Tuesday, August 3, 2010

And the winner is Syd-dnee! (now with added dugong)

Uh-oh. How did it get to be August already?

Somehow I have not posted since June. Oopsie. Its not that nothing has been happening. Shall I recap? June 23 - we all headed to Sydney. We bagged a superb apartment that we all wanted to move in to permanently, right near the town hall. It was drizzly but we didn't care.

We wandered out to Darling Harbour in the dusky gloom along a street that somehow contained all the hiking shops, every chain, every supply you could want, holding our umbrellas against every pissing awning - and there were plenty of 'em!

We walked across the Pyrmont bridge and into the Aquarium which we essentially had to ourselves. It was wonderful. Much bigger than when I had last been there in 1988. The displays were enchanting, and really easy to photograph too if you had a steady hand.

There was a special dugong exhibit, with a pair of dugongs lolling about quite mournfully at one end of the pen and slowly crossing the tunnel above our heads and returning to the wooden pier where they would try to hide in a corner. There was nowhere to hide. Yet it was still entrancing to watch these creatures, even though I had a clear impression that I was intruding on their privacy. Excuse me, maam.
Another tunnel contained a shark pool where the toothy crowd were a bit more lively and numerous. Nothing scary, just ...Establishing Respect.

The upstairs exhibits were fantastic, but the big tanks really were stunning! When I say big I mean BIG! HUGE! probably about 5m deep and at least 15m in diameter, all landscaped and populated with reef fish, or deep sea fish, or sharks or rays, Nemos and Dories, just fantastic and surprisingly entertaining. Great big fish looking mournful. It was wonderful, I'm so glad we went.
We then walked past the damp World Cup Soccer Village all the way to the other end of Darling Harbour and into China Town where we had dinner in a very chaotic restaurant. I have no idea what we had but it was delicious, and there seemed to be a LOT of Taiwanese people in there, enjoying a ridiculous gameshow on a big screen. Fascinating place. Couldn't for the life of me tell you what it was called, sorry, but it was popular.

Slept like logs in our sumptuous rooms. The apartment had 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, a laundry, a full kitchen and a huge living and dining room, big TV, all brand new and modern, with 2 balconies overlooking the rooves of churches and in eyeline with skyscrapers. We were on the 27th floor! It was brilliant.

The next morning my cousin arrived. Katharine is my youngest cousin (of 23 first cousins), I was 17 when she was born. She is living in Sydney now after being brought up between England and Perth. She is just lovely, and I wish I could see more of her. We stayed with her Mum in 2007 in London. K is very arty and has recently directed her first short film. She works heaps in the arts scene and we were delighted to catch up with her and be shown around the Sydney Opera House backstage - we even had coffee in the Green Room, and saw the Sydney Biennale on Cockatoo Island. The art was thought provoking and really evocative, and often really out of left field. There was a plywood model of the Hubble Space telescope, that seems like a steampunk had had a hand in it! I also enjoyed the piece with a car flying overhead in a shower of sparks. Cockatoo Island is the site of old naval shipyards and the buildings and spaces made me feel the presence of my Dad, who was a mechanic. The smells of oil on a dirt floor, and the industrial spaces and the rust. Being with his sister's only child. I'm sure he was with us as we wandered about that fascinating site, or maybe, just remembering him makes it seem that way. It was a gorgeous day and the free ferry ride was an added treat. Stephanie saw where Dance Academy was filmed, we went under the bridge, it was all good.

I've never spent long in the Circular Quay area before so it was such a treat to really see it, and wow what a place. It deserves the reputation as one of those locations where if you sit there long enough, the whole world will walk by. It is not only physically beautiful, in the sense of water and coves and clean air, and buzzing atmosphere but the man-made environment (i.e. the Bridge and the Opera House) is also gob-smacking. I hadn't expected to enjoy it so much but it truly was superb.

K also works at the Museum of Modern Art, right on the harbour, so we had spent the day in her environment. It was so enjoyable. She joined us for dinner back at our place, where we waited for the slowest Indian food delivery I have ever experienced. It was a bit average, but we talked and talked, and it was nice to just hang out with a family member I hardly ever get to see.

The next day - Taronga Park Zoo! Stay tuned!


Fairlie said...

I think Sydney is a great place to visit. When we watched Dance Academy (I was completely addicted to that show) the girls got sick of me constantly saying...that's where I am when I go to the Sydney Writers' Festival every time there was a shot of Walsh Bay! (Notice I included the apostrophe on writers' just for Lesley.)

Debby said...

Wow. K and you certainly look a lot alike.

Looks like a lovely vacation. Or walkabout. Whatever you call it in Oz.

Rhubarb Whine said...

I agree, you and K are a lot alike. I did a bit of a double take there!. I have never spent a lot of time in Sydney, but would like to. If I drive for a day though, I could meet you at Taronga Zoo! :)

victoria said...

I love the bit about the dugongs lolling about mournfully.

Laura Jane said...

Thanks Rhu, but i'd have to drive for four days to meet you there....

And I'd never noticed that Katharine and I were particularly alike, but she looks like her Mum, who looks like her Mum (my paternal Grandma) and it was always said I look like my Dad, but I'm also very like my Mum now I'm older.... Family, eh?

Victoria, I wish I hadn't accidentally deleted the photo I had in the post of a lolling dugong - Blogger is a pain to photoformat lately.