Taronga Zoo

The next day we decided to explore across the harbor by ferry. We took the ferry over to the Taronga Zoo, described as a "zoo with a view" since you take a tram up the hill and have a beautiful view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House from the zoo. This is the pace to see all the animals that are unique to Australia. The Crocodile Hunter hadn't blown up internationally yet, and there were still animals I didn't know even existed!

 The "zoo with a view"

 The "zoo with a view"

At the time we visited, many of the exhibits at the Taronga Zoo were set up as enclosures where visitors can enter and walk among the animals in their environment.  I'm not sure if the zoo is still set up this way, but when we visited, we entered an enclosure with emu first. Jeff put a camera bag down behind him in part of the enclosure to take photos of the ostrich. Another emu then made it's way over to his bag and began peeking inside to see what was what!  Suddenly there was a 6 foot tall bird standing inches behind him inspecting his bag! It's pretty terrifying when a bird taller than I am with a huge beak and claws decided it wants to check out your bag. Jeff quickly tried to reclaim his bag before the emu decided it should have it or eat something inedible from inside it!!  We decided to leave quickly, but not before Jeff got a very close up!

Look at the size of those "talons"!!  If this ostrich decided he didn't like us, I don't like our chances!

Look at the size of those "talons"!!  If this ostrich decided he didn't like us, I don't like our chances!

We entered another enclosure where there were several kangaroo and wallabies.  We probably should have known better than to join anymore animals in their homes, but we hadn't read Bill Bryson's book, In A Sunburned Country,  which points out that Australia has "more things that will kill you than anywhere else", so we were naive to the danger, which was probably a good thing!  Luckily, the Kangaroo enclosure was much less threatening!

Kangaroo

Kangaroo

These little wallabies were not only not threatening, they seemed a little shy standing in their corner.

These little wallabies were not only not threatening, they seemed a little shy standing in their corner.

The one animal they would not let us near was the koala.  We learned despite their "cuddly" look, it doesn't match their nature!

The one animal they would not let us near was the koala.  We learned despite their "cuddly" look, it doesn't match their nature!

Another animal close encounter...through out the park peacocks and hens wander freely.  This peacock seemed very interested in me, it followed us all around and kept opening his feathers and very aggressively pursuing me!  Instead of protecting my honor, Jeff decided to take photos! Later I asked the zookeepers why this was happening (did I look like a pea hen??)  Well as it turns out I did in fact have on a dark blue coat, which he explained drives the pea cocks crazy with love, even if they get a little confused about the whole inter species breeding thing!

Are you like me, did you ever sing about a kookabura (in the old gum tree) and wonder just what the heck that was?  Well, this is a kookabura!  We also learned what a "gum tree" is (hint: it's not what I thought as a 3rd grader, a tree filled with already chewed bubble gum) It's a type of tree with smooth bark, like the omnipresent eucalyptus trees you see in Australia.

kookabura

kookabura

One of the amazing parts of our visit to Australia was that for as "familiar" as the city felt with its open culture and beautiful harbor, every time I turned around I would learn about some flora or fauna that I had never even heard about before, much less actually seen!  This little marsupial below is a [perfect example.  It's an echidna; has a pouch like a kangaroo, looks like a porcupine and is shaped like a hedge hog!  The echidna became the mascot of my trip to Australia...it's more amazing than you expect and you don't know what you don't know about this place!

The sweet little echidna became the mascot for my amazement of the varied flora and fauna in Australia!

The sweet little echidna became the mascot for my amazement of the varied flora and fauna in Australia!

Trip across Sydney Harbour to Watson's Bay, Manly Beach and the Sydney Harbour National Park Gap Bluff

Because we were already across the harbor, we decided to use the ferries to see a few more things across from the center city.  We made a visit to have lunch at Doyle's in Watson's Bay and walked up to the Sydney Harbour National Park at Gap Bluff and the Hornby light house on the South Head.  Then we took a ferry over to Manly Beach on shore near the North Head.

Manly Beach is out in the open Pacific, and it is well known for it's surfing.  The breakers were pretty calm on the spring day we visited!

Manly Beach is out in the open Pacific, and it is well known for it's surfing.  The breakers were pretty calm on the spring day we visited!

Manly had a beautiful beach strip with lots of hotels, shops and restaurants.

Manly had a beautiful beach strip with lots of hotels, shops and restaurants.

Across the mouth of the harbor, the South Head features a National Park.  After lunch at Doyles, a huge multi-story seafood restaurant located on the beach, with inside and outside sitting and takeaway, we took a hike up the South Head past the Macquarie Light through Dunbar and up to the Gap Bluff.

Here I am enjoying some delicious fried shrimp (prawns) takeaway from Doyle's on the sea wall at Watson's Bay

Here I am enjoying some delicious fried shrimp (prawns) takeaway from Doyle's on the sea wall at Watson's Bay

Jeff at the Macquarie Light House

Jeff at the Macquarie Light House

Dunbar is named for the wreck of the Dunbar in 1857, the anchor from the ship is left at the site of the wreck to commemorate the men who died in the wreck. 

Dunbar is named for the wreck of the Dunbar in 1857, the anchor from the ship is left at the site of the wreck to commemorate the men who died in the wreck. 

You can see from the cliffs and rocks at the mouth of the harbor why it was so dangerous for ships coming into the harbor!

You can see from the cliffs and rocks at the mouth of the harbor why it was so dangerous for ships coming into the harbor!

We walked out to Gap Bluff

We walked out to Gap Bluff

A freighter leaving the harbor

A freighter leaving the harbor

A beautiful view of the city from the ferries.

A beautiful view of the city from the ferries.

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