydney.  For those of you who don’t know about Australian history (and why should you?) the British government sent ships full of British and Irish prisoners to penal colonies in Australia in 1788.  These prisoners built the penal colony which they would inhabit.  Why did Britain send their prisoners to Australia?  At the time Britain’s corrections system was over burdened because of the harsh economic times which caused many to steal food to survive.  Thus they became prisoners and criminals and when the prisons were overcrowded, they were shipped off to Australia.

The Rocks is the gateway to/from Sydney Harbor where you will find the Sydney Bridge and the Opera House.  What I hoped we’d be able to do was at least take a bus tour of the area so I could say I had see the Bridge and the Opera House.  Tony wanted to see these too and he wanted to see Darling Harbor and some of the other landmarks.

We arrived in Sydney mid-afternoon and rested for a little bit.  When it was time for dinner, we headed out of our hotel and stood right in front with no idea of where to go.  Tony asked if I wanted to go right where it was obviously the downtown area, or did I want to go left which appeared to be a little less busy but we couldn’t see too much because it was a little hilly and the road we were on curved.  I chose left, not wanting to get into the hustle and bustle of the downtown area.  We walked about a block and a half before we realized we were in The Rocks!  Being the oldest part of Sydney, the buildings were made of stones and bricks and the streets were very narrow.  We found a small Italian restaurant where we ate and after dinner, although the winds were howling and blowing very mightily, we decided to keep going in the direction we had been heading to see what was out there, figuring that if we got too far, we could hail a taxi to get back to the hotel.

Well!  We walked around the corner where the street dead-ended and got a glimpse of the Sydney Bridge!  We walked across the street and down a very narrow stone staircase and we found the harbor with the Sydney Bridge to our left and the Sydney Opera House to our right and the harbor all around us!  Without knowing, we had found what we had wanted to see, all within a few hours of landing in Sydney!

A few pictures below:

The Rocks

The Rocks

Sydney Harbor, Sydney Bridge on left

Tony with Sydney Harbor and Opera House behind.

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A few random shots of Kuranda before we move on to Sidney:

White bird

The white bird you see above was only one of many birds that live in this area (rain forest in Australia).  He was not restrained  in any way.  He was free to come and go as he wished although there were food and water dishes available for him to come enjoy.

Color in the middle of the jungle.

This tree is supposed to be 75 years old!

Rough Road Ahead!

One of the things Tony had planned was for us to go on a tour of the rainforest on one of those amphibious vehicles which this place called “Army Ducks”.  It goes on both land and sea.  We climbed all over the hills then went down to the river and into to it.  The photo above shows the road we were about to go on from the water.  It was, needless to say, a bumpy ride!

Lush Land

As you can see in the photo immediately above, the land is very lush and colorful.  The skies are bluest blue.  The sounds are those of birds calling out to each other, the jumping of kangaroos, splashing of crocodiles in to the water, and because there was an indigenous interpretive center adjacent to this area, there were also sounds of didjeridu and drums.  It was more than enough to make us want to stay a lot longer!

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Some more pictures of our visit to Kuranda.

Koala

 

This crocodile was nicknamed Jack the Ripper!

Jack the Ripper, shown above, was taken out of the group crocodile enclosure and quarantined after killing four of the crocodiles he mated with.  He was promptly taken out of circulation (not prompt enough for the last three!) and nicknamed Jack the Ripper.  He is about 18 feet long.

Bearded dragon...these little guys were all over the place!

Once finished in Kuranda (all the attractions shut down by 4:30 in the afternoon) we headed to the train station to board the train.  Tony noticed in the brochure that we could upgrade our pre-paid tickets to ride in the Deluxe cars of the train.  After a very long day, Tony thought it was worth the additiona $24 each so he upgraded us.  It turned out to be a really great deal because the regular seats are bench seats and the train ride was two hours.  Our upgraded seats were single swivel upholstered chairs that were one per each side of the train and the upgrade included unlimited beverages and finger foods all the way back to Cairns.  So we sat back and enjoyed the scenery, our champagne, and lots of gourmet snacks!  The gentleman that took care of us didn’t let our glasses get even half empty before filling it!  We really felt pampered!

Scenic train from Kuranda to Cairns

On train going toward Cairns from Kuranda.

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Finally we got to see kangaroos in Kuranda.  Not only did we get to see them but we got to feed them and touch them and be chased by them.  They are very docile and petting them feels a little like petting a German Shepherd. Tony has the pictures of me feeding them because he took them with his camera so if I get those from him, I can post them some time in the future.

3 Kangas!

These three kangaroos were off by themselves, kind of like they were too good to be with the rest of the gang.  The one in the upper part of the photo is the biggest one of the entire group.  There were probably about 60 of them running all over the place.

This is the same group as above, from a different angle.

Tony petting one of the kangas.

This particular roo did not want us to stop petting or feeding him.  When we stopped, he would go after us.  He seemed to be quite interested in our camera bags!

Kanga and wallaby with Tony.

With his right hand he is feeding a wallaby (about half the size of the kangas) and with his left hand he is feeding the same kangaroo from above who insisted on being fed when Tony started feeding the wallaby!

Standing kanga

Same kanga!  He posed for me.  I tell you, he sure was an attention grabber!

Lots of lounging kangaroos.

This is the group of kangas that we spent most of our time with.  The little one standing near the middle of the photograph is a wallaby.  When Tony was feeding them, the wallaby got a little agressive and bit Tony.  Tony called out “Ouch!  He bit me!”  and the kangaroo we had been feeding that you saw in the pictures, ran over and slapped the wallaby with his paw and chased him away.  Then he stayed to be petted and fed!  Tony’s protector is the one in the uppermost left hand of this picture above.

Red kangaroo

Above is a red kangaroo.  They are not as friendly as the other kangas.  They were in a separate area and while they could roam freely, they pretty much stayed together in an area that was less accessible to the park attendees.  This was above appeared to be shy but did stop long enough for me to take a picture.

 

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One of the other things Tony and I really wanted to do was to go to the rain forest in the mountains next to Cairns (pronounced Canz by locals).  Tony found a way to maximize the experience.  We booked a trip on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway from outside of Cairns to the top of the mountain in Kuranda.  It’s a gondola that you ride.  It hangs on a cable, high above the ground!  (I actually discovered I was afraid of heights on this trip!)  It takes an hour and a half to get to the top.  Once we were at the top we participated in some activities and this is where the German Tucker Sausage House was located.  Then when we were done, we took the trip back home via the scenic railroad (thank goodness we didn’t have to take the skyrail back because I don’t think I would have gotten back on!)

One note:  It was sad to see a lot of dying, drying, brown trees on the way up the mountain and once we were at the top.  We were told by locals that there has been very little rain the past few years, even here in the rain forest.

One the way up, via the skyrail, we had a beautiful view of Cairns and the ocean which is really not the ocean but the Trinity Inlet and the Coral Sea beyond.  The day was crystal clear.  By the time we reached Kuranda the temperatures were in the upper 80s.

On the way up, Cairns in background.

 

Oncoming gondola

Over the river. Note lush plant life!

Near Barron Falls Overlook

Above rainforest looking down.

Once at the top of the mountain in Kuranda, we got off of the cableway and were greeted by the lush tropical rainforest!

Kuranda, Skyrail Station

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