An Odyssey Down Under: Australia and New Zealand Day 30 & 31

Friday, March 6 and Saturday, March 7

This morning we checked out of our hotel and were transported to the Cairns Airport for our flight to Sydney.

Our flight was delayed so by the time we arrived in Sydney it was late afternoon. Below are views of the Reef as we flew over the water on our way to Sydney.

We spent the night at a hotel right by the airport. It was time to say goodbye to our group. We all had various flight times and some were extending their trip in Sydney.

Our flight was 11:00 AM Saturday morning. We were up early and walked to the airport to check in. Covid-19 was now becoming a worldwide pandemic so we didn’t know what to expect when we landed in Los Angeles.

Sydney Airport

Our flight to Los Angeles departed close to on time. We were glad of this because our connection from LA to Columbus was a little over two hours and we would need to clear customs. A big help was our Global Entry!

Several hours into our flight!

When we landed in LA we were expecting to have our temperature taken or some sort of Covid-19 screening but the only thing we were asked was if we had been to Asia within the last 14 days. We were lucky since we had such a short time frame to catch our flight home!

After being gone for a month, the “Welcome to the United States of America” sign was a greeting that we were thrilled to see! Our trip to New Zealand and Australia was incredible but as the saying goes “there’s no place like home”!

An Odyssey Down Under: Australia and New Zealand Day 21

Wednesday, February 26

We left Sydney and flew to Melbourne this morning.

In the air, leaving Sydney

Our site coordinator for Melbourne, Australia. The motorcoach took us through part of the city as we left the airport on our way to the Royal Botanic Gardens for lunch.

On our ride we saw many of the Olympic Park Venues.

The Royal Botanic Gardens was where we stopped for lunch and then walked around the gardens. It was founded in 1846 and encompasses 94 acres.

Some of the flowers in the gardens.

The Shrine of Remembrance was our next stop. It is a war memorial in Melbourne and honors all Australian men and women who have served in any war. Once a year on November 11th and 11 AM which is Remembrance Day, a ray of sunlight shines through an aperture in the roof to light up the word “love” on the marble stone in the center that says “Greater Love Hath No Man”.

We went up the Eureka Skydeck. We rode an elevator to the 88th floor for 360˚ views of Melbourne.

After dinner we decided to walk around and visited Melbourne Chinatown. We saw many Chinese restaurants, businesses, places of worship, and cultural venues. In front of one of the stores we stopped and watched a woman making dumplings! They looked delicious!

After walking around town, we were tired and decided to hear back to our hotel and called it a night!

An Odyssey Down Under: Australia and New Zealand Day 20

Tuesday, February 25

We spent the morning at the Taronga Zoo. It is Australia’s largest zoo and is located on the shores of Sydney Harbour. It was founded in 1916 and consists of approximately 69 acres. We were in smaller groups for our tour of the zoo with one of the zoo’s docents.

Just a few of the many animals that we visited at the zoo!

From the zoo we had a great view of Sydney across the harbour.

Looking at Sydney from the Zoo.

We took the ferry from the zoo to cross the harbour. We then had a tour of the Sydney Opera House! Our tour was hurried because security was being put in place because the Israeli prime minister was attending the opera this evening. No photos are allowed in the 11 various theaters .

It was great to have the tour this afternoon because this evening we are attending the opera, “Don Giovanni” in the Joan Sutherland theater! At intermission you are permitted to take photos.

It was an evening we won’t forget!

An Odyssey Down Under: Australia and New Zealand Day 19

Monday, February 24

Our morning started with a lecture by a history teacher that shared with us all about Australia’s past and some of her family history as well, which was interesting because of the convicts on her husband’s side.

After the lecture we boarded our motorcoach for an exploration of the City of Sydney and its eastern suburbs. Our first stop was Dudley Page Reserve which is a park in Dover Heights.

We also stopped at The Gap which is an ocean cliff on the South Head peninsula and it faces the Tasman Sea. It is located in Watsons Bay which is another eastern suburb.

Macquarie Lighthouse

The original Macquarie Lighthouse was built in 1818. A replacement was built on the original site in 1883 and it continues to operate.

Bondi Beach was where we had lunch and enjoyed the views! Bondi Beach is one of the best beaches in the world. There were a lot of people enjoying the sand and surf!

Our afternoon was free. We went back to Sydney and Kay got ready to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was a beautiful afternoon and warm. It was a highlight for Kay during our stay in Sydney.

We rode public transportation to get to our hotel to get ready for dinner.

Our ride!

Dinner was on our own this evening. We used an app to find a restaurant that offered a gluten free menu. We walked from our hotel to King Street Wharf at Darling Harbour where we enjoyed a delicious Italian meal sitting outside on the patio at Casa.

An Odyssey Down Under: Australia and New Zealand Day 18

Sunday, February 23

Our morning started with a lecture giving us an introduction and overview of Sydney. Then we boarded our motorcoach that took us down near Sydney Harbour and our site coordinator led us on a walking tour. We were excited to get our first glimpse of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.

On our walk we passed by the Writer’s Walk. There are 60 circular metal plaques along the path. They honor the lives and works of well-known Australian writers and some overseas authors. Each plaque contains quotes from one of the author’s notable works and some information about the author.

From there we strolled to The Rocks which is Sydney’s oldest historic neighborhood of laneways.

The Rocks was the first European colony and was established in 1788 when ships filled with convicts came from England to settle the colony of New South Wales.

We also passed through the Nurse’s Walk. The Nurse’s Walk was created in 1979 to honor the nurses that worked in the hospitals in this area in the late 1700s and early 1800s. It runs into Suez Canal which is a laneway that was constructed in 1840 and it was an area where the street gang, Rocks Push, would hang out.

We walked up several flights of stairs and then down a street to the Australian Hotel for lunch. It is one of the oldest pubs in The Rocks.

After lunch we had a cruise on the Sydney Harbour! It was a relaxing afternoon with beautiful scenery.

This evening we walked from our hotel to have dinner at a restaurant along Cockle Bay Wharf. On our walk we passed “the nest” building in Darling Square. It is a mixed-use building and was designed by a Japanese architecture firm.

“The Nest” in Darling Harbour

Below our pictures from our walk around Darling Harbour at Cockle Bay Wharf.

Our first full day in Sydney was packed-full of educational learning, experiencing the area, and sightseeing!