The Thursday just passed was my birthday. Our intention was to go to the Blue Mountains for the day and then come back and go find ourselves a cosy little eatery in Parramatta for the evening. However, as we had had a lot of thunder and lightning the night before and rain was predicted all day we decided not to risk it. This was probably a good idea anyway due to the fact that after waking up at 6am and Mat giving me my birthday presents, we both ended up falling back asleep until 10.30am so would have had a very late start.
The whole place was laid out really well and there were signs up everywhere encouraging you to walk on the grass and amongst the plants, a real change to the usual UK signs that so often read â€˜Keep Off the Grassâ€™.
Unfortunately we arrived too late to go into the tropical house which closed at 4pm. We got there at 3.50 and as it bore a nominal entry fee of around $4 it wouldnâ€™t have been worth our while for 10 minutes. It was laid out inside interconnecting arc and pyramid glasshouses and looked really cool. There was an exhibition on at the time labelled â€œSex & Deathâ€ which went on to explain the show of orchids and carnivorous plants that were on display. We will definitely be going back another day for a look round and longer walk round the park.
Amongst all the plants and trees we also saw flocks of colourful rainbow lorikeets which was amazing and also flocks of sulphur-crested cockatoos. These guys were surprisingly tame and let you get really close before raising their impressive crests in a warning. Not like the ibis that also inhabited the park; they seemed to have an aversion to cameras and knew instantly if you were trying to snap them. I couldnâ€™t even get close enough to get a decent picture on zoom. I think for me, the fact that there are all these colourful and strange birds flying free and theyâ€™re not an uncommon sight, is the thing that brings it home to me the most that I am not in the UK anymore.
Once we had walked round the majority of the gardens and my camera had run out of juice we decided it was about time we got some food so wandered back to Circular Key to hunt down a nice little eatery. After wandering round the harbour to the Rocks precinct we came across some converted warehouses, all turned into restaurants of various types, and all with outside seating areas overlooking Sydney Harbour, the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.
We chose Wolfieâ€™s Grill which offered a variety of steaks and fish. As it was my birthday we decided to push the boat out and after an appetizer of garlic bread to share, we then also shared a delicious chateaubriand (500g fillet steak) with bÃ©arnaise sauce and various vegetables all cooked to perfection. To finish, Mat had a crÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©e and I had a sumptuous chocolate truffle mousse with summer fruits compote. It was definitely a delicious meal and by English standards a very good price indeed.*
After our meal we took a stroll down to the waterâ€™s edge and had a romantic few moments taking in the fantastic scenery lit up by the lights of Sydney before walking back to the train station to go home.
I feel truly lucky to have arrived in Australia in time for my birthday and to be able to be with Mat and I have to say I couldnâ€™t have wished for a better way to spend it.
* I feel it is important to point out that the reason I keep mentioning the prices of things is because I hope this blog can be informative as well as of general interest to people who have not already been to Australia. Not, I hasten to add, because I am obsessed with money or because I am inadvertently trying to point out that Mat is a cheapskate ïŠ