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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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