Today was a chance at some tourist exploration before work beings on Monday. A lover of animals, I always like to go to the zoo and Taronga Zoo, Sydney was no disappointment. At a mere 10 minutes via ferry from Sydney City Centre, it is a wonderful jungle gem with an utterly spectacular view of the opera house and harbour bridge. Though the day was once again, a little rainy (I am starting to think we have taken the rain with us from Scotland!) the wet weather provided an added advantage bringing the animals out from underneath their shelters (provided as a escape from the typically beating-hot sun).
The zoo, built in 1916 still returns some of its original features including the architecturally Indian-inspired elephant enclosure. A brand new, much larger enclosure now plays host to 3 bachelor elephants, but there was a sign stating that the happily pregnant female elephants were in their nesting enclosures away from the public. The features, including many photographs and signs about past entertainments that local Sydni-ers may remember from the zoo, such as elephant rides that stopped during the 1980s, were dotted around. They also provided reasons as to why the zoo had moved away from this kind of entertainment and towards conservation. Ever the historian, it was an added treat to see what the zoo used to do for their visitors and how it has progressed since that time.
Many of the animals were out and roaming, which meant we got to see many usual creatures. But, the main highlight was get up close and personal with the Koala encounter. For an additional fee, visitors are taken into the koala enclosure for photos and to get touch-ably close to these beautiful marsupials. But, while it might be tempting to just reach out and give the huggable koala a pet the keepers explained that they are not sociable creatures and would probably get quite scared if confronted with physical contact.
After a full day at the zoo, we headed to La Traviata perform by Opera Australia at the Sydney Opera House (one to tick off the bucket list!). The Joan Sutherland theatre is just astounding and while our seats were ‘partial view’ not much of the stage was obstructed. Ho-yoon Chung gave a stunningly moving performance of Alfredo, particularly in the final act. It was easy to believe that his heart was literally breaking as his Violetta succumbed to consumption. José Carbó was equally stunning as Giorgio Germont, the upright, proud father whose stiff manner melts away after realising Violetta’s fate. In fact, the entire ensemble including principal, cast and orchestra were first class but Lorina Gore as Violetta was somewhat of a disappointment. Her performance was somewhat overly-melodramatic and her voice seems oddly uncontrolled in the upper register. Despite this, the rest of the performance including the amazingly beautiful sets made this a real treat.