Monday 23rd September 1996 -
Circular Quay and the Taronga Zoo

We decided to give train transport, in the morning at least, a miss. We took the river taxi from Parramatta. A lovely hour long trip down the Parramatta river to Sydney Harbour. There was a nice, relaxed atmosphere as we escaped the terrible Sydney traffic snarl-ups and general traffic noise.

There was lots to see on the river, beautiful houses, great views of the approaching city and Sydney Harbour bridge.... and best of all, after a cold start it was a balmy and warm Sydney day.

Like most visitors I fell in love with the imposing Sydney Opera Theatre with its glass, bulges and tiles.... all put together in a wonderfully creative way.

The trip from the Circular Quay to Taronga Zoo only took about fifteen minutes by ferry - we passed close to the Governor's house on the banks of Sydney harbour.

Getting into Taronga Zoo was quite an experience, we nearly lost our tickets in the slight breeze before alighting on a chair lift which took us over and into the heart of the zoo.

Taronga Zoo is supposed to be the biggest zoo in Australia, built on the banks of the Sydney Harbour it certainly is an experience only for the fit. After a lovely lunch in the zoo grounds, we went for a discovery walk hatched out while we ate.

We didn't have to go far before we came across Aian elephants "at it" - much to the amusement of the gathering crowd. Poor fellow it must be really quite exhausting....

The reptile section of the zoo was very impressive with heaps to see and lots of snakes both nocturnal and day loving. Viv had started looking for a toilet... which ws a real problem as they appeared to be harder to find than the seal section.

The spider monkeys were caged in a very open style form but appeared to be quite quiet compared to the activity generated by the same primates at the famous Johannesburg zoo... where the young are playing a continual game which, more often than not, involves the unwanted adults in some very amusing ways.

A definite highlight for young Alex was the Koala walkabout with a number of koalas sitting in the bough of trees, clearly visible and obviously very healthy.

After about three hours of walking around Viv eventually found a toilet near the African giraffe section.... much to the relief of everybody - not just Mum!

The zoo was really excellent except the signage system in the walkways which is abysmal and the zoo looks its age in a number of places. Other highlights were the farm animal section and the beautiful flowers which adorned the route.

One big negative, for me, was the naming of the orang-utan section the McDonalds Orang Utan section.... how terribly crass and commercial. I don't care whether they sponsor them or not. I am surprised that you didn't have the primates eating burgers and wearing Big M hats with that gross clown positioned somewhere in their cage.

The setting sun put on a spectacular show for us as we travelled back across the Sydney Harbour towards the Circular Quay Railway Station.

It was "rush hour" with commuters leaving work and returning home.

The trains were quite full... but efficient. Not like the bloody Coca Cola vending machine at Central station which took over $1 from us before we realised that the money had not gone beyond the slot and could no longer be retrieved. To me, a faulty vending machine like that in a public place is probably the worse publicity that the company could ask for.

We were certainly annoyed enough to photograph and report on the offending machines which are draped everywhere like advertising posters... waiting for the uninitiated and unsuspecting tourist.

Oh, and one final thing... without exception we have found the little grey men behind the high security rooms on the platforms of suburban stations to be rude.... unlike the staff in the major centres, playing out similar roles who were their antethisis being both charming and helpful.

Summary of the day.... fantastic except for crass Americanisms such as McDonalds and Coca Cola.

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