Sydney III

Dec 05, 2001 in Australia 2001

Sydney III

I had one more day in Sydney. It rained heavily for most of it so I didn’t do very much. I got the ferry to Manly, and walked on the beach for a while. On the way back, the waters of the harbour were choppy, and me and another guy who were standing on the bow got completely soaked when we hit a large wave and spray crashed down over the decks.

Back at Circular Quay, I walked along the shores of the harbour to Macquarie Point. It was getting dark, and the views of the bridge and the opera house were looking good. It was my last night in Australia, and I wondered when I would be back. Opportunities to visit the other side of the world don’t come around too often, and after two visits in three years, I feared it might be a while before I could return.

Sydney again

Nov 25, 2001 in Australia 2001

Sydney again

I was relieved to get back to Sydney. I booked into a hostel near Hyde Park. The sun was shining, and I thought I would spend a relaxed couple of days here before moving on. I wanted to go to Adelaide next, so I went to the train station to book a ticket for the Indian Pacific. Three years ago I’d travelled from Perth to Adelaide by train, and now I wanted to do the other side. But the next Indian Pacific was sold out, and for a moment I was extremely disappointed. But don’t worry, said the ticket seller, there’s a Ghan leaving this afternoon, you can get a ticket on that. I thought the Ghan started in Adelaide, but I wasn’t going to question him. I bought a ticket, and went back to the hostel to pack.

I had a few hours to spare, and as I was doing a lot of training at the time, I decided to fit in a run. I’d done a couple in Canberra, and not seen anyone else out, but here I could barely move for runners. I went through Hyde Park towards the Botanical Gardens and it seemed that half of Sydney was out for a run.

Return to Sydney

Nov 17, 2001 in Australia 2001

Return to Sydney

Three years after my first trip to Australia, I had an opportunity to return, for a conference in Canberra. It was a few months after the September 11 attacks, and my flights were quiet. I travelled via Japan, spending six hours in Osaka airport’s vast terminal building before getting on an almost empty flight to Sydney.

It was good to be back in this amazing city. I’d left London on a cold November day, but here it was 30°C. In a jetlagged haze I wandered around the harbour, and ambled into the Royal Botanical Gardens. I sat down in the sunshine and before I knew what was happening I was waking up and a couple of hours had passed. I got up and blearily wandered back down Pitt Street to where I was staying.

The next day it was raining heavily. I ran through the downpour to Central Station and got a bus to Canberra. All my Australian friends in London had told me that a week in Canberra was a week in hell. Soon I would find out if they were telling the truth or not.

Opera house

Aug 12, 1998 in Australia 1998

Opera house

On our last night in Australia, it was cold and miserable, and drizzle drifted on the breeze. We walked down to the harbour for a last view of the bridge and the opera house. The crazy shells of the opera house were spectacular to see, and it seemed impossible to imagine that it hadn’t always been there. It was also impossible to imagine that in its early years the opera house had been beset with difficulties, running vastly over budget and schedule, and with its architect Jørn Utzon hounded out of Australia by political interference. He never saw his completed masterpiece.

By the morning, a ferocious downpour was battering Sydney. Our bus to the airport almost crashed, and our take-off was delayed by a couple of hours. On the way to Australia, the journey had gone quickly. On the way home it dragged on and on. To stave off boredom, I accepted every offer of alcohol the cabin crew made, and soon discovered how much more effective drinking is at high altitude. By the time we landed in the sticky heat of Bangkok at midnight, I was already getting the hangover. It had passed by the time we got back to London the next morning.

Harbour bridge

Aug 10, 1998 in Australia 1998

Harbour bridge

One of the iconic parts of Sydney is the Harbour Bridge. On an overcast day, we went to the museum in its south west tower. The museum was quite interesting, but possibly better were the views over the city from the top of the tower.

Sydney Tower

Aug 08, 1998 in Australia 1998

Sydney Tower

One evening we went up the Sydney Tower. I thought it would be impressive, but it turned out to be spectacular. We went up late in the afternoon, and not long after we got to the top night began to fall, and the lights of the city came on. The sight was truly amazing.

Sydney

Aug 07, 1998 in Australia 1998

Sydney

We flew from Alice Springs to Sydney. After we’d got into the city and found a place to stay, we walked toward the harbour, through the forest of skyscrapers around the central business district. Sydney Harbour is so famous that it almost seems unbelievable that it’s real, and I’ll never forget my first sight of Circular Quay, with the Bridge to the left and the Opera House to the right.