5. Exploring This Aussie ‘Sunburnt Country’ in Sydney (Part 5)

My children must have inherited my traveling bug, for my daughter Regina and my son Neil moved up to Sydney after securing contracts as successful models, and that eventuated into further afield traveling for Joan and me when constantly visiting them. And an extended holiday for Joan eventuated when my daughter won a trip for two to New Zealand and Fiji at a beauty contest, and took Joan instead of the boyfriend. Gina also after the trip decided to stayed with us to celebrate her 21st at our home, which gave us much pleasure for having her there. On our car journey trip to Sydney we traveled along the Princes Highway, which hugged the New South Wales coast, and passed many beach resorts, fishing ports, national parks and farmland until stopping at Kiama; Aboriginal for ‘where the sea makes a noise’. There we found much to our relief and delight when nearing the rocky headland that the deafening noise heard was not coming from the car but was due to the high seas that forced water, geyser-like through a rock fissure, which was called the Blowhole, with a spout that reached an amazing 60 metres (200feet) in height, and it was worth the stop. Coming down from the Snowy Mountains we took in the southeast coast and Tasman Sea where the Princess Highway linked the towns along the ocean. Some were resorts that occupied banks of sandy estuaries, and others, ports and good fishing areas off beaches and Headland Rivers that I found fishing easier there because the fish were really biting. Also, long sandy beaches that occupied sheltered inlets and picturesque towns in delightful hill scenery. We slowly bypassed the industrial city of Wollongong; meaning ‘the sound of the sea’, where atop the Illawarra Plateau; meaning ‘high pleasant place by the sea’, clinging on the slopes were the mining villages of more than a dozen collieries, and predominantly was the country’s largest steel works that sprawled over 800 hectares. Although in its impressive setting of surf and sandstone cliffs, its backdrop of the smokestacks of its steel works and the engineering plants was an eyesore, but it did remind me of the industrial areas in Wales (England). Then up along the rim of the Illawarra Plateau where the Princess Highway spectacularly skirted its rim and took us all the way into Sydney.

In Sydney with our children’s residence at Double Bay as a home base, we were able to explore the environs of the city to its fullest extent. Apart from being the largest, oldest and liveliest city in Australia, it had the distinction of also being one of the largest urban areas in the world, so there were heaps to see. Sydney Harbour that was a broad waterway with inlets, coves and bays was alive with sails and power craft, and its world-renowned twin man-made landmarks of the bridge and the opera house set it off. Undisputedly the Sydney Opera House exposed the city to the world with its pearl pale sculptured grandiose yet fragile looking giant ship sails construction that created an effect of it billowing along and floating above the waters of Sydney Harbour, and of all the impressive man-made landmarks I had seen around the world that one was a masterpiece. Having also been to other opera houses around the world, I was quite impressed that it accommodated more than that, for apart from a magnificent main auditorium, the building also contained three other performance halls that catered for concerts, drama and recitals. What too was an added attraction were the surrounds of its exterior with a staircase of steps leading up to it that was used as a seating arrangement by either weary sightseers like ourselves or by everybody to view the boats, yachts and ocean liners sailing by in the harbour that surrounded it.

Having been always fortunate to spend some of my New Year’s Eve in a different city of the world and with Sydney then one of them, I was not disappointed. For its citizens and visitors alike it catered to an array of spectacular concerts, park parties and an extravaganza fireworks display, and the Opera House that seemed to be the best vantage point to take it all in and to party, was where we experienced it. The only thing that marred the skyline was the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and although it hadn’t a beautiful look, the locals still affectionately knew it as the ‘coat hanger’, which explained it, but it did have the distinction as the longest and widest single span bridge in the world. We walked the promenade from the Opera house to Circular Quay, which was situated in Sydney Cove, and because it was the terminal for ferry services around the harbour and docking of cruise ships to the Pacific Islands, we had the pleasure of sailing and enjoying it both at different times. Taronga Zoo; meaningbeautiful view’,  across the harbour in Mosman although in a beautiful natural setting as anywhere in the world I had seen with a variety of Australian and African fauna, it couldn’t compare though with the real thing of the African wild life environment. Manly that was also across the harbour was a ride with a difference because it crossed the open sea between the Heads, and on the rough day going there, the ferry took on a ship at sea’s attitude by at times riding the waves and at other times it was dwarfed by it. Although it was the usual resort area, it did have one difference that set it apart with its beach promenade lined with towering Norfolk Island pines and a boardwalk that followed the curves and indentations of what seemed endless when walking it.

Although the city could be viewed from many angles, the best outlook was when cruising the harbour to check out the skyscraper skyline, its many little islands, peninsulas, inlets and coves, luxurious mansions and homes set almost right on the water’s edge or that extended upwards amongst the greenery and hills as was ‘Kirribilli’; meaning ‘a place abounding in fish’, where both the Prime Minister and Governor General had official residences. So too was McMahon’s Point where we spent many pleasurable moments at a later stage with another of my sons at his residence there, and had the best view right on the water’s edge of the Opera House framed beneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Another easy and relaxing way we found to view the city, from the inside, was to wander and tramp around until looked out, and then to recuperate by relaxing in the Royal Botanical Garden’s or the Domain or in Hyde Park with its tranquil and soothing park-lands and greenery effect which sort of ran into each other from the Opera House to the city centre. The city although like other ones with the usual trappings did have a few excellent and unusual features that made it what it was. Like the ‘Rocks’ on Circular Quay West where Sydney first began with the landing of crew and convicts, and while other adventurous settlers spread out further afield to lay claim to the land, others that lacked that enthusiasm stayed put. That area became notorious for the gathering of convicts, sailors, whalers, soldiers, prostitutes and the scum of goldfield thugs that were known as the ‘Sydney Ducks’ at taverns that catered to them. Some of those taverns also catered for drunks to be pressed into forced deck duty when waking up on a ship at sea, and also knifed dead drunks with emptied pockets would be collected in the alleyways the next morning by patrolling soldiers. That was its former history, and what we saw was remnants of its glory days in its museum of a colonial working class terrace, which was the oldest remaining dwelling in Sydney. “Cadman’s Cottage” that was the dwelling of John Cadman who was a pardoned convict that became the superintendent of the governor’s boats of that time, the “Sailors Home” built to keep them out of harm’s way, a stone lion’s head with a night stick in its jaws marked the former police station, and “Argyle Cut” that was a 300 foot tunnel hollowed out of solid stone by the convicts who left their prisoner’s marks in it, and it was constructed to give direct access to Millers Point from Circular Quay. All of those and former storehouses, warehouses and bond houses had been lovingly preserved by restoration; however, a modern everyday use was implemented by the installation of restaurants, trendy cafes, snack shops, tearooms, bars, an hotel and galleries of shops flogging off (selling) arts and crafts and souvenirs.

Then there was “Kings Cross” to which we were advised to go to at night so as to experience the whole brassy component that had blatant female and male prostitutes selling their wares on the street or at pink light establishments, not red, and strip clubs where the strippers only wore their birthday suits. We had gone to cabaret shows in Melbourne, but what was seen at the Cross was exceedingly more entertaining for its risqué boldness, lavish costumes and at times luscious women that we found to our amazement were men performers. We knew it was infamous for sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll that drew everyone like a magnet, and we were no exception to the rule. Joan and myself were enticed by spruikers to enter strip shows and erotic movie theaters, and we were both propositioned, me by prostitutes and Joan by men looking for a good time thinking that she was a street walker selling her wares. She wasn’t amused.  It wasn’t all brazen there, for it also had outstanding licensed restaurants and BYO’s drink one’s too, cosy coffee shops, and cafes with indoor and outdoor seating, bars and nightclubs and some of Sydney’s finest hotels.

Attending a cricket match by myself, which Joan found boring, between Australia and England, and watching it from the famous “Hill” of Sydney Cricket Ground where the true blue Aussies gathered and barracked, and on hearing my South African accent when cheering for the Aussies, they commented in their broadest Aussie accent of, “Mate, we would rather play the Boks than the Pomes anytime, so tell them to get their arses over here.” What was a bit disappointing though was the reputation as sprouted by Sydneysiders about Bondi Beach, and although bathers, swimmers, sun worshipers, body proud flaunters, surfers and promenaders set the scene, it was a real letdown when not living up to the rap given as the best one in Australia. The arc of water that spilled on its wide golden sand beach that followed the lay of the land with its ragged sandstone headlands and sprawling suburbs wasn’t a thing of beauty, rather more like a down in the mouth second cousin to Manly Beach in Sydney. Having seen and experienced what the bottom half of Australia offered, we thought we would kick back (relax), recuperate and just contemplate when and how to see the top half.

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Gina and Joan in Fiji.

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Joan in her bathing suit that never got wet in Fiji.

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Gina the tourist.

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Gina shaking her booty with a Fijian.

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My sister-in-law Pearl, Gina with the 21st Birthday key I made her and Moi singing Happy Birthday.

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Gina and her boyfriend George tripping the light fantasy, with my brother Paul grooving in the back-ground.

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At the 21st, George, my niece Gladys Gonsalves and her husband Jose, and Jennifer my cousin Cyril Rhodes wife.

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Sydney City in Sydney Harbour.

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‘The Hill’ In Sydney of enormous proportions of Aussies, Booze, Barracking, Cricket and fun, fun, fun.

 

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4. Exploring This Aussie ‘Sunburnt Country’ Down South. (Part 4)

 

Back in Melbourne after exploring South Australia via Adelaide, we stayed long enough to catch our breath, prepared for a slap up New Year’s Eve party at our home, and then made plans to visit our daughter Regina who was in the employment of the government in Canberra. We traveled the Hume Highway that continued from the border town of Albury on the Murray River and took in Gundagai; Aboriginal for ‘cut with a hand-ax behind the knee’, which indicates the type of punishment dished out to wrongdoers as was their custom back in the days. It also had the ‘Dog on the Tuckerbox’ statue which is the most acclaimed in Australian song and verse. As the true story goes, they were hard and hazardous times with supplies and stores having to be transported along makeshift tracks over rough terrain by bullock teams. To pass the time while often being bogged, or for the river level to fall at crossings such as Muttama Creek;  meaning ‘take it’,  near Gundagai, ‘bullockies’ would recite doggerel and rhymes picked up on their travels – and, sometimes, even write a few lines. Often on such occasions the bullockies dog would sit guarding its master’s tuckerbox and possessions while he was away seeking help. We turned off at Yass; meaning ‘running water’, on the Yass River and made our way to the Federal Capital of political, diplomatic and administration in the Australian Capital City of Canberra, meaning ‘meeting place‘ that is appropriate as a namesake. A tailored city, amphitheater in design and if you didn’t take the right turn it would see you going around in circles, and the only city in Australia where we saw kangaroos wandering in the street and that could also be petted if brave enough at the nearby Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve that offered a range of Australian flora and fauna. The mountains that surround Tidbinbilla is a place of spiritual significance to Aboriginal people. The name Tidbinbilla is derived from the Aboriginal word Jedbinbilla – ‘a place where boys become men’, which is similar to what African boys undergo. Tidbinbilla is recognized as a highly significant Aboriginal place with the highest density of artifacts found in the ACT. Important sites in the Reserve include: Birrigai Rock Shelter – the oldest known Aboriginal site in the ACT region which contains evidence of occupation dating back to the last ice-age 21,000 years ago. Bogong Rocks – a Bogong moth resting site, this shelter contains evidence that the moth was an important seasonal food source for Aboriginal people. Tidbinbilla Mountain – it is believed this site was used for initiation ceremonies and is sacred to the local Aboriginal people. Apart from what Canberra most looked like as a pleasantly wooded suburb, its architecture and with Lake Burley Griffin separating administration and business centers, it was a showcase.

The old Parliament House has nothing on the new one, of which both I’ve seen, because of its modern design that from a distance looks like an alien spaceship with its stretched out leg like structure landing gear grounded and its triangle tapered nosecone and spire pointed attachment pointing skywards. But that illusion was dispelled when visiting it because of its adornment of many art and craft works, and because it was built into the side of Capital Hill with its roof grassed in order to blend in with the green environment. In its surrounds, Australian War Memorial Museum, National Library, Royal Australian Mint, Royal Military College, High Court, Mount Stromlo Observatory, the National Museum of Australia, Australian Archives and the National Portrait Gallery now housed in the old Parliament House, and Government House with foreign embassies and high commissions in their homeland buildings and garden settings, and the pleasure of my daughter’s company. In the background of all that was the Snowy Mountains of Alpine high-country, and travelling through it we encountered almost continuous plateau dissected though by peaks and valleys. We were then in range of Mount Kosciusko; Australia’s highest mountain peak, which as mountain heights go   2 230 meters wasn’t that high, and the road system we traversed that was built for the Snowy Mountains hydroelectric scheme aided in opening up leading ski resorts such as Perisher Blue, Thredbo and others. In 1840, Paul Strzelecki, the Polish-born explorer of Australia climbed from the valley of the great Murray River to the heights of the Australian Alps, naming the highest peak after Tadeusz Kosciuszko, the hero who fought for Polish independence.

On the many returns when visiting our daughter, we also at times returned to Melbourne via the Sturt Highway where we would pass through the country town of Wagga Wagga; meaning ‘dance of many crows’, which is imitated by aboriginals in their dancing, and proceeded further inland. One such deviation was to Mungo National Park, named after the patron saint of Scotland, via Hay that was a desolate drive with almost treeless horizons until arriving there to find it an oasis on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River; meaning ‘big river’. At the park was a geological phenomenon called the Walls of China due to 30 meter high walls of white sand running for 30 kilometers across. The dried up Lake Mungo with its world famous archaeological finds on its ancient dried up shores of a 30 000 year old man and a 26 000 year old woman’s skeleton took my thoughts back to the archaeological finds of older ancient men found in South Africa. Be that as it may, what was more interesting there was the finding also of tools, ancient hearths and middens that showed Aboriginal peoples inhabited that site over 40 000 years ago. We considered going further north to Broken Hill, which almost bordered South Australia, that had the world’s largest silver, lead and zinc lode, and to Bourke, which the colloquial expression of ‘Back O’ Bourke’ signifies a place of remote emptiness that extends far around it, that although on the Darling River it has around it dry plains of salt-bush and dusty coverings of mulga that takes on the landscape of the ‘Outback’, which is the back of beyond in Australia, but because we had been to similar localities before, we made our way back to Melbourne.

It was about this time when Joan’s sister came over from Cape Town for a three months visit. It seemed that South African family and friends just couldn’t believe how quickly we had landed on our feet with my top job, a bought new house and onto my second car in such a short period of time. The photos taken and sent to Gladys about our new acquirement’s in Australia they said, belonged to other people that we were only posing with. Not that I gave a shit but it was damn annoying, and told those that mattered to put their money where their mouths were and to get their arses over here to check it out. Well Gladys’s family sent her over and was she ever gobsmacked how we were living in the lap of luxury, as she put it. It worked because her family began to trickle over and so too her husband, Joan’s nephews and nieces and some of my family. Job wise and living wise, life was good, although sex wise my libido had been starved. Joan was going through the womanly period of menopause, which was well named because men have a long pause between having sex, and her mood swings and hot flushes were at times frustrating, with nookie or a root (sexual intercourse) far and in between. There was a lot on offer around me by women more sexually frustrated than me, and I had been propositioned subtly on many occasions. And although I had been sticking to my guns considering my resolution for fidelity to Joan, there were a few who tried to get through my guard at times. My work position also involved me in raw material negotiations and ordering on site, upmarket timber machinery demonstrations, bankrupt furniture factory auctions, and inspection of opposition furniture at their showrooms posing as a potential customer, and business lunches and dinners. It wasn’t always businessmen that were trying to negotiate sales or giving demonstrations, for with them it would end up with a hand shake after drinks when a deal was satisfactory or not, but with some business and saleswomen it was a different kettle of fish though.

At times I almost came a cropper (fail badly) by having been too nice and polite, and when pressing for a sale they would conclude that pressing the flesh would also assist them. I could always hold my liquor, but when they tried consuming one on one with drinks they were plying me with, my niceness backfired on me because their intoxicated induced niceness then turned amorous when the sales deal wasn’t to my liking. When invited to their home for a private dinner that was one of their ploys or when lunch was extended to their homes for further discussions, I played along most times. However, my intention of seeing just how far they would really go, and although I always drew the line, it did relieve my sexual tension felt. The first sales-rep who extended our business negotiations for lunch at her home because I wasn’t satisfied with the deal, tried to give me the impression that her sales figures must have been wrong, and that if we went to her home where she had been working on the paper work she was sure that an amicable solution could be found to satisfy both of us. That was my first time and I was naive in thinking she was genuine. The paper work was presented and so were more drinks, and when telling me that she didn’t have to return to her office and if I didn’t mind she would like to get out of her business suit, my mind was more on the paper work than that piece of work. She came back wearing a terry towel gown with the excuse of that was what she wore when at home to relax in. She was up close pointing out and trying to rectify her sales mistake, but there was no mistake that the gown was the only thing she was wearing, for when bending over and across me her opening gown revealed her naked breast down to her naked pubes. Showing no embarrassment she proceeded to draw my attention further, for after going over to the bar to recharge our drinks, she not only returned with it but also with a smile as she sauntered back with her gown undone and dangling open. I was that famished that a three ringed circus could have performed in my pants, which she had noticed, and she didn’t wait for any preliminary enactment but went straight with her hungry mouth and lips to make a meal of me. With promises of more to come from her, my hasty retreat and excuses to get back to work before the Production Manager left so that I could advise him on the negations and for her to phone, saw me tell the receptionist to defer all her calls as I was very busy, and she never received any sales orders.

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Meanwhile back at the ranch! Joan being the bar-maid.

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At the OK Corral! Harry, Greg & Joan getting familiar with the Aussie thongs…on their feet!

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Hanging out in the saloon! Gina, Greg & Harry.

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New Year Garage Party. My sister Rita, Gina, Me, Rita’s granddaughters Debbie & Toni.

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Where the big knobs hung out! My dad, Rita’s husband Arthur & Moi.

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New Years Eve Party. Joan’s niece Gladys Gonsalves, and Joan & I smooch dancing.

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And the party continues. Arthur and Joan’s sister Gladys mucking around.

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Our next door Aussie neighbours at the party with Gladys.

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Guess who didn’t see out the party and crashed out in the garage.

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The Australian Capital City of Canberra on the Yass River.