Oz in '08 -- Beth and John Lucas Tour Australia, 2

All pictures, unless otherwise noted, are copyright 2008 by John A. and Elizabeth B. Lucas. All rights reserved.
Introduction Sydney Canberra Melbourne Western Victoria Queensland Uluru-Kata Tjuta Notes on the Photos GBCC File Transfers

Tuesday, 03 June 2008 to Friday, 06 June 2008

We were in Sydney three times during our trip. It rained and misted most of the time during our first and longest stay, but the two brief returns later in the month were to cloudless blue skies. We combine the pictures from the three visits, so you can choose from

Sydney, NSW -- The Harbour Bridge, The Rocks, Circular Quay and the CBD

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of Australia's icons. See the Wikipedia article for a comprehensive history and description. We offer three pictures of our own, at least one of which shows a party of tourists climbing "The Coathanger," even in wind and rain.

During our first of three visits, we stayed at a hotel in The Rocks, the old section of the city in the shadow of the southern (left) end of the Bridge. The area includes boutique shops and museums as well as residences.

Circular Quay is the transportation nexus of Sydney located among the Harbour Bridge and the Rocks, the Opera House, the Central Business District (CBD). It is a layer cake of roadways, railway tracks, pedestrian walks and piers for the ferries and tour boats. Sit in a cafe and watch the thousands of commuters stream off the ferries and head into the CBD, only a few blocks away. The railway line takes you to Central Station for transfer to other lines in Sydney and the rest of Australia. Stay on the train a few stops more and you're at the domestic and international terminals of Sydney's airport -- a really easy and cost effective way of getting to the airport if you're not dragging too much luggage with you. We used it before and after our trip to Uluru-Kata Tjuta as we only needed a few day's clothes and could leave the remainder of our luggage in the hotel.

Sydney, NSW -- The Opera House (and the rest of the performance center)

The Sydney Opera House is really a center for the performing arts including several performance venues, rehearsal halls, offices and restaurants. It is similar in concept to the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. But "The Nun's Huddle" is one of a very few 20th century buildings listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Like the Harbour Bridge, it is immediately recognizable and iconic of Sydney and Australia. The peak of the tallest "sail" is about the same height as the roadway of the Harbour Bridge.

We attended two concerts here.

We also took a tour of the Opera House complex during our first Sydney stay. While the tour conveyed much information, it did not reveal any of the lesser venues or backstage locations. So we only saw what concertgoers can see (though some photography was allowed on the tour).

Sydney, NSW -- The Royal Botanic Gardens

Bear in mind that we were in Australia in their winter. June is the southern hemisphere equivalent of December in the northern hemisphere. Flowers were in bloom; leaves and fruit were still on trees. It is a milder winter than we are used to and Australian trees are not deciduous as our northern forests are. Sydney and even Melbourne have palms in the cities, even though the suburbs away from the sea and at higher elevations are unable to sustain such vegetation. The Botanic Gardens include Macquarrie Point and Mrs Macquarrie's Chair -- a much-used vantage point for capturing both the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House in the same picture. Japanese tourists were lining up, tour bus by tour bus, for group pictures.
But the gardens are interesting in their own right, highlighting as they do plant collections from South-east Asia and the South-west Pacific.
Many birds and bats make the gardens their home.

Sydney, NSW -- The NSW Rail Transport Museum with Richard Phillips

The New South Wales Rail Transport Museum is located in Thirlmere, NSW about an hour's drive down the Hume Highway toward Canberra -- about a third of the drive we would be facing the following day after picking up our first rental car. NSW was standard gauge (4'8 1/2" between the rails as in British and American standard gauge) territory almost from the beginning although it did have a role in the creation of the railway gauge problem that hampered interstate commerce for 120 years until the 1970s.
Richard Phillips had the distinction of being our first and last host during our trip. Richard and his wife Joanna very kindly asked us out for dinner during our second Sydney stay though this had not been part of the itinerary. Richard is a member of the My Word/My Music mailing list and worked for a time with the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC. So he knows better than most what it's like to live in both countries.
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