Thursday, February 08, 2007

Sydney Catch Up

While Clive and Irwin from Nottingham were on honeymoon in Sydney they climbed the Harbour Bridge. When you do this you get free tickets to the Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Towers - one of those four tall massive stone towers that mark the beginning and end of the bridge. They couldn't use the tickets and kindly gave them to us. So we climbed the 200 odd steps up the tower to a small museum that tells the tale of construction. This museum has a wonderful carpet, specially commissioned, it looks as though it is covered in the very same rivets that hold the bridge together. We climbed further, till we were level with the cast iron harbour bridge arch. Unlike the bridge climb you can take your camera with you. It was a clear day and we had stunning views over the beautiful city and harbour.

Botany Bay was a disappointment but this historically significant site had to be 'done'. On the map it looks full of possibility, there is a Discovery Centre in the Botany Bay National Park which is approached over Captain Cook Bridge and down Captain Cook Drive. However, if Captain Cook came across Botany Bay today he would sail on by; past the container port, the oil refinery, the land fill, the power station and the sewage works - you get the picture.

We had a sandwich in Cronulla and later realised that was were the race riots had been a year or two ago but the day was saved by a visit to the Olympic Park and a trip around the Olympic Stadium itself. It held the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and the major athletic events and was later the scene of the Rugby World Cup Final in 2003 when sexy Johnny Wilkinson famously scored the winning drop kick for England to beat Australia, but they don't seem to talk about that here! We viewed the arena from the Platinum Lounge, the Press Box, the Media Centre and points between. We went into the dressing rooms - funny little cubicles for each player, no communal bath these days! I led our tour (us 2 and 6 amusing Poles with little English) out onto the pitch, with the recorded crowd roaring in our ears, and we stood on the winning rostrum, in gold position naturally, that was used during the Olympics.

While the old chap enjoyed England's first cricket success against Australia in the one day Internationals I looked round the Powerhouse Museum. They had an exhibition about the Great Wall of China with lots of video and film clips to watch. Here, for the first time I think, I encountered BCE in an exhibition. BCE is an alternative to BC - Before Christ and AD - Anno Domini (in the year of our Lord). It stands for Before the Common Era. Initially I was a bit taken aback with it but I suppose something a little more embracing is needed. I wondered what the Common Era meant, as I think both China and Christian common masses were still in 'thrall' so to speak, certainly when it begins anyway. Ho humm.

The Chinese Gardens in Darling Harbour are an oasis of calm and tranquility in the busy city. You can hire costumes there and wander round the paths, water features and tea gardens, dressed as Imperial Chinese Emperors, Princesses or Warriors really getting into the spirit of things. The planting made me wonder how my garden was surviving in the depths of an English winter as I saw how they had used the Nandina Domestica, Heavenly Bamboo, which I have too. Here it was planted en masse on the route leading upwards - heavenwards - to a beautiful three tiered pagoda.

We are heading back to Sydney to catch our flight to New Zealand. Before we leave there is more cricket - England have got into the finals of the one day Internationals. The old chap is going but I've decided to see a bit more of China in Australia and I'm heading for China Town to view the Chinese New Year Parade.

So today, our last day on Central Coast, we are doing that quintessential Australian thing and going to the beach. We'll walk along the sands, work on our tans a bit, and cool off with a swim down at Pelican Point.


PMM&L said...

Aagh. You sound quite sad. NZ will be fantastic. You will go back to Oz one day anyway - there seems to be undiscovered territories for you. Enjoy your final stint. x

axx said...

Well it has been so lovely here and you are right NZ will be fab and we will be back here - in 4 years time, if not before, when the Ashes Series is here again.

In the meantime it's back to earth with a bump with concerns like:

- will we have enough warm clothes for New Zealand? We have one jumper each at present and absolutely no wet weather gear!

- BA have bought in new long haul baggage allowances, will we be able to meet those?

- what to do with the splendid heavy metal bbq light and food timer we got for Christmas? It will get the security scan alarms going all over the western hemisphere no doubt. The company that supplied it don't do International orders so we have decided to ship it back home by post - but have yet to wrap and send it!

But in the bigger scheme of things I guess these are quite nice problems to have!

axx said...

Loads of 'here' there. I shouldn't do things in a rush! xx