Last stop: Sydney!

Catherine and I spent 2 days in Sydney. We had had a great view from our room:

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We walked and shopped (of course)…

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I was tempted to buy Han Solo in carbonite for my son, Chris, but thankfully he was not for sale. (Lorna, aren’t you glad this isn’t coming home to your house?!)

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We walked in the gardens… that’s a fig tree!

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We went to the Art Gallery of New South Wales where we got to view the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. There are 6 of them, each similar to each other, but different.

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The 2018 Archibald paintings were also on exhibit but we chose not to pay to go, mostly because I had a sinus headache that was trying to kill me. Not really ‘kill’ me, but it definitely slowed me down. Darn, right?!

Vivid Sydney is happening now. Once it gets dark, the city around the harbor is filled with light and music. It was lovely! We saw it from the water one night. Last night we walked the streets. So, this is the Opera House by day:

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And the same Opera House, lit during Vivid. The projected images changed, morphing from one thing to another…

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There were random displays…

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Catherine loved this one, that was all about microbes…

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And now it’s time to go home. I’m going to miss Catherine! We had such a good time together. It’s going to feel lonely for a while. I’m glad that we can FaceTime until the next time we can get together in the real world.

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Newcastle sites…

Catherine lives across the street from the Newcastle Museum — how cool is that! There is a famous/photogenic camel outside and I had to take a photo. (Honestly, the camel is best when seen from afar. He’s kind of scary up close.)

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The children’s area was way more fun than I expected. There were several good interactive exhibits involving magnets, and one where you could lift a real (small) car with a lever and ropes. Physics in action.

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The coal industry is huge in Newcastle and it was a big steel producer. The steel industry shut down but there is a big part of the museum dedicated to it. This is 1 ton of coal. It makes you wonder who looked at that rock and had the idea to burn it. That would not be my first thought.

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We hiked up the 136 stairs to the Newcastle Memorial Walk. It was built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli in 1915 and the commencement of steel making in Newcastle.

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The names of soldiers are inscribed on the metal figures.

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The views are amazing. Catherine says they are more amazing when it’s sunny but I appreciated them nonetheless.

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Coal Ship

Beach from Anzac Walk

A small memorial just outside the fence was peaceful, even with the chain link.

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The rain moved in and we went shopping. I really, really hope everything fits in my suitcase :-).

The Hunter Valley Gardens…

We went back to the Hunter Valley to visit the Gardens on Sunday. It’s been rainy but we were lucky and it was a beautiful day. Most of the flowers were dormant but that really didn’t matter to me. I enjoyed the fall display.

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The hedges are skillfully trimmed. I especially liked the cutouts that allow you to see through to another part of the garden.

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There is a formal garden, very nice.

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There is a lovely children’s area with a Mother Goose/story book theme. My favorite thing was the big red chair:

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There are rides, but it’s off-season here so they weren’t working. That also meant fewer people in the garden with us so, actually, it was not a bad thing.

This is the safest, least-scary Ferris wheel I have ever seen. It made me wonder if it’s as much fun as those where, even though you are strapped in, it feels like you could fall out.

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The Japanese Garden was serene, as you would expect.

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My last photo of the day. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen cut roses floating in water. I hope I don’t forget this…

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Blackbutt Reserve…

Before you go getting any ideas, blackbutt is an Australian tree in the eucalyptus family. The Blackbutt Reserve, in Newcastle, is more than a park and not really a zoo. It’s a reserve providing a home to many Australian animals. And trees :-).

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This duck was the first critter I noticed. Does it look to you like he’s trying not to own that pile next to him?

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The high point was seeing the wombats (Catherine’s favorite animal) being fed. They are nocturnal but the reserve feeds them in the morning so that people can see them before they go to bed. This is Sally, 3 years old.

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And this is Clyde, who is 15. They live in different enclosures, side by side, because they are solitary animals. It appears to work for them very well.

 

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The koalas were sleeping. Very soundly.

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The kangaroos seemed thoughtful, as if they were plotting an escape.

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My favorites were the very pretty male Gouldian finches. The females were nice, but not as showy. And none posed for me.

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This fine fellow posed and posed.

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The rain started as we left. Excellent timing!

River boat cruising…

Catherine and I went on a day cruise up the Hunter River today, from Newcastle to Morpeth.

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There were just enough clouds to make the sky interesting, all day long.

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The scenery along the way was lovely.

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We mostly had the river to ourselves, except for the occasional fishermen.

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I did figure out that the concrete ‘pencils’ I saw a couple of days ago were probably posts :-).

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Farms and ranches lined the way.

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Morpeth is a scenic small village where were spent 2 hours shopping (of course) and having lunch.

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Then it was back to the boat for the return trip!

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Really relaxing is not something I do much of. This was a day of enforced relaxation… no work, no sewing, no internet. Amazing!

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Another wonderful day down under!

Seen in Newcastle, NSW…

Catherine and I were out and about today…

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There is so much to see in Newcastle! I don’t know who added the scarf to the statue, but it was a very nice touch.

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It’s fun to see fall leaves again…

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…and the shadows of bare branches against the walls.

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We saw some wonderful street art…

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I have never thought of a bullet hole in glass as being anything other than scary, but this one, patched with clear tape, caught my eye. I like the look of it, even though no one wants to see more of these, anywhere.

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Reflections in the water… ever changing, always engaging. It’s hard to stop watching!

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Traveling to the other side of the globe…

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Yes, it takes a while to fly from Texas to Australia, but that’s OK. I did pay more to have extra seat room and footrest on the 15-hour flight and Tylenol PM helped me sleep. I landed at 7AM, dazed but in pretty good shape.

The train trip from the airport in Sydney to Newcastle, where Catherine and Andrew live, was quite nice. I sat across from a dad and his daughter who were quietly entertaining for most of the 3 hour ride. Mostly I was reminded of how hard it can be to keep a youngster occupied for this sort of trip. He did a fantastic job, mostly talking to her and rarely looking at his phone. I was impressed!

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Catherine and I went walking yesterday… she and Andrew live in Newcastle near shops and restaurants, and very close to the water.

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It is so very different from my land-locked home in Sherman, TX. It’s going to be loads of fun seeing more of this part of Australia with my friend!

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