SOTM World Tour – Sydney

 After spending time in the Northern Territory, which frankly can’t look that much different from when dinosaurs were running things, arriving in Sydney was a welcome return to the sweet trappings of modernity.

Our time in Sydders, as I affectionately called it, was to be brief – a mere five days – but we galavanted around and had a rare old time.

Our digs were in Bronte beach, a huge, immaculate and tasteful house run by the charming Lise, who confided in me with a sigh that everyone says her name wrong (it’s pronounced Lisa).

I’d previously been told by a colleague who used to live in these parts that the walk from Bronte beach to Bondi beach was really nice, so Adventurous Kate and I did just that. It was a memorable afternoon and no mistake.

Here’s some of the things we saw along the way (which do not include, much to Kate’s disappointment, a Speedo-sporting Hugh Jackman, who lives at Bondi).

That is Bronte beach itself, and there are plenty more eye-catching spots of coastline along the way.

dsc_0060The architecture here is smashing – the houses are really cute and colourful.

Finally Bondi itself appeared on the horizon.

 Kate and I managed to visit Manly beach too, and while it is another lovely part of the city, it affords you a super view of Sydney Harbour as you take the ferry out to it.

The world-famous Sydney Harbour bridge looks great at any hour – and Kate even walked over it!

Here’s Manly (I like to think I fit right in a place like that).

manlyAnd it was in Manly that I had THE ICE CREAM OF MY LIFE at the Royal Copenhagen store. Seriously. I’m not joking.

Best. Ice cream. Ever.

On the way back to Sydney Harbour, the night had almost won and so we had a whole new view of that lovely place.

Here’s that bridge again.

And the Opera House looks just as divine when it’s lit up.

harbournightWhile in Sydney I was tickled by the fact there are so many place names which match those found in London. There’s Oxford Street and Liverpool Street, for example.

And let’s not forget the gorgeous Hyde Park, a haven in the middle of the gleaming glass and stone pimples which are forever fixed onto Sydney’s face. But here in the park huge trees cast invitingly cool spots, and there are stretches of deep green and plenty of benches where you can pause and chomp down your lunch.

It’s also in Hyde Park that I came across some of Sydney’s snails. My advice is to keep out of their way, as they’re deceptively quick…

My time in Sydney yielded some great stories, like this slightly fruity one by the remarkable Jo, another moment from my all-too-brief time in Hyde Park.

Remember you can click on any SOTM image on this blog to visit the photo’s page and to learn the subject’s story.

In search of further SOTMs, Kate and I had a meetup at the Australian, a well-known watering hole not far from the harbour.

I heard some great stories that night. Lain, for example, took ages to think of something and I didn’t know if he would come up with anything – but then all of a sudden he pulled this corker out of the hat.

But I was most moved by Mary’s tale of something her mother told her once, when she wished that Mary had the autism which affects her brother.

Finally, at the end of our time in Sydders, I caught up with old friends Steve and Liz. They not only put us up for the night, but gave us our first proper shrimps from an Aussie barbie! Very tasty indeed.

barbieOn our last morning in Sydney, Steve kindly drove us out to Botany Bay, to see where Captain Cook first set foot in Australia (well, his landing party anyway, of which he was not the first to disembark).

As a history buff, this was very exciting for me. An entire nation was formed as a result of those moments, and of course not to everyone’s benefit.

There are plenty of information boards up and they do acknowledge the hardships endured by the indigenous Aborigines in the years following colonisation.

At this site is the retelling of an interesting tale which I didn’t know of, that details how the first Aborigines to spot Cook’s rowboat approaching the shore told him to go away and threw spears.

Cook and his men ignored this, fired upon the Aborigines (aiming to scare and then hurt, but not kill) and came ashore anyway.

Here’s where it happened.

A tale like this, of course, gives politicians, sociologists and historians plenty to chew over regarding what happened over the subsequent centuries, as other nations – and the British in particular – swept across the land which became Australia, creating disputes and debates which continue today.

Then, after a fascinating morning, it was off to the airport for a quick flight to Melbourne! More of that next time.

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