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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Taronga Zoo & State of Origin

Hi friends, family, & colleagues,

     Today was a long, yet satisfying day...

    We woke up this morning after a fun evening on the harbor dinner cruise last night (some more than others haha), We ate breakfast at the hostel and prepared for the day of Zoo adventures with our morning routines. 
     Around 9am we met as a group and walked to the Circular Quay to catch the ferry to the Taronga Zoo.  On the ferry we noticed a large carnival cruise ship had ported and got some grand, up-close shots of the Sydney Opera House.
     Upon arriving to the zoo, which was build on a gradient hillside, we boarded buses which took us up the hill to the zoo's entrance. Lisa purchased our tickets, while the rest of the group took pictures of the arched building displaying "Taronga Zoological Park" as well as reading signs reporting the history of the land and indigenous people that once lived there.
The Taronga Zoo is world renown for its wildlife and a leader in the wildlife conservation effort in New South Wales. 
 *I think it is very honorable to give thanks and care for the indigenous people and land being used as the Australians do*

     After studying the map, and realizing how large of a zoo we were in, we made a plan to visit the exhibits we couldn't miss and others we would be interested in.  The 19 of us broke up into smaller manageable groups and went on our adventures through the zoo. Many of us went for the Kangaroo Encounter first although, along on the way, stopped in the Nocturnal animal enclosure to see the variety of mammals who did their thing in the low-light hours, like bats and sugar-gliders.
   The next stop was the kangaroo encounter which was a pathway where small kangaroos, wallabies, and emus walked freely and guest had an up close look.  It seemed like the Kangaroos greatly enjoyed relaxing, by lounging propped up on an elbow.  
     The emus paced back and fourth near the fences border while the wallabies enjoyed their carrot snacks in the shaded center area. Many of us took selfieso with the Roos and emus, It was a fun exhibit.
    Our next stop on the path was the Tasmanian Devil enclosure.  I was excited to see that it was active and scurrying around. They are very cute, and about the size of a small dog, but much stronger than they look. 
     Following that, I sawyer that the Sea Lion show was about to start so we headed to get seats in the amphitheater.  The show was great and featured 3 California Sea Lions and trainers to toss in some interesting facts on the animals in the wild and display natural behaviors in the show pool.

     My group had lunch in the food court and then traveled to the Bird show which displayed the beautiful birds of Australia by having them fly closely over the audience. It was especially beautiful having the Sydney harbor as the backdrop for the show. 
   After the bird show we visited the chimpanzees, the Giraffes, the Lions and Tigers, Koalas and the Asian elephant enclosures. Most of the animals were active, and all of them were healthy.  
   The final enclosures we visited were the reptiles.  Knowing that Australia was home to a variety of interesting reptiles had me excited to see them.  We saw small frogs, a variety of lizards, turtles and large snakes in the enclosures, but of them all I was fascinated with the large Komodo Dragons.  They truly are beautiful creatures, with intimidating features.
      A few of the smaller groups met up at the exit and visited the gift shop for souvenirs and memories to take home.  We got to ride in sky buckets down over the zoo, back to the ferry, which we rode back to Sydney and walked back to our Hostel. 
    Many of us were exhausted from waking the hills of the zoo and ended up napping  before getting ready for the State of Origin, Rugby League Match in the evening.

   State of Origin Match

    We left for the YHA for dinner prior to the State of Origin match at 5pm after a 10 minute walk and the way things close early around here,we just barely made the food court before it closed. The food was decent, but acceptable.  The Crew met up after dinner and headed to the train Station, some of us were adorned in our recently purchased New South Wales (NSW) swag, and boarded the trains to the Sydney Olympic park.  
    After one transfer and 30 minutes we had made it to the Olympic park, which had transformed from the quiet & peaceful grounds from our tour 20 hours prior into the thumping bass of a hotel club and 40,000 electric rugby fans headed toward the majestic ANZ (A-N-Zede) Stadium.
     We made it through the turnstiles and walked Around and Around and around the 6 story rotunda walkway to our section in the stadium, and up, up, up, to our row. We had a birds eye view, and were happy to be there.  The pre-match festivities began on the field, as the stadium filled more and more topping off at 80,122 fans. 
    The game began after the Australian National Anthem, with a kick-off for two 40 minute halves of intense hard hitting Rugby, the visiting Queensland Maroons edged out the NSW Blues 11-10 in the first State of Origin match of 2015.  Two more rematches (best-of-3) will take place in the next month to discover the winner. The 8 years prior to 2014, (which NSW won), QLD has been victorious. So we'll have to see how this tournament turns out even though we'll be back in the states by the grand final.  

Next up: tomorrow is a tour the the Sydney Opera house.


Dustin Norton
Azusa Pacific University
Athletic Training Student L3

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