With friends in Sydney, New South Wales

Robin with Barry Tozer in Katoomba
Robin with Barry Tozer in Katoomba

We spent Easter, our last weekend in Australia, with long-time friends of Robin’s, Barry and Rhonda Tozer. Their spacious apartment overlooks the Parramatta River. Robin was Barry’s best man when the Tozers married some 41 years ago. From Thursday, when they picked us up at the Strathfield (a suburb 15 km south of Sydney’s Central Business District) train station until Monday, when their son Anthony dropped us off at the Central Quay, the Tozers spoiled us thoroughly.

Cathryn with Rhonda Tozer in Katoomba
Cathryn with Rhonda Tozer in Katoomba

Since we had such mixed feelings about leaving Australia, we were grateful to have the time with the Tozers as a transition from farewells to return voyage. On our first full day they walked with us to the ferry dock, about twenty minutes from their house. For $2.50 each we boarded the Sydney Ferries and spent the day traveling up and down the Parramatta River.

Ferry ride into Sydney Harbour
Ferry ride into Sydney Harbour

Our first view of the highrises that line Sydney’s gracious harbour was from the water, motoring past tree-lined promontories, marinas, and upscale neighbourhoods. Sydney residents have more water-view options than most seaside cities. The better the view, of course, the higher the price. [NB – for the first time since arriving in Australia, Robin’s hay fever has disappeared. Too bad Sydney is so far from the family.]

Highly talented digeridoo player with the Aboriginal company, Koomurri
Highly talented digeridoo player with the Aboriginal company, Koomurri

We stopped at the Circular Quay to walk along the waterfront. There were many buskers, including the talented digeridoo player in the photograph. The Aboriginal instrument is difficult to master. It can sound like a foghorn playing one, endless note. In this man’s hands, the haunting sound became animals and birds and likely a whole lot of other things I didn’t understand. You can check out Koomurri’s other offerings at http://www.koomurri.com. [N.B. The link doesn’t always work, but there are mp3s and videos online, through various other links.]

The Sydney Opera House is even more impressive first hand than in photographs
The Sydney Opera House is even more impressive first hand than in photographs

One of Sydney’s icons is just around the corner from the Quay’s restaurants and gift shops. Up close, the Sydney Opera House looks far more solid than in the more distant photographs of its sails. Unfortunately, it was closed for maintenance so we had to content ourselves with walking around the tiled wings and sailing past it on the ferry.

Of course, when we walked beneath it, Robin couldn’t resist pointing out the Tour Meeting Point in the photo below. In his years as a tour director, he has gathered many a group there.

Robin the Tour Director, pointing out the spot where he's met many tour groups
Robin the Tour Director, pointing out the spot where he's met many tour groups

The Sydney Bridge is as impressive as its photographs. We sailed under it on our way to Circular Quay, gazed at its graceful span as we ferried to Manly and back again, and walked up the Pylon on its north end for a close-up view. We opted to spend $6.50 to climb the 200 steps to the top of the Pylon rather than $180 to join a group of harnessed bridge walkers climbing to the top of the span. At night the fee for that particular thrill jumps to $300.

Cathryn posing with the Sydney Bridge in the background, from beside the Opera House
Cathryn posing with the Sydney Bridge in the background, from beside the Opera House

The sun was setting as we ferried back to the Tozers. The brilliant sky as the sun slips below the horizon never fails to delight me.

Sunset seen from the Sydney ferry
Sunset seen from the Sydney ferry
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