Center Point Tower

Center Point Tower

Our second day we decided to visit the area around the City Center.  Whenever we visit a new city we always try to make a trip to the tallest lookout early in the trip to get an "over view" of the whole city.  It helps us to orient ourselves later during the trip and allows us to see the  interesting features and landmarks from above.  The Empire State Building, Space Needle, Eiffel tour...it seems every city has a place or two to take in that vantage point.  Sydney also has the Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon, which we also visited later in the day.  The Center City has the Sydney Tower where we paid about 20 AU and rode up to the top to see the views.

View to the Olympic Park

View to the Olympic Park

View to Harbour Bridge with a peek a boo Opera House between buildings

View to Harbour Bridge with a peek a boo Opera House between buildings

View below to the Queen Victoria Building

View below to the Queen Victoria Building

Our next stop was the Queen Victoria Building, an historic building with well preserved architecture that today is an upscale shop emporium.

Queen Victoria Building

Queen Victoria Building

After visiting her "mall"; we paid a visit to Queen Victoria's statue on Macquarie St. 

The Queen Victoria statue on Macquarie St

The Queen Victoria statue on Macquarie St

Francis Greenway designed building built to house convicts

Francis Greenway designed building built to house convicts

After touring the Center City and Macquarie St, we headed down to the Circular Quay where the Sydney Ferries depart for all points around Sydney Harbour.  They are very easy to use, as well as scenic and we purchased a multi day pass, which also made them more affordable.  

Circular Quay where all the ferries are dispatched

Circular Quay where all the ferries are dispatched

One of the Sydney Ferries

One of the Sydney Ferries

Our next destination was to the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  One of the popular activities is the Bridge Climb.  Check out the link to see how involved this experience is.  Even though it looked like an amazing thing to do, we did not participate for a couple of reasons.  First, with just 6 days to tour the area, we didn't want to spend nearly half a day with orientation, gearing up and climbing the bridge, when lift up the Pylon would only take an hour and we'd get the same great views.  Also, with no cameras allowed (a group photo is included) it was a hard sell to Jeff! 

Instead we booked the trip up an elevator into one of the pylons, Pylon Lookout experience to get a view over the city.  This was a good option for a short trip, and for anyone for whom climbing is not possible. We got some photos of the bridge climbers and incredible views of the city!

Bridge Climbers working their way up the bridge- notice the flags still flying at half mast after the Bali bombings.

Bridge Climbers working their way up the bridge- notice the flags still flying at half mast after the Bali bombings.

Pylon Tour at the Bridge, there is a small exhibit about the project, which in it's time was an amazing feat of engineering.

Pylon Tour at the Bridge, there is a small exhibit about the project, which in it's time was an amazing feat of engineering.

A view of the Opera House from the bridge

A view of the Sydney Harbor

After our trip up the Bridge Pylon, we took the Ferry back to the Royal Botanical Garden.  This lovely park was a great place to get those shots with both the bridge and the Opera House.

View of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge from Royal Botanic Gardens

View of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge from Royal Botanic Gardens

In addition to the gardens along the harbor, there is also an area called Domain, where locals gather for demonstrations and events. 

A display for victims of breast cancer on the Domain

A display for victims of breast cancer on the Domain

We also visited green houses of the Palm Garden with more tender plants. This is where I had my first experience of- this place is so amazing!! Walking around much of Sydney feels very much like walking around any major sea coast city in my own country, I didn't feel like I was in someplace that was so "foreign" to me, it was easy to get lulled into a feeling of "i'm not thousands of miles from home" kind of feeling and then WHAM...I'd see something that would remind me "we are not in Kansas anymore!" 

This amazing Wolemi Pine was one of those moments for me.  Scientists had recently discovered this plant in an unidentified part of Australia (they won't identify exactly where to protect them from poachers).  This neat looking little pine tree is special because in addition to being native to Australia it is estimated to have been growing in Australia for more than 100 million years! Not this actual tree, but the species, still it's pretty cool to see something that predates humans still growing in the ground!  For Jeff this "we aren't in Kansas anymore moment came on his first night wandering through this park with colleagues. It was beginning to get dusky out and Jeff saw shadows of things the size of  cats leaping from tree to tree.  Then he saw many of these "cat sized things" hopping from tree to tree.  His Australian colleagues utterly ignored all of this, so Jeff asked "What is that?!" He was told, "oh those are just Flying Foxes" (a type of large bat) Well, we are used to pigeons and maybe a few squirrels, but we had not experienced anything like cat sized bats leaping through the tress in a city park!

The Wolemi Pine

The Wolemi Pine

These lovely jacaranda trees are in full bloom in October (spring) but unlike the Wolemi, they are not native!  Non natives is huge issue in Australia, where species of animals and plants introduced only a couple of hundred years ago, are competing with native flora and fauna that existed for millions of years. It's the reason Australia is so careful about imports and the things residents and travelers bring into the country.

Beautiful jacaranda trees were in bloom when we visited.

Beautiful jacaranda trees were in bloom when we visited.

The park also features Mrs Macquaries Point, which provides the perfect spot for an iconic photo.  You'll have to wait your turn, but the good news is you won't need a selfie stick (which didn't exist when we went anyway), there are plenty of fellow tourists to take your photo!

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