After the explosive events of the day before, the girl woke up and felt just fine. Eric, on the other hand, caught whatever bug she had and was out for the count. Sitting on the couch downstairs and occasionally croaking out a request for some tea, he wandered in and out of an achy consciousness. It was shaping up to be another wet day and the kids and I made a plan to go to the Aquarium and Wildlife Sydney, a small zoo in the middle of downtown which features Australian wildlife.
This was, all in all, a fabulous day. We hopped a bus to Darling Harbour and made our way to the Aquarium. On the way we had to stop for the kids to use the bathroom and found ourselves in a lovely cafe where we decided to return for lunch, as described by the boy in his post.
The Sydney Aquarium is set up pretty nicely as it walks you through various underwater environs of the Australian coast. We walked through a series of “underwater” tunnels where the rays, sharks and other sea life meandered overhead. When we stepped in, I began to say, “You know, there was this scene in Jaws 3 where-” “NOOO!! NOO!! Don’t tell me! Not until we’re safely out of here!” the boy interrupted me. He then scurried through the tunnel as quickly as he could, waiting for cracks to appear. I keep trying to get them to watch Jaws before we go snorkeling at the Barrier Reef, but they keep rebuffing my attempts. Can’t imagine why.
The Wildlife Sydney was really fun. I’d never seen an echidna before! They’re so adorable, like a hedgehog that got hit with an enlarger ray. As one of the 2 known egg laying mammals, I’ve always been fascinated by them.
And the platypus! They had platypuses swimming about in an underwater habitat! The other egg laying mammal! Suffice it to say, there was a lot of squee happening. But then we got to the koalas! And even more squee! Fun fact about koalas I learned: when the males are in heat, they develop a musky cologne on their belly that they rub on the trees to attract the lady koalas. The zoo also advertises the largest saltwater crocodile in captivity. We rounded the corner to the habitat and looked for several minutes, wondering if the dark shape below the surface of the water was the croc. After a good five minutes of staring, I looked up to see a small sign that read, “Sadly, our crocodile Rex died.” After this we stood back and watched the other tourists search in vain for the crocodile also, which was good fun. We read the other signs around the habitat, including one that told us that Rex had been a solo croc after EATING the two lady crocs they brought in to mate with him and try to make more little Rexes. Clearly, no one had ever tagged Rex in the “love your spouse challenge”.
That afternoon we had a tour of the Sydney Opera House and I learned there was a children’s film festival happening there that night so we got tickets for that too! Eric dragged himself down to the Opera house for the tour, looking a bit peaked. The Opera house tour was fascinating – even though the building is a famous one that we’ve all seen pictures of, seeing it in person was spectacular. On the tour, we learned that Utzen, the Dutch architect who designed the building, was fired for coming in over time and waay over budget – initial estimate $7 million, actual cost >$100 million. I don’t know why Sydney was so surprised by this; anyone who’s ever gone through a remodel would have told you to expect it. I also loved learning that there are several different types and finishes of tile that go on top of the building to maximize brilliance but cut down on glare so you’re not blinded by the roof in the sunlight, just dazzled.
We returned in a few hours for the film festival, to find the Opera house lit up for the olympics. So pretty.
The children’s film festival was delightful! We caught the opening night gala and watched a series of short films either geared toward or made by children. One of my favorites was Johnny Express where an interstellar delivery guy has a package to deliver to a new planet, only it turns out that he’s a giant on the planet and unwittingly causes mass destruction of all the little green people with every step! The kids’ favorite was a film called “Bunny New Girl,” about a little girl who starts at a new school…and wears a homemade bunny mask out of a paper plate her first day. Can’t imagine who that reminds me of.