May 26 - Today we left for Sydney. J drove us into town to meet A and S and they started us on our drive south. We were going to climb Mt. Warning but, because of our late start and the fact that we got lost, we ended up not having enough time. Instead, we found a busk tucker stall and had more fun w/ local food. We tried a fruit that, when you eat it, tastes like an entire fruit salad. We also had more finger limes. These ones were much bigger than the ones we had at the resteraunt. Rather than eating the whole thing we cracked them open. Inside were little green capsules that looked a lot like cavier. When you pop them b/w your teeth you get a burst of lemon/lime flavour. They're yummy. We also found Budah's hand. As if it didn't LOOK weird enough, unlike most fruit, apparently you only eat the skin.
We stopped at Springbrook National Park where we walked through some rain forest and saw a natural bridge that was formed by water eroding part of the roof of a cave and leaving a section in tact across the waterfall. It was really beautiful there.
We stopped in a few more places along the way that looked pretty. Saw a lot of kookaburras and a couple of kangaroos by the side of the road. The tourist trails there are...interesting to drive at the speed suggested on the signs. A lot of them aren't paved or maintained and whenever a bridge is necessary it looks as if the bridge was built then they tried to link them up with roads and missed. There is often a very tight turn onto and off of a bridge which is difficult to manage in a station wagon going about 80 km/h. We stopped again in Nimbin, the home of Mardi Grass. It is, essentially, a stoner town. A was stopped on the way into town by police doing brethalizer tests. Apparently they just do that every now and then...especially around Nimbin. In Nimbin we got asked about 8 times if we wanted a joint/cookie/brownie/other laced item and we were only there for about an hr! We also stopped in the Hippi Museum. They have a room that has tons of old fashioned egg beaters hanging from the ceiling. Everything else in the museum was similarily random and strange.
We stopped in Byron Bay for the evening at what turned out to be a very noisy hostle.
May 27 - This morning we rented a car (ouch, 1 way costs!) and started our drive to Sydney. Once PI got a handle on the fact that they drive on the other side of the road things were pretty much ok. He never quite got used to the idea that the windshield wipers and the turn signals were on opposite sides, however, and we went around several round abouts and corners w/ the windshield wipers on. We had a very clean windshield when we arrived in Sydney. We stopped briefly in Hungry Head and Hat Head National Parks b/c they had funny names. We ended up in Raymond Terrace for the evening at a Best Western where the only thing they had left was a spa room. After a VERY luxurious bath we went to bed.
May 28 - We arrived in Sydney just before noon and dropped the car off at the air port. From there we took a shuttle bus to the City Central YHA which was really nice. They gave us some directions and we walked around Sydney for the rest of the day. We went down to the harbour to have a look at the bridge and the Opera House. We also took a tour of the Opera House which was more informative and fun than I thought it was going to be.
We took the train back to the centre of town and then the monorail in a circle just so we could say we'd taken the public transit. The train in particular was a lot of fun. It's a lot like the GO Train here, but their seats can be flipped so you're facing someone, or not, as you choose. We took a video of it 'cause it was so neat. The train's also 2 stories like the GO. The monorail had a commentary about the city as you drove around it.
May 29 - We decided that, given we only had 1 day left in Sydney the best money value was to take a tour into the Blue Mountains. The first stop on the bus tour was at Featherdale. While this was a significantly less impressive zoo than any of the places we'd seen with J and j there was still stuff we hadn't seen. They had an albino peacock and wallabies and we both got to hold a tawney frog mouth and a kookaburra. There were also some birds we hadn't seen in other places. Later stops included Gulver's Leap, Echo Point and the Three Sisters, Scenic World where we went on a cable car across the valley, the steepest rail way in the world down the mountain, and a different cable car back across the valley. All of the views were spectacular and the pictures really don't give them justice.
We then stopped to look at the Boar's Head, then drove to Leura where we stopped in the candy store and Josaphine's. On the drive back to the ferry dock to take a boat back to Sydney we stopped at the Olympic Park to have a look at a couple of the building there. It was dark though, so we didn't see as much as I'd have liked to.
May 30 - 31 - We left Sydney this morning on Air Newzealand to Aukland. I watched My Family and Other Animals and Casinova on the plane at some point b/w Sydney and LA. The food was, as usual, nummy. We arrived in LA before we left Aukland b/c of the date line. There was a 7-8 hr lay over in LA which we both could have done w/o. LAX is not a pleasant place to spend any length of time and there wasn't really any good/inexpensive place to eat. We arrived back in Toronto at about 6:30 am and PI's parents picked us up and brought us some food since we'd emptied the fridge before we left (which was much appreciated).