I'm sorry. I'm running out of adjectives, so I have to just start using the same ones again.

Our last full day in Sydney was incredible. After breakfast, we just left the hotel and started walking. We had a general idea of what we wanted to see, but no definite plan. That, to me, is awesome.

I really appreciated that Sydney was looking out for us. I mean, the roads are so much more attractive without a bunch of Americans smashed flat right off the curb. Seriously though, although Kyler and I had pretty much mastered looking to the right for oncoming cars (so as to avoid imminent death), we did appreciate the reminder before every crosswalk. ::grin::

ps - NO, smart alecks, that is not the shadow of my head. It's a street sign. Geez.

A few blocks east landed us in Hyde Park, where we marveled at the gorgeous trees and view of St. Mary's Cathedral.

This is the ANZAC (Australia/New Zealand Army Corps) War Memorial.

St. Mary's Cathedral
We did go inside, and it was amazing. I wanted to take pictures, but they didn't allow them, and the security guards were watching like hawks, so I played by the rules. Sigh.

Spring was in full swing in Sydney, and the landscaping was gorgeous.

Entrance gate to the Royal Botanic Gardens.

We loved this sign. And we did what it said.

One of the first sections of the Gardens was the rare and endangered plants garden. Some cool stuff here, like the Wollemi Pine below:

Me: "What's that? Is it a bat?!":
Kyler: "Nah, it's some kind of seed pod or something."
Me: "Nooooo....."

".....it's a bat!"

And I - ahem - was right.
They were bats. 
Lots and lots and lots of enormous, furry, flying bats with at least a two-foot wingspan.

After doing a bit of research here, I discovered that this species of bat is called a grey-headed flying fox bat. It is native only to Australia, is one of the largest species of bat (weighing one kilogram and having a wingspan of one meter). They eat fruit and nectar, and the Royal Botanic Gardens is a permanent roosting site. Cool, huh?

Can you see them all?


No sooner had we left this little portion of the Gardens in awe of all of the ginormous, furry bats, than we stumbled upon a huge grassy space full of grazing parrots. 


They. Were. Everywhere.
Like pigeons.
Kids were feeding them like we feed ducks.

I think if I hadn't been keenly aware that my odds of getting pooped on were probably 98%, my mouth would have been open in amazement the entire time.

Keep in mind, I didn't zoom for most of these shots. They were right. there.

Hang with the videography so you can hear the cockatoos calling near the end.

This tree, besides being just amazing in its own right, had at least 40 cockatoos in it while we were under it. (Daring, I know.) It was just beyond cool.

After our encounter with the cockatoos, we headed through the Gardens and out around the point of the peninsula to Mrs. Macquarie's Chair. There were so many beautiful views from this vantage point! We took so many pictures. So, so many pictures.

And of course, Kyler took photos of me in the Chair.

As we were rounding a corner, I heard kookaburras. How, you ask, do I know what kookaburras sound like? The short version is: growing up, some neighbors of mine in Texas had an exotic animal license. Among many weird and exciting animals like kangaroos and lemurs, they had kookaburras. We heard them "calling" day and night (read: they do not "chirp," they yell. Think Roseanne Barr, except a bird.) On several occasions, my boyfriend house-sat for these neighbors, and I went over to help him feed them. We had to feed the kookaburras thawed dead mice. It was not exciting....quite the contrary. They have super long, sharp beaks, and they're mean to boot. Luckily, we kept our fingers and the birds got their dinner. So, I know what a kookaburra sounds like, and when we heard them in Sydney, I knew what to look for. It took us awhile, but we found them in the trees overhead:

Just down the way, Kyler also spied some rainbow lorikeets. Aren't they lovely? They had a small nest above us and we could hear the babies chirping.

I decided I could live in Sydney....just for the Botanic Gardens.

And all of the crazy weird trees! 
Check these out:

I thought this one looked like it had hair....or something.

And this is a ficus. Really.

It had so many root systems it was dizzying. Part of the tree was even rooted on the other side of the walkway! See?

The birds were pretty incredible, too. This one is an ibis. A little creepy, but very friendly!

As in the Queenstown Gardens, the trees were big.
A little perspective:


This one was Kyler's favorite. Check out the sign on the fence around it!


From the Gardens we headed to the Opera House.

And from there we headed to lunch on the Quay. I can't tell you how thrilled we were to find restaurants offering a "Buy One Entree Get One Free" deal! That's right, ladies and gentlemen, for the low, low price of $34, we got two (very small) plates of fish and chips. However, the view was gorgeous, and I took a few shots of the grand Aussie flag atop the Harbour Bridge:

After lunch, we headed back around the Quay opposite the Opera House. We saw some kids taking "jump" shots, and I told Kyler I wanted to take one. He really didn't want to, but I pouted, so he gave in (yes!). And for all you naysayers who think we photoshopped it, here ya go:

Before the jump, where I basically just look really constipated. (For the record, that look is more "Good-golly-I-hope-I-don't-fall-into-the-harbour-jumping-off-of-this-deceivingly-skinny-concrete-railing!")

And after the jump, where I look like a really old, nervous-but-happy, and sleeping(?) cheerleader.

Whatever the case, I'm thrilled with the result:
I'm jumping over the Sydney Opera House!

So there.
Then, we hopped on a ferry headed all the way down the opposite side of Sydney Harbour to Manly.

The views from the ferry were, of course, spectacular.

Once in Manly, we walked down through the shops and restaurants to the beach, and went hiking out on the peninsula.

As you can tell, by the time we got to Manly, daylight was fading and we didn't have maps or flashlights (and yes, I was pretty much a chicken), so we got as far as we dared out onto the peninsula before we turned around and headed back. But we had heaps of fun exploring old castle walls and climbing up onto huge rocks overlooking the ocean.

Like I said, incredible!

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