Thursday, June 17, 2010

Soaking up Sydney

By Yana:

We've spent the last week hanging out here in NSW, revelling in the joy of being back in Oz.  On the Sunday of the long weekend, we went for a drive to the Blue Mountains, to be tourists in our own country.  We got started a little late, so we didn't end up having the time for a walk, but it was still good fun.  We stopped in one of the little towns at the edge of the national park, where we had hot chips with chicken salt for the first time in who knows how long.  It's funny how those tiny little things really remind you that you're in Oz.  When then drove on to the town of Katoomba, where we went and had a look at the Three Sisters.  For those of you who haven't heard of them, the Three Sisters are one of the rock formations in the Blue Mountains, three pillars which are connected to an Aboriginal dreamtime story about how a sorcerer turned three sisters into these rock pillars to protect them while a war raged around them, with the intention of turning them back into their human selves when it was over, but he died before he could do so.

We spent the Monday partly in the city, which was when we discovered just how freakishly expensive parking is in Sydney.  Yikes!  Luckily, after a bit of driving around and having to deal with the horror of Sydney's abundance of one-way streets, dead ends, and forbidden right or left turns, we found a free parking spot, and went for a wander through Sydney's Botanical Gardens.  The ones in Adelaide and Melbourne are much better, if you ask me, but it was still pleasant enough, and we got to see a couple of cockatoos, which was nice - we'd forgotten what cute faces they have!  When we got back in the evening, we found that Tony, Amanda, and Eddy were back, and Tony had another magical meal happening.  The man is a wizard in the kitchen.

On Tuesday, we decided to check out the Australian Museum.  I think we spent easily four hours wandering through there - Good thing we'd at least had one of our sandwiches beforehand, because my stomach was growling quite insistently by the end of it.  There were a few absolutely amazing photos of scientific phenomena and crazy insects, which, predictably, was probably my favourite part of the whole thing.  There was an extensive collection on Aboriginal arts, crafts, and history.  Honestly, I could only be so interested in the spiritual side of it, although I was riveted by the little videos of various indigenous folk walking through the bush, explaining various native foodplants and medicines.  And to think it's probably only a tiny fraction of the original knowledge - who knows how much as been lost due to the Stolen Generation.  Actually, there also was a framed print-out of Paul Keating's speech in Redfern, which was quite interesting to read, as you can see the bits of it that were incorporated into the song "Redfern" in the musical "Keating!".

Past the Aboriginal exhibits, we got onto the various fauna-related stuff, looking at various urchins and crabs, as well as some info about the insanely deadly critters Australia has to offer.  I am glad to say that I now know what cone shells look like, so I can steer clear of the things - apparently there is no known antidote for that deadly venom of theirs.  Eek!  There was lots of interesting stuff on Aussie fauna, including on various extinct species.  It really drives home what a shame it is about the thylacine - although I would have loved to see live versions of the various extinct megafauna Australia once had.  Apart from the obligatory dinosaur skeletons, there was also a detailed catalogue of stuffed bird species and creepy crawlies.

Wednesday, we decided to enjoy the beautiful weather by going for an extended walk.  We stopped for lunch at a cafe which had the most amazing chicken and leek pie ever - we have decided that we must learn to master pastry, simply so we can make our own pies.  We wandered through various pretty suburban streets and parklands, until we hit Circular Quay, where we met up with my friend Ben and his lady, Alanna.  We even managed to find some decent food under the price of $20, which is really saying something for that area.  Once fed, we headed to the Opera House, where there is a night-time lightshow of crazy colours and motifs projected onto it.  Honestly, I thought it was nowhere near as great  as the Northern Lights display in Adelaide a few years back, but it was still nifty in parts.  We wandered back to the train station, grabbed some gelati, and then headed home, saying our fairwells to Ben and Alanna when we had to get off the train.

We spent Thursday fairly productively, getting provisions for the next leg of our trip, that kind of thing.  We also spent a bit of quality time window shopping, before we headed to the bike shop to collect our bikes and take them back to the apartment.  By then, we had to hurry, as Tony had made us a reservation at Bilson's.  Miraculously, we made it on time, and sat down for possibly the best meal of our lives to date.  I'm not going to go into huge detail right now, as there were nine courses involved, each of them exquisitely detailed little works of culinary art, but let's just say that we went home in a daze.  Wonderful stuff.

Today, we've been getting a few of those fiddly little bits of work before heading off done.  If all goes well, we'll be getting to Wollongong tonight. 

1 comment:

  1. Hey guys, great to meet you in the gong this morning. You've successfully re-ignited my travel bug! I guess I'll have to tour in Arizona now ;).

    If you need any resources or route ideas for your trip, check out my blog from my last trip: Part of my trip was from Adelaide to Mt Gambier and then through inland Victoria so you might find some hints there.

    Again. Enjoy :)