We then started our quest for Big Things in earnest. Throughout Australia, people have built larger-than-life models of all kinds of strange things. Apparently it was all started by the Big Banana 40 years ago. You'll usually find these things at tourist type places. If we had the Big Things list beforehand, we could have found some north of Brisbane too.
We stopped at various places between Brisbane and Sydney, including Nimbin which is a small, very hippie town a couple of hours south of Brisbane. If the question is, how many steps did you take before somebody tried to sell you something, our answer was a surprisingly large 30 or 40 until the "cookie lady" found us. Jim said he didn't even get his foot out of the car.
In addition to the places we stayed, we also visited the Glass House Mountains, Rainbow Beach, South West Rocks and the Trial Bay Gaol, Emerald Beach, and probably some other places.
We arrived in Sydney on the evening of the 24th, and managed to find our hotel without a map, knowing only that it was in Coogee which was south of Bondi. Christmas day was cloudy and overcast, so we met up with Nicola (who Amy worked with in Fishery Falls) and drove up into the Blue Mountains. Unfortunately we didn't reach above the cloud layer, so it was quite foggy and we didn't get to see much. We had set out to find four more Big Things, but were unsuccessful on all counts.
Boxing day in Sydney was very nice, with clear blue skies. We went down to the harbour to watch the start of the Sydney to Hobart sailboat race, but unfortunately we were in the wrong place (the race started further out toward the ocean). We did see the boats but didn't realize that was the starting line at the time. We got some good pictures of the opera house and bridge.
One of the things we had heard was a must-do was the "bridge climb". It is apparently a bit expensive but worth it. It is a 3.5 hour climb to the top of the Harbour Bridge, where there is apparently an excellent view. However, after inquiring about the details, we found that you could not carry anything loose at all, including your own camera. They would be happy to sell you pictures from their photographer, of course. It also cost nearly AU$200 per person, which we felt was unreasonably expensive. We decided to do the $8.50 walk up one of the pylons instead.
We drove out to Manly Beach and took the Manly Ferry back to Circular Quay. The ferry certainly does give a good view of the harbour.
The next day we returned the rental car (after 4454 km) and wandered around looking for a place to eat lunch. Amy had an idea, and pointed up. So we ate at the restaurant on top of the Sydney Tower. It's a rotating platform, doing one revolution in 70 minutes. We took our time and were there for about 90 minutes, as we wanted to see the whole view. They had an excellent buffet lunch - I tried emu and camel for the first time (I had tried kangaroo the night before). I thought the smoked emu was good, the camel was chewy and not so good.
Since we ate lunch with the best view in the city (better than the top of the bridge!), we ended up not doing the walk up the bridge pylon, mostly due to lack of time.
I saw a ton of stuff in the 2.5 weeks I was there, but it was still nowhere near enough time. I'm glad Amy will be able to take the time to see more of Australia. Someday I hope to go back and see more.
I have updated Amy's trip maps. Most of the links in this post are to my Australia photo gallery, for which I still need to write captions. Check back for that, and for the panoramic photos that I am still working on.