The next day we decided to rent out some bicycles so we could explore the City. We jumped trains to Circular Key then went to the extremely touristy area of The Rocks, where we’d booked our bike pick up from. An enormous cruise ship had docked in the harbour and on the promenade next to it’s impressive hull there were a number of street performers. One that caught our eye was a contortionist who managed to fit herself into an impossibly small box. It was quite impressive but she spent ages going on about how much everyone watching should donate and if you couldn’t donate you should go up to her after to say “thank you”. We watched her tuck herself into this little perspex cube and walked away without donating, passing on praise or feeling guilty.
We went on a snake-like passage north of the harbour and on our way back round towards the Bridge happened across a small but funky theme park, called Luna Park.
We bobbed in as Mill was demanding a hot dog and a go on the rollercoaster. After queuing up for a couple of really turd hot dogs for about 20 minutes (we weren’t the only ones, there were a number of families who were fuming due to the wait), we went onto the not-so-famous rollercoaster, The Wild Mouse. It was good fun and after being accosted for trying to film whilst we were on it, we managed to sneak a bit of footage from the ride anyway which should be in the vid below:
Rollercoaster part 1
Rollercoaster part 2
We should also give a shoutout to the random guy who decided to join in with the wandering dance troupe at Luna Park. He kept us quite entertained whilst we were waiting for our not fast food. I’m pretty sure you’d have to answer some questions at the local police station if you were doing this back home. I’ll let you make your on mind up though:
Being tight arses, we only paid for 2 rides and after a tip-off from a lovely clown who was plodding about the place we decided to hit the Haunted House for our second park experience. The Haunted House was hilarious – We had to walk around with these 2 Chinese kids who were absolutely shitting themselves. One wouldn’t let go of my arm and the other was insistent that Milly went at the back of the 4 of us and I went at the front. They didn’t speak much English either. It was actually really good fun, not just because of the two kids, but it was a well-done Haunted House so no wonder it scared the little scamps (and Milly) half to death. I also felt totally empowered being the man of the group. So all-in-all everyone was a winner.
We still had a good 3 hours left of the bike rental period after our theme park fun so we decided to go on another little jaunt across to Bondi beach, which was about 12km away.
Now, Sydney is a long way off Amsterdam in terms of being cycle friendly so the best thing to do, we decided, was to stick to footpaths where the traffic was built up or cut through the odd park here or there whenever possible – there is actually quite a number of shared pavement space so we weren’t being naughty or owt (or so we thought anyway). We weaved our way over to the Royal Botanical Gardens in order to get on our path to Bondi and half way through the park some Park Warden, who pulled up in what was more-or-less a fucking Jeep, very rudely told us to ‘get off and push your bikes now!’. I thought parks were a prime cycle place and it seemed rather hypocritical that she could drive her 4-wheeled motorised off-road vehicle wherever she liked and we, obviously a pair of tourists (with daft helmets on and ‘Bike Tours Ltd’ written all over our bikes), had to get off and push. Health and safety gone mad I say. If this passage somehow reaches the Warden with a stick up her arse, then my advise to you, love, is get down of your pedestal and come have some fun like the rest of us.
We reached Bondi eventually, no thanks to Adolf the Warden. Bondi is a beautiful area. It’s a bit like Didsbury/Chorlton but with a beach and sun. Its very clean and welcoming and there’s a ambience about the place which encourages you to act like a surfer or a creative. Before we hit the waves (we didn’t surf as we didn’t have time) Milly thought she’d present herself to half of the Bondi locals – getting her bikini bottoms on and pretty much shamelessly exposing herself to every man and his dog.
After getting knocked over by some fairly big waves we realised we only had an hour to get our bikes back to the place we hired them from otherwise we’d be getting a penalty of a $800 (£550) fine. We dragged our sin-kissed (burnt) bodies away from the surf and nailed it uphill to the nearest train station and then pedalled like Wiggins and Cavendish once we’d disembarked. We somehow managed to get there bang on the dot so rewarded ourselves with an alcoholic beverage before making our way back to HQ.
We awoke the next morning (the previous day’s antics had killed us off so we didn’t do anything spectacular that evening) and after some brecky with Holly and Teddy we made our way to the station to find our way up to The Blue Mountains where we’d booked a night’s stay in a hostel. The Blue Mountains is situated approximately 120km west of Sydney so it took us a couple of hours on the train to get there. The local village which we picked to stay in was called Katoomba and it very much reminded me of Marple or an equally beautiful area ;), no, seriously though it had a ‘local’ feel to it. I assume because the majority of the residents are claiming a pension. Once there we settled down at the hostel we’d booked (which was wonderful by-the-way) and proceeded to go on a ramble on one of the areas many heralded walks.
It was stiflingly warm and significantly longer than we expected so we ended up doing half of what we originally planned. This was also, in part, to me forgetting the map. We somehow found our way onto one of the designated paths which took us through the dry, forested area and, when the tree partings allowed, gave us some jaw-dropping views of the mountins (which are arguably more like cliffs) and the vegitation below. We were on a constant lookout for local wildlife during the walk and managed to see 2 small lizards having a scrap. It actually looked like they wanted to eat each other! Towards the end of the walk there is a famous column of cliff faces called the Three Sisters and Milly got some top notch snaps of them which are below (Milly would also like to dedicate these pics to her sisters, Becci and Rosie. She said that Becci is the smaller one to the right of the Three and she is the biggest and best one). You can actually go over a rope bridge to the first one from the left in the pic below but it was packed with tourists and we were quite content with our days hiking and pics, so we dragged our sweat soaked selves back into the little hamlet village.
We grabbed a few beers and chatted to some locals then ordered a takeaway (Thai of all the cuisines) and headed back to the hostel where we ended up chatting for the rest of the night to some of the other travellers who were staying there.
We met Elody, a young Swiss girl who had been travelling about Vietnam and bits of Thailand and Gabriel, a guy from São Paulo who showed us some stunning pictures of New Zealand and also gave us some sound advice about where to go when we’re there. Gabriel had been travelling for what seemed like most of his life and really put us to shame/inspired us. We also bumped into another local whose picture is below.