Fai Tira blog
Friday 15th October
Farewell trip to
Although I know that Dee had a great time and enjoyed
herself immensely on the trip from Port Douglas. I think that the oppressive
heat on the approaches to, and last days in Darwin, had just about made her
ready for the trip to Sydney and her eventual departure for the
I was accompanying her and found it hard to suppress my
feelings of excitement, not just at the prospect of a trip to this exciting
city, but also the chance to taste life away from the confines of the boat, all
its discomforts and all its restrictions!
The flight from Darwin took about 4 ½ hours, leaving
around 1am and landing at 6 ish. The hike to the hotel reflected our lack of
local knowledge and misjudgement over the length of George St. where the hotel
was located in the heart of China Town. However, it did have the effect of
providing an early feel of the sense of atmosphere that was always present and
would have been impossible to subdue.
The hotel reflected the budget price we’d paid: clean,
small room, basic accommodation, but surprisingly quiet considering the
With only 2 days for exploration we were soon taking
advantage of the city’s public transport system, travelling on one of the vast
number of buses heading in the direction of Circular Quay, the area of the ferry
terminals and views across the harbour.
In no time we were standing on the quayside staring out
across the bay. It was magnificent, with the dominating structures of the Bridge
and Opera house taking centre stage, but with a superb supporting cast from the
towering Sydney skyline hovering majestically in the wings, just demanding not
to be ignored.
The whole place simply vibrated with activity. Cafes and
bars heaved. The huge screen located in the square in front of one of the big
hotels flashed the latest events from the Commonwealth games, which of course
the Aussies were dominating. The green, curiously double bowed ferries, were
constantly on the move as they plied their trade to a rigid and tightly imposed
schedule that hardly allowed time for a breath. And all the time buses and taxis
drew up, disgorging passengers who just kept adding to the intensity and
atmosphere of a scene that was good to be part of, such a contrast to what we’d
left behind only hours ago. So much to see, so much to do and so little time
Obviously the main interest revolved around the Bridge
and Opera House. But there were museums, galleries, parks, locations and ferry
rides not to mention eating and drinking.
So without any clear plan we ambled towards the Bridge
in the direction of the Rocks, an old - now converted - port storage area, and
stumbled right into the Sydney Gallery Of Modern Art, housed in a retro style
building much like the Hoover one in Perivale, London (no garish Tesco signs on
display here though, thank God).
The walk through the Rocks location and under the Bridge
was delightful and took in a trip to the Bridge visitor centre, art gallery and
street cafe, before heading in the direction of the Opera House, past the mass
of quayside restaurants. The noticeable drop in temperature we’d experienced
since our arrival was suddenly emphasised as we emerged from the shelter of the
buildings and onto the exposed Opera site, sat on a land promontory on the edge
of the bay.
The exciting sight immediately capturing our gaze was
magnificent. The tile clad curves and peaks, fed by masses of stairs, flowing
majestically together in amazingly complex patterns confirming what, at the time, was the revolutionary nature
of the designs and structures incorporated by the talented
A return visit was a must, and before we’d left, tickets
were booked for a performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue for the following
It had been a long day and even longer night. And
although our senses were still reeling, tiredness overcame. Returning to the
hotel we crashed, emerged for a great veggie Cantonese meal then crashed again,
this time for the night.
Our one proper full day in the city, was our first and
last. However, the streets were well and truly aired by the time we reached
It’s difficult to find an area in this city that isn’t
influenced by water. So mere days after walking off a boat we’d just travelled
1500 miles on from Port Douglas, we decided to board another and cross the
harbour to Manly (must be mad).
Although for me the place was disappointing with its
surfing shops, fast food cafes and beaches, the highlight, making it all
worthwhile, was its fantastic little municipal art gallery, with beautifully
presented works by renowned indigenous contemporary and historic artists and all
for free... Thanks.
Back at the quay, the walk back to the hotel took us
through the Darling Harbour area and into the street market at China
The evening performance at the Opera House started at
8pm, we just made it and the entertainment took place over 2 hours in front of a
packed and knowledgeable audience in a brilliant atmosphere, finishing off with
a staggering improvised encore...... Sensational!
We left the city, by train, early the following day and
travelled to the suburbs, spending 2 days with Dee’s niece Lisa, her husband
Dennis and delightful young daughter Chelsea. It was a great time just relaxing
around their vast garden and visiting the Blue Mountains. The hospitality was
brilliant (thanks, you lot) and gave us time to gather ourselves before the
inevitable emotional departure and my flight back across the Aussie wilderness
to Darwin and the boat.
A difficult end to a great 6 weeks