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Apr 1 / Amy

Australia: Day 13, Lions, Tigers and Sharks

After a good night’s sleep, we woke up refreshed.  While we were out of the country, my mom had surgery on her knee to remove some old screws from a previous knee surgery years ago.  So the first thing I wanted to do was call my mom.  Because we forked over $60 for internet for the week in our hotel, I opened up Skype and gave her a call.

We talked about how Sydney was so far, how the BridgeClimb was, about how she was feeling, and my dad and brother popped on the screen for a little bit to say hi.  Our conversation lasted about 20 minutes, it was good to see her on the screen.  (Later I came to find out when we got home my mom didn’t remember it at all after she asked how the BridgeClimb was a few days later!  Guess the pain meds were still working.)

Once we ended our “call” we got ready and walked over to Darling Harbour to go to the Sydney Aquarium.  In looking at the ferry times and the zoo hours, we opted to go to the Taronga Zoo first and would finish up the day at the Aquarium.

We loaded the ferry and we were off to the zoo.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous so we sat outside, well, and because I wanted to take pictures!  Soaking up the Sydney Harbour made the ride go by quickly.

View from the ferry

As we were getting off the ferry, I noticed a t-shirt worn by a young man standing in front of us.  Before we knew it, we were talking to a family from Atlanta!  Such a small world.  They were also in town to celebrate the New Year in Sydney.

The Taronga Zoo was FANTASTIC.  It was my first time seeing it, so it was really cool to experience it with Josh, since I had seen a few things in Sydney from my previous trip.  The zoo was well laid out, once you learned how to read the map.  There were so many things to see – we found it to be much nicer (and better) than Zoo Atlanta.  Since it was a couple days before New Year’s Eve, the crowd was thick – but it was manageable.

First stop was the Red Panda exhibit.  These little guys were adorable!

Red panda in a tree

We then made our way around to the Wild Australia exhibit with animals from the country in an open area.  But after visiting the Cleland Wildlife Park, it wasn’t nearly as cool to experience.

Roo in the zoo

We then made our way to the giraffes, as it was feeding time.  The zoo has several animal encounters, all for under $25AUD, where you can get up close and personal with some of the animals.  We opted not to do this, but it was fun to watch the kids who were interacting with the giraffes.

So fun!

After the giraffes, we made our way to lookout point, which had phenomenal views of the city.

View from the lookout point

Next up were the big cats!  We heard there were tiger cubs – so of course we wanted to see them.  Apparently, everyone else did too.  There was a long line of people that wrapped around a few different exhibits.  It was starting to get warm, so Josh went to the snack stand and bought us each a Lemon Calippo while we were standing in line.  Before we made it to the tigers, there was a group of lions for us to view.  The lion was napping in the shade at the back of their area, but we were able to see a stunning lioness pretty close.

Queen of the jungle

Being an ADPi and all, lions hold a special place in my heart.

We made it to the tigers, and they were only letting a certain number of people go in at a time.  Well, we were the last two in the group – so by the time we made it to the window, there was no way for me to easily get in and take photos.  It was a bit frustrating, but then the mama tiger walked around to the side, so I could snap a few photos.

And right before it was time for us to leave, the tiger cubs came closer to the window.  The guy was telling us to leave, but I wanted to capture the cuteness of the cubs – so I ran over and took a quick photo before leaving.  He saw me struggling to get photos early on, so I think he let me have my moment.  Whew!

Precious tiger cub

On our way back to the ferry pick-up, we had to walk through the gift shop.  I wasn’t interested in buying anything, so I went to sit down while Josh looked around.  There was an open window to the seal section, so one ended up swimming by.  A couple kids were pretending to throw things in the water for the seal, and he kept swimming around and interacting with them – I only wish I had that on video.  He was a curious little dude!

We made our way down to the dock to catch the ferry back over to Darling Harbour.  Trying to get on the ferry was a tad bit ridiculous!  There were a lot of people and it wasn’t very clear what door each ferry was going to let you load from.  Once we made it back to where we started, we stood in line to get tickets to the Aquarium.

Having been to the Georgia Aquarium several times, it has given me high expectations for an aquarium.  I did visit the Sydney Aquarium back in 2003 and really enjoyed it, but it was a bit different this go round.

Josh and the Great White Shark

There were a lot of exhibits, but it wasn’t nearly as glitzy as the Georgia Aquarium – which isn’t a necessarily a bad thing.  I feel like there were more boards talking about the fish and other creatures in the Sydney Aquarium than there are at the Georgia Aquarium.

The crowds were pretty bit here too, which were starting to get old.  Josh and I were both experiencing a sensory overload.

I took a few pictures inside the aquarium, but I don’t feel they turned out as well as I would have liked.  I’m still trying to learn the manual settings in different environments.  It’s much easier to take pictures with natural light outside!

Lovely blue starfish

When we were done at the aquarium, we walked over to The Hard Rock Café to pick up a pin for my mom since she collects them.  We also picked up a few more gifts for family members.  The whole walk over to Hard Rock we saw several restaurants that all had fabulous menus posted outside.  We mulled over our options and decided to dine at Blue Fish.  We each got the Fisherman’s basket (Fish Fillet, Crumbled Prawns & Calamari Rings, BBQ Calamari, Seared Scallop & BBQ King Prawn served with Chips & Tartare Sauce) – Josh paired his with a beer, I chose a Bundy and Rum (surprisingly, my first one of the trip).

Our seats were outside, facing the water, so we were able to people watch while we enjoyed our dinner.

Our view from Blue Fish

We walked back to the hotel as the sun was beginning to set.  After a great day walking around, we retired to the hotel.  I made sure to back-up my photos from the day, I didn’t want to chance losing them before we got home!

Both the Taronga Zoo and Sydney Aquarium are open 365 days a year (with special hours on certain holidays), so if you’re ever in Sydney, there’s no excuse to miss it!

Have you been to the Sydney Aquarium or the Taronga Zoo?  What was your favorite thing to see?  Or, if you haven’t been to either, what’s your favorite zoo or aquarium?


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