Nov 25:  Sydney

This morning I took a 12-minute ferry ride to Taronga Zoo.

Harbour Bridge from Circular Quay.

Opera House and Harbour Bridge from ferry.

Sydney skyline from ferry.

From the wharf there's a cable car that goes up the hill to the zoo entrance.  I very nearly got stuck riding with some very special people, including one guy I imagined singing the "dancing shoes" verse from "How's Your News?", but I lucked out.  I ended up with an English family in my car and the father tried to scare his young daughter by saying the cars drop off the cable all the time, and the construction/landscaping we passed over was in fact the zoo "digging more graves".

All photos from here to the skyline photo are from Taronga Zoo:

Rare photo of a non-sleeping koala.

Another equally rare photo.

Marsupials my ass...these things are bears.  Look at 'em!

This guy thinks he's cock of the walk because he doesn't have to stay in a cage.  Perhaps he fancies himself Mayor McPeacock coming out to greet zoo visitors.  Of course to that special person behind him, he's potentially lunch.  (This photo belongs on Fat Chicks in Party Hats.  I haven't decided whether to submit it.)

Our man ponders whether he really needs a giraffe keychain.

This is an enclosed area with no barrier between residents and visitors.  Kangaroos appear in several exhibits but are never kept apart from wallabies, probably so the zoo can avoid having to tell them apart.  I think I can make the distinction but please correct me if I'm wrong on any of these.  In the above photo we see the classic roo version of "The Timeless Art of Seduction", which I should have taken from a better angle.

I'm pretty sure these are kangaroos.  One either was in a fight or got some beet juice on himself from the hamburgers (on which more later).

Wallaby and his lunch.

Oh yeah--they also have emus mixed in with the kangaroos and wallabies.

Hey pal...your pride is showing.

Monitor lizard.

Penguins at play.

Spider monkeys sharing a prayer mat.


Komodo dragon.

This is a popular photo spot because of the skyline backdrop, but the giraffes had just gone inside.

The giraffes share their enclosure with zebras, who looked like they were desperate to take some attention away from their necky neighbors.  But they're just not photogenic.

I broke for lunch at this point, which was good timing because the rain and wind came.  Lunch was a beef burger that came with lettuce, onions, cheese, barbeque sauce and beets.  I guess the beet plays the role of the pickle.  I removed the beets but the whole product was stained pink, like that kangaroo earlier.

I wanted to get my photo taken with a koala but apparently they just let you enter the koala's enclosure and pose in front of him.  I thought I'd get to hold him, as I'd seen in other people's photos, but I've concluded those photos had nothing to do with Taronga.

This was found in Nell Carter's bathroom after she died.

Aw!  My 5th-grade teacher Sr. Aurelia would have jostled this koala awake with a "Lullaby, anD goodnighTTT!"  Fortunately she's dead.  I learned that koalas aren't really stoned on Eucalyptus all day.

These seals were about to kiss, but didn't.

This is why Joe Camel was such a successful marketing tool.  Puberty can't come fast enough for these lasses when this humpy hunk (probably named Casanova--see my Egypt pages) and his rhinophallus enter the scene.  The elephant is thinking "Why does that camel get all the chicks?  I'm buff and my nose is hung to the floor!"  The problem is the camel also gives the appearance of having money.  He's from the Middle East, he's accompanied by handlers/servants, he's well-groomed--of course the hotties are flocking to him instead of to a wrinkly dirt-covered elephant raised in poverty in India or Africa.

Keep smiling, buddy.  You don't need those minxes.


Make your own racial joke.

Barbary sheep.

This is the most powerful-looking bear (Kodiak) I've ever seen in person.  He stood there for a long time looking like he was trying to decide what to do next.

Himalayan tahrs.

Meerkats.  I waited like 10 minutes for one of them to stand up.  No luck.

Sydney skyline.

After quite a bit of time at the zoo I went to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  It costs AU$155 but it's the thing to do in Sydney.  Climbers go up in groups of 12 and have so much safety equipment (including a tether to the bridge) that there's no sense of danger, and not really any physical exertion even on the ladders.  We wore AU$800 headsets (to hear the climb leader's commentary) that are used only by BridgeClimb and the US military.  The one drawback is you can't take loose objects up there, including cameras, but you do get a free group photo taken by the climb leader and the option to purchase additional solo photos.  I made the mistake of not applying lip balm before I went up, so I couldn't smile for the solo shots, and thus didn't even look at them before I left the premises.  As I write this 9 days later my lips are still raw and painful.  Here's the free group photo:

Our climb group consisted of 6 Americans (including a couple from LA--more later), 2 Germans, and forgotten numbers of Brits and Irish.  Andy was our climb leader and reminded me of a typical Contiki tour manager.  My favorite exchange:

Andy:  "Has anyone heard the story about the arch having its two halves joined together by a bunch of drunken Australians?"
Me:  "I just assumed it was."
A good laugh was enjoyed by some.

Andy also solicited guesses as to how many rivets are in the bridge (actual number 6 million).  I guessed 250.  "250...thousand?"  "No, 250."  Even as I was leaving I insisted that there couldn't be more than 250 rivets.  "You know what rivets are, right?"  I had to let on that I was kidding.

Andy informed us at the end of the climb that we had each burned the equivalent of 4 beers.  So I headed for Fortune of War, a pub I'd seen in The Rocks that purports to be Sydney's oldest (although I have sources that say the Lord Nelson is the oldest).  I saw Fortune of War on TV (showing rugby fans watching Saturday's game) so I figured it must be cool.  Fortune of War advertises hot Aussie beef pies and advises to ask the bartender about them, so I did and learned that (1) they're damn good, and (2) they're all gone.

I wasn't at the bar too long before the LA couple from BridgeClimb came in.  We talked a bit.  I mentioned the company I work for.  The guy asked if I work in Hollywood.  I said yep, right in the middle of Hollywood, across from the Chinese Theatre.  He said "I work in the same building."  I'd say that's a much bigger coincidence than if I'd run into Dave Morris again.  In discussing my other vacation options (i.e. where I would have gone after Sydney if I hadn't gotten Auckland for $6) I brought up the Fiji Islands and Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, and he was in fact a fan of the Superfly back in the day.  And his wife remembered the sleeping koalas in the dark at the LA zoo two years ago.

On TV (TV1) I saw an ad for a contest.  I couldn't hear the sound but I believe the winner would get to attend the taping of the final episode of Frasier and stay at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, which of course is next door to where I work.

I found a dollar on the floor of the pub.  Almost as good as finding a real American dollar (which, at the time I write this, is still more than an Aussie dollar).  The place had a mostly older crowd until young hotties simultaneously arrived at 10:50pm.  I didn't stay much longer after that because the trains stop running around midnight.  The hotel was walking distance but on 8 beers and no food I probably would have tripped at least once.

Fortune of War.

Fortune of War.  Sydney's oldest pub.  Since 1828.

Waiting for the train at Circular Quay station.  This is an elevated station, and above it is the freeway.  Underneath are shops and restaurants, adjacent to the wharf.

Museum station.

Museum station.