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Published: November 20th 2011
Arrived in Sydney at 6 am in the morning on 15th and celebrated the fact we’ve been travelling for 2 months now by suffering from terrible jet-lag all day long (I would have literally sold my suitcase in exchange for a bed!!!). Went for a walk to check out the area where we stayed, called Surry Hills. It is pretty nice but.... Jesus! Such prices!! Buying food here, internet, renting a car, anything, is FAR more expensive then the UK. Thankfully we’re staying in a sort of apartment so we can cook our food as if we were at home. This part of Sydney reminds me vaguely of NY’s Brooklyn; with its fashionable and vintage small shops, picturesque little restaurants and convenient stores, it definitely has an air of suburb with a unique style and undeniable charm. My friend Maddie tells me this area used to be dangerous but nowadays people pay loads of money to live here; something like London’s Ladbroke Grove. Our first days in Sydney were spent visiting the National Maritime Museum, the Harbour, the Rocks, the Botanic Gardens, the Australian Museum (not to be confused with the Sydney Museum) and the famous Bondi Beach.
My favourite of these ‘must-see’ spots was the Australian Museum; their exhibition on Aboriginal art is absolutely fantastic, as well as their section on ‘species in extinction’. The Aboriginal art pieces were delightful to observe and reflect on. My favourite: ritual instruments and clothes (there was an surreal necklace meant for women, done with coconut root and dogs’ teeth!), beautiful feather hats, bark paintings (depicting snakes and kangaroos), wooden shields with typical local abstract decorations, spears (ends made with European glass!!), pictures and mythological stories (I loved the ‘Tagai’ ones!) etc. It was interesting to find out that when Cook arrived to Australia in the 18th century, he decided Australia was ‘no man’s land’ as (he thought) Aboriginal people were nomads and few – he was wrong of course, but by then England had decided to invade this massive continent. There are 22 million people (aprox) in Australia, half the population of Spain and a third of the UK’s population.
It was also scary and sad to find out (in the extinct species section) how many animals are in danger of extinction at the moment. Causes for this situation range from weather changes to people cutting trees (which animals depend on) to invasion of other species. No wonder they’re so strict with what you bring into the country!! I read that more than 20 species of mammals have been introduced in Australia since the Europeans arrived (for example, cats and foxes have been a huge problem), that famous frog, and others. It’s good that Australians protect themselves from these threats, but it would be even better if they stopped cutting their own trees (around 75% of it is gone at the moment). And that goes for all of us!
There was a black & white video shot in the 1930’s, showing the last Tasmanian tiger (extinct since then) – it’s a very beautiful animal, and it’s appalling to think it’s gone forever.
The night before leaving we meet our friends Maddie and Ryan for dinner at the Opera Bar, located below the famous Sydney Opera building. It is certainly an amazing view: the bridge, the wavy water, the sunset and a lot of people just enjoying a drink after work in one of the many bars below the Opera House. The scene is like a ‘deja vue’; it reminds me of myself and friends having a drink at Monument in London. Similar scene, different continent! We had a good laugh, in between wines, beers and waters (I don’t drink!), leaving early enough to face the following day at Blue Mountains.
The Blue Mountains are a wonderful view, although like everything nowadays, it’s a very touristy place and for this reason, expect queues and delays. Apparently, it’s unavoidable, but at such moments, one truly feels like walking away!! There is a cable-car that takes you towards the Mountains – from this very high point you can admire the waterfalls to your left and 3 mounts called ‘The three sisters’ to your right. From this same spot you can take the scenic-train, which is a bit like being in an Amusement park (it is the steepest train in the world – 53 degree angle) –quite cool! The train leaves you in a sort of forest where objects from the old mining days are exhibited. You can also have a nice walk around, before joining another queue to go up again.
We are now in Uluru/Ayers Rock – Northern Territories (central Australia) and looking forward to discovering the area tomorrow. It is pouring rain and I’ve seen the 3 biggest spiders ever in our room but hey! This is the desert after all!!
More in a few days,
B & M xxx
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