Friday September 20th
Weather: Sunny (hot, not sure how hot, but hot)
Flight to Sydney was a quick and easy - hotel was walking distance to the airport (I wonder if that is good or bad news?!), and we all slept well.
Woke up bright and early and caught a commuter train into downtown Sydney – dead cheap, and quick.
They have double decker trains you know (Mayor Nenshi – are you reading this?!)
We decided for our first day that we would take a harbour cruise on Captain Cook’s ‘Hop On Hop Off’ Sydney Harbour Explorer. It has a round trip of 90mins with 7 different stops. It left from Darling Harbour – the same harbour that houses the Aquarium, Madame Tussaud's, the Maritime Museum etc.
Up until now we had not seen any of the famous landmarks, but once we were underway, all that was to change. (I’ve got to interrupt this to say that the TV is just showing an advertisement with Status Quo dressed up in Antarctic gear, singing ‘Down, Down, the Prices are Down’ advertising a supermarket . . . . ) Ah yes, Sydney Harbour! Just as we came out of the wharf we saw the bridge – quite fabulous:
And then the Opera House:
Wow. All round. Wow! Like pretty much everyone else, I thought that the opera house would be white, but actually it is brown on the bottom with cream ’sails’. Very impressive though. You can walk throught he botanic gardens to reach the Opera House – there are wide, wide steps leading up the front, so I think we will try that tomorrow.
We continued around the bay with a commentary from the boat crew – we saw all the posh harbourside houses including one owed by Disney (on the right. Apparently Oprah Winfrey stays here) and one (one the left) owned by the Star Wars franchise. These properties are worth 10 of millions of dollars . . . . and then have tourists on their little catamarans whizzing past taking photos.
We hopped off the boat in Watson Bay for lunch, and then walked up to the bluff to see the Pacific Ocean. It is HUGE and the views were fabulous.
Our next stop was Circular Quay – it is the quay in between the Opera House and the bridge. It is the area that was originally settled by the Europeans and where many of the 160,000 British convicts ended up. The stories in the local museum were fascinating. The area is called The Rock and was considered a slum. Although most of it was pulled down following the death of two residents from bubonic plague, many of the older building still exist. It is also where the huge liners berth when they come into town – we didn’t see any there, but you can certainly imagine!