Friday the 21st dawned bright and early for us, since we had to catch a ride to our tour transport. Our travel agent booked us a 3 1/2 hour coast walk in Bundeena. We picked up one other person for the tour, another American, and drove to Cronulla to meet our tour guide and take the ferry to Bundeena. During the ride over we learned several astonishing things about Australia, I’ll share a few:
- Minimum wage is $17 and change Australian and set by there federal government, roughly $15 American. This explains why tipping is not really expected here.
- The real estate prices are insanely high.
- The healthcare system is similar to the Canadian model, and when we asked how well that worked, the driver had no complaints.
- They get a guarranteed 4- week paid vacation every year, and when they have been working for the same company for 10-years they get a bonus 6-weeks of paid vacation, and at 15-years they get a bonus of 8-weeks paid vacation, all administered by the federal government.
- As a coastal city, some of the beaches have walled off ocean pools for swimming in, so you can swim without worrying about sharks? I don’t know, but it was pretty cool.
- The National park we walked in on our tour is the second oldest national park in the world, second to Yellowstone. Though of course there is some argument around that and dates.. Eye roll.
- The Aboriginal culture is the oldest surviving culture on the planet.
In Bundeena we walked along an amazing beach next to an aboriginal midden, viewed some aboriginal carvings, walked along some sandstone outcroppings and made our way down to a rugged sandstone beach, before looping back to the ferry. All the while our guide regaled us with stories and information about aboriginal culture and Australia in general. She also identified the various plants and animals we were seeing.
I have to admit I wasn’t sure about the value of having a guide, but she really provided the context for what we were looking at and since she was from Scotland, we also got an outsider/insider perspective about Australia which I really appreciated. Otherwise it would have been just a beautiful walk in a beautiful place, which would have been fine too.
We totally saw some badass pigeons with little mohawks!
We also heard and saw another cockatoo and a kookaburra bird. We made it back to Sydney after a harrowing return van ride at about 2pm. Where we almost rear ended other cars four times, and took the curly cue route back to the hotel. Since the temp was in the 90s, we grabbed some lunch and came back to the hotel for swim in the pool and some lazing about.
When we were sufficiently lazed, okay when we woke up, we headed over to Darling Harbour to find dinner. Darling Harbour appears to be a trendy night spot with a ton of restaurants and beautiful people. It is actually kind of annoying how well dressed and attractive the Aussies tend to be.
Dinner was awesome, the seafood here is really fresh, and they know how to cook it!
I’d post more pictures, but the hotel wifi is complete garbage.