Holy Moly, we're in Sydney! Sat, 12/03/16
Pinch me! How many years ago did I dream of going to Australia? Way more than I care to admit. And now ... here I am, me and Jimmy together on an Australian adventure with our Road Scholar group. We'll have two weeks to scope out this Downunder continent, including four days in Sydney. Two weeks that will fly by like a boomerang that'll carry us back to the Sydney airport and home.
Our base in Sydney is Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour Hotel, in the heart of Darling Harbour, within walking distance to Chinatown, and adjacent to the city centre. Darling Harbour is a large recreational and pedestrian area, a spot I'm sure we'll frequent.
This striking mural of Aboriginal Activist elder, Jenny Munro, by street artist Matt Adnate, is painted on the far side of our white 10-story hotel, looming over the busy intersection of Harbour and Goulburn streets near the Chinese Gardens. Framed by dripping blue, black and red paint, Ms Munro looks into the distance with a mountain sunrise painted in her irises. Hers is a face filled with reflection and strong resolve. It's a wonderful visage and looks even more impressive in person.
Did you know you can climb to the top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge? For a hefty price, that is, and it's one whale of a hefty climb. No one in our group wanted to spend most of a whole day doing this.
One side of Darling Harbour.
(The harbour is named after Lieutenant-General Ralph Darling, who was Governor of New South Wales from 1825 to 1831. The area was originally known as Long Cove, but was generally referred to as Cockle Bay until 1826 when Governor Darling renamed it after himself.) Why not?
Well, you know, it's a requisite to have your picture taken with the Opera House as a backdrop! It's nice and warm in Sydney, and those clouds will dissipate.
I loved the look of this old Australian Steamship Navigation Company (ASNC) brick warehouse at The Rocks in the midst of modern Sydney. It was completed in 1884. It seems to fit right in.
Me and Albert posing in front of a handsome Sydney Sandstone wall (on the Hilton, I think), which we'll see all over the city. The quality of the sandstone known to Sydneysiders as Yellow block became well known early on and was used extensively. Many of these early sandstone buildings remain, including cathedrals, public buildings, colleges, and so on. Really attractive stone.
We didn't see much smoking while in NZ. I spotted this empty pack on a Sydney quay and thought it shockingly apt. And get this: The price of a pack of smokes here is $24.00. One pack! Geez. Who could afford to eat AND smoke?
At the outdoor market: These two guys -- Father & Son -- were so good that Albert bought their CD. After listening awhile, so did we, both "Beginnings" and "The Bridge." They even personally autographed each one!
This old post box is still used, and not just as a leaning post (pun intended). 😀
Our little group was joined by two lively New Yorkers, Carolyn and Larry, who will tour Australia with us before moving on to Perth to visit their son. They may be in their early 80's, but they won't be easy to keep up with! With their addition, we are now 17 intrepid spirits looking for kangaroos (but probably not in Sydney!). On our first evening here, the group will have a buffet dinner in the hotel, with "Welcome to Australia" wine. We're easy to spot with our black and red backpacks on (above).
This is a big city -- nearly five million strong, Australia's largest city. Not bad for a remote spot on earth that began as a prison colony a couple hundred years ago. With a temperate climate, it's very easy to see why it grew.
Can you find the Noisy miner (Manorina melanocephala) in the tree fronds above? It's a bird in the honeyeater family endemic to eastern and south-eastern Australia. Look closely or enlarge the pic.
Nope, the roof tiles are not white. Though they appear uniformly white from a distance, they actually feature a subtle chevron pattern composed of 1,056,006 tiles in two colors: glossy white and matte cream. We'll have a guided tour of the Opera House on Tuesday. Wow!
The Australian white Ibis (Threskiornis moluccus) is widespread across much of Australia. It has predominantly white plumage with a bare, black head, long down-curved bill and black legs. What the Aussies say, is: If you want to find one of these dudes, look for a rubbish bin. They are real pests.
We are very excited to be in/on this huge country/continent. Tomorrow we'll be up and going, seeing much of iconic Sydney. Oh boy!