Thursday, 11 February 2010

Something tells me it's all happening....

We decided that before we left Sydney, we should visit Taronga Zoo, which occupies a headland sloping down to the harbour between two bays.  It was an enjoyable 15-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay to Taronga wharf. From there, a cable car, new since our last visit, whisked us swiftly over the zoo enclosures to the upper gate. Views of the harbour from inside the car are stunning, worth the price of admission in themselves.



As for the zoo itself, although the animal enclosures have been much improved in recent years, and the zoo makes a good case for conservation of endangered species, I still find it slightly distressing to see some of the animals in these conditions. Exceptions include the elephants: signs around their enclosure explain that all of the adult elephants were rescued from much worse conditions in Thailand.
The first baby elephant born in this zoo is a star attraction at the moment, and he's certainly very cute.

The other highlight for us was the birds-in flight-show, where free-flying assorted raptors and parrots come on cue to a young woman standing in the middle of a small amphitheatre. Having hawks, buzzards, an owl, a condor, a brolga, as well as assorted parrots and pigeons swooping low over your head as they arrive on cue was amazing. There were even a couple of trained rats that ran along that railing in the background, to the squeals of children in the audience.

This yellow-tailed black cockatoo reminded us of the ones that we often saw soaring over our house in Katoomba.

Emergency Procedures?

Sydney trains carry signs advising passengers what to do in case of fights or other disturbances happening in their carriage. I wonder how foreign visitors who have difficulty reading English make sense of these pictographs:


Can you guess what this means? Those of us who are fortunate enough to read English get some help:



Wednesday, 3 February 2010

The Best View in Sydney

Waverley Cemetery occupies the headland between Bronte beach and Clovelly beach, just a couple of headlands south of Bondi Beach. The vast tract (42 acres) was set aside in 1875; the first interment took place in 1877. Several significant Australians are buried there, from poets to politicians.

On a hot, humid afternoon we escaped the confines of our stuffy little house to pay it a visit, enjoying the sea breeze while we wandered among the graves. Why didn't we go for a swim instead? Because beaches were closed along the coast due to a heavy and dangerous ocean swell. From the boardwalk that runs along the cliffs below the cemetery, we could see the waves foaming against the rocks.

Predictions are that Waverley Cemetery will run out of grave sites in about fifteen years. As we approach, it does appear that there's not much room left.


Yet, on closer inspection, the graves are actually well-spaced, allowing visitors to stroll easily between the rows.


One of the models for the site was supposedly the famous Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Here in the Antipodes, presumably due to climate and poor soil, and perhaps also to the salt spray, there are no trees of any significant size.

There are, however, magnificent views of the ocean, and some elaborate and beautiful monuments.



Best of them all, for both sculpture and location, is this angel.

According to its website, in an average year Waverley cemetery:
  • conducts 190 interments,
  • records 80 new reservations,
  • provides 11 guided tours,
  • hosts 5 major film shoots,
  • gives 4 public lectures,
  • carries out 650 grave searches,
  • receives 6000 hits on the web site,
  • and receives more than 36,000 public visitors through the main gates.