Darling Harbour, The Rocks and Macquarie Street

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March 3rd 2008
Published: March 3rd 2008
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Yesterday morning dawned grey and drizzly, so I set out for Darling Harbour where there are various indoor attractions to explore. I walked round the harbour in the rain to get my bearings, and then went to the Aquarium where I saw huge stingrays, a platypus (yay) and lots of fish, and stroked a starfish in the kids touch pool. I've always been a fan of sea life centres and the like so it was a fun place to visit.

When I'd finished with the fish the weather had cheered up a lot, so I bought some calamari and chips (having just seen calamari happily swimming about!) and sat by the water away from the gulls which tend to form up in packs and harass anyone with food. After lunch I made my way back to the Botanical Gardens for a free tour of Government House, where the Governor of New South Wales holds official functions. She no longer has to live here, but her offices are based here so it's still a working house and has a policy of modernising the furnishings where necessary as well as keeping the older pieces that are still in good condition. Our tour guide showed us round all the downstairs rooms including the lovely ballroom and the drawing room where a new carpet with a modern design fits in very well with the older sofas and chairs. The gardens were lovely too and I'm glad I went.

After that I popped into the tropical house briefly (it reminded me far too much of the tropical north to stay there for too long!) and then walked out to Mrs Macquarie's Chair at the northern end of the gardens. Lachlan Macquarie was one of the earlier state governors who was responsible for lots of the lovely sandstone buildings in Sydney, and this chair carved into the rock has a lovely view of the harbour. There were two wedding parties having photos taken while I was there and the water was sparkling again under the afternoon sunshine. After an afternoon of viewing old buildings and walking through parks it's easy to think that you could be in England, until you look up into the cloudless sky and see a colony of fruitbats in the trees!

This morning the weather was glorious again, and I took the train to Circular Quay and walked to The
Darling HarbourDarling HarbourDarling Harbour

Before the sun came out
Rocks, the oldest part of Sydney where the first settlers built homes on the sandstone rocks. I took a walking tour with another excellent guide who showed us round many of the old buildings and told us stories of the early convicts and settlers. This area was almost demolished in the 1960s to make way for more highrise buildings, but the people protested against losing their homes and luckily it was saved. The powers that be must be really glad of that now as it's a really pretty area full of cafes and shops which attracts lots of tourists. My tour finished at 2pm when I went to a little cafe selling organic food, and had a slice of quiche and a bottle of cloudy lemonade which I ate looking out of the open window at the blue sky.

After lunch I walked round to the opera house and bought a ticket to see La Boheme on Wednesday night. I'm going to the opera, yay! They clearly don't have a policy of attracting young people to the arts here though, as there are no under-26 or same-day standby tickets, and the cheapest seats are $65 which is around 32
Bird fountainBird fountainBird fountain

The real birds were quite attracted to this!
pounds. I decided to treat myself though - how often do you get to see an opera in Sydney Opera House?

My final expedition of today was a walk along Macquarie Street where I saw the Conservatorium of Music, the State Library, Sydney Hospital, the Parliament of New South Wales, Hyde Park Barracks and St Mary's Catholic Cathedral. Hyde Park is lovely if much smaller than the original, and the cathedral is lovely too and not too decorated on the inside. At the other end of the park is the Anzac Memorial, which was my last stop before heading home. My feet hurt again from all the walking but I really feel I'm seeing everything important in the city.

Off to the zoo tomorrow!

Additional photos below
Photos: 38, Displayed: 24


Tropical houseTropical house
Tropical house

The topiary in front of the pyramid says "Sex and Death" - they were having an orchid exhibition with that title!

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