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The Thomases’ Grand Antipodean Adventure (3) – Sydney

As promised last time around, next stop on the trip was Sydney. Flight time from Singapore was about 7.5 hours, which wasn’t really enough for a solid night’s sleep between Qantas squeezing another dinner into us and them waking us up for breakfast.



We were to be staying with a friend in Manly (a nice suburb of Sydney), but it being a summer Sunday, he was engaged to play golf for most of the day, so we would meet him and drop off our kit. He’d promised us that the Syndey summer would not disappoint, and on arrival in the city (early in the morning), it certainly seemed hopeful. Wall-to-wall blue sky, and already 25 degrees by the time we got to Circular Quay (for the Manly ferry) at 8am.

The iconic Sydney shot
The iconic Sydney shot

Sadly, after meeting with Mr William Duncan Munro IV, on the Manly end of the ferry, and after he had promised us that it’d be short and t-shirt weather all day, things began to change. Which was a shame, since he’d left us for the next six hours, and he had the only keys to the flat which contained all our worldly possessions.It being a Sunday, we occupied ourselves for an hour or two at an excellent Church service at St Matthew’s, Manly, which is the only church I’ve been to which combines having an organ scholarship with having the sort of worship band which has guitar solos in the middle of songs! We received an excellent warm welcome, although it was rather odd singing advent music in the warmth.

St Matt's, Manly
St Matt’s, Manly

It was also unusual to see opening stained glass windows – back at home we do everything possible to minimise drafts in our churches!

After the traditional tea/coffee after church the weather had changed completely. Overcast, about 15 degrees, hints of rain, and we still had nearly 5 hours to survive! We decided to take a walk along the strand from Manly Beach (home of the “Manly Life Saving Club”) to Shelley beach. This is clearly a favourite summer Sunday walk for many families and dog-walkers, and it is very beautiful. There is plenty of good local wildlife to see too, from eastern water dragons to rainbow lorikeets. For a photo of the eastern water dragon, see my other site.

Rainbow Lorikeet
Rainbow Lorikeet

Surviving the cold!

The vigorous walk had kept us thermally ok for a while, but we were beginning to shiver, so we decided to use the transport passes to get back on the ferry (hoping that an enclosed space might be a bit warmer) to Sydney. The flat, calm seas had changed somewhat so the crossing was very bumpy, but quite good fun. Sydney is also a very challenging place to get an affordable snack – exchange rates are very bad for us Brits, and food is expensive, and we’d spent virtually all our Australian dollars on the transport tickets – note, always best to research how expensive places are before you arrive with too little currency! After sharing a sandwich and some very good chips with mayo(!) we ventured back onto the ferry, and back to Manly, with only another 45 minutes to shelter from the increasing storm to await keys and warmth!

A day out in Sydney

Monday was our full day in Sydney, and being a working day for Will, we were once again left to our own devices. The southerly had still not passed over, so it remained chilly and moist – we hadn’t expected to have to wrap up warm at this stage of the trip. Indoor activities were the order of the day, so we decided to go to Sydney’s excellent aquarium. This has excellent facilities and really good displays and interpretation of local wildlife, including the quintessentially antipodean mammal, the duck-billed platypus.

Sydney aquarium
Sydney aquarium

I would love to share my photo of the aquarium’s playpus, but, to be honest, it didn’t come out that well! There were also penguins, many sharks, an example of the really rather ridiculous dugong, and of course lots of beautiful tropical fishes. I let my belovèd loose with the camera, and she took some quite excellent photos.

After lunch (on the quayside near Darling harbour – special offer lunches for AU$10 each!), we decided to use our transport tickets to sight-see up one of the arms of the harbour (the Parramatta river), past the Olympic park to see what was up there – not a lot it turned out, although it was an interesting enough trip. Then it was back to Circular Quay, the Manly ferry again, and back for food and “tasty beverages” chez Munro.


The next morning, our flight required an early check-in (arrival at the airport by about 645). The ferry to town didn’t start up early enough, and we decided that since we had transport tickets, why pay AU$80 for a taxi. We were better than that!

Wobbly Kea
Wobbly Kea

We used the handy local bus route planner to plot a 2-bus+1-train journey to the airport which would get us there in time – there are buses all through the night, and they run on time and are mainly packed with people going to and from the gym it seems. Very successful, and much cheaper!

Next time… A Wobbly Kea in New Zealand.