Bush walking and Snacks with Snakes

Trip Start Jun 15, 2011
Trip End Jun 01, 2012

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Friday, September 9, 2011

We've now been in Australia a month, and it has flown by so fast,but then we have done quite a lot so I guess time flies when you're having fun. The main thing we've been doing is walking as it's the perfect time of year to explore, before it gets too hot in November and December. We've mainly been doing walks around different areas of the harbour although we have also gone further a field to the national parks near the Hawkesbury river. It's funny because people at work ask me what I did at the weekend and they're amazed at how much there is to do in their own City. The joys of being a tourist!

Last weekend we went to Muogamarra National park which is only open to the public in the spring on 5 weekends a year. It opens in spring so that people can go and see the wild flowers in bloom. We had to get there early because as soon as a certain number of people are there they close as they are trying to protect the natural habitat of the national park. It's an amazing park, we started by walking the 45 minute circuit around the visitor centre (more of a canopy than a centre) which is a good way to see the variety of wild flowers that bloom in the area. There's quite a wide variety of flowers and they look beautiful spread across the forest floor, I thought nature had done a pretty good job actually. The star of the flower show is the Waratah which I believe is the New South Wales official flower, it's a large red flower which grows quite tall and the flowers are just above head height, it reminded me a bit of the Protea (South Africa's national flower) although much prettier. Katy took the opportunity to practice her photography, although her lack of a normal lens makes it very difficult to get good photos. She did manage to get some good ones though, so she must just be a bit of a pro! The walk wasn't just about flowers though as there was a viewpoint halfway round which was just breath-taking. We were only about an hour out of Sydney city and it felt as though we were in the middle of nowhere, it was so peaceful and the view was completely unspoilt by civilisation. 

After the short circuit to see the flowers we set off on our proper walk which was about 2 hours return and took us down to a viewpoint over the Hawkesbury river. The walk started off down a hill to another lookout and we decided to take a couple of minutes a little off the track to have a drink and a snack before setting off. We sat on rocks and put our bags down checking the route and what we should be looking for along the track. After a couple of minutes I heard something rustling just behind me, maybe 2 metres away and then heard a hiss. I turned around and there was an enormous brown snake moving slowly in our direction with it's head raised a few inches off the floor. I said "There's a snake here" and started trying to dig out my camera so that I could get a photo of it, for some reason not feeling at all scared. 

Before I had a chance to even turn my camera on Berry was off ushering us all away from the snake at a running pace... apparently that sort of snake is the most common for serious human injury and fatalities so hanging around for a photo isn't the best idea. Our running startled him and he raised his head off the floor and dashed into the forest so fast. It was only once we had left the area that we really realised what had just happened and I hate snakes so for the rest of the walk was on edge any time I heard rustling in the trees. Katy thought she'd help to ease my nerves by jumping out at me, grabbing my shoulders and shouting "Watch out" before falling over laughing at my near heart-attack.... I tell you, that is true love!  So, we've had our wild snake encounter, supposedly people live here for years and years and will never see one but we were in an area which doesn't often have people and we stopped so the snake probably didn't realise we were there. Or maybe he just wanted some of our snacks. The rest of the walk was fine and again we were treated to unbelievable views from the destination of our walk, I just can't believe how beautiful this country is!

Katy and I are loving living in Manly, it's an amazing place and like being on holiday all the time as you're next to some of the nicest beaches around and there's so much to explore in the surrounding area as well. On my journey to work this week I saw a pod of dolphins swimming next to the ferry, and then on the journey home watched the sun set behind the harbour bridge from the ferry (the best place to get a view of the city is from a boat in the harbour... without a doubt!). It was like a postcard!

Yesterday Katy and I caught a bus to Dee-Why beach where we had lunch in a beach-side cafe before setting off on a coastal walk to Manly crossing 4 beaches along the way. (Dee Why, Curl Curl, Freshwater and Manly). We looked out for snakes as we now expect them to be everywhere and we looked for Whales but they have mostly done their migration now although there are a still a few sightings now and then. Again with this walk you realise that everything in Australia wants you to be in pain or dead. We're on this beautiful beach with really soft white sand and you think there isn't anywhere better to be but there are bluebottles everywhere! I am assured they can give you a really nasty sting so that's something to look forward to. Plus I'm already freaked out about the sea because a young body-boarder was bitten in half by a great white shark in Western Australia this week.... the risks you take to enjoy a country where you're not supposed to live. haha!

The other risk is on the road. We are lucky enough to be borrowing a car which gives us a bit more freedom for exploring the local area. The public transport is good but often you end up quite far from the actual spot you want to be, so having a car is great. Sydney, although big is over populated and the roads are so busy at all times. The problem is that they have tried to be too clever and there are loads and loads of additional rules you have to know. There are bus lanes, cycle lanes, T2 lanes (you have to have at least 2 passengers), T3 lanes (minimum 3 passengers) and school zones where the speed limit changes for a couple of hours on school days. So you can be driving along and suddenly your lane is no longer available to you because it's T3. And worse is that you have to merge right rather than left, so if your lane ends you have to somehow push your way into traffic that's going faster than you. Usually the reason you have to move is because someone has parked in your lane... anyway it's mayhem but nothing like Thailand so we'll cope and we're getting used to it now. Middle lane driving is definitely the answer. Stay in the middle lane and you can't go too wrong! 
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