Sat 31 Oct 2009 08:01
31st October, 2009
Position 33:51.4S 151:12.9E (Navigators will note that this is in the middle of the Opera House: I was there, even if Fleck couldn't manage the stairs)
Ten great days in Sydney, Rushcutters Bay was an excellent location, and the facilities and welcome at the CYCA more than we could have hoped for. Not many Brits get this far South, of course I know why now, but still it has been great for us and just a bit of a novelty for the Sydnesiders at the CC. The very hot weather that greeted our arrival was never repeated, but we enjoyed typical English good summer weather which was perfect for sightseeing and our long cross city walks. Two interesting walks to Town: one via Kings Cross: the City's underbelly area with Clubs catering for all tastes, then through Hyde Park to the Central District. I prefered the bayside walk, despite the numerous steep steps, this takes you past the iconic Harry's Cafe de wheels (Pie and peas all hours) the Navy Dockyard, the Art Gallery and the Botanical Gardens, ending up at the Circular Quay and the Opera House. Charlie and Mark opted for route one, hopefully because it was the quickest way to the shops!
Downtown is mostly tall buildings, but some of these sprout ingeniously from the facades of original city buildings, and others: particularly the Queen Victoria Building have been spectacularly restored to original spec, but with a modern twist: imagine loos with all the latest electronic water systems, but with polished wood and Victorian pocelain and tiles. I liked it a lot, but could not afford the shops! The Opera House requires no comment other than to say I took a guided tour to secure a massive discount on my tickets (A Spring Arts Festival Promotion), and found it really interesting. A real vindication of the 'Go for it' attitude to the original design plans: farsighted City Fathers, or did they just get lucky? They selected the design with no building plans at all: just like our new extension at Glebe Barn!!
My $50 tickets got me into the best seats for Cose Fan Tutte (a modern interpretation in every sense, and excellent) and Peter Grimes (remarkably prosaic in contrast, and nearly ruined by silly stacking chairs on the set:its too complicated to explain). I also really enjoyed the NSW Art Gallery: From Canelleto's warped St Marks Square (To get all the best buildings into one painting) to an arresting squashed Bugatti!, and pretty well everything in between. Good Examples of Charles Condor, Sydney Nolan, and Tom Roberts: now my favourite Australian Painters, having never heard of them before Brisbane.
Other Good things were walking the Harbour Bridge, eating Asian Food in Hyde Park during the Food Festival, and eating wonderful roast beef at Chris and Janes lovely Paddington home. Paddington is especially pretty just now with the Jacorandas in full bloom: the flowering season has followed us down the coast from Brisbane as the weather warms up.
On my final day Chris took us all (including Lizzie who had a day off work, but not Jane who was in Melbourne) up to the Blue Mountains: the Grand Round trip! It was a really good day out, with great food along the way (lemon merangue pie as tall as it was wide!). The traditional views of the Three Sisters at Katoomba did not disappoint: grander that I remember them twenty years ago, even if they are feeling a little dwarfed by the massive Visitor Platform that has been erected. I seem to recall that on our last visit we just scrambled over the rocks to get a view (but then I can remember walking through Stonehenge with no restrictions at all!). Chris was pleased as punch to find us an example of the rare Waratah flower: the emblem of NSW. But round the next bend in the road there were literally hundreds of the things! (never seen anything like it...!).
Back home the kids went out boozing, Chris and I had a fish supper from the Paddo Fish Shop (excellent) and the Grown ups were early too bed. Next morning up with the lark to the Supermarket for fresh veg and fruit (they open at 7am). Water and fuel and finally off at 10.00 hours. Charlie and Chris came to cast me off. Mark had made a valiant effort to attend as well, but by all accounts had bourne the brunt of the previous nights excesses. I hope he recovers in time for his job interviews: they fly back to England on Sunday. I am heading North, first stop the Hawkesbury River. More anon