If I had been getting a little apathetic about new cities, Sydney changed that. It's really somewhere special. The geography instantly demands exploration, with all these harbours and bays, surrounded by gently hilly promontories. My first sight of the famous Opera House and Harbour Bridge, both lit up at night, left me impressed at their scale and magnificence.
Australia's wildlife quickly made itself known, even in the city. Walking through the green space of "The Domain", I was surprised by what I initially thought were large birds. But their movement wasn't quite right, and seeing one land on a branch, grabbing it and kind of swinging upside-down, I realised they were bats - but larger by quite a margin than any I'd seen before. It turns out they're flying foxes.
I also saw in The Domain what I think was a brush-tailed possum.
The birds make odd sounds too. The mornings were filled with these wailing, moaning kind of sounds, the like of which I've only ever heard from human babies before... Apparently these are crows - but a different type to those I'm familiar with from Europe.
In the middle of the harbour, Cockatoo Island is a former prison and later ship-yard. Lots of the industrial heritage remains, making it an ideal location for the biennale of Sydney. Big spaces made for some creative installations, including a bit of a novelty train ride through one of the tunnels connecting the two sides of the island.
Artisanal ice-cream (which they rather pretentiously call gelato) is popular in both New Zealand and Australia. I had a great one at Messina in Surry Hills, poached fig with marsala, and salted coconut and mango.