Starting out in Sydney
Breakfast at Mo’s and
A gentle descent into the City
By the time we surfaced after a wonderful sleep we were famished, so the location of Mo’s Restaurant on the corner of our block was perfect. I have to mention the orange juice because it was so smooth and whirred to the texture of pale orange cream.
Refreshed and nourished we wandered along the shiny tiled pavement beneath a generous green canopy in Hyde Park and after a first glimpse at a flock of black beaked ibis grazing in the Botanic Gardens made our way in to the lofty Cathedral alight with golden colour and still decked out for Christmas.
A vast Christmas tree with beachball baubles dominated a shopping precinct further down and the in between Christmas and New Year sense of excitement was pervasive – a city in waiting. The stately buildings are a mix of classical, art deco and modern with lots of those lovely wedgy multi storey buildings tucked into the corner between two closely angled roads.
As you can imagine and in these temperatures we had by now developed quite a thirst so stumbling across a nineteenth century bar just up from the circular quay was timely. Funny name for a beer I thought ‘one hundred and fifty lashes’, lashes of the fluttering eyes type? No, lashes of the agonised convict type. A liquid reminder of Australia’s past.
Circular Quay is the hub of the river and land coming together. The train service passes frequently through here and right up through the CBD linking not only all the popular places in the city but also connecting with the out of city routes from Central. Numerous ferries nudge eachother for their position on the quay and move in and out smartly at surprising speeds, all watched over by the fine single arch steel girder bridge, apartment and office blocks and of course the beautiful opera house, its pearlised tiles catching the sun’s rays.
It is hard to imagine these days how the old wharf front looked from the early days of European settlement through the changes brought about by expansion, then the demolition during the bubonic plague days in the years just before and just after 1900, so it is very handy that the civic authorities cover walls with photos of how it all once looked. With landfill the original wharf side streets, like Sussex Street are now set back from the water’s edge, and the rat ridden tenements are almost a thing of the past.
Around the corner from The Ship Inn, (we’ll make a point of going in there when we return in Zoonie!) is nice little Silvester Street where there is a Spanish Tapas Bar. We sat outside enjoying a light lunch watching posh cars coming to and fro from the Avis Car Hire centre underneath the high rise block opposite. Rob’s back was a ticking time bomb. He strained it while lifting the outboard motor off the transom and then carrying it up the pontoon to the car and has felt the pain ever since.
Back in our little room I unloaded our small Aldi shop so we could have evening meals and breakfasts with our feet up watching the box.
Between a Rock and A Hard Place.
But this evening we met up with Alison and Randall and their friends back down at a little preserved cottage, Cadham’s I think, for a guided tour around The Rocks, the historic area occupying a steep hill between Circular Quay and Darling Water and it was once a very ‘hard place’. The rapid growth of the population and the hyper busy industry of distribution from and to the numerous visiting ships meant a vast shanty town had grown up around the wharfs with the inevitable damp and squalid environment conducive to disease and death. In the little alley named ‘Suez’ Canal it was something sounding very much like Suez that ran down the street into the water.
The Bubonic Plague, one epidemic thought to have come from Mauritius, was an unwelcome visitor on numerous occasion up until 1925. Although there will always be rats near water and waste The Rocks is now a popular area for locals and visitors to meet and chat in the numerous bars dotted between stylish modern and restored homes and hidden drainage.
We rounded off the evening by squeezing our six around a tiny table in the heaving Glenmore Hotel, recommended to us by our lovely young tour guide as home of the best veggy moussakas in town. The big family next to us left so we launched ourselves onto their tables and cleared their mess away just before supper arrived. And the moussaka lived up to its well-earned reputation.
The next morning Rob was in agony. We made it down to Sussex Street for a little exploration of the now faceless junction with Erskine Street, then I hailed a taxi up to the ER next to St Vincent’s Hospital and there we remained until late afternoon while Rob underwent his examinations and awaited the result of various tests.
The outcome was 15 strong painkillers and some suggested exercises.
“So my sweet, the next time I suggest you wait till I get back from wherever so I can help you lift something, what will you do?” Blank _expression_ in response. “The same thing eh?” I query.
“It’s a man thing!” He replied.
Next day preparations were well advanced for the New Year’s Eve Fireworks. Rows of jolly blue loos standing ready, barricades everywhere cordoning off areas for those willing to pay up to $250 for a view, $450 with a seat and a meal. Temporary water fountains to keep the masses hydrated. As we sat outside the Australian Museum we started wondering where to position ourselves for the event, silly to be here and not see one of the world’s best NYE celebrations.