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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