Tuesday 3 February
It’s a late flight this evening to Sydney from Hong Kong and it is full in Premium Economy, leaves 30 minutes late and it is gone 11pm HK time when dinner is served. Another hour passes before tables cleared away and desert served but despite this, do get a few hours sleep.
Wednesday 4 February
Arrival in Sydney co-incides with a few other flights so lines for immigration relatively long. However, some helpful staff member points us in the right direction of a few “ATM style” automatic machines and we manage to by pass the queues and are out, with luggage within about 15 mins.
Take train to Circular Quay and walk to hotel. One room not quite ready but we leave Luggage in the one that is ready and go out for a bit of lunch. John & I then head off for THE Bridge climb at 4:15 with Deirdre and Sally off to get wet on the jet boat in the harbour.
The girls get absolutely soaked on their tour which turns out to be a double turn as it had to return because someone was sick.
John and I get to the reception area for the bridge walk and get kitted out in these very fetching (not) jump suits, harnesses and have everything clipped on to avoid them flying away. Even our hats are clipped on.
The first part is a walk along the base level of the bridge, above sea and shore road level to the first bridge support which we then walk through and up stairs to the main part. We clamber through a part between two lanes of fast moving traffic, squeeze through some of the supports and out onto the bridge.
Surprisingly, we are now over the worst of the climb as the part going up the curve of the bridge is relatively straightforward.
Our party is slowed down by a few less able people so we actually get more time on the bridge than others usually have. At least two parties catch us up although there is no pressure to speed up, no passing places and stops are frequently made for photos.
A by-plane passes over us and we just cross over to the other span to start our descent and the cruise ship that was in harbour starts it’s slow reversal to leave the harbour area.
The descent is quicker although one ladder is virtually vertical which does slow up our ageing party.
Off the bridge and disrobe, we are back in the hotel by about 7 and head out to Appetito for dinner. A good meal later and we flake out for a well earned rest.
What an experience, it actually isn’t as hard as it seems and the instructors make it so easy for everyone – an experience to be savoured.
Thursday 5 February
An early start after bought croissants for breakfast, saves the $25 cost per person in the hotel, and we are met on time by Steve for our tour of Sydney.
The tour was organised through Real Sydney Tours and was designed to let us see some of the parts we wouldn’t normally see as tourists.
Steve is a part time actor as well as tour guide and has appeared in Rake – the one with a nappy and a prostitute – so will need to look out for it when we get home.
We are first taken to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair in the Botanical gardens, where we hadn’t gone last time. Then out to the suburbs, hugging the coastline towards the end of the harbour, past many a fabulous house. Seafront houses of course command a premium and some of these will cost about A$10m.
Stop for a drink and biscuits at Parsley Bay, a virtually deserted lovely little cove with some interesting sandstone rock formations.
Get bitten by a few sand flies so anyone reading this, beware. On to other bays including a stop at Bondi Beach, crowded, lots of surf but a bit shabby, and to Watson’s Bay, where sadly CCTV is in evidence to try and prevent suicide jumps as it appears to be the area where most people try suicide.
Some exercises being conducted by rescue services, particularly abseiling. See some black swans in Centennial Park.
Lunch back in Sydney at a pub near Darling Harbour – large portions – and a drop off back at the hotel in time for a train ride to the Town Hall and a walk around the QVB with particular attention to the hobby shop.
Dinner not really required but room for a chocolate fix in the hotel’s nearby Gruyeren chocolate shop.
Hand over Claire’s computer to Simone and pack ready for tomorrow’s flight to Melbourne.
Watch this space for the next part of our adventure.