Off to the Opera!

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We dragged ourselves out of bed at 630 to get to the airport for our 8 am 1 hour flight to Melbourne and then the 3 hour wait for the 1230 and 3 hour train trip to Wodonga.  Marg was there to pick us up and bring us home for the night and an amazing dinner of lamb shanks! It was so nice to be welcomed into their home again.

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We have some serious miles to make in the next 3 weeks.

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Today we will backtrack on our route from last week from Wodonga to Corryong on the B400.

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The town was packed with people in cowboy hats driving rigs with snorkels and winches! It is the “Man from Snowy River” festival up here in the Snowy Mountains. Just after leaving the town you approach the Victoria-New South-Wales boundary and we saw several police in the road and they signaled us to pull over (we were not speeding). Nope they were doing mandatory alcohol blow tests at 11 am on a Saturday! Wow what an invasion of your personal freedom. They can demand everyone blows with no cause!

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We then turned south on the Alpine way thru the Murray River Valley towards Tom Groggin.  From here the road is winding and very narrow. The locals like to drive in the center of the road as well.

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There are steep rises and switch backs towards the ski fields at Thredbo. You then drop down for 10 km to the reservoir at Jindabyne. Between there and Cooma you are on a flat open plain until you rise again into the mountains towards Bega.

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Here we wanted to get to the coast so we found a dirt road crossing on the Doctor George Mountain road between Bega and Tathra.

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We then rode another 35 km north to the sea side village of Bermagui pretty tired after 505 km. We managed to get a room in the bunk house at the pub and walked over to the harbor for dinner.

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Today we are headed to Sydney in 403 km.

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This trip is on the A1 that winds along the coast, but not actually on it most of the time and so we made a side trip into Durras North to see the beaches.

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Then it was back on the A1 towards the city.

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We are headed to Mona Vale north of the city to stay with Chris (a friend of Ian’s), but we made a pit stop in the city first. We rode over the iconic harbor bridge to North Sydney and under the bridge to get some photos.

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We managed to get to Chris’s house before dark. He had left us the key as he would not be home from work until after 9. We walked a few hundred meters to the local Thai place for a pretty good meal. Chris was a great host and made us feel very welcome.

We have just figured out this week that we have an issue with Indonesia. Canadians do not need a Visa for Indonesia and can get 30 days Visa free or can get 90 day Visa on arrival, but only at airports, some seaports, and at the one land border between Malaysia and Indonesia on Borneo. They do not do this at the border between Timor Leste and Indonesia that we will cross. This means we will need to get to the Consulate in Sydney today to discuss the issue. This is a 43 km ride across to the other side of Sydney and we left Mona Vale at 9 to avoid traffic. It only took us 45 minutes.

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There was a bit of a line up, but they have an efficient number system. The man who helped us was very nice. He was so apologetic  that we as Canadians would need a Visa and that he would have to charge us the fee. We were so happy to get the visa arranged. He even pushed the 4 plus days for processing and said we could come and pick them up in the morning.

Now back to Mona Vale to meet Chris and then we drove out to the North head at Manly .

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Chris is a captain on one of the harbor ferries and was able to get us on the famous Manly ferry. This leaves from Manly beach and crosses to the city at the docks between the Opera house and the harbor bridge.

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We rode over and back up in the bridge with the crew.  The timing could not have been better as we pulled up alongside the opera house just as the sun was setting behind the harbor bridge. The new addition to the boats in the last few weeks is they sell beer and so we had a brew on the return trip.

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Then it was again back to Mona Vale for a traditional Aussie BBQ. At breakfast in the back yard we had a constant stream of feathered visitors including huge white cockatoo, multi-coloured lorikeets, and Galah (red breasted cockatoo or as Sara likes to call them “the pink headed parrots”) at the bird bath.

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This morning we headed back the 43 km to the embassy and picked up the visas!

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We are going to stay in the city tonight so was can do a walking tour. Dan found a deal at the Star casino and when we arrived there at 1030 am they said “of course you can check in and we will upgrade you to the best room no charge! This turned out to be a 2 story suite with a kitchen and 2 bathrooms. The upstairs ensuite is bigger than most hotel rooms. The entire front wall is 2 stories of windows overlooking Darling Harbor and the Harbor bridge. WOW! We set out to walk to the opera house and back and by the time we got back at 5 pm , after 10 plus km , we were exhausted and tucked in to watch James Bond on the big screen!

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