After getting settled at the hotel, it was too early to take a nap (about 9AM local time) so we headed over to the Royal Botanic Gardens. One end of the gardens border the Opera House, so it seemed like a logical next stop for us. The place was gorgeous but very different than any of the botanic gardens in the US. It felt much more like a park. The wide open lawns gave way to some breathtaking views of the harbour and seemed designed for picnicking and relaxing in the sun.
This was our first introduction to the royal ibis which is almost as common in Sydney as a pigeon. Early in the morning, the garden welcomes a host of runners and other folks out for their exercise.
Tucked away at the far end of the garden is a lap pool overlooking the water. Early morning is a busy time with nearly every lane being full of swimmers. We poked our heads into the art gallery but by then were so tired, we shuffled back to the hotel bar for a short meal (a passable pizza) and crashed at 730. Here’s the album.
The next morning, we awoke at 3. And again at 4. And once more at 5. Finally at 7 we staggered out of bed and found breakfast. We found a cute little cafe near the Quay and decided to head for the Taronga Zoo. Getting to the zoo is an interesting experience. There is a direct ferry over, and then you take a cable car to the top. Much like the National Zoo, Taronga is set on a hillside. It’s slightly more convenient to navigate in that you start at the top and work your way back down to the ferry. The zoo is well laid out with all the Australian animals near the beginning. They also have a large number of exhibits that you can walk through and see the animals (birds and small mammals mostly) without the nuisance of bars.
Of course the stars of the zoo are the Koalas. For $20 you can get your picture taken with them and then get 10 minutes to take as many pictures as you can possibly squeeze out. We found out their fur is coarse, like raw wool, and that petting them in New South Wales is illegal. Even without that, they’re easy to spot at the zoo. I (Drew) was unimpressed by them. I can see where the rumors of drop-bears come from because they have this look halfway between being asleep and saying “You lookin’ at me?”. We both wanted to snuggle one but we’ll have to find another place to do so.
We also got to see a wombat up close. He bites, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to get petted. The platypus was really cute but also crowded and dark so we couldn’t get pictures. Seeing an echidna up close really made it look like a tiny little porcupine. And of course the kangaroos and wallabies were pretty chill. It wasn’t that hot when we went but they were already sprawled out in the sun. The kangaroos looked suspiciously like Joe Camel. I really wanted to put some sunglasses on one.
Around the Zoo there are dinosaurs. We saw a robot dimetrodon without his skin on and these tiny little raptors terrorizing some planters. We could never figure out what they were for but we did like the the little guys.
Here are the rest of our zoo pictures. We’ll follow up with our last day in Sydney (Darling Harbour) here shortly.