After a hotel breakfast, ferry tickets were purchased at Circular Quay (pronounced “key”) for our debut ride on the water. The most efficient way to sashay about the most popular sights is definitely to float on a boat. The “Sydney Ferries” are the public-owned crafts, like a bus line with very prompt schedules never affected by stop lights. There are also private ferry lines running on the major routes, and small water taxis near many of the docks for transportation on your schedule, direct to your destination.
Our first target this morning was the first stop on the “Darling Harbor” route, north from the massive wharf area at the Quay, passing beneath the Harbor Bridge, and landing at the docks of Luna Park, site of a Ferris wheel, a roller coaster, and those typical games of its purpose: an amusement park. But our goal wasn’t to engage in that sort of fun today, or simply to pass beneath the bridge, we wanted to walk above the waters of the harbor on that famous landmark.
With a terrific weather day, traversing the bridge was an easy walk. While cars, trucks, and busses flow both ways down the center of this massive artery, pedestrians own the outermost lane on the eastern side, and bicycles are granted the opportunity to traverse along the western side, also in either direction. Protected by massive steel girders, and able to look across many areas we had toured by car the day prior, we relished this stroll.
If you’re ready to do a little mathematics with me, here are some facts:
- The entire bridge is 3,770 feet long
- The focal area between the massive stone pylons (towers) at either end of the steel arch is about 1,550 feet, or the length of a healthy par-5 on a golf course
- Those pylons soar more than 120 feet above the traffic surface
- The time to walk across the structure is dependent on your mode:
- A walk with photos is about an hour divided by two
- A walk without taking time for photos would seem to be the same as dividing an hour by zero, each being impossible!
At the southern end of our bridge journey we walked stairs inside the pylon nearest the Opera House and were treated to spectacular views from a walkway around the top, as though nestled safely in a castle tower surveying our domain. In addition to looking out and down, we could look upward along the girders that arch to the top of the bridge. There we saw people in blue jump suits that had paid for the grand experience of walking stairs meant for maintenance all the way to the pinnacle of the bridge some 160 feet above us and nearly 500 feet above the water! You might like to know they are tied to a cable during their entire climb and descent.
Rather than rise to their height, we chose walking along terra firma to take us toward Darling Harbor, another popular site, which has the Sydney Aquarium among its interests, plus a near-endless number of places we could lunch. We toured both the aquarium and a small wildlife center at Darling, then had our meal on the massive wharf (set of docks).
Two ferry rides later that afternoon brought us to the Sydney Taronga Zoo, where we had just enough time for an overview, given they close the park at 5pm, like most venues in Australia. A couple kangaroos greeted us from their perch, an unexpected location above the ground. Before we arrived in this land we did not know there were species of ‘roos that are tree climbers. Our focus this day was on animals unique to this land, including a huge bird named a Cassowary, which was like an ostrich but larger, more colorful, and prone to attack with deadly force if perturbed.
Our last ferry of the day brought us back to the hotel neighborhood as the sun was setting. We spent the evening dining and chatting with family friends who live in Sydney, which was exceptionally fun. Bed beckoned us early, to be ready to venture out about 7am for an all-day tour outside Sydney.
Photos from an active day: