Down Under, Day #13 - Whale Watching, The Rocks, Sunset, and Fireworks

We started my last Saturday in Australia with a 4-hour whale-watching tour - let me just say, I was expecting our boat to be a good bit bigger than the one we ended up with. We left Darling Harbour at 9am and continued out past the Opera House and through the heads to the Pacific Ocean. Once we left the tranquility of the harbour, the waves started full force. Oh my! I've never experienced waves like that on an open boat. At first I was disappointed that there were so many people that I couldn't get to the front of the boat, but at one point I started walking that way and the boat dipped way down into a wave and the water came back up over us and I was soaked! Thankfully I tucked my camera under my jacket, so it didn't get damaged. Stephanie was tucked in to a nook behind the bench, wedged in where she wasn't getting thrown around by the waves. We quickly found a juvenile whale and followed him for about 2 hours as he jumped over 50 times. It was amazing! I kept trying to take pictures, but I wasn't quick enough to snap the shutter before he was splashing back in the water. And watching the water and waves through the lens of my camera contributed to the queasiness I was experiencing. And there was a lot of queasiness on that boat - apparently there were quite a few people being sick in the back. Unfortunately once we turned to head back to town, the change in motion of the boat proved too much for me, and I experienced my first true bout of seasickness. Thankfully it wasn't much, and once I got sick, I was just fine. Even though I got sick, I had a great time on the whale-watching tour. I've always wanted to see whales in the wild - it was so incredible!
The "before" shot - before leaving Darling Harbour
Our boat, the "True Blue" - not quite big enough for my taste!
Headed out of the harbour past the Opera House
The boat photographer -
he had the best seat in the house
A beautiful morning - the waves don't look bad here
Stephanie having a blast!
Splash after a breach
Finally got a picture of the whale!
photo by Merimbula Marina whale-watching
hoto by Merimbula Marina whale-watching
One the way back to port
The "after" shot - back in the harbour
After we got back to port, we made our way to The Rocks Market, where vendors sell handmade crafts and products in stalls nestled among the cobblestone streets of Sydney's most historic district. I had planned to use this time for some final souvenir shopping - in particular, I was looking forward to seeing the handcrafted jewelry by Natalie Ness. Stephanie told me about Natalie's talent and showed me a charm bracelet she designed, and so I was excited to find a beautiful Australian-themed bracelet as a memento of my trip. I wasn't expecting to buy a necklace, but couldn't resist the Opera House pendant.  
Opera House pendant and koala charm by Natalie Ness
My charm bracelet - Australian flag, Opera House,
koala, bridge pendant, kangaroo, and kookaburra -
all my favorites from my trip Down Under!
After a couple of hours in The Rocks and lightening my wallet considerably, we walked over to Circular Quay to take some pics with the bridge and Opera House. I knew I needed a picture of us together with my two favorite Sydney landmarks. While we shopped, the skies turned grey, dramatic clouds built, and the wind picked up - it looked like I was going to experience rain in Sydney after all (the weather had been incredible all week).  
The wind increased the longer we stood outside taking pictures, and we thought a storm was about to hit, so we took refuge in the Opera House gift shop and coffee house. In the gift shop, we laughed at the Opera House Barbie doll, with a shirt that looks like sails, a purse shaped like the Opera House, and a skirt of waves. Too funny! 

Barb and Opera House Barbie
We enjoyed a hot chocolate sitting in the windows of the Opera House. We were talking and looking at pictures from earlier in the day, when I looked up and saw this amazing sunset happening outside over the bridge. And the colors just kept growing in intensity - I had to run outside and take pictures! It was definitely the most dramatic sunset I saw in Australia. Those storm clouds that didn't produce a storm produced some fabulous colors instead. 
After a really nice steak dinner, we took a ferry past Luna Park and under the lighted bridge to end our day in the same place it started - Darling Harbour. During "WinterFest", the city presented fireworks every Saturday night, so we got to see fireworks over the city skyline - and I love fireworks! 
We soaked up every moment of our only Saturday together in Sydney, and we had one more day of explorations before I had to fly back to the other side of the world. 


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