Sep 172011

This is Part IV in a series of guest posts by Frank Gourley.

Going to Aussiland – Travelogue and Photos by Frank Gourley

The Emirates plane we were flying on was a double-decker, with 10 seats across.  It will carry 480 people!  Each seat had a monitor with a touch screen.  In the seat pocket, there was a book listing all the music albums, TV programs, movies, and games available.  There were over a hundred music choices with each having up to 50-60 songs.  There were probably 40-50 movie choices.  It is no telling how many times one would have to fly around the world to listen to all the music and watch all the movies listed!  And then in May there would be a whole new line-up!

Emirates A380

When we were exiting the plane, I asked if we could see the upper floor.  They were quite accommodating and showed us the ‘shower’ (large bathroom) and seating arrangement.  Seating cubicles seated one or two people, but if four people were traveling together there was a divider between the center seats that could be lowered.  Each cubicle had a large monitor, a laptop, and a furnished bar.

Emirates A380 Upper Deck

Emirates A380 First Class Seat

 From Bondi to Circular Quay

The Central Station (bus) Terminal was about five blocks away, so we walked there and caught the Bondi Explorer.  The ticket was good for 24 hours on both the Bondi and the Sydney Explorers.  These were double-decker buses painted red.  The Bondi bus went all the way out to Bondi Beach, south and east of downtown, and then came back to town by way of several bays near downtown.  We got off at Bondi Beach and spent about an hour and a half looking around and having lunch.

After a pleasant stay there, we boarded the next bus and enjoyed views of downtown as we proceeded back to the Central Station Terminal, where we caught the Sydney Explorer.

We got off at Circular Quay to the sound of Aboriginal music.  At waterside there were a couple of people with didgeridoos and other musical percussion instruments entertaining the crowd.  I played a didgeridoo, which has been on my ‘list’ for a long time.

There was a large cruise ship docked to one side, ferries coming and going, sail boats, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House in the background (spectacular, with lots of ‘paintable scenes’)!

Since our Explorer tickets were good for 24 hours, we decided to ride the Explorer to Darling Harbour and work our way back to the hotel.  As we walked through Belmore Park to the Terminal, we saw the same group of older Chinese people that we saw the day before doing Tai Chi.   I wanted to get a picture of the group, but apparently they have a designated guard, because one of the women in the group watched me carefully until I went out of sight!  So I took a picture of the large flock of pigeons and seagulls co-mingling in the park.  They didn’t say anything to me and didn’t seem to care.  They were more interested in the food passers-by were throwing to them.  At the cross-walk to the Terminal there was a guy playing a guitar.  (Guess I can dust off my guitar when my retirement funds run out, which, if we take may more trips like this one, will be sooner than later.)

We rode the Sydney Explorer to Harborside on Darling Harbour.  When we got off there were two tall ships in the harbor.  We talked with the volunteers working on one of the tall ships, the ‘James Craig’, and got to tour the ship.  It was quite interesting being aboard the vessel and seeing how they lived on sailing ships back in the mid-1800’s (and, in this case, now).  There are only four vessels of this type left in the world and one is in San Diego.  This is the only one that cruises regularly.  It is a restored 3-masted barque that is 165 feet long (210’ overall) and 30 feet wide, was built in 1874, had a working life of 50 years, and sailed around Cape Horn 23 times.  It has 21 sails with 10,000 square feet of sail area.  The main masthead is 100’ above the waterline and the other two masts are 60 feet high and made of iron.  In 1973, she was recovered from a remote bay in Tasmania, repaired by volunteers over the years, recomissioned in 1981, and been sailing regularly every since.

The next stop was the Chinese Gardens.  We spent almost two hours there.  Everywhere you turn there is a different scene.  It has been quite well thought-out and quite well done!  We took a couple of hundred pictures there!  They were having a wedding there at 3:00p.  Since we weren’t invited, we left and headed toward the hotel through Chinatown, walking.

Manley is a great little beach town with lovely scenery.  We went out to North Head, a Sydney Harbor National Park.  From there we could see the entrance to the harbor, the Pacific Ocean, downtown Sydney, various suburbs, lighthouses, cliffs, ferries, and sailboats (but no bandicoots).

 Stay tuned for Part VWhere the Koala Bears Aren’t Bears and the Wombats Aren’t Bats

Frank Gourley retired in 2006 as an administrator of engineering technology education programs at the university level, and now pursues his interests in Travel, Photography, Architecture, Woodworking, Music, Singing, Guitar, Watercolor, Art, Crafts, Gardening, Railroading, Beaching, Boats, Canoeing, Outdoors & Wildlife, Construction, Alternative Health, Yoga, Maps, Cooking, Oriental Landscaping, Chronicling, and Genealogy, in addition to enjoying activities with family and friends.  He and Genene, his wife, live in Charleston, WV.

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