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Showing posts with label Australia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Australia. Show all posts

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Australia Harbour From Airplane.
 
Location: Sydney, Australia
Address:  Bennelong Point
Date:  May 2012
Website:  www.sydneyoperahouse.com

  As our plane made its approach into Sydney airport we caught a glimpse of one of the world's most recognizable buildings.  Sticking out into the harbour is the famous Sydney Opera House.  The opera house has been completed since 1973 and was deemed a UNESCO heritage site in 2007.  While we never did make it inside the building, we had a chance to admire its exterior up close.

Sydney Opera House Australia

  The opera house is designed to look like a group of shells or sails.  It was designed by Jorn Utzon who was the winner of a design competition.  
 
The exterior of the Sydney Opera House Australia

    When we walked up close to the  Opera House we could really appreciate the design and work that was involved in its construction.
 
The exterior of the Sydney Opera House Australia

    You would expect it to be something exceptional since it was only anticipated to take 4 years and 7 million dollars to build but ended up taking 14 years and costing 102 million dollars.

The exterior of the Sydney Opera House Australia

    The building looks different from every angle. 

Sydney Opera House Australia From Across The Harbour

    From across the harbour it appears almost as if the groups of sails can fold down onto each other .

Sydney Opera House Australia At Night

    In the evening, the Opera House is lit to highlight the curves of the sails against the dark Australian night.  We can only imagine what the building looks like inside, but it is definitely worth a visit just to admire its exterior. 


Map of Our World
Sydney Opera House

Post # 300

Thursday, 20 May 2021

Uluru

Uluru Ayers Rock in the Centre of Australia
 
 Location: Uluru, Northern Territory, Australia
Address: 3 Yulara Drive
Date: May 2012
Website: parksaustralia.gov.au
 
  Uluru is located right in the red centre of Australia.  The giant sandstone rock is a sacred spot for the aboriginal people of the region.  Uluru is also known as Ayers Rock when it was named after Sir Henry Ayers who was the Chief Secretary of South Australia.  We prefer the original name.  During our Australian trip we spent a couple of days and nights exploring the area around Uluru.

Kata Tjuta Uluru

   We stayed at a place called Emu Walk Apartments.  In the distance we could see Uluru and another important group of rock formations called Kata Tjuta.

Kata Tjuta

  Kata Tjuta is made up of about 36 domed rock formations that jut out of the earth. We took a tour which gave us the opportunity to see some of these formations up close.

One Of Kata Tjuta's Valleys
  
   We walked into one of the valleys that is formed between the domes.  You can see how the sandstone rock is shaped by rainwater running down its walls.  While the mass of rock was impressive we had hoped to see some of the desert's little creatures on our walk.  We would have to wait until we returned to our apartment.
 
Crested Pigeon

  As we entered the property a few crested pigeons ran across the walkway.  These pigeons seemed to prefer running around to get out of our way rather than take flight.

Spider In Uluru Australia

    As we walked through the apartments, a spider was spinning a web right at face level.  We are glad we noticed it in time.  We snapped a photo in case a doctor needed to see it later and carefully passed by making sure we didn't get tangled in the web.  Australia is full of deadly insects and spiders.  We are not the best at identification so we just generally avoid everything that crawls or slithers.  We believe this is an orbweaver spider which, while its bite might be painful, is thankfully not deadly.  If anyone reading this knows otherwise please post in the comments.
 
Caterpillar In Uluru Australia
 
   Outside on the ground we found another fuzzy critter.  Australia is known for having processionary caterpillars that follow each other in long lines across the desert.  This caterpillar was all alone so we don't know if later it would join up with a group for a game of follow the leader.

Uluru Camel Tour Camels Sit On Ground

  The next morning we had our own version of follow the leader.  We had signed up for a sunrise camel tour.  The tour started in the dark so that we could be out on the trail when the sun finally started to rise.

Sunrise In Uluru Australia

   When the sun did rise there was a beautiful orange glow that grew from beyond the horizon.

Wild Camel On Hill Uluru

  We noticed a large animal walking along the top ridge of a hill.  It turned out to be another camel.  This camel wasn't an escapee from a camel tour, it was a feral camel.  Dromedary (single humped) camels were brought to Australia's desert for transportation back in the19th century.  Today, close to a million wild camels roam Australia.

Wild Camel Near Uluru Australia

  We also saw other wild camels walking beside the road when we travelled to Kata Tjuta.

Camel Rides Uluru Australia.

  The camels on our tour we not so wild.  They followed each other slowly and steadily.  Everyone was riding two people per camel. 

Uluru Camel Tours

  Our camel had a bit of an itchy head and took any opportunity to rub against the camel in front of us.

Camel From Uluru Camel Tours

   Our camel was named Chester.  As the guides called him it is pronounced "Chestah!"  It is quite high up sitting on top of a camel. When they sit down they fold their legs underneath them.  This means the riders are tilted way forward as the front legs fold under and then levelled out again as the back legs fold.  The process is the same for when the camel stands up.  Chester did a good job and we remained in our saddles the entire time.

Uluru Sunset

  After an early morning of camel riding, we had plans for a late night too.  We headed to Uluru to watch the sunset.

Sunset BBQ Near Uluru.

  There were some tables set up so we could enjoy a meal and some drinks while the sun went down.  We hate to admit it, but the kangaroo was tasty. After dinner we would look up at the sky and see the stars in the reverse of how we are used to seeing them in the Northern Hemisphere.  

Desert Mouse Near Uluru.

  During dinner we had a few friends scurrying under the table looking for scraps.  Uluru is known for having the cute Spinifex Hopping Mouse.  We are quite sure our visitors were just regular mice.

Uluru From Ayers Rock Airport.

   Our time in Uluru came to an end and we caught one last glimpse of the giant rock formation as our plane started down the runway.  We had seen some creatures big and small and even more reasons why Australia is such an unusual and special place.


Map of Our World
Uluru Camel Tours
Emu Walk Apartments , Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

Post # 299

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Australia Day

Australia Day At The Toronto Zoo.

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address:  2000 Meadowvale Road
Date:  Jan 2020
Website:  www.torontozoo.com

  Australian wildlife is being affected by wildfires.  The Toronto Zoo pledged to donate all the income from their Australia Day tours to help support the animal rescue efforts.  We took advantage and felt this was a great time to take an Australasia Pavilion behind the scenes tour.

A Matschie's Tree Kangaroo At The Toronto Zoo.

  Our tour started with the Matschie's Tree Kangaroo.  These kangaroos spend the majority of their time up in the trees and are more agile moving through the branches than down on the ground.  The kangaroo pictured above is a female called Puzzle.

Victoria Crowned Pigeons At The Toronto Zoo.

    The next section of the pavilion features free flying birds.  One of our favourites is the Victoria Crowned Pigeons.  They have white tips on the feathers that stick up from the top of their head like a crown.  If you are lucky you might hear the drumming whooping sound they make when they wish to attract attention.

A Macleay's Spectre At The Toronto Zoo.

  Next we went through a Staff Only door for a behind the scenes visit.  The tour guide opened a wooden door and we found ourselves at the back of the Macleay's Spectre exhibit.  We half expected insects to come flying out to make their escape.  Nothing happened as the usual defense mechanism for this stick insect is to cling to a branch and gently sway in order to make us think it is a leaf.

Kangaroos Behind The Scenes At The Toronto Zoo.

  We travelled down a small hall and were taken into the kangaroo winter home.  There were a few holding areas where the kangaroos were all lying around just relaxing.  Once we arrived and lettuce was offered things picked up.


   The Toronto Zoo has a mob of Western Grey Kangaroos.  A mob is what you call a group of kangaroos.

A Western Grey Kangaroo At The Toronto Zoo.
 A Western Grey Kangaroo At The Toronto Zoo.

    The kangaroos have big teeth for munching.  The kangaroo above on the left was a new mother about three months ago.  The baby joey will not leave the pouch for almost six more months.

Senior Kangaroos At The Toronto Zoo.

  One enclosure contained what the keepers called the old timers.  This is where the senior kangaroos were kept.  They often get annoyed by the constant hopping about of their more youthful family members.

A Wallaby At The Toronto Zoo.

  There was a Bennett's Wallaby in with the older kangaroos.  Wallabies are much smaller than kangaroos so despite being thirteen years old this wallaby appeared very young.  Thirteen is an upper age for a wallaby but hanging around kangaroos keeps it looking youthful.

A Swamp Wallaby At The Toronto Zoo.

  Another wallaby was in an enclosure by itself.  It was called a Swamp Wallaby.  The keepers ensured us that it was not alone and behind a piece of wood a bettong was sleeping waiting for dark.  A bettong is still a marsupial but more of a kangaroo rat than a kangaroo.

The Top Of The Great Barrier Reef Tank At The Toronto Zoo.
 The Top Of The Great Barrier Reef Tank At The Toronto Zoo.

  After leaving the kangaroo area we travelled through the pavilion to the Great Barrier Reef tank.  This tank is filled with various Australian fishes.  We went through another Staff Only door and up some steps to the top of the tank.


   We enjoyed feeding the fish in this tank.  Two of our favourites were the Clown Triggerfish and the Scribbled Angelfish who make a snapping sound when they bite down on the seaweed we dropped into the water.


    If you wish to identify the other fish in these videos above you can check out our Toronto Zoo page and scroll down to the Australasia Pavilion (Great Barrier Reef) section.  We enjoyed our tour and hope the money donated helps Australian wildlife. You can always go "down under" anytime if you visit the Toronto Zoo.

Map of Our World
Toronto Zoo

Post # 276

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Cairns Tropical Zoo

A Crocodile Billboard At Cairns Tropical Zoo.

Location: Cairns, Australia
Address:  Captain Cook Highway, Palm Cove
Date:  May 2012
Website:  www.crocodileadventures.com

  Cairns Tropical Zoo closed in 2016.  The zoo was owned by the same family that owns the nearby Hartley's Crocodile Adventures so when the zoo closed a lot of the animals were transferred there.  We were lucky enough to have visited Cairns Tropical Zoo in 2012 and had some great experiences. 


  We visited the zoo over two days and started one morning by having "Breakfast With The Koalas".  We were served a full buffet breakfast and also had a very special visitor.  A koala came into the dining area on a small wagon with a tree attached.  We got to see the koala up close and he seemed just as interested in checking us out as we were in him.  Forget about breakfast, if you start your day off with a koala it is bound to be a great day.


  The same keeper that kept an eye on the koala during breakfast also had a supporting role in the crocodile feeding we watched later that day.  The keeper had told us over breakfast that he prefers working with crocs rather than koalas.  As for us, we will take cute and cuddly over cold and chompy any day.  The real star of this show was an almost 4 meter long saltwater crocodile that lunged out of the pool to take a bite at a chicken or anything else it could grab.

Freshwater Crocodiles At Cairns Tropical Zoo

  Australia has saltwater and freshwater crocodiles and so did the Cairns Tropical Zoo.  Freshwater crocodiles have a long thin snout and usually eat insects or fish.  There is no known human death caused by a freshwater crocodile attack.  The same cannot be said of their saltwater cousins.

A keeper Holds A koala while a wombat watches at Cairns Tropical Zoo.

  Two other animals that are cousins are koalas and wombats.  A keeper talk explained what these two marsupials have in common and how they differ.  Wombats are a lot more aggressive said the keeper as she showed us a big bandage on her leg.  Koalas don't mind being held.

Koala At Cairns Tropical Zoo

  It was at Cairns Tropical Zoo that we held our first koala.  The koala didn't seem to mind as far as we could tell.  Someone put the koala near our arms and it grabbed on.  We put one hand under its butt so it could sit comfortably.  Photo! Photo! Photo! And then the koala would be transferred to the next waiting arms.  Photo! Photo! Photo! And then back to a little tree for the koala.  All the time it had the same expression on its face while we had huge smiles.

A Big Green Frog On A Toilet Seat.

  Australia is known for having many deadly and unusual creatures.  The reptile house had an exhibit where a big green frog was siting on a toilet.  Remember in Cairns to lift both the lid and the seat, then tap the bowl for good measure before getting down to business.  You never know if a frog, spider or snake may have claimed your toilet as its new home while you were away.

Central Netted Dragon

    This central netted dragon is a reptile that is only found in Australia.  He was a cute little guy.

Cassowary Cairns Tropical Zoo

  This next bird is sometimes called the world's deadliest bird.  The cassowary is a large flightless bird that can stand over 6 feet tall..  With a hard casque on its head and three toed feet with sharp dagger-like claws it is not to be messed with.  If you saw one walking around you might feel like you were watching a dinosaur.

Barking Owl

  During a bird flight show we were introduced to a barking owl.  It has a call that sounds like a dog barking.  It also had bright yellow eyes that can look right into your soul.

A Kangaroo Up Close At Cairns Tropical Zoo.

  No Australian zoo would be complete without kangaroos.  Cairns Tropical Zoo had its share of kangaroos.  We found ourselves surrounded by a mob (a group of kangaroos) looking for snacks.  The kangaroo above was the biggest of the bunch and must have been the mob boss.  We enjoyed ourselves so much that we could have spent a few days at this zoo.  Oh wait, we did!

Map of Our World
Cairns Tropical Zoo

Post # 262