Uluru (Ayers Rock) was on Victoria’s top ten lifetime to-do’s but after our stay we both agreed it is a magical place. We were seduced by the red earth with views of the rock in the distance. It’s a very calm place; a sacred place for the Aborigines.
Our first morning we hopped onto Harley Davidson’s (thanks Suzy for another great recommendation) to witness the sun coming up over Uluru. As is often the case, pre-dawn was more amazing than dawn itself, with the incredible indigo colors on the horizon, and as the Rock emerged from darkness.
A common theme on our travels has been our embarrassment at the audacity of the first Western settlers believing that they had “discovered” distant lands when, in fact, there was already an indigenous population living there. Saying a prayer to Maori gods (before our white water rafting trip) in New Zealand, or thanking the Aborigines for Bennelong Point, (on a tour of the the Sydney Opera House) whilst being a fine way to show respect to the people, doesn’t really address the imbalance that has been imposed upon them.
Whilst at the resort we got to check out some of the touristy things around here along with the indigenous wildlife; we didn’t ride out to Uluru on a camel but you can. We had to go to said camel farm to see kangaroos (?). Apparently they’re hopping about all over Brisbane so next trip we’ll have to go there! The parrots pictured here were just hanging out at the resort. I spent at least 20 minutes trying to get a picture and failed to capture the moment when the feathers come up into the defensive pose.
Whilst we didn’t make it to Bondi, we did visit Manly and Cronulla beaches the latter pictured above. It would be fascinating to compare the productivity levels in Sydney vs. other places. A good friend of mine once gave me the book “Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman” (by Yvon Chouinard) as a leaving gift; I wonder how having surfing built into the environment changes (for the better) peoples’ general happiness and productivity. At 5:30pm on a Monday afternoon at Manly Beach there were lots of people surfing, jogging, playing beach volleyball, walking - basically being active after a day at the office. I’m sure there have been many business theses written on this topic but color me curious.
When we arrived at our AirBnb we saw lots of “little ants” moving across the Coat hanger that is the Sydney Harbor Bridge. On the next evening we joined the lines of ants in our jumpsuits with numerous carabiner clips fixing everything about our person so that we wouldn’t drop anything onto the trains or cars below. It took so long to tog ourselves up and go through the training that Victoria was beginning to regret the whole thing, but in the event we both felt very secure and were able to enjoy the view of sunset over Sydney. Probably the most startling thing was a cruise ship sounding its horn as it reversed out of its berth.
Two hours’ drive out of Sydney is the Hunter Valley, renowned for its Semillon and Shiraz. It seemed almost rude not to taste some of them: our favorite was probably the Iron Gate Estate sparkling Shiraz Rose named Georgia after Roger, the owner’s daughter. There was also time to visit the Smelly Cheese Shop where Sharon kept us laughing all the way through a goat’s cheese tasting.
- Jorn Utzon, the Danish architect who designed it, left Sydney before it was completed, never to return
- The roof is covered in 1,056,006 tiles - not white but matt off-white and glossy cream
- It should be called the Sydney Performing Arts Center as it houses a concert hall and drama theatre, as well as an opera house.
- The purple carpet offends Italians as it’s a funeral color, so they’re taken to rooms upstairs which are carpeted in red.
- Opera Australia permits admission of latecomers after the Overture.......
It was a real treat for us, as keen opera goers, to attend La Traviata performed by Opera Australia. Sydney Opera House has just undertaken a program of refurbishment costing AU$70m which involved amplifying the orchestra (happily not the singers) and improving the stage production facilities. We found it to be quite an intimate theatre with a great view even from our seats “up in the gods”.
We met Bernard and Ali and Jess, one of their daughters in Taveuni, Fiji; Bernard is a keen scuba diver and we bonded over our mutual experiences in the IT industry. When Victoria and I got to Sydney, they were kind enough to invite us to go sailing; turns out they are also a very keen sailing family with Jess having recently come second in the MG14 Australian nationals. It turned out to be a bit of a silly day for sailing with westerly winds gusting up to 30 knots but we persevered for a brief sail from the Cronulla Yaught Club.