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August 14, 2001
The saga of Joss' wombat (Russell)

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Gail and Russell at Sydney Harbour

One of the advantages of traveling in a campervan is that it's too small to hide in, so you end up spending a lot of time outside visiting with other people.  We had first thought of getting out of Sydney as soon as possible, but our holiday park neighbors talked us into staying a day to see the city.  They even gave us one of their accommodations books.  Very nice people.

So on the morning of August 13th, we disconnected and drove the motorhome down the road to Rydalmere, where we caught the ferry into Sydney.  Sydney's ferry system is fantastic -- think of a rapid transit system on water.  You can go almost anywhere around Sydney, and with a daytripper pass, all ferries, buses, and trains are included.  We took a smooth and leisurely ride down the Parramatta River to the Circular Quay in the heart of Sydney.  It turned from sunshine to rain along the way, but cleared by the time we reached our destination.

After debarking, we promptly hit the souvenir stores to get postcards, patches, and pins out of the way.  A tradition we started years ago with Cameron was to buy a small statuette wherever we went.  Cameron already had a little Opera House from the last time we were here, so he was taken care of.  We had not yet figured out what to do for Joss.  He came up with his own answer when he saw and fell in love with a little stuffed wombat.  We figured this would match the little stuffed hedgehog he got in New Zealand.  Joss named the wombat "Digger," then renamed it "Burrow."

We spent the morning walking around the Quay, marveling at the bay, Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the Sydney Opera House.  The boys especially enjoyed the high winds at the Opera House, which threatened to blow you away as you climbed the countless steps.

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Joss and Cameron (and "Burrow") at the Sydney Opera House

Our second stop was Darling Harbour, site of Sydney's aquarium.  This was a wonderful place, featuring two underwater tunnels where the fish actually swim over your heads -- one featuring Sydney's native sea life, and the other featuring deep-sea creatures.

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Gail in the deep-sea tunnel

By now, it was nearing 5:00 pm, which was still 7:00 pm in our heads.  This was not a good time to suddenly discover that Joss' wombat was no longer in his hands.  We ran all the way back through the massive aquarium, including the Lost and Found, but of course "Burrow" was nowhere to be seen.  We had to drag a very sad and despondent Joss to the exit.  There were similar stuffed animals at the aquarium shop, but they cost twice as much.

Instead, we decided to take the ferry back to Circular Quay and return to the first souvenir store.  According to the schedule, we had ten minutes to do this in between ferries.  Of course, the first ferry ran a few minutes late.  At Circular Quay, we went dashing through the crowds... only to discover that the store was closed.  We ran to another souvenir store that also had stuffed wombats, but Joss didn't like the eyes on those (they looked "sad").  Ultimately, we returned home after dark at the end of a long day... empty-handed.

We left Sydney the next morning, August 14, heading inland toward Dubbo.  At lunchtime we stopped in the little town of Lithgow to inquire about Jenolah Caves -- the best in Australia.  We didn't end up going to the caves (we made it halfway down the steep windy road, until the "caravans not recommended" sign stopped us).  But the takeaway food shop in Lithgow had, sitting on a table, one small stuffed wombat -- and less expensive than in Sydney.

Joss was very happy with his new "Burrow," but the rest of us weren't having good luck.  We discovered back in Sydney that our water pump was working intermittently, and by now it had stopped completely.  No water pump, no water.  So we had to stop in Bathurst to attempt repairs.  The caravan repair shop didn't have a replacement pump, and the auto electrical shop didn't have a replacement switch.  But they were able to jimmy-rig something, so for the time being we have water.  With the pump now "fixed," we discovered for the first time that the toilet does not work.

So we didn't make it all the way to Dubbo.  Instead, we pulled in after dark at Wellington, an hour outside of Dubbo but right next to the Wellington Caves.  Gail prepared yet another miraculous hot meal in minutes.  Cameron fell asleep right away, but Joss took some time to introduce "Burrow" to the rest of his stuffed friends.

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Joss and friends


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