5/13-5/18: Taronga Zoo, Marricksville, Manly Beach, Coffs Harbour

I was finally able to see a kangaroo recently, as I checked out the Taronga Zoo. For $44 or $37 if you were a YHA member, you could spend the day at the famed Taronga Zoo…it was about a 20 minute ferry ride from Circular Quay. I thought the price of entrance was a bit steep, but I figured that there was no way I’d be in Australia and not have seen a kangaroo or a lemur.

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The reptile enclosure…I literally had to rally myself to get in there…with something along the lines of…

“if kids can do this…then as a grown ass woman, I definitely should be able to do this…”
Some of the snakes were quite…lively. I saw one trying to get out of it’s enclosure by repeatedly pressing it’s body against the glass.

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Lemurs!! I LOVE lemurs…super cute and playful.

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The zoo was definitely really cool. They had everything you could imagine…awesome to see everything live. Although I’d like to see a koala or a roo in the wilderness.

The day after, I ended up wandering Marricksville as I was told that it has a cool underground arts scene…little did I know that it was all usually in the evening. Marricksville ended up being a super small town. The station I got off at led me to what felt like little Saigon. Many Vietnamese restaurants littered the streets. Exploration of the town did not take too long and I was off in search of the White Rabbit Gallery. The gallery was recommended to me by two local Aussie’s and it was quite the sight. Of all the galleries that I’ve been to, I kept expecting and waiting for controversial art to pop up. That didn’t happen until I hit the third floor of the White Rabbit Gallery…there was one piece that really stuck with me. It was of the artist taking a vote on whether or not he should be cut open by a surgeon without anaesthetic. Ultimately, he kept retaking the ballot until he had the majority that voted in favour of it happening. It was a visual presentation presented via video recording. You could see both the voting and cutting of the artist happen. Seeing it brought some serious chills down my spine, and it made me seriously question what it was that he was trying to convey. Needless to say that that piece of art was not the most popular.

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At the entrance of the White Rabbit Gallery

The famed Manly Beach was the day after. It was a definite change in pace in comparison to Sydney. A 30 minute ferry ride from Circular Quay, Manly had the charm of a beach town.  Serene and beautiful, I was able to finally check out the beach that I’ve heard so much about.

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Welcome to Manly Beach. Stay for a while, won’t you?

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Much like Bondi, Manly was breathtakingly beautiful. I always forget that Im in an Australian autumn and so upon arriving at the beach, I was surprised at how uninhabited it was..that was until I realized that it was technically fall. It was still beautiful and I was able to chill out on the sand for a short time, before heading over to 4 Pines for their beer flight. I was originally planning on taking the tour, but that fell through due to the fact that I would’ve been the only one on the tour and well..let’s be honest..I was only really there for the beer. I was given an introduction to each of their beers and given an idea of it’s flavour profile.

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Tasting flight. Five glasses, each containing 250mL of tasty beer from 4 Pines.

The week finished with me checking out of Big Hostel and leaving Sydney for Coffs Harbour. It was about a 9 hour ride via train. It, however, took 10 hours via train and bus. On my travel day, I was informed that there was an accident involving a freight train, this caused massive damage to the tracks and so the train taking me to Coffs, was only able to go as far as Kempten. I had to bus the rest of the way. It made for a long travel day (putting things into perspective..another 6 hours and I could’ve been back home!), but something that happens.

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BYE SYDNEY!

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Enroute. Sydney to Coffs Harbour.

The hostel that I ended up in at Coffs was a cool little place. It offered inexpensive dorms and provided a lot of free activities. This was definitely a good thing as Coffs Harbour is a super small town. I have to admit that I was slightly shell shocked upon arriving at Coffs, as I was so used to a huge city, that when I made the move to a small town, there was definitely a slight adjustment period. Coffs Harbour is definitely one of those places where you go to chill out and maybe catch up on some sleep…that’s if you’ve had a few crazy weeks of partying in Sydney. I met a good group of people…but as hostel life goes…many of them had to leave in the next couple of days.

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A piece of Coffs. 

All good. I was still able to do a few activities with them. The first night I was there, I ended up going to the rodeo. That was definitely an interesting experience as I’ve never been to a rodeo. It was housed within a pop up fair ground. Also a first for me, as back home, we have a permanent amusement park in Playland. Can’t say that the rodeo held my attention for long, but it was a good experience, none the less.

The day after, there was a group trip out to the market in Bellingen, a nearby town. It was very much like the other 3 markets that I’ve been to, except I found that it had much more of a Bohemian feel to it. Didn’t end up buying anything, just browsed.

Surf kayaking followed the day after. This was definitely a really cool experience. I never even knew that something like this existed until recently. I also realized recently that the ocean seriously scares me shitless. It was just the true realization that you’re in open water and that drowning is a real possibility..that or being taken out to sea if you’re not careful with the riptide. Surf kayaking can be insane…it’s very much like surfing, except in a kayak. There were a couple of times that I rode directly into a wave as it was about to break. That was probably one of the scariest experiences I’ve ever had in water. You’re faced directly with this huge wave and it’s about to break, just as you’re about to enter it. The fear of capsizing and being stuck under your kayak, as the waves render you completely useless is a very real fear. You can try hard to swim with the wave, but sometimes, another wave breaks on you and you end up under it. It was a truly eye opening experience, to the fact that nature is powerful and that if you’re not careful..it can do some serious damage.

My stay at Coffs is looking like it’d be nice and laid-back. The plan is to leave for Byron Bay this coming Tuesday and from there…the rest of the coast. At the rate Im going..I could probably be done the East Coast in a month or two. No problems there, as I’ve started thinking about launching off Darwin, and travelling Asia with Bali as my first stop. Either that, or heading to Melbourne early. I’ve also realized lately, that Im still not as excited and enthused as I thought I would (or should) be about travelling Australia. Unsure of where this is coming from..something that I’ve been trying to figure out. Hopefully, it works itself out soon.

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