By Joanne Niswander
Sydney, Australia, October 11, 2000
On a scale of 1 to 10, I'm ready to give Sydney close to a 10 (for a city, that is). My daughter Lee and I arrived here 6 days ago, on a lovely sunny spring day in Australia. We promptly treated ourselves to some of the most beautiful sights of this city that has one of the most beautiful harbors in the world.
The Royal Botanical Gardens were abloom with wisteria, azaleas, poppies, and other flowing plants. Giant fig trees spread wide along the winding paths. Yellow-crowned cockatoos and ibises walked along beside us, not paying any attention to us or the camera.
Just around the corner from the Botanical Gardens loomed the famous Sydney Opera House - its huge white "sails" gleaming in the sun. With the background of blue harbor waters and the colorful ferries that take both residents and visitors to other destinations, it was just like the pictures in the brochures.
We sat alongside the ferry docks at one of the many outside restaurants and enjoyed an early dinner while watching the rest of the world go by. Hundreds of sight-seers like ourselves, plus many businesspeople running to catch a ferry for a way home, were our entertainment for that evening.
The following day, Lee and I checked out Sydney's historic places in the area called The Rocks where the first residents settled. We enjoyed looking at the varied facades of the old buildings - showing a distinct English flavor. We also visited the grand indoor marketplace, the Queen Victoria Market, and vowed to return another day to have High Tea in the Tea Room (unfortunately, that never happened).
Lee's husband, Dick, and their 13 year old son Elliott arrived on Saturday and, since that time, we've been showing them all the treasures we had already discovered, plus a few more. Yesterday we all took the ferry to the Taronga Zoo, touted to be one of the best zoos in the world. We would agree! Native Australian animals and birds are featured, so we got a real dose of what wildlife we might be able to see during the remaining two weeks of our stay in Australia.
Here in Sydney, we are staying in a very interesting town home. It's scarcely 15 feet wide but it stretches back from the street for 8-10 times that much. There is a patio, open to the sky, smack in the middle of the house with palm trees and ferns. There is no central heating system, but each room has a portable heater if we need it (we've braved it out!)
Today I'm staying "home" while Lee, Dick and Elliott do something my senior citizen body isn't quite up to (nor would I have done it even when I was 25). They are climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge - a bridge built in 1932 that connects the north and south shores of the harbor. The young and eager sign up for a 4 hour tour that takes them up ladders and across catwalks and arches to the top of the bridge, then back down (they ARE tethered to the bridge, so I DO expect to see them back here later today).
Tomorrow we fly out to Lord Howe Island - reportedly one that is great for birders and photographers. We'll be there for four days before we come back to the mainland and head north to the area of the Great Barrier Reef. By the time we get there, we'll be much nearer the equator, so probably won't need sweaters any more.
I don't know when I'll get back to the computer again, but when I do, I'll let you know what's going on in this fascinating land Down Under.