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Published: April 7th 2016
The British Airways 777 flight from Singapore to Sydney was like a little slice of home far above the Java sea. Can somebody tell me if there is an etiquette regarding the reclining seats during a flight? It seemed like only a few minutes after we took off and before the substantial in-flight food and drinks, that the person in front of me flipped the lever, and either I was to be too cramped or I was to be part of the great domino effect through the cabin.
We landed at Sydney airport early in the morning. There was a risk that my Ukulele was to be confiscated as we had been advised twice, once by the flight's purser, that there are rules regarding bringing wood into the country-I’m pleased to say it lives on to play another day!
We arrived in the rain, and made straight for our hostel, very close to central station and so easy to get to all the main places in the city. After a two-hour nap, we thought we would waste no time, and popped along to a free walking tour of the city. ‘If you like what you
have heard, you just make donation’ was his only request. Our guide was excellent with the right balance, of clarity, information and humour. He explained how Sydney was founded, the prominent buildings, and key figures in the city’s development. I knew Australia was where Britain sent convicts, on the smallest of reasons (e.g. borrowing a horse), but I never realised when the 1st
fleet of convict ships landed, commanded by Captain Arthur Phillip, there was no prior infrastructure or settlement. He realised there was no water supply at Botany bay, as was his original orders, but headed north to what is now Sydney. (Named after the colonial secretary Lord Sydney whose home Frognal House was part of Sidcup Queen Mary’s Hospital).
We liked Sydney, it had a great atmosphere and was easy to walk around. It is probably wrong to compare Sydney with Singapore. Singapore’s development was on a need for a small island with little resources to survive and prosper. But it was so much nicer to get around Sydney than the wide boulevards and underground malls of Singapore’s hyper modern city.
On the downside the price of everything has sent our budgeting
out of the window, we had been used to freshly cooked cheap eats on our journey so far.
Our second day we walked around the lovely botanical garden which is just by the Opera House, and did the obligatory pictures of the opera house and bridge, it certainly is a wonderful sight. Our guide told us because of a falling out about design and money the Norwegian designer Jorn Utzon never saw this wonderful building finished in person (and it is better close up!).
A quick hop on a ferry and 30 minutes later we were in Manly a nice seaside town across the harbour, before returning to Sydney Rocks area for another ‘free’ tour. This area is the original old part of the city, and many of the old properties still exist. There has always been pressure to redevelop this valuable water front, and at the moment there is a battle to stop social housing tenants being kicked out of their homes so the council can sell each home for up to 4 million Dollars.
A lot of pubs claim to be the oldest in Sydney, but one pub had
a history of supplying free beer. When recipients got drunk they found themselves chained up in the basement, only to be walked along a long tunnel to the port and press ganged into the navy.
We wish we had longer in Sydney, but we had one place we needed to see, the world famous Bondi Beach. It was more built up than I imagined - more like Newquay. As we got off the bus I mentioned to Alison, that there didn’t seem many people swimming, and joked there must have been a shark alert. The beach looked wonderful with great waves, and looked eagerly for the surfers that this beach was known for (there wasn’t many of them either). On looking closer the two safety flags that were no more than 30ft apart contained everybody who wanted to go for a paddle, splash or swim. We joined in hoping to swim, and must say I have never experienced an undertow so powerful. It was difficult to stand and impossible to swim. The lifeguard’s in attendance were constantly hailing people not to go out where you couldn’t stand-not very far in reality, and not a good introduction to
Ibis in the park
These are really irritating scavenging birds.
We had better luck with a walk round the headland, to the picturesque and exclusive Bronte beach, it seemed perfect. A building, proclaimed this was where the oldest lifesaving club in the world (1903) service was started. Instead of sticking to our food budget we couldn’t resist a Italian restaurant overlooking this idyllic bay. We struck up a conversation with an expat, who explained because of the strong rip tide this is one of the most dangerous beaches in Sydney!
We’ve enjoyed our all to brief stay in Sydney, but it’s time to fly north and the Great Barrier Reef.
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