Distractions, reflections

David Ing, at large … Sometimes, my mind wanders

2009/07/07 Meadowbank, Rydalmere, Parramatta, Featherdale

As an alternative to seeing Australian animals at the Taronga Zoo Sydney, we thought a trip to the Featherdale Wildlife Park would be a bigger adventure.  The latter is northwest of Sydney in Doonside, and we were staying at a hotel on the north shore in Macquarie Park.  Since we had bought a 7-day orange travelpass with prepaid paths that radiates out from the city centre, taking the train southwest with an easy connection to a scenic Parramatta River ferry bound northwest seemed to be a reasonable routing.  The first leg on our journey was the train that would bring us to Meadowbank.  The direction to the ferries seemed clear.

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It’s a bit of a walk from the train station to the ferry.  Constitution Road in Meadowbank offers little appeal for tourists.

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We wended our way through residential areas to find a few signposts directing us to the wharf through the park.

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Obviously, the way to the ferry would be down to the riverbank.

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From Meadowbank on the north side of the Parramatta River, the south shore suburbs are a little farther than I would want to swim.

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The ferry wharf was east along the waterfront walk.

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Consulting the schedule, we had to wait about a half hour for the next ferry to arrive.

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We discovered that the ferry that stops at Meadowvale is a local service with a route from Sydney Circular Quay doesn’t go all the way to Parramatta.  We would have to go to Rydalmere to transfer to another ferry with a route to the end of the line.

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Since the weather was nice, we stood out on the deck to watch the scenery.  The south bank of the Parramatta River features both industrial docks and residential properties.

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The multi-modal containers stacked up on the south shore suggest a rail-shipping intersection nearby.

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We passed a ferry going downstream.  The shallow points in the river are marked with buoys.

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After 25 minutes on the ferry, we docked at Rydalmere.  A few other people got off, presumably locals.

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The wharf is near only light industrial and residential buildings in Rydalmere, away from the town centre.  We walked around a few blocks, eventually returning to the park to just sit and wait.

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After 40 minutes, a ferry destined to Parramatta docked.

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We arrived at the Parramatta ferry dock 20 minutes later.  It’s the end of the line for regular river transport from Sydney.

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Disembarking the ferry, the town centre is a short walk west beyond the weir.

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The sidewalk by the north bank is decorated with bush tucker (i.e. Australian aboriginal food) fish varieties.

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We stopped by the Parramatta Heritage Centre for local maps.

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The Heritage Centre has a display area where local exhibits periodically change.  The theme on our our visit was circuses.

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To get to the central business district, we walked south on Church Street across the bridge.  The town centre seems to be relatively compact, walkable within a few blocks.

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Church Street features covered sidewalks to shield its shoppers from the elements.

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We turned down George Street and stopped briefly for lunch before continuing our journey.

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An orange travelpass covers the ferry ride from Sydney to Parramatta, but ironically not the train on the same route.  For the wildlife park, we were advised by the ticket agent to take the train from the Parramatta railway station to Blacktown, and change for a bus.

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At the Blacktown Station, we had yet another wait for the connection to Doonside.  It had been 5 hours since we left the hotel!

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The Doonside bus driver is used to visitors taking this route.  He announced the stop for the Featherdale Wildlife Park.  We got off and walked across the street.

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On a Tuesday at 3:00 p.m., the park wasn’t that busy.  With sunset expected around 5:00 p.m., we hoped that the animals would be active with the cooling temperature.

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For much of the park, the animals run free within fenced areas.  They’re used to people being around.  Here’s a swamp wallaby.

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I wouldn’t have thought that wallabees sit with their long tails forward.

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There are stations where visitors can buy snacks for the animals.

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The wallaby may expect food at the outreached hand, even when it’s not there.  It’s fortunate that they’re not vicious.

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I spent a while watching the koalas.  These ones reminded me of old men.

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The koala have a sleepy disposition, but it doesn’t mean that they can’t move when they want to move.

Watch the larger 640px video.

I understand that the nutritional content in leaves is low, so the koalas have to eat steadily.

Watch the larger 640px video.

Over in another covered area, we were able to touch to the koalas.  The handler encouraged us to feel the fur, and watched to rotate the koalas when they got tired.

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There was a variety of kangaroos around, including one with a baby in her pouch.

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The kangaroos aren’t shy at being offered food by visitors.

Watch the larger 640px video.

We probably wouldn’t have gotten this close to the animals at the zoo.

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The Southern Hairy Nosed Wombats were in a pen, and more interested in their food bowl than in visitors.  This is an endangered species.

Watch the larger 640px video.

While we may associate these water-borne birds with Anarctica, the little penguin is indigenous to the south coast of Australia.

Watch the larger 640px video.

With the sun gradually going down, the Tasmanian devils seemed anxious, and weren’t shy about showing off their teeth.

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The pen was surrounded by people, where there are warnings that Tasmanian devils can be ferocious.

Watch the larger 640px video.

The Eastern Wallaroos had a more colourful selection of food in their pans.

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The peahens weren’t as interested in being fed.  With daylight waning, the park was being closed down.  We had to search to reconvene the family, as we were scattered all over the park.

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We caught the bus back to Blacktown, and the train to Parramatta.  We knew that we should have dinner before getting back on the ferry boat to Sydney, and happened across Carne Station.  This was a good omen when travelling with four carnivorous sons.

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The restaurant turned out to be a Korean buffet, where each of us could select our own raw meat from the cold trays.

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The grills are built into the tables.  We’re accustomed to the self-service style of Korean barbeque.

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Our sons had their fill of meats.  We also tried the salads, rice and desserts, watching the clock to make sure that we wouldn’t miss the ferry.

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We arrived back at the ferry terminal with before the boat had docked.  We hadn’t noticed the boat-shaped installations on the plaza when we disembarked earlier in the day.

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If we had to do the whole day over again, a better strategy would have been to take the train from Macquarie Park down into Sydney to catch the ferry from Circular Quay to Parramatta.  However, the routing enabled us to see some of the suburbs on the river banks between two destinations where tourists don’t go.  The primary purpose of our family vacation was to spend time together, so minor misdirection isn’t a tragedy.

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