Sydney Part 1


This is a new experimental style blog, there is a gallery of pictures to look at then text related to them below. You will need to click on each individual picture to view it.

 

We arrived in Australia this morning 8am Sydney time, we haven’t had much sleep but by the time we clear customs and immigration and got to Graeme and Cindy’s the couple who kindly put us up it was midday. We had the rest of the afternoon and decided to go and explore some of the city. We each bought a week long multipass travel ticket that enabled us to have unlimited transport around Sydney on trains, buses and ferries.

Graeme and Cindy suggested Circular Quay would be a good place to start so we walked to the local station and headed there first. The train journey there was nothing spectacular  the stations and railway infrastructure look very similar to London, it’s amazing how  railways seem to look the same the world over.  Walking out of the station at circular quay however was nothing but ordinary the iconic harbour bridge was right in front of us, to the right were the bright white sails of the Sydney Opera house and it felt like we had really arrived.

 We turned right  and headed toward the opera house, street entertainers lined the pedestrian street and our walk was accompanied by the sound of didgeridoos. The opera house is definitely more beautiful from a distance than  close up, made of concrete it’s design and construction were revolutionary and must be one of the most recognisable buildings in the world. It had a troubled start with politcal wrangling and spiraling costs as with most great projects, things got so bad that the Danish architect Jorn Utzon was forced to resign before it’s completion and never returned to Australia to see it finished. It is one of the most beautiful iconic buildings ever built and it felt almost unreal standing there looking up at it. 

Beyond the Opera house is Sydney botanical gardens, we spent a pleasant few hours wandering around here, there were huge bats roosting in some of the trees. These we discovered are called flying foxes and are a kind of fruit bat, there is an interesting cactus and succulent garden which looks more like Arizona than Sydney in places. The huge tree in the pictures is a Moreton Bay Fig, they seed themselves in the upper branches of another tree and grow downward to the ground killing their host in the process, nice eh!

After exploring the gardens we went back to Circular Quay to head home, one of the Aboriginal buskers posed with Karen for a picture, they were playing funky contemporary tunes almost like dance or trance music, it was really catchy and they were really friendly. We put a few coins in their hat. It  was a great afternoon, we loved Sydney already and it was only our first day.

Over the course of the next few days we went back to the same station and explored the area some more.

Heading left is an area called The Rocks, this was where the very first convicts and settlers put ashore, how different it must have been then. There are old and new buildings side by side everywhere in Sydney although obviously nothing older than 18th century, the rocks was extensively redeveloped despite protest in the 1960′s and 70′s as it was the poor end of town and was regarded as an eyesore. It’s also where the Harbour Bridge runs through and these days it’s full of cafes and shops. it’s still an interesting area to walk around and there are lots of alleys and remnants of the past. There is an open air market at the weekends and it was while we were wandering around we spotted a pub with a steak special on Mondays and Tuesdays for $10 a head, we made a mental to go back there later. 

One of our other day trips was to Manly, this was our first ferry ride across the harbour and it was great to get out on the water and see the city from a different perspective. To get to Manly we had to cross the harbour mouth which was quite choppy, it took about half an hour to give you some idea of scale. Manly is a suburb of Sydney (1 of 637 suburbs) and is most famous for its beach. Manly is a lovely area and we spent a good few hours wandering around the beachfront and the headland which is a national park. There are pictures of Manly beach in the gallery above.

We didn’t get back to the wharf until dark which meant we could see the city lit up at night on the the ferry ride back. Sydney is beautiful at night and it was a great way to see it. That night was also our 1 year anniversary on the road and we went back to the hotel we spotted previously to celebrate, the meal was very good and because it was so cheap we splashed out and treated ourselves to a bottle of wine too.

The pub was called the Glenmore (there’s a picture of it from the bridge and pictures of the view from the rooftop terrace) and it was an honest no nonsense place to eat and drink whilst it wasn’t posh the food was good and they had a million dollar view from their rooftop terrace which looked down over Circular Quay and the Opera House. We went back there to watch the Vivid Sydney light show but more of that in the next blog..

These pictures were from another day trip to Bondi the famous surfing beach, we had a stroll along the beach and took some pictures before walking along the Eastern Beaches Coastal Trail from Bondi to Coogee. It’s quite a long ish walk about 6km but it passed along some spectacular coastline, the other great thing is that we could catch the bus back from Coogee so we didn’t have to walk back.

This is a view of Sydney from Cockatoo island, we went there on the ferry only intending to stop for lunch but it was so interesting we stayed all day.

Cockatoo island has had had a varied history, it was used as a prison for many years in the 1800′s. Most of the prison buildings are still there to look around, later on Cockatoo was turned into a naval shipyard and it was this that engrossed us for the afternoon. The buildings are all exactly as it was when they called it a day in the 1990′s the submarines were the last to go but the island has a history of shipbuilding stretching back to the 1840′s when prisoners were employed building docks and wharfs. Most of the big buildings date back to the second world war when Cockatoo was a major refitting and repair yard for the Pacific fleet.

The most overwhelming thing was the size of it all, the buildings were absolutely huge. There is a picture of a lathe which gives some sense of scale, it was the biggest lathe I have ever seen and was used for machining ships turbines. The other picture is looking out over one of the dry docks.

 

That’s it for now, find out about the rest of our stay when we get to meet some of the local wildlife and experience Sydney lit up in technicolour in Sydney part 2 coming shortly.

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