Our weekend began as you may have read at The Royal Sydney Easter Show held at Olympic park, home of the 2000 summer games. What a great day for all of us. We members box tickets which allowed us great seats for all of the events held in the NAB arena throughout the day. We began with a bit of lunch and watch Xtreme Xcitement put on a spectacular show. The v-6 toyota Hilux drill team was spectacular putting their machines to the test all around the track. An appearance by dangerman and dangerwoman riding a motorcycle some 30 meters above the ground while performing graceful acrobatics was enjoyable as well. The highlight for sure was the motocross riders and their amazing aerial stunt spectacular. These riders have little fear and performed high flying tricks as seen on the x-games. Certainly enjoyed and marveled at by all.
We then split up and each checked out various parts of the show on our own. It is a much larger version of the the Big E held in Massachusettes every year. Good Friday drew over 150,000 people to the event. The food is very different and no fried bread dough! Oh well, I did find some pizza so all was well. I particuarly enjoyed the woodsmans games being held in one of the venues. It was the world championships and countries from all over the world were represented. I did get to view the finals of the "standing chop handicapped" event. Pretty interesting and certainly the contestants were quite beat before they fininished.
Before the day was out we rejoined for show jumping and bull riding at the arena. WE caught the Xtreme show again due to its popularity and were treated to a large firework and laser light show to end the evening.
On saturday we went white water rafting at the olypmic rafting center. I have never been before and throughly enjoyed it. After some quick traing we set out on the course with our guide and learned how to fall out "safely." Kate and Amy Beth made it into the drink, but despite our guides best efforts I managed to stay in the boat. A very wet experience but very fun.
From there we whisked off to the local National Rugby League game between the Penrith Panthers and the Canberra Raiders. For those of you who don't know there is also rugby union, the original form of rugby. Union is also very popular. We are very indebted to Murray of Penrith Rotary for getting us the tickets and treating us to a great night. It is a different sort of game with plenty of hard hits. I will be interested to see how it compares to the AFL which I will see in Melbourne. A special treat for us was John Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora arriving in a helicopter during the pregame to promote their concert later that evening. They landed right in the middle of the field and hopped out before we could even register what was really happening. They sang dead or alive....got the crowd going and headed of to their main venue. Sweet!!!
Unfortunately Penrith lost but I did pick up a nice home Jersey to remember the night. Evan our host rotarty member then boarded Steve, Amy Beth and I into his car and we headed for the Avoca Beach....located about 1.5 hours north of Sydney. We got there in time for a moonlight stroll with our host John Duckworth. It was a beautiful night....I stood under a completely different set of stars then I am used to and enjoyed every moment. After a great nights sleep I awoke early for a morning swim and again strolled the beach. JOhn's house is right on the beach literally walking off the porch out onto the sand....how nice for us!
John dropped me off at the train station in Gosford where I caught a train to Central station in Sydney and then transferred to Bondi Junction. I was spending Easter with a friend of mine who lives just a few blocks from Bondi beach. After catching up we had a nice lunch and headed out to the Taronga zoo. I learned quite a bit about the native animals of Australia and despite the walking had a good afternoon. The zoo is quite unique as it sits on a hill side overlooking the harbor and the beautiful Sydney skyline. I found it quite interesting to be looking out over the giraffes and see the skyskrapers in the back ground.
Emma and I rested up a bit before dinner. We eventually headed to the Opera House for dinner at a restaurant there and spent the night at the Opera House Bar. What a nice spot...it sits literally below ground level of the opera house and is open to the air. It is just above the waterline which affords beautiful views of the lit up harbor at night. Really and truely beautiful. There were fireworks over the harbor bridge for Easter and that capped our evening off just nicely.
I had a nice pancake breakfast on the Beach at Bondi. It is similar to California Beaches with the similar hustle and bustle of a touristy area. We took to the beach for a bit to get some sun and swim before I headed back to the train station. The trains were very easy to use and worked out just fine. I got back to blaxland in the late afternoon in time for dinner. I finished the night by walking my host families dog Buddy.
All is well here and I am loving the Australian sights and people.