Saturday, April 5, 2014

Touring Sydney? Remember the Botanical Garden

As we headed back from our first full day in Sydney we decided to pop into the Royal Botanical Gardens. It was large, peaceful with signs "please walk on the grass." A sign at the Garden Shop announced free tours given every day (except Christmas, Boxing Day and Good Friday) at 10:30. We went the next day. The tour, given by volunteers, was so good, that we wished that we were staying longer in Sydney to take one or more tours.. Each volunteer focuses on a favorite part of the garden, so each tour is different.(Plus repetition helps me remember.) We regretted that we hadn't investigated similar tours in other gardens that we had visited (especially in Sri Lanka).

As we walked to the garden show we saw a display "The invasion." It told the story of the Cadjgal, a story that left no question of the incredible damage to the aboriginal cultures by settlers, more correctly identified as "invaders."

The garden conducts research on ibises and cockatoos, which are easily seen in the garden..

Seeing a cockatoo seems less exotic when it is tagged

Our tour guide pointed out the strong webs made by the golden orb weaving spiders. Here are two views of spiders and there webs. The second picture shows a "golden" web.

Eucalyptus, which are native to Australia, are the country's dominate tree (there are over 700 species in Australia). Its leaves are the sole food source for koala. Note the bark shreds on the tree pictured below. Mature eucalyptus grow a new layer of bark annually; the outermost layer may be shed in long strips or as flakes.

Eucalyptus Grandis

The pride of the garden is the Wollemi Pine. Until 1994 this tree, which dates back to the time of the dinosaurs, was thought to be extinct, Now it even has its own webpage.

As I wrote this page I relied on Google to make sure that I had correctly identified the various trees. When I Googled "Bottle Trees" I found pictures of trees decorated with bottles or bottles that look like trees. Below is the flora version. The tree stores water in its trunk, which gives it its bottle shape.

Bottle Tree

Another blogger identified the tree below as a "holm oak," but I could find any information to verify this. Another website identified it as a fig tree, which seems right.

The garden also has lovely flower beds and lots of roses, some still smell like roses. We also enjoyed the statues spread throughout. We identified with "autumn," and "winter."

We took a tour of the Opera House and ate at the fish market. We took a 9:30 early bird tour of the opera house at $35AUS per person. Backstage tour is available, but more expensive. I imagined that if we went to hear a symphony or opera we would cherish the sounds beginning with hearing the orchestra warm up  The seats in the various houses had no center aisle. (Once we were in Gamage Auditorium at Arizona State and had to literally climb over seats to escape a abysmal dance performance.) The Opera House has several programs going on at any one time. If something appeals it should provide a more satisfying experience. (We chose to see "Once in Royal David's City" at the Belvoir Street Theatre - a good choice.)

Everyone had earphones - so not a word was missed

We went out of way to get to the Fish Market. It isn't convenient by bus. We had asked about recommendations as to where to have fish and the fish market was recommended. (Our internet access was poor to checking blogs for advice was out.) The fish market had loads of fresh seafood and fish, but the cooked choices were more limited. From reading reviews on the Internet - some people liked it and others didn't. I didn't.

We stayed at a bed and breakfast (no breakfast!) at Camperdown. We finished our eat-in breakfast food on Saturday. On Sunday before we headed to the airport we tried  the nearby Bion Societet. What a great note to end our stay in Australia. The owner, Greg, warmly greeted us even though it was 7:30 on a Sunday morning.. (We figured he was the owner as we watched him check the silverware.) I had soft scrambled eggs and toast with herb butter and Doug had a bacon and egg brioche burger. If we weren't leaving town we would have come back the next day to explore more of the menu and enjoy the ambiance.

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