Friday already! Can you believe it?! My time in Sydney is whooshing by and I’m having a lovely time. Missing home, missing people, but on the whole enjoying my adventures :-)
I like Sydney a lot, here are some reasons why…
> it’s very easy to navigate
> there’s so much to do! Really varied and lots of really cool free activities
> lots of things are very nearby or easily accessible by public transport
> there’s a free bus that whooshes you through the CBD, in my case to and from the hostel to circular quay
> people are mostly friendly and I’ve been offered help and directions around the train station
> you can eat all the things at anytime of the day and night
Anyway, today’s main activity is a 4 hour whale watching boat trip. Eeeeekkk! Before heading off i check out of my room ready to check into the next, hopefully quieter room later on this afternoon. Room stuff sorted.
I have breakfast and get to Circular Quay at circa 0845 ready to leave at 0915.
The boat arrives, me and a couple of others get on, the rest of the whale watchers boarded at Darling Harbour. A brief introduction to safety (this is how to put on your life jacket) by one of our two crew and out we go into the open waters. I’m excited! Even just to be on the boat, in the sea!
It’s a shame I can’t remember the names of the chaps that were crewing the boat, because they were fun, telling us what to look out for and some interesting whale facts, apparently whales have hip bones… I need to verify this though!
The migration of the whales starts around the beginning of June and peaks toward the end of June/beginning of July. The mothers and the calves come first so we’d missed them. If we were going to see any it would juveniles.
We had to look out for when the whales come to the surface to breathe and the puffs of water/air that come up. It wasn’t before long that a fellow watcher spotted some and we chugged over in that general direction. By law the boats cannot get closer than 100 metres to the whales. The crew made mention of this several times and that it was important that we didn’t crowd the whales as that would frighten them. I could see how this could happen as there were several other whale a thing boats out on the water at the same time as us and we saw then a bit of a race to the nearest whales, our boat didn’t go to them, as our crew pointed out, it would be too much for the whales and I’m glad they did that, because that’s exactly what I was thinking. There were plenty of other whales going by and it wasn’t long before we saw another group of 3, having an arm flap and a tail wave :-) I know it’s all the cliches, but it’s a really magical experience. Well, it was for me. They were humpbacks the whales we saw, but the crew said that orcas come that way too a d there have been blue whale sightings, but they are very rare. Minkys also migrate this way, whale-tastic!
As well as the whales swimming by there were loads of dolphins and they were just a delight :-) So playful :-) They kept trying to get a ride from the boat jumping through the water alongside us. Ace!
One of the things I loved about being out at sea watching for whales and dolphins is the sounds they make when they come up for air. Like a whooshing noise.
There were also loads of sea birds diving into the water to catch a tasty morsel or two.
I was having a lovely time, until I sat down! Now on the jaunt out to the sea I’d been sat down and felt fine. While we were spotting whales is been stood up and felt fine. I had a little sit down and after about 7 minutes I started to feel really queasy and thought I was going to do a sick! Booooo!!! I got to my feet and thought standing up would help and it did but the queasiness stayed so I went downstairs to the back of the boat, if I was going to do a sick over the side it wouldn’t be in front of other people!!!
One of the crew came down to go to the loo and he checked in on me, offered me water, told me to look at the horizon, and I started to feel better. Then it was time to go back. Once we got moving again the sickness feeling went away, odd hey. I’m glad though that I wasn’t like that the whole time as that would have ruined whale watch Friday :-/
I think we saw about 17 whales in total and loads of dolphins. I really enjoyed being out on the boat, not so much for the feeling queasy part, but on the whole it was a wonderful experience :-)
On the way back into Circular Quay I had a chat with a man called Colin form Adelaide. He, as it turns out, had been to Brighton on a meditation course! Imagine that. Anyway, he’s really into whales and invited me out join him at a museum at Darling Harbour, I politely declined as I was getting off at Circular Quay and had plans for the botanical gardens in the afternoon.
We got back at around 1pm, I said my thanks and goodbyes to the crew and Colin and made my way up to the botanical gardens which are very close by to Circular Quay and the Opera House.
En route to the botanical gardens I came across a house of the governor of NSW, Marie Bashir. She’s the first female governor of NSW. They offer free tours which cover a bit of the history of the place too. I was just in for time for the 1.30 tour, checked my bag and got my ticket from a very handsome information man, a bit of a Clark Kent look about him, and meandered along the driveway to meet the volunteer tour guide, Michael at the entrance to the house.
Now, Michael was a character, incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the gothic style house, it’s furniture, decoration and it’s history. He bloody loved the furniture and the decor of the house and had an inventory of all the pieces in the house, all of them and so could tell us anything we wanted to know about any piece of furniture! Imagine that!
We walked through the hallway of the house Michael pointing out the portraits of all the governors of NSW right back to the when the English colonised. Marie Bashir, the current governor is standing down in October after 13 years in office. Then here portrait will appear in the hallway and the last Englishman to be governor of NSW will be moved into the bigger hall where all the oldest of the governors portraits are.
We followed Michael through to the study, where the governor conducts any special, fancy meetings. Michael pointed out where there was an extension to the original building.
Moving on we enter a dining room. Very fancy. This is where ceremonial lunches and dinners are held with examples of menus from the different ages. It’s a a fairly modest room, but impressive in it’s decoration, fireplace and chandelier.
Once out of the dining room we enter a set of drawing rooms with the most eclectic mix of furniture and soft furnishings. According to Michael the governor of the day chooses what they want in each of the rooms and this mix is Marie Bashirs choice. I quite like it. A contemporary crimson carpet, is eye catching with a wonderful swirly sort of 60s pattern to it. A range of furniture from across the decades, stand lamps, settees and a coffee table are set out in the space of a drawing room where, we’re told Marie Bashir entertains regularly.
Out of the drawing rooms and back on ourselves to go into the final room of the tour, the ballroom. Now this room has wonderful vistas across the well kept gardens of the house and out over the harbour. I’ve already suggested to boy Joe that we might like to get this place as our not so small holding, in the future :-) It’s totally wonderfully located.
The ballroom has been restored, but the people that designed and decorated the rooms left detailed drawings, instructions, etc with the library so when it came to restoration, all the information they needed was there. Amazing.
Again Michael pointed out where there’d been an extension and we had before and after pictures of this too. I like seeing how the space has evolved from governor to governor.
This was to be the end of a vey enjoyable tour, Michael said goodbye and let us out onto the patio of the gardens of the house. I had a little mooch around, noted that there was a greenhouse :-) good for the small holding growing veg :-) I made use of the facilities for a wee and then made my way out of the grounds of the governors house, stopping to collect my bag from Clark Kent, where he was dealing with quite an odd man. He did very well and he looked very relieved when he’d done all he needed to with this chap! Anyway, I learnt some things, basics even, like who the governor of NSW is! I also enjoyed having a snoop round her house :-)
Hurray for living museums!
By this point my belly was telling me to put some food in it, so I took a walk into the the botanical gardens to find a spot for lunch. After a mooch around I settled on a bench looking out over the harbour to eat lunch. I love the botanical gardens. They are ace. I love the openness and the space and the variety and the views and the peace of them. You could spend hours and hours, and I did, spend a couple of hours just being there, taking it all in. Lovely.
I think this is something that Iain Worrall, with his keen nose, would like :-) Lots of different smells, nice smells, refreshing smells, sweet smells, cleansing smells as you walk through the different sections of the gardens.
There are various status, sculptures and fountains dotted around too. Lovely. Just lovely.
As it was starting to get dark, the gardens close at 1700, I started to make my way back to the hostel via Hyde Park! It’s miniature compared to the London one, but still a pleasant cut thorough and nice change from Pitt Street and George Street.
I’d no plans for Friday night, which to be honest was probably a good thing. I was so tired from the early mornings and long days so a bit of relaxy time would be good. I got back and checked into my new room, which I had all to myself! Imagine that. The rest of the evening was spent catching up with myself, skyping with Mrs I and that sort of thing. As I climbed into the bed, ready for a sleep I thought I might like a little lie in tomorrow :-)
Sorry I’m being so crap with pics… I need to upload to the flickr…