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Last night we decided to hit up more of the local scene for dinner, so we chose a pub tucked away in an area called The Rocks, right near the Harbor Bridge. We chose a great night to go local because there was a huge rugby match and the pub was packed with terrifying men who were very opinionated on which team they wanted to win. I don’t understand how people voluntarily play the sport because it is the most brutal game ever. It’s like football, minus the pads and pauses between downs. All of the players are frightfully large, each muscle in their body popping off their huge frame. I decided the thing that is so scary about them is that instead of just focusing on one part of their body to get big, these guys focus on making their lower body just as huge as their upper body. There were two reasons why everyone in the pub could tell we were Americans: one – every time a guy got knocked down, we instantly looked away, cringing, which happened every five seconds, and two – we left after about 15 minutes after the game started.

We went on another tour today, this one up in the Blue Mountains. Our first stop was at a wildlife sanctuary, specializing in everything Australia. This was the best kind of sanctuary because you could pet and feed the animals! I pet wombats and wallabies, fed a kangaroo that had a little joey in her pouch, and attempted to stuff a quokka in my pocket. If you don’t know what a quokka is, the picture I posted with this entry shows their cuteness – they are referred to as “the world’s happiest animal”.  The rest of the tour consisted of amazing scenery, an aboriginal performance, and a trip down the world’s steepest railroad.

The aboriginal performance was such a neat insight into their culture, which has been around for over 60,000 years. After the performance I went up and asked one of the men, who was covered head to toe in a mural which he painted on his body to explain the circle of life, how he assimilates into modern day society. He explained that he lives what is considered a normal, modern day life, but once a week he and his friends travel back into the bush to study their ancestors. He then pointed out all the scars on his body and told me each scar comes with a symbolic meaning and a sign of growth within his aboriginal tribe. How neat is that?

Our lunch was at a golf course, and a fun fact for all you golf players is that 18 holes only costs $30. So there’s something I have found here that is cheaper than back home, and I don’t care at all about it. Anyway, throughout lunch we got to know the other passengers on the tour, including an adorable mom and daughter duo. The mom, who was 85 years old, was here to meet her great grandchildren. She was such a neat, adventurous woman – for her 75th birthday she went skydiving, for her 80th, she went parasailing, and for her 85th, she went hang-gliding.

Also at lunch, I asked our tour guide how Australia got its name. Turns out, it was originally called New Holland because the Dutch were actually the first who discovered Australia, but unlike the British, they wanted nothing to do with the land. However, back in the time of Aristotle, they were convinced there had to be some kind of land in the southern hemisphere to balance out the large land masses that took up the northern hemisphere. Therefore, it was hypothesized there had to be a mass of land floating below the equator and it was called Terra Australis Incognita aka “Unknown Southern Land”.  You are welcome in advance for the history lessons you are learning from this blog.

I thought I was going to lose it this afternoon when I found out our tour included a gondola ride 270 meters over the valley, a railroad that travels down the side of a mountain at a 52 degree angle, and a cable car ride back up that same steep cliff. I hate heights, but I’m trying to deal with my wuss tendencies, which is why I put myself through all three “thrill rides”. Turns out, they were the perfect amount of thrill for me, but for everyone else, they found it rather boring. If the railroad car had been going any faster though, I honestly would have passed out from sheer terror. It started out all calm and nice, and then bam, a 52-degree decline. But hey, I didn’t pass out and I have pictures to prove it, so go me.


 


Comments

Debbie
07/21/2013 8:08pm

These are all wonderful Maddie! You are an excellent travel writer!!! Keep up the great work!

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Maddie
07/23/2013 5:07am

Thanks so much Debbie! I miss you like crazy!

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