Friday, November 9, 2012

Roos and Emus, New South Wales, Australia – Fri., Nov. 9

'Roos and emus.
We packed up, ate breakfast, then Bob walked to the downtown Hertz to pick up our car. I sat in the Y Hotel with our luggage.

Bob braved downtown Sydney traffic driving on the left-hand side of the road! He found his way back to the hotel where we loaded the luggage and set out on our adventure. Hertz gave us directions to get on the Expressway toward the airport which would take us out of town. We missed the turn and ended up driving around a completely different neighborhood, Kings Cross. We finally found our way back to where we were supposed to turn and made the turn this time.

The Expressway is a tunnel that goes for miles under downtown Sydney. The Expressway took us to Hwy 5 and that turned into Hwy 31 which took us to our Bowral (pronounced bear-o) exit. EXCEPT we decided to turn off the road and explore a little town called Picton. We stopped to look at a viaduct arch bridge and walked across a wooden bridge to a park where there was some history of a swimming hole that used to be in the river, but nothing about the beautiful stone bridge.

Picton is a cute small town with a lawn bowling club, a park with garden, and something called the mushroom tunnel. We didn’t stop, but it sounded intriguing.  We couldn’t find the turn-off for it as there was no sign.

From Picton, we took Scenic Rd #12 south through the countryside and made a stop at Wirrimbirra Flora and Fauna Sanctuary, incorporating Bargo Dingo Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is free, but they ask for a $1 donation per person to walk through the animal enclosure.

When we walked through the gate, we were in the midst of wallabies, including momma and baby. We walked a bit farther on the path and we saw what looked like mule deer lying under a tree. Being from the Pacific Northwest, we’re used to seeing lots of deer, so that’s immediately where my animal-identification brain went. However, they were kangaroos! Upon our approach, they stood up and eyeballed us. They’re very curious. After watching us for a few minutes, they hopped off to consult with the emus about these intruders. (See first photo above.)

Wallaby mom and little one (hiding behind her).

Continuing on the path, we came to the wombat enclosure. I searched and searched for a wombat, but didn’t see one. I even looked in all the areas that were dug out along the fence. I saw what looked like a grey concrete pipe in the ground, but no wombat.

The bird enclosures were next. As we walked up to the cockatoo cage, one of the cockatoos came immediately over to the cage gate, climbed up the chain link door and said, “Hello.” Impressed? You bet we were. An outgoing cockatoo! We talked to it for a while. When we walked away we heard, “Good-bye.” Cute bird.

Sulphur-crested cockatoo.

The next bird enclosure had six types of birds in it including a tawny frogmouth which we did not see. The least afraid birds were the Superb Parrots.

Superb parrot.
After walking through the enclosure, we walked over and talked to the people who ran the place. One of the ladies asked me if I’d like to see and feed the possums. I said, “Sure.” I was surprised to see the darling possums they have in Australia. They certainly don’t look like our U.S. opossums which look like big rats. The Australian possums come in two kinds: brush-tailed and ring-tailed. We saw the brush-tailed variety. The pictures may convince you that they’re better looking than North American ‘possums.

Brush-tailed possum.

As we prepared to leave, the workers at the sanctuary asked if saw the wombat. I told them, “No, but I was really hoping to because I had never seen one.” They told us that earlier it had been sleeping at the fence line. I said I looked but hadn’t seen it. (Of course I didn’t really know what I was looking for.) They decided they’d help us look for it, took pity on us I guess. Our guide brought an apple and we headed for the wombat fence line. Our guide stops and looks down into the trench I saw and says, “There he is.” The wombat was what I thought was a pipe! I had no clue wombats were so big. It was about the size of a pig, only gray—the same color as concrete. He told us this wombat was only half size, said we wouldn’t want to hit one driving down the road. I learned a new animal today.

Sleeping wombat--didn't even wake up when a chunk of apple hit his head.
The Dingo Sanctuary was not open yet, but we were told that if the sun shines just right, you can see through the privacy fence they have up. Dingoes are very noisy! We got to hear them yipping and screeching a couple of times while we were there.

As we drove by, not only could we see them through the privacy fence, but I was able to hold my camera up over the privacy fence and snap a photo of a beautiful dingo.

We continued our drive south on Scenic Drive #12 and hooked up with Hwy 31 which we followed to our Bowral exit. I was happy to see that Australian highways have Rest Areas.

For lunch, we stopped in Mittagong and chose a restaurant called Kebabs. Bob had a falafel and I opted for their chicken snack pack. Bob enjoyed his way more than I did my meal.

Onward to Bowral and our timeshare, Accord’s Grand Mercure Bowral. We found it without too much fuss. We drove past it, but we were on the right road. The problem was their sign was very low profile…in fact the timeshare name was covered by plants. We had to call their office and ask for directions.

Bowral, New South Wales, Australia
Our first week timeshare.
We checked in, relaxed a little, found out internet access costs $50 for 72 hours or 1,000 MB, whichever comes first. BUT when you use more than 250 MB, they slow down your internet connection,  something about a “Fair Play Rule.” With all the photos I post (even resized), I would use that up pretty quickly. And Bob needs to use the computer too! We will be looking for the McDonald’s in town. Hopefully they offer free wifi!

In Australia, Woolworth’s is a large grocery store. Bowral has one and that’s where we shopped to stock up on supplies for cooking in the timeshare. Tonight for dinner, I made broiled salmon, mashed yams, steamed broccoli and a large salad. We figure that the money spent (for the week) at the grocery store will save us a lot of money that would have been spent at a restaurant in one day. We will buy more fish for dinners, but we found two servings of salmon for $10.99 ($5.50 each serving) which is way cheaper than a restaurant sells them.

We love Australia and we’ve only been here four days! Can’t wait to see what the rest of the trip brings.

Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla are in Sydney today. They went to the Opera House, the Contemporary Art Museum and some other sights around town. Big thunderstorms rolled in putting a damper on some of the festivities. The Australians love their royals! The news showed the crowds lining the streets to cheer for the Prince and Duchess and at the venues where the Prince showed up. We’re glad it was today and not yesterday or we would have been in the midst of all the brouhaha.

In one of my future posts, I will try to remember to put in some of the headlines about the U.S. presidential elections. The newspapers here are very clever.

Time for bed. Tomorrow we’ll be up early, eat breakfast in our room and then head out for waterfall hiking at national parks.

It’s so weird...When I booked Bowral, I booked it because it’s between Sydney and Canberra, so I thought we could sightsee easily in both those cities. What I didn’t realize is that there are multiple waterfalls to hike to in this area (not to be confused with Waterfall Way up north where we will be next week.)

Plus the town of Bowral is famous for Corbett Garden. I will go to the gardens while Bob visits the Cricket Museum. It’s springtime here and rhododendrons are in full bloom.

I keep trying not to write so much but I also want to document our trip and not forget what we saw and did.

All for now. Travel Bug out.