Day 38, Feb 11th, Sydney
Sometime early this morning, the Viking Sun moved back to the White Bay Cruise Terminal from her temporary spot at the Overseas Passenger Terminal last evening. We heard that this may have cost upwards of $50,000 to move the ship both ways when you consider the tugs, pilots and other expenses involved.
At 9:40 AM we were off the ship and requested an Uber to take us to the Rocks where we had scheduled a walking tour with a company simply called “The Rocks Walking Tour”. They offer two tours a day at 10:30 AM and 1:00 PM for $28 AUS pp.
Sixteen people were in our tour group and we enjoyed chatting with another couple from Cincinnati who were on a 3-week land vacation around New Zealand and Australia. They were also frequent cruisers and were working on taking cruises around all the continents. Not sure if that is possible, or how you would even measure that, but it made for some interesting conversation.
Leisa was our tour guide and she welcomed everyone to the Rocks before we headed off on the tour. The pace was slow, easy enough for anyone with a cane to keep up, but there were quite a few steps involved and we probably covered about a mile. She wore a portable amplifier on her hip which made her easy to hear except for once when we stopped close to a street performer playing his amplified guitar.
A thick binder full of pictures helped illustrate her stories along the way. We probably crossed 3 other walking tours as we proceeded on our tour so there are many choices if a walking tour is of interest. Our group’s pace was probably slower than normal as we returned to the starting point about 10 minutes late.
Feeding the Birds
We were looking for someplace for a quick bite to eat when we discovered a small area along Playfair Street, about halfway between Argyle Street and Mill Lane, that had a couple of walkup restaurants around a common eating area. The $10 Fish and Chip special advertised at 7 Rocks Deli caught our eye and we placed our order which was ready in about 5 minutes.
Despite numerous signs about not feeding the birds, there we several Ibis roaming around, feeding off scraps left behind or tossed on the ground by other tourists. They would get close to us, but didn’t make any attempt to steal food that was on our plate.
After lunch we headed off to the Sydney Harbor Bridge where we would climb the southeast pylon.
Pylon Lookout Climb
The Sydney Harbor Bridge climb is very popular, but expensive – around $250 US – plus the cost of any additional photographs you many want to purchase. The Bridge climb also takes 3.5 hours as it appropriately involves a lot of preliminary safety briefings and clothing changes. We did the bridge climb in 2006 and would recommend that everyone do the climb once. I was considering doing the climb a second time when I stumbled across an alternative – The Pylon Lookout Climb.
The Pylon Lookout climb costs $15 AUS ($10 AUS for seniors) and takes you to the top of the southeast Sydney Harbor Bridge pylon which overlooks the harbor and the Sydney Opera house. Instead of 3.5 hours, the pylon climb takes about 90 minutes as timed using the Rocks as the starting point. More information here
The pylon climb (292 feet above the harbor) doesn’t get as high as the bridge climb (440 feet) but is a great value when you consider the price difference and shorter time commitment. Unlike the Bridge Climb, we were allowed to take our cameras to the top of the Pylon. There aren’t any restrictions (backpacks are ok) on what can be taken up to the top of the Pylon.
The starting point for the Pylon Climb is at the base of the pylon on the bridge’s pedestrian sidewalk. You get there by climbing up the stairs to the bridge pedestrian sidewalk near Cumberland street. There are about 150 steps from the Rocks to the pedestrian sidewalk. Once on the bridge you walk about .4 of a mile, up a slight incline, to the base of the pylon. The Pylon Climb Lookout fee is collected at the ticket counter about 75 steps above the bridge. There is also an informational video available here, but it was out of service when we were there so we didn’t see it.
You may read that the pylon requires 200 steps, but the 200 steps doesn’t start until after you buy your ticket, which is 75 steps above the bridge and about 150 steps above the rocks. There are plenty of places to stop as you make your way up the stairs. It is well ventilated, brightly lit and wide open – no closed in feeling. A gift shop and rest rooms are available about half way up to the top.
At the top of the pylon you will find a small room with an informational display with a door that leads to a small walkway that circles the pylon’s superstructure. It was quite windy, but the visibility was superb in all directions. You can spend as much time as you like before you head down the stairs. We spent about 20 minutes enjoying the view and taking pictures.
You go down the same way you went up until you reach the ticket counter 200 steps below. After this point there is a separate stairway to return to the pedestrian walkway on the bridge.
The Pylon Climb was something we would do again when we return to Sydney. Highly recommended.
The Ken Done gallery was our next stop and was a short walk from the point where we returned to the Rocks from the bridge stairs. Judy is a big fan of Ken Done and we enjoyed looking at his current exhibit and the adjoining bookstore.
Tommy Bahama and Forgotten Songs
Our final stop of the day was the Tommy Bahama store located at 330 George Street. We requested an Uber which arrived within 5 minutes and we were dropped off near the store 10 minutes later. George street was closed due to construction, so our driver dropped us off one block over at the corner of Angel Place and Pitt Street.
As we walked down Angel Place we came upon an outdoor art display consisting of numerous empty bird cages, called “Forgotten Songs”, suspended about 50 feet above street level. At first we weren’t quite sure what to make of these cages, but there was a sign giving the exhibits name and the website was easy to find.
From the City Art Sydney website: “Forgotten Songs commemorates the songs of fifty birds once heard in central Sydney, before they were gradually forced out by European settlement. The calls, which filter down from the canopy of birdcages suspended above Angel Place, change as day shifts to night; the daytime birds’ songs disappearing with the sun, and those of the nocturnal birds, which inhabited the area, sounding into the evening”
After we were done shopping we headed down to the Apple Store to catch an Uber back to the ship. NOTE: If you need to sync up your apple devices, stop by the Apple store – free and super-fast Wi-Fi.
SailAway was well attended at the Sea View Pool. Waiters were circulating with trays filled with a miniature BBQ beef sandwich which was quite tasty. We enjoyed chatting with the Beverage Manager, Ivelin Kolarov, who stopped by to check on how the party was progressing. Cloudy, gray skies, with no sun, kept things cool, but also hid blue skies and a colorful sunset as we sailed out to the open sea.
Evening on the ship
Fresh fish is now back on the MDR menu after we had a chance to resupply in Sydney. I enjoyed the “Blue Eye Trevally Caponata” which was very good. Judy enjoyed an end cut of Prime Rib.
On the Queen Stage this evening was comedian Paul Adams. We have seen him numerous times on various HAL ships over the years. He has more of an edge than some cruise ship comedians but was very funny and we enjoyed his show once again. We have never seen his show in a full house, so he does spend some time commenting on the meager audience size. We always get a chuckle when a joke goes flat and he must “explain” what he meant.This entry was posted in Uncategorized