Our last week in Australia was spent watching the final Rugby World Cup in Brisbane and saying good-bye to Geoff. It was clear that a majority of the Aussies supported the South African Springboks by sporting their shirts and cheering for them as they won the world cup. "Anyone but the English" seemed to be the prevailing sentiment.
We made our way down to Surfer’s Paradise, a
Florida-like beach town with skyscrapers and full force tourist activities such as bungie slingshot rides, mini golf, and escape room experiences. All 4 of us did a Monsters Inc themed escape room and got REALLY close to escaping! There were lots of bars and Bogans, similar to the beaches of Bali. We spent a day in Byron Bay which was much more to our liking, a quaint town with a lovely beach.
On our drive to Sydney, which took much longer than originally anticipated, we drove through the New South Wales forest fires that had just started. It was heartbreaking and also
a sadly familiar experience to living in California. At this time of year back home, when everything is completely dried out, I am usually anxiously awaiting the first rain. In talking about the fires, which have burned much more acreage than the fires in Brazil, Aussies are concerned that this is happening in Spring, at the beginning of the fire season. They also said that the area used to be much more tropical but has become more desert like in the last few years due to global warming. It is truly tragic that people and koalas have died and lost their homes in these fires.
We luckily made it to Sydney as the highways were not yet closed. We stayed in “The Rocks” neighborhood close to Sydney Harbor. On a walking tour we learned about the prisoners and heard some gruesome stories about The Rocks during the turn of the previous century. We walked aimlessly through the city, finding lovely shops like The Strand, and talented street performers. We ate at the base of the Opera House looking towards the Harbor Bridge and harbor before going into the Opera House Studio to watch an entertaining show about pub life (Choir of Man from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival).
John and I travelled out to the lovely town of Manly, a 20 minute ferry ride away, where dolphins accompanied us part of the way. We met up with Paul who we had met in Bali while watching the Rugby World Cup. He gave us a nice tour of the gorgeous Manly beaches, town and headlands. I will truly miss the friendly and outgoing Aussies. It’s a beautiful country with lovely people.