02 Taronga Zoo
Wednesday, and again the day started off fine, so we made sure we took our jerseys to make sure it stayed that way! Off to the zoo today - I'd been before and been photographically prolific, of course, but a) me waxing lyrical about it had made Rosie really want to see it for herself, and see if it really was that much better than all the NZ zoos (trust me, it is); and b) last time I was there a large part was still under construction. And this time was no different, it turned out, with them working on a new entrance plaza, as well as a few enclosure upgrades. It's the sort of place that's never really finished, which I suppose is one way to make you want to return!
Now I'm not a big fan of animals being in captivity at all, but it does at least provide a way for urbanites to get to know what's out beyond the concrete canyons, and their breeding programs are safeguards for animals whose habitats are vulnerable. And at least Taronga Zoo tend to go to some effort to make the enclosures a decent size, and landscape them similar to the animal's natural habitat - areas in which I'd mark down both Auckland and, admittedly to a lesser extent, Wellington zoos. Also, we'd timed our visit just right, purely by chance, to see both their Seal and Birds exhibition shows, which actually proved to be quite to an educational format, not just for entertainment. Unfortunately, what Rosie at least had wanted to be the highlight of the excursion, the Platypus, was a bit too shy - undoubtedly not helped by all the imbeciles who either couldn't or didn't read the "No Flash Photography" signs.... - but otherwise I think we got to see all the critters we wanted to.
With still plenty of time left in the day, we took the ferry back to Circular Quay, hopped up a couple of wharves, and took an extended harbour cruise by way of the Parramatta service. This service runs so far up the harbour in fact that we happened to be in the time zone when they replaced the last leg from Rydalmere with a coach service, as it becomes too shallow and narrow for the ferry to pass - even being a low-drafting catamaran! Parramatta is in fact where the tidal zone terminates, and the Parramatta River meets the saltwater harbour. Also, it's a really nice city in its own right, with a lot of charming old buildings, and an old government house by which we wandered, eventually finding our way to the station to once again catch the train back into the city. By this stage we were definitely wondering why anyone would commute by car around Sydney, as the train service appears quite extensive, with any gaps swallowed by the bus network, and both appeared to be quite reliable - I don't think we ever had to wait for either more than 15 or so minutes to get wherever we wanted.