A Last Long Look at Sydney 4 April 2007

We have had a fantastic two final days in Sydney; what a really, really beautiful city! Yesterday we spent walking from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach on the Coastal Walk – along scores of breathtakingly beautiful beaches with built-in swimming pools, surrounded by gardens and lovely old homes and steep rocky bluffs. I have never seen so many beautiful beaches in such a short distance. Near the cemetaryWe had our last fish (delicious barramundi cod) and chips, then since we had purchased a Day Tripper pass (any bus, train, ferry all day), we caught a bus to Watson’s Bay to wander around the South Head’s Gap – the southernmost point of entry to Sydney Harbour, and then caught a ferry back to Circular Quay (pronounced ‘key’) in the central business district (under the bridge, near the Opera House), and the train back to the house. Then we later hopped on the train again (only 3 blocks from the house) back over the bridge to North Sydney to have dinner with Socs and Caroline – great Indian food. They dropped us at a ferry after dinner, and we took two more ferry rides to enjoy the night lights of Sydney – we sure got our $15 worth out of those tickets!!

Today we got ready to leave, and then walked back uptown (we are only about 15 blocks from the CBD) through Hyde Park, spent at least an hour in a bookshop looking for Australian fiction, another hour in a cross-stitch shop, then across to Darling Harbour (just a big tourist area), just wandering and enjoying watching people. This city is as diverse as any I have ever been in. chess gameWe spent a few minutes watching two old guys, surrounded by many other guys, mostly old but of about 6 different cultures, playing chess on a huge floor board in Hyde Park; it was obviously a frequent pastime!

Ladies: we noticed that girls are wearing Capri tights under mini skirts or knit tunics; women wear business attire (suits, etc.) with flip-flops, rather than athletic shoes. It is fall here, but about 65 degrees – people were in everything from shorts to knit hats, coats, and scarves! Socs laughed about that too – saying he might have been headed to the beach if he didn’t have to work today. We also saw a woman about Gramma’s age dressed *completely* in purple – shoes, stockings, long skirt, top, purse and HAIR!

There was a huge queue of people in line at a chocolatier called Haigh’s, and we realized that really must be THE place to buy your Easter chocolate (they have eggs filled with solid chocolate frogs, etc.), so I said Hey, great idea for my kids! Patricia got in line and I went to look around. However, there was a security guard who said I could not go in, I had to get in line. I explained I was planning to buy, but had never been in there and wanted to see the products, but he again said ‘get in line’. Then another fellow in line says to me, ‘It’s an Australian custom to get in the queue.’ I thought he was just giving an American a hard time, but maybe that *is* the custom for Haigh’s chocolates in Australia at Easter. At any rate, I decided not to wait in the cue; sorry kids!

Anyway, we could have spent several more days in Sydney – but we have LOST THE PLOT!!! We get on the plane in a few hours, and while we love and have enjoyed Australia, we are homesick.

In six weeks we have traveled nearly 12,000 kilometers around Australia, from Sydney to Adelaide, to Pipiljatjara to Yulara/Uluru and back to Adelaide, to Melbourne (almost 1000 by BIKE, and nearly 5000 by car, the rest by plane or boat), to the Great Barrier Reef and back to Melbourne, to Wilson’s Prom, through the Australian Alps, back to Sydney! We saw wallabies, kangaroos, goannas, hundreds of camels, witchetty grubs, koalas, an echidna, a a very small deer, lyrebird, kookaburras, sulfur-crested cockatoos, crimson rosellas, rainbow lorikeets, many honey-eater birds, and many others I’m sure we have forgotten. We have met so many delightful and interesting people, and seen so many beautiful, mysterious, and wildly different sights and landscapes. We stepped so very briefly into, and had only the tiniest glimpse of Aboriginal culture. Their culture dates back over 30,000 years, and some now suspect over 100,000 years, and while I have traveled quite a bit and lived in other cultures, it is like nothing I have ever experienced before, and will never forget.