Sydney & The Blue Mountain Kangaroos : The NSW sojourn

The 4 hour long Virgin Australia flight from Darwin to Sydney reminded us how HUGE the Australian continent was. We laughed at the irony that at twice the India’s size, Australia has only 24 million denizens compared to India’s 1250 million !! Meha, Mika and I had pledged to focus more on wildlife, nature and culture (the real things of life) in this world trip than big cities, which are all the same more or less. The Sydney planning dilemma was elegantly solved by dividing equal time between urban and rural Sydney. What better choice for first stop, than Blue Mountains National park – only 2 hours from Sydney. As the sun was going down, Mika managed this fantastic aerial shot of the iconic Sydney landmarks from the plane.

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Europcar rental sorted out, we headed straight to our lovely AirBnB cottage at Mt. Victoria in Blue Mountains, making a quick stop at Coles at Katoomba, for our groceries.

Easily the finest AirBnB we have stayed so far, the tastefully done bed 2 bedroom cottage in a peaceful setting immediately reminded us of the lovely English towns. This is how it looked like in the morning. Very relaxing.

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Tired from our marathon trip of Northern Territory, we chose to enjoy a relaxed morning sipping English breakfast tea. The sole itinerary for the day was to visit Jenolan Caves. Part of the Oberon mountains in New South Wales, these lime stone caves are truly spectacular. You have to pre-book from a bunch of them and we did not regret our choice of Lucas caves. A very engaging commentary by our gregarious guide made it all the more interesting.

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IMG_7717 IMG_7737 IMG_7768 IMG_7769 IMG_7775 IMG_7784 IMG_7788 We had fallen in love with our pretty cottage so we came back and watched “The Mummy” which somehow felt so much more nicer in the relaxed setting. What rubbish – was my first reaction when I had seen it first a few years ago. It reminded us of how big role the state of mind plays in evaluating the SAME circumstance !

The next morning, we headed to Echo Point in Katoomba which has the best view of the Blue mountains. Delighted at finding free parking and a near-empty view point, we stayed for 30 minutes and enjoyed the peaceful setting before it would be run over by day trippers from Sydney.
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One of the key views from Echo point is of “The 3 sisters”. Legend is that a sorcerer turned three sisters into stone to protect them from┬ároving eyes of three lustful young men, but died before turning them back into humans. Given the majestic setting, I’m sure the 3 sisters have enjoyed the solitude for centuries and probably would not want to come back as humans to this very touristy town !

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Our next stop was Sublime Point, which true to its name, provided even more serene views than its more famous sister, Echo Point.

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A quick visit to Blue Mountains lake was next with Mika truly fascinated by the frolicking of this cute one.

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Wentworth Falls look out point had some outstanding views of the Blue Mountains:

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Our last stop for the day was Govett’s Leap Lookout at Blackheath, thankfully only a couple of miles from our cottage.

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While researching Australia, the top question on our minds was “Where to see Kangaroos in the wild?”. A TripAdvisor (thanks to this site and its members for answering millions of such questions for the whole year) article from 2012 had pointed to a place called Euroka Clearing – between Blue Mountains and Sydney. As we check out of our cottage and headed to Sydney via Euroka clearing, our thoughts were filled with positive anticipation. With not a soul in site at Euroka, we thought that was a great thing as we could have the Kangaroos all for ourselves. The initial bird sightings were wonderful.

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We searched all over for 2 hours for Kangaroos and almost gave up (also since a trekker mentioned they would congregate here mostly in the afternoons and it was still 11 am), when THIS happened:

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There are days in life when you TOTALLY luck out, and today was our day. We had these Kangaroos for ourselves out in the wild for a full 2 hours before one van arrived. We devoured the magical experience with glee, triumphantly patting ourselves in the back . The pictures below speak for themselves.

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By 1 pm, we were Kangaroo-ed out and headed to Sydney to the next AirBnB which disappointingly was not as great as the earlier one. This is the thing with AirBnB – with no standardization, some days will certainly not be yours. Any way, Aus-SA cricket was on and with home made Khichdi as companion, what else do you need ! We returned the car and crashed.

The next morning was reserved for city sight seeing – mainly the Harbour bridge, Opera House and the Botanical gardens. By the way, did you know Sydney was only formed in 1790 when the English (who else !) invaded and drove out the Aboriginal people from Sydney area (what’s new ?). ┬áThis Limo in central Sydney kicked off proceedings for the day.

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The outstanding view of the Sydney Opera House from the Harbour bridge, truly takes your breath away. Having taken a metro, we walked the whole bridge North to South, ending up in Circular Quay.

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At circular quay, it was time to take the customary public ferry to Manly Island and back, little realizing how ferocious the waves were – completely drenching us – making an ass of us in front of thousands of tourists ! Mika always has a ball seeing daddy’s misery in these funny circumstances!!

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We walked up the Opera house steps but frankly it looks better from a distance. Our last stop for the day was adjoining botanical gardens.

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New Year planning celebrations were on in full swing:

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At the mid point in the gardens, you get this great view of both the iconic landmarks together.

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Next we walked all the way up to Mrs. Macquarie’s point and did not understand what was all the fuss about as the views had been better from earlier points. Exhausted, we headed back home for a much deserved nap.

Evening has been reserved for the Coogee beach to Bondi Beach walk. We screwed up our bus timings, resulting in a minor family altercation, and missed the walk. Blessing in disguise as the LONG walk was over 6 kms, so we sat and enjoyed the Bondi Beach views.

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Next morning we headed to the Sydney Cricket Ground guided tour. With so many child hood memories including walking up at 5:30 am in India for the test match radio commentary, an upswell of emotions was natural. We started with the adjoining Allianz stadium, used mainly for Australian football, of which most Indians like us have no clue.

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The SCG tour began with this classic analog turnstile. Vintage stuff.

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Feverishly clicking pictures in the main stadium as if there was no tomorrow, I finally calmed down.

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The classic pavilion and member’s stand view:

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Mika was disappointed at the “ordinariness” of the dressing rooms, expecting them to be much more posh!

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Mika’s day was made by touching Smith and Warner’s water bottles !

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The museum had some great memories from the past but we were being rushed by the guide – I would have liked to spent at least an hour here.

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How can I forget this series! After being 0-2 down, we came back strongly to win the next 2 tests before narrowly losing the series 2-3.

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The guy I absolutely worshiped as a kid :

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We had a quick coffee in the SCG member’s area before heading off to Darling Harbour.

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Evening was reserved for Bondi Beach:

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Very interesting culture of having “swimming pools” next to beaches. It was too cold to swim though.

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Another of Mika’s master creations:

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And that concluded our Sydney trip. Tomorrow we fly to Ayers Rock for Part 2 of our Northern Territory exploration. Will Uluru and Kata Tjuta rocks live up to the hype? We shall see. Thanks for reading our blog at www.manysharpbends.com and see you at Uluru.

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