7.24pm - Valentine's Day Massacre

Trip Start Feb 09, 2009
Trip End Mar 25, 2009

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Sunday, February 15, 2009

Saturday 14 February, 7.24pm, my room
My God, but it can rain in Sydney.
Seriously. I left the UK to get away from this shit, and yet crappy weather seems to follow me wherever I go - it  was the same in NZ. When I made to leave yesterday morning, it was nicely drizzling (that fine rain that soaks you through), so I dithered for twenty minutes and had a coffee, wondering if it would clear or if I should go and get my rain jacket (didn't want to have to carry it all day if it was going to stop soon). It cleared up, though, so I set off for Darling Harbour... only for it to start raining in earnest just as I arrived. I dashed into the shelter of the aquarium and hoped it would cease before I left.
Sydney Aquarium is a huge building on the quayside, featuring, surprisingly enough, lots of aquatic life. Along with Sydney Wildlife World and Sydney Tower, it is part of something called the Discovery Trail, which sounds to me like a really good way to make tourists part with some of their hard-earned whilst under the delusion that they are getting an authentic Australian walkaboutesque experience. That said, I went along with it, so I can't diss it too much.
Every aquarium across the globe generally features a fuckload of fish, and this one is no exception. However, as you'd expect from Australia, there's also a lot of fun things that will happily murder you for sport, given half a chance. It's quite amusing, for example, that in the dugong pool (big manatee looking things, that apparently are what sailors were seeing when they thought they were seeing mermaids), you can go upstairs and look out over the pool itself, as well as going in the tunnels downstairs to look at them from underneath. In the shark pool? Not so much. Guess after one or two kids were chomped, they decided to keep the maneaters under lock and key. Personally I'd be more scared of the stingrays - if I thought the ones in Christchurch were big, they're tiddlers compared to the ones here. If you lay down next to one, it'd be as long as you were (not including the tail barb), and, I'd imagine, quite happy to make sure lying down next to it was the last thing you ever did.
Besides the dugongs and sharks, there was also an area devoted to the Barrier Reef, which was brilliant - tons of anemones and brightly coloured coral and funky coloured fish darting around in this long case that went round the sides of a whole room. There were a few Fairy Penguins, but I've petted one of those bad boys, I don't need to press my nose against the glass trying to catch a glimpse of any more (Fairy Penguins, DONE). You could go on a glass bottom boat trip to see the sharks, though I'm not sure if that was in the harbour or in the shark tank, but either way I decided not to, due to the aforementioned rain.
There were some great animals though - I loved the huge turtle that merrily swam around with the sharks (presumably they don't arm them with those lobster cracking things, so he's safe); the giant lobsters that were as long as your arm (I kind of wish they'd armed me with some of those lobster cracking things at that point); the cute Common Sydney Octopus playing with its dog toys (they get bored easily, so they need stuff to entertain them or they start causing havoc); the rather less cute but no less intriguing Blue-Ringed Octopus, which was sat glumly in its tank with its tentacles wrapped round its head, probably wishing it could get out and sting every kid that tapped on the glass; the school of barramundi that looked at me reproachfully for eating one of their fellows for lunch; the fish that I couldn't find a name plaque for, but which inexplicably had the exact face of a baboon; the platypus that chomped on one of the tiny crayfish-looking things wandering around its case, which I'm not entirely sure it was supposed to be doing, as it just seemed to kill it and then ignore it, rather than eat it... I could go on.
After finishing up at the aquarium, I went next door to Sydney Wildlife World. This was less of a fun expedition thing as much as it was a necessary survival tool. I figure it can be no bad thing to familiarise myself with the funnelweb and the taipan (the deadliest spider and snake in Australia, and indeed, the world) as soon as possible, all the better to be able to identify them and therefore understand what I need to escape from. It was both fun and fascinating, but basically what I took away from the place, beside a desire to adopt a marsupial, is the lesson that if you see anything, anything at all that doesn't have two legs, run. Run away. Run as fast as you can for as long as you can and don't stop until you are in a high building where beasties cannot follow. Seriously. Just run. There are so many, many poisonous things in Oz, and although the really nasty ones tend to hide in the interior of the country, there are plenty of less life-threatening but still exceedingly nasty creatures that pop up in ordinarily safe places like cars and houses, and are just waiting for the opportunity to chomp on your soft parts.
Since it was still bucketing it down when I left the Wildlife World, I delayed the inevitable with a quick beer, and spent an enjoyable twenty minutes or so watching some seagulls trying to work up the courage to scoff some chips off a table, but not quite having the balls to fly into the bar. Bless. Eventually I had to bite the bullet and head home, unfortunately, so was pretty much soaked by the time I got home. Fun times.
When I got up this morning, I was hoping it would have begun to clear, but no such luck - it's been finely raining and soaking me through all day. Since I didn't get much sleep last night, I decided to just have a leisurely day, and went browsing in Borders for a bit before going to see Benjamin Button. I know, I know, I came to the other side of the world to see a film I could have seen at home, but ever since I foolishly watched Australia, I've been feeling like a deserve a decent film to take the edge off. And it was, as everyone is saying, more than just a decent film. The acting, the effects, the writing - it's just exceptional. It reminded me of Forrest Gump in a lot of ways, not least because it's one of those films which is massively effects-heavy but you barely notice, because the effect serve the story rather than the other way around. That should be a no brainer, but these days it's so rarely the case.
So due to the aforementioned lack of sleep, I'm rather snoozy this eve. I have discovered a channel which seems to play nothing but Scrubs and My Name Is Earl, though, which is fun, so I shall have a glass of penguin wine (wine named after penguins, not made from penguins, just to clarify) and laugh. I must admit, it's not a patch on last Valentine's Day (when, realising we were all either single or what Facebook would class as "complicated", we had an anti-romance dinner at Mark's and drank far too much red wine for a Thursday), but it'll do.
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suzloua on

Re: Too many god damn things that can eat you....
Naturellement! Not for a few weeks yet though, need to make my way up the coast.

adatherton on

Cool photos
Hope the weather brightens up. Just to update you, car, boat and Lanzarote house all bought, just for you this (European) summer, my little chicken. Dad xx

suzloua on

Re: Re: Re: Too many god damn things that can eat
Div - yep, bought one after nearly wrecking my old one, got it wet taking pics of dolphins. The new one is top, we played with it in the pool after I got it and it's very much fun. I've never been diving though, so I might screw it all up yet...

Louby - get your tapas on. Oh, and by the way, Rhysie fearlessly did sharks, or something.

rokrchik on

"I must admit, it's not a patch on last Valentine's Day (when, realising we were all either single or what Facebook would class as "complicated", we had an anti-romance dinner at Mark's and drank far too much red wine for a Thursday), but it'll do." - This actually happens in real life? I thought it only happened in British chick lit's! (that's me being snarky, lol!)

suzloua on

I'm not sure if these things are taken from life or if we were inspired by the media, but yes, on Valentine's Day 2008 three girls and four guys gathered together in a little flat in Manchester, made dinner, drank lots of vino, and generally had a great night enjoying our singleton status with friends. Of course, of those people, one girl and one guy have now drifted away and the other three are all in relationships, leaving me as the solo solo... but it's hard to fall in love when you're globetrotting!!

rokrchik on

Pfft - you're an independent travelling woman! You don't need no man! ;)

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