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Having raced around Sydney for the past two days we had decided to start slowly for the last one. Unfortunately I forgot to tell my jetlag and so happily woke up at 5:30 again (the only symptom I’ve had really) to make up for this I decided to spend as much time having breakfast as possible and being the first down was shown to the best table which was in the corner of the room and had huge floor to ceiling glass walls on two sides giving a panoramic view of Circular Quay up to the bridge and the opera house. I was able to sit there and gently make my way through the breakfast menu, starting with a rye bread and honey before migrating onto the most delicious buttermilk pancakes. Having devoured 5 pots of tea (Manda would be proud!) And taken in the view for around 3 hours – definitely couldn’t get enough of the view – we packed up our apartment, checked out, left our bag with the hotel’s left luggage and wandered into the botanic gardens across the road.

On the edge of the botanic gardens was Sydney music conservatoire which was originally a stable yard! From the outside it is more like a castle and certainly would have had extraordinary views of the harbour. It’s been converted and restored beautifully and has a large entrance hall descending three stories off of which come two recital halls and several practice rooms.

On leaving the conservatoire we made our way into the botanical gardens. They started with rose beds and very formal garden settings. A very shy Kookaburra flew between the trees (no elderly eucalyptus trees I’m afraid) and avoided being photographed by any passing tourists.

As we walked through the gardens land trains drove towards us and the scenery changed to become more tropical and closer to that which we had experienced the day before in the valley of the Three Sisters. I was very impressed by my brothers knowledge of the Wollemi Pine as he not only identified the dreadful picture I sent him of ‘the rarest tree in the world’ but told me there was another in Kew gardens! There was another aerial rooting tree which was also quite bizarre to see it as it seemed as though it was set on columns and a squat tree started growing 8 feet up in the air!

The birds around the gardens were equally fascinating. Having watched the Ibis’ from our balcony over the last few days it was amazing to see these dinosaur like creatures up close. That coupled with a Kookaburra, Crimson Rosellas, Rainbow Lorikeets, Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos, Shrike Thrush and all manner of other little birds.

The gardens rolled out to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair from which the ultimate view of the Opera House and the bridge can be seen. We rejoined the tourists and took many photos of ourselves in front of the view. Some of the waterfront walk back through the gardens was impassable because a large concert had taken place and the area was being cleared of staging meaning that we had to walk around.
On rejoining the promenade we were overtaken by a large number of bikes on a city tour as we walked up to the opera house.

Approaching from the other side was really interesting and it shows just how incredible the architectural design is that you can view it from any angle and it still looks amazing! I was really keen to go on a tour of the Opera House, and although it was definitely set up for the cruise passengers it was still quite interesting and it was amazing to see the inside of both halls. I didn’t realise that the outside structure simply forms a shell in which they built the concert halls, an almost completely separate structure certainly not supported by the sail-like exterior.

After the tour we wandered into Sydney and visited the Queen Victoria Building to enjoy a luxurious afternoon tea in the old ballroom. The prawn & lettuce and ham & rocket sandwiches were good and the Orange Pekoe delicious – scones were clearly made the night before or early in the morning, still quite nice, and the cakes were delicious.

With an hour left before we needed to leave for the airport we made our way back to circular quay and sat watching the cruise ship depart. It was a little late leaving and we had to leave just as it was turning round. We continued to watch it from the station platform before our train arrived.

Sydney domestic terminal was quite busy. Thankfully we had our boarding passes printed already and we were able to go straight through security quite quickly which was lucky because just as we went through and as we bought dinner (a subway sub for me) the final call for our flight was announced – a whole hour before it was due to take off! After wolfing down our supper we joined the queue as it died out.

Having sat on the ground for a while the plane took off and again turned hard left and right immediately after lifting off to leave Sydney Harbour. The flight was delayed in the air by about 20 minutes and then stacked at Melbourne for another 10 making the 50 minutes flight more like two and a half on the plane. I was very keen to get off at the end! Lucciano picked us up at the airport and we arrived back at around 11 to climb wearily into bed!

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