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October 31st 2010
Published: November 3rd 2010
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Australia September/October 2010

This year the weather has been a bit funky in the land of OZ. There has been a surplus of chilly wind and rain even through the months of September and October when it should be heating up a bit. Some days are a sunshiny tease, but for the most part this spring, so far, could still be winter. Despite the weather there have been plenty of events, festivals and fun things to do in Sydney. =D

On the 11th of September Simon, Dave and I went to the Anime Convention in Sydney. I’d never been to one of these famous geekfests before. We had some fun, but overall I was a bit disappointed. Entry was a bit steep as was everything else inside. There was good food, but it was expensive, there was lots of shopping, but expensive. There also weren’t a lot of events, which was the worst part. Those that they did have weren’t very informative, cultural or even worth watching. On the up side there were herds of people everywhere in crazy costumes. It has to be one of the best places to visit for people watching. Practically a visual overload!

Towards the end of September winter sports come to an end in Australia. So rugby and Aussie Rules Football both had their playoffs. At the start of the month we watched the international rugby finale, New Zealand vs. Australia, in a pub. I was rooting for the New Zealand All Blacks because they do this cool Maori war dance called the Haka at the start of every match. (They won in the end!) ^_^ The Aussie Rules Football playoff was on September 25th and we watched it at a friends house during a BBQ party. Aussie Rules seems to be to have no rules to the game. It looked like a massive free for all to me. Players could pass, punt, hike, dribble or spike the ball. It was a bit hard to follow. After the match ended Simon and some of the guys played regular football at a waterfront park before we headed to Darling Harbour to catch the Fireworks from the Prymont Bridge. (An amazing free show they do several times a month.) At the start of October we caught the final half of the Australian Rugby League’s last match in another pub in Darling on my birthday. We also got to see free fireworks again that night before heading to an Izakaya (a type of Japanese restaurant) for dinner.
Also in September/October Sydney has “Art in the City” where they sponsor art related events and hold various art competitions. That is why the statue of Queen Victoria and all the other various statues of famous personages are pimped out in crazy getups. It’s all part of the festivities.

I wanted to do something a bit unusual on October 8th since it was Simon’s birthday so I booked the Rocks Ghost Tour for that evening. There are two tours through the Rocks and we went on the south side one. Our group wandered around the streets and alleys of the oldest neighborhood in Sydney not only hearing, but helping to act out eerie and gruesome tales. We also got to go into some locked and otherwise inaccessible areas to see some places where horrible events of the past unfolded. I didn’t see any ghosts on our tour, but I loved the tales. It was so much fun we both want to do the north side tour someday to hear some more spine chilling Sydney history.

On October 10th we finally made it to the Botanical Gardens early enough to go on a tour of the Government House, a beautiful Gothic revival mansion. The building was completed in 1845 after about 8 years of construction. After completion is was both home and office to the Governors of New South Wales until 1996. Occasionally it is still used for government functions and it is now open to the public on the weekends. Our tour guide was quite chatty and probably told us every trivial piece of information about the house, the furnishings and every piece of art inside. She even knew all about every piece of carpet. A very informative woman….. Sadly pictures weren’t allowed inside, but I did manage to go around the outside of the house after the lengthy tour and snap a few shots through the windows. ^_^

On the 15th of October we moved from the snug apartment in Ultimo to a roomy share house in Surry Hills. I really love the new place, it is a much more comfortable and relaxing environment. It is also more centrally located which helps with commuting to work and our weekend sightseeing. Plus it’s cheaper. ^_^ After we cleaned our new abode and unpacked our stuff we felt like having a very Asian day on October 17th. We started out having lunch at one of the Chinese Food Courts in Chinatown. Oddly we choose to eat Japanese and Thai food there. LOL. After lunch we headed to the Chinese Gardens in Darling Harbour. I’ve walked past the gardens several times and never really had too much interest in the place; it looked like such a small space from the outside. Turns out the garden grounds are pretty sizable and thoroughly enjoyable. I liked the architecture there and absolutely loved the massive (sometimes frighteningly friendly) lizards that live there.

October is “International Food Month” here in Sydney. For two weeks they had the
Night Noodle Markets in Hyde Park as part of the celebration. Simon and I went twice after work one week; once on the 18th to celebrate 2 years together and again on the 21st to meet a friend. The park was transformed for the event. Lanterns were strung from trees, tables & chairs were set up and the entire area was lined with rows of white stalls selling all kinds of delicious smelling and scrumptious tasting foods. The cuisine and the atmosphere draw in massive crowds. There are people everywhere and never enough tables. Most people end up having a picnic using their coats and scarves to sit on the ground. On both nights that we went we gorged ourselves and remembered to BYOB. I wish they did the event year around or at least every other month.

Since we both worked on Monday the 18th of October, which is our official anniversary, we choose to celebrate it fully on Saturday the 23rd instead. In the morning we wandered to Pyrmont to the Sydney Fish Market to look around and have a late seafood breakfast. The place looks like a pretty normal warehouse from the outside. Well, besides the fact that the parking lot is lined with shops/restaurants. The far end of the main warehouse is converted into shops, a bakery and quite a few seafood places. We got a breakfast of lobster, raw oysters, shrimp and crab salad. Probably one of the most protein rich/atypical morning meals I’ve ever had, but so delicious. While we were eating on the deck, a brass band and some sailors carrying the Virgin Mary went past with a priest. They were blessing the fleet of fishing boats. That afternoon for lunch we had High Tea at the Sir Stamford hotel at 2pm. (Perfect time for a late lunch after our big brekky.) High Tea is a British tradition that seems to have quite a following in Australia and it’s not hard to see why. The meal starts off with a glass of sparkling wine. Then they bring out a three tiered tray that had, from bottom to top, specialty sandwiches, first class desserts and delectable scones. Usually they bring you your choice of gourmet tea around the time you finish the dessert section. That way you can really enjoy the flavor of the tea with the scones. The hotel’s tearoom had a really posh environment; softly lit, old oil paintings with ornate frames, fabric covered walls and expensive furnishings. Of course while we were having tea it started to pour outside, just to give the whole things a real British ambiance. LOL.

On Halloween this year we didn’t get dressed up. We relaxed most of the weekend, but made it out on the 31st to watch the Dragonboat racing in Darling Harbour. The event is held every year to raise money for breast cancer awareness/research. The boat races last from early morning through the afternoon with a different race starting every 10 minutes. 100 of people participate and all teams seem to wear coordinated outfits. Some groups wear really outrageous getups. The races were pretty interesting to watch for a few matches, but it seems like the type of event that would be infinitely more fun to participate in than watch. =) Apparently they also do dragonboat racing during the Chinese New Year festivities.

Additional photos below
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The Fireworks on My BirthdayThe Fireworks on My Birthday
The Fireworks on My Birthday

Not bad for a free show. ^_^
The two mysterious crossesThe two mysterious crosses
The two mysterious crosses

Apparently these appeared on the wall after two people died of the plague here. Arceologists have investigated and they are in no way man made. Strangely they also appear brighter in photos.

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