I’m fortunate to be sent by my work to places that form new bases for adventure and exploration, places that it might take me longer to get to under my own steam. It’s how I got to Australia this year. I was in Gold Coast for a week, and took advantage of a clear weekend to go surfing, visit Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, and take a hike up Mount Warning. One of my lovely colleagues had appointed herself tour guide for the weekend, and I was grateful for the company.
One of the things I’d been told many times by, at last count, every single one of of my Australian colleagues, is that all the creatures in Australia want to kill you. I’m not sure if they were joking. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary seemed like a safe option to learn about some of the more weird and wonderful beasties that can only be found in the southern hemisphere. It’s a nice place to wander around (or take the miniature railway if you don’t feel like walking) with large areas dedicated to mimicking natural habitats, but it’s also set up well for education, which I appreciated. There is a veterinary and rehabilitation hospital for sick and injured wildlife, and we found a friendly guide to talk to us about the current patients.
Red pandas (not pandas), lorikeets, iguanas, meerkats, and of course kangaroos. I can’t believe I didn’t take a single photograph of a koala, though. Or the crocodile.
Mount Warning was saved until the early morning. Extra early because we were leaving Queensland and crossing into the daylight saving territory of New South Wales where we’d calculated the sunrise times from. It’s a fairly evenly strenuous 5.5 mile hike up to 3,800ft/1,160m, with the exception of a 100m stretch right at the top that is a scramble with a chain assist which reminded me a little of the Elie Chain Walk. Most of the walk is quite shaded, through towering forest, but it was still surprisingly hot despite the early start. We were lucky with the weather though, and the views from the top, whilst a little hazy, were spectacular. And a well-deserved brunch at Mavis’s Kitchen was waiting for us when we got back.
After my week in Gold Coast, I headed home via Sydney. I’d already visited for various meetings during the week, but hadn’t had a chance to explore at all, so I used my day in the city to try and get around as much as possible.
I love exploring cities on foot, and Sydney turned out to be pretty walkable. There are ups and downs too; plenty of bridges and hills to get some wonderful views. I did get asked a lot when I got back whether I’d been to any of the beaches. Perhaps this was an error, but as you know I’m not the biggest fan of beaches. There’s an element of “when in Rome” but to be honest I only had a day and I wanted to practise my photography as well!
First stop after my sunrise walk by the water was the Opera House. By this time it was already rather bright, so I went more B&W and abstract.
It was pretty deserted though, not quite time for the cafes and restaurants to be open and so too early for many people to be out and about.
Wandering along the waterside in search of breakfast, I came across yet more Australian wildlife. Actually, I was pretty confident that only 50% of these would be able to kill me.
Aussie breakfast with flat white, eggs, avo, and sweet potato rosti completed, I went to hang out in the botanical gardens and visit the carnivorous plants exhibit in the Calyx. An added bonus was the spritzes of water that were sent into the air periodically to keep the plants happy. I got a little sunburned, managed to get lost quite a bit, and generally had a wonderful couple of hours wandering amongst the trees and flowers.
As the afternoon clouded over, I crossed the water to Kirribili.
The northern side of the harbour is also home to Luna Park, where I had a wander along the boardwalk and scouted spots for taking photos at magic time/blue hour. It reminded me a little of Blackpool Pleasure Beach, and I got lost in nostalgia for a while.
Magic time arrived!
I do love this time of day, cities start to come to life a little more and show off their bright lights with none of the grime of the day visible. It’s hard to look drab in these kinds of conditions!
Sydney was wonderful, and I would love to go back sometime when I can spend more than a day. I’m fairly sure I haven’t even scratched the surface.