From Melbourne I went to Canberra but I only stayed a couple of days because the hostel was fully booked for about a week after that. My main memory of Canberra is how quiet and empty it seemed, especially given that it’s Australia’s capital. I went into the city centre one afternoon, and it was a Sunday, but it was just completely empty, felt a bit weird.
Anyway after that it was back to Sydney. Sadly I couldn’t stay in the lovely hostel I stayed in before so I stayed in a nearby one that was nice enough and included free breakfast because I was a YHA member which was a definite bonus.
Last time in Sydney I went past the ANZAC War Memorial in Hyde Park quite a few times but never went in for one reason or another. This time I did. There were some interesting displays on the ground floor but what I found particularly moving was the domed ceiling of the main hall which was covered in 120,000 gold stars each one representing a person from New South Wales who fought in World War 1.
As part of the centenary celebrations of the Australian Navy there was an International Fleet Review in Sydney Harbour and on my last day in Sydney there was a big firework and light display planned as part of it. So, after making sure I was all packed and ready for the next day, I trotted off down to the harbour following all the crowds. After a bit of wandering I chose a spot by the Opera House and waited for it to get dark. There were a couple of bands playing throughout the afternoon and helicopters and planes buzzing overhead (and an incident best forgotten wherein I queued for food for about 45 minutes and then foolishly chose the worst possible thing that involved lamb drenched in horse radish sauce, yuk!) and before I knew it the show was about to begin.
To begin there were smaller fireworks going off along with imagery that was projected onto things like the Opera House and the towers of the Harbour Bridge giving a brief run through of the history of the Navy along with a segment of remembrance, and then the firework display went epic. There were fireworks coming off the bridge, off ships in the harbour, from some of the buildings in the city and all over the place, it was great!
And then it was back to the hostel and to bed ready to fly back to Auckland the next morning. All my flights were in the morning, apart from my last one home, which meant getting to the airport horribly early which was worrying enough as it is given how little of a morning person I am. This flight was even worse because it happened to fall on the day that the clocks went forward so in trying to work out when to set my alarm for and whether my phone would change the time automatically or not, or if at 2am or whenever it is that they technically change it would just completely malfunction and destroy itself (unlikely but still a concern) I became even more paranoid about oversleeping and missing my flight. Thankfully I didn’t and all was well.
I had a day or two in Auckland, just long enough to buy some souvenirs and what have you, and then it really was farewell (for now) New Zealand. I did experience one last lovely bit of Kiwi helpfulness at the airport. When I went to change the New Zealand and Australian money I had left I just gave them the notes assuming that they wouldn’t take the coins and that I could just put them in one of the charity collections I’d seen but the lovely lady said she was happy to take change even when she saw the mass I’d somehow accumulated. So I dumped it all out on the counter, she added it up and gave me lots of US Dollars and I was on my way. It did mean I had slightly unrealistic expectations at LA Airport about a month later. I’d barely finished asking if they took change there before I got a short, sharp reply of “No”. Ah well.