Archive for the ‘Trips’ Category

Day four

I just had a morning left in Sydney, flying out in the afternoon.

I headed to the Queen Victoria building to go downstairs to the home/kitchen ware shop. Always worth a visit, for some reason.



I couldn’t stay away from Circular Quay and walked back there. It was much nicer with fewer people around.


I wandered up to the opera house.



Had a beer for my father (looked on by seagulls).


Watched the bridge walkers.


It’s not something I would do, being scared of heights. I don’t even like going up ladders.

Alas, all too soon, it was time to head to the airport.

I said farewell to Sydney from the train platform.


It was a nice flight down,


then I was back in Melbourne, catching the bus to Southern Cross, then home.





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Day three

I didn’t have any great plans today apart from meeting a cousin from the other side of the family.

I walked down to Circular quay and had planned to wander around the Rocks area. I hadn’t known there was a marathon on which affected access to some places.


However, I walked where I could and explored the streets.


I found the Argyle Cut, which I hadn’t seen since a visit with my father decades ago.


There used to be some stalls, etc, in an old building in The Rocks, but it now appears to be privately owned or something – looked like some sort of restaurant or hotel. These guys looked as baffled as I felt. It seemed a waste of heritage real estate.


Next to it were some outdoor stalls, but overall, a very disappointing experience. I had a pretty crap coffee and people-watched. Perhaps it was just too early in the day.


I battled crowds to get to the opera house, which I hadn’t yet visited in my trip of reminiscences. It wasn’t worth the struggle to get through really.


What am I saying? Away from the crowds, it’s always worth it.


Pretty soon, it was time to catch a train to Bondi Junction to meet up with my cousin.


Cousin P met me at the station and we got a bus to a cafe at Bondi beach, which she and her husband regularly visit. I had never met her husband in the all the years she’s been married to him. They have three adult children, all of whom I have never met either. As for P herself, I last saw her at her mother’s 90th, seven years ago. I finally met D, P’s husband at the cafe.

Nice view of the beach from the cafe but it’s not Manly. It looks barren in comparison.


We headed to their house not far from the station. Lovely little semi-detached with period features. Had a good yarn and a cuppa.

I headed back on the train with no real plans for the rest of the day. I walked to Darling Harbour, feeling a little tired and wondering what to eat for dinner. I wandered along to the aquarium and realised that much more had been developed past that since my last visit. I kept walking. I wasn’t hungry but was content to sit and watch people.

Rather than walk back, I got a ferry to Circular quay, via Luna park. By this time the sun was getting low.




A sailing ship appeared – probably one of those training ships.


I thought I was farewelling Circular Quay and the harbour so I watched the ferries for some time.



I got a train back to Museum station from Circular Quay (the ferry and train trip had been free, thanks to special Sunday rates). I can’t recall what I ate for dinner but it was light. I had been eating croissants every morning, and, no longer being used to eating so much bread, I felt I had put on weight. I won’t do that again on my next trip. Pottles of yoghurt will probably be better.



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Day two

Today I’d planned to visit Manly – another place of family memories – for myself and my father in particular. I think he said it was his favourite place. I have a picture of myself as a baby sitting on the sandy beach. Besides which, I love ferry trips.

I left fairly early. I had not expected the streets to be so empty even at that hour on a Saturday (compared to Melbourne which seems crowded no matter what time of the day or night it is).


A cruise ship was in. Giant things they are. I have no desire to ever go on one (except perhaps for river cruises).


It was hot and sunny. I was not prepared for this, coming from cold, gloomy Melbourne. I had to buy sunglasses and, in Manly, sun block.

I didn’t go onto the beach.


I had planned to follow a track around towards North Head, something I had not done before either. I stopped briefly at Cabbage Tree Bay (or Shelly beach) where I met a bush turkey. I hadn’t seen one since my trip to northern NSW many years ago.


I followed the Shelly beach walking track above.


By now the heat had started to turn up. I think it got to 32 deg. I loved it. Such a change from the long and dreary winter in Melbourne.

It felt good to see the Tasman sea for some reason. Melbourne might be close to the sea but it’s not “there” to be seen. Sydney is a city of beaches, Melbourne not so.



I enjoyed the track. Hardly a soul on it. I tried to imagine what the area would have looked like before the likes of Captain Cook came to “discover” it.



I had forgotten that there were wartime outposts on the head, so it was a surprise to see tracks off to view them.


By now it was evident that the shoes I was wearing (the coolest of the few I brought) were not comfortable enough without socks to continue walking far, so when I reached Bluefish Drive and saw that the track on the other side was another hour or so, I decided to head back towards the ferries via Little Manly beach. A nice view of the ferry…


I stopped to look at the idyllic beaches across the way,


and couldn’t help thinking “You lucky bastards”.


The sea was unbelievably clear, so different to the polluted waterways of much of NZ.


There was a small cafe nearby, but it was rather crowded and packed with kids and pushchairs or strollers or whatever they’re called these days. So I continued up the hill and over towards the ferry terminal.

Hard to believe it was only September and it was like a summer’s day.


If I’d had my togs (or bathers/swimmers in Aus), I would have been tempted to join them.

I stopped at the bar next to the terminal and indulged in a beer. I would have wanted to do this with my father. We never shared a beer together on our last visit to Sydney. As if echoing my thoughts, I overheard a woman at a nearby table “Want another beer, dad?”


What a view…


I took the return ferry trip, taking lots of photos, especially as we approached the iconic bridge and opera house.




On my walk back to the hotel, I had planned on looking inside St Mary’s cathedral.

However, turns out there was a fancy wedding going on. I continued to the hotel.

I didn’t think much of the nearby aquatic fitness centre. Looked pretty bloody small (joke).


That evening, instead of 2 minute noodles in the hotel room, I decided to go to an Asian restaurant down the road in World Square. I went to Din Tai Fung which was recommended. I’m not in the habit of eating in a restaurant alone. It just feels weird. I ordered more noodles (idiot) with dumplings and added spinach (not realising that was extra). It had a flavour that I couldn’t identify and didn’t like. Oh well. I was in and out of there within 20 minutes (probably more like 10-15). With no-one to talk to there was little point hanging around.

My last full day in Sydney up next. Too short a visit.


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The first thing I wanted to do in Sydney was visit the Welcome Wall. A few years back I paid for my great-great grandfather’s name to be added to the wall of immigrants to Sydney. It’s only his name, not the name of his wife and surviving children (that cost extra). Still, I thought it was worth doing and was my tribute to him.

It was a sunny day. I had brought a light jacket but only needed it first thing. I walked via Hyde Park. The war memorial had some works going on around it so it was fenced off. What I did see was a sculpture of giant bullets commemorating fallen soldiers. I thought it was pretty shit, having a monument of symbols of their death. Turns out it was for indigenous soldiers, which is fine, but I still think it’s fucking ugly.


Onward to the Maritime museum. I wandered round to the wall while waiting for the museum to open. It’s a pity that they didn’t add dates next to names. It would have added meaning to the long list of names most people will never look at. Details are on the computer at the Maritime Museum (but I forgot to look).


I paid for entry into the museum (had never been there before). The person at the counter recommended I do the ship tours first as a school group was about to arrive and I didn’t want to get in amongst them on the ships – good plan. While waiting for the ships to open up, I had a look at the photos of Wildlife Photographer of the year on display in the museum (a strange venue for it).

Anyway, first I went to visit the replica of Captain Cook’s Endeavour.


There were several volunteer guides dotted around the ship to explain each section. It was very good. I imagine it was pretty cramped aboard for the 70-odd crew – it would have been hot and smelly.


(Love the cat.)


While hammocks were set up for the masses, the officers, of course, had their own cabins, but they weren’t large!


The captain had a larger cabin with natural light.


He was a big man so he would have been stooping a lot. Joseph Banks was also tall – too tall to actually sleep in his cabin.

The nicest area was at the bow of the ship.


Cramped but pleasant quarters for the officers.

The guides were knowledgeable and informative. I think I spent an hour on the ship. I would recommend it!

Next on the plan before the hoards of kids (who just arrived as I left the Endeavour) was the 1960s submarine, even more cramped. You would not want to be claustrophobic (or big).


Imagine cooking in this tiny space (the heat! Yegods!)



The first guide, by the torpedoes, was good. The others didn’t even interact. They were sitting around looking bored and were sort of there if you wanted to ask something. So I zoomed through it and was out again. I only had time to visit the museum itself briefly before my rendezvous with a cousin (who I hadn’t seen since the late 70s).

I walked towards Circular Quay and got my first glimpse of the Opera House before continuing to the Museum of Contemporary Art, where my cousin had said there was a good cafe.


She was running late, so I just sat and absorbed the atmosphere of Circular Quay, probably my favourite place anywhere. (I’m not a huge fan of contemporary art, so I didn’t bother looking around inside.)


View of the quay from Museum of Contemporary Art

The view from the cafe was amazing.


The cafe was no more expensive than anywhere else and cousin and I got a seat outside. Nice food. It was great to catch up, although this cousin is from the side of the family who are not sentimental at all. Very matter of fact.

After lunch I wandered round to the Botanic gardens via the opera house.


It was pleasant in the gardens, with a view of Pinchgut island (or Fort Denison as it is properly known).


I headed up to Mrs Macquarie’s seat, which I’d never done before.


I had to wait some time for groups of Asian visitors taking photos of each other sitting there (of course). Above is about a split second between them. I continued on.

Naturally, there were some obligatory bird photos to be taken as well.



I slowly headed back to the hotel, via the Art Gallery.


Impressive building, but I was rather disappointed inside. Australian paintings were mixed in with European from all eras. It seemed muddled and quite small compared to the NGV in Melbourne (a place I never tire of). I had wanted to stop for a coffee but the queue was so long and unmoving that I didn’t bother.

So ended day one. I  had not intended for another day-by-day description of this trip, but I don’t want to make it extra long either. And it’s difficult to choose just one photo out of hundreds that I took (and that no-one will ever get to see).

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I love Sydney. Some of the happiest moments of my life were there. I suppose I love it because of the memories. I wish I could turn back time and re-live it (and take lots of pictures). My parents were Australian so we often visited my grandparents in Sydney, sometimes staying with one grandparent in Croydon and sometimes the other in Westmead (to be exact), so that train line was very familiar.

I hadn’t been to Sydney for about four years, and that was during a conference anyway, so it didn’t really count. I had to steal time away just to visit Circular Quay for a few moments. So it was time to re-visit on my own so I could do whatever I liked for as long as I liked. I had booked a stay for the equivalent of four days but I could have spent longer.

I love train travel so had decided to go to Sydney by train (a long 11 1/2 hours) and fly back. I caught the 8.30 am XPT train from Southern Cross. Unfortunately, I was sat next to a young woman who said not a word during the whole journey and barely looked out the window, which she was next to. Why do people, who are lucky enough to sit next to a window, never actually look out? It pissed me off a little, but there you go. The scenery was interesting enough to keep me amused for most of the journey (until it got dark). I did read a bit but wanted to see the countryside. Lots of canola fields.


Into New South Wales and the land was noticeably drier. It got quite rocky towards Goulburn. At Goulburn I got out at the station to take a photo but the (horrible) woman guard or whatever she was ushered me back in straight away. “Oh, no, we don’t have time to let people out”. She kept picking on a guy who wanted to sit at an empty seat, directing him back to his allotted seat. So, I took photos from the train through a grimy window. I must go back and explore more thoroughly and try to find my great-great-grandfather’s grave.


By the time it got dark, I had had enough of the train, particularly the noisy bloody aircon. I treated myself to a pie and a beer and waited for Sydney.

I was happy to finally arrive at Central station (where I hadn’t been for 10 years). It took me a while to find the correct platform for the city circle. I got out at Museum station and walked to the hotel. All good, and I was happy to be in my favourite city.

More later. Time runs away from me…


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It’s been nearly a month since I posted! I’ve finally finished editing photos from Sydney (from the camera anyway). I’ll upload the phone pics as well and once I’ve done them, I’ll actually get around to posting. When I say edit, I mainly mean straightening the horizon – I am terrible at taking crooked pics lately! It’s especially important when there are so many pics of the water. Anything crooked really shows up. Anyway, I babble.

I cannot believe how quickly this month has gone. Pretty soon it’ll be the mad dash to Xmas and then another year begins. I wish Xmas didn’t come at the same time as summer holidays. The northern hemisphere is much more sensible. Xmas comes in winter when you need a break from the dreary gloom (and perfect with all the lights, etc) and in summer you can actually concentrate on having a holiday. In the southern hemisphere it all comes at once which is a pain in the arse and not relaxing at all.

I’ve gone off on a tangent again. Back soon.

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The rest of my visit to NZ was spent at my bro’s place. I had missed him the most, missed driving to his place for a weekend of peace and tranquility.

I had breakfast with H before she went to work, and said goodbye. I would miss her and kitty. I left just before 9 am heading over the Pahiatua track (more memories). It was cloudy when I left but sunny once I got past the Mt Bruce hill.

It was fantastic driving the usual route. Unfortunately, I had no music as the rental car didn’t have a USB port for my music. I didn’t bother with radio as reception is not great in the hills. It was great to see K and G again. We played several obligatory games of Siedler.

The next day we drove the back road to Gladstone. G had mentioned a reserve to go walking but it was just a carpark by the river. We had lunch at a local pub.




Returned for more Siedler (visits to K were always about food, Siedler and trips to walk the dogs) and watched more of Hellfjord.


Next morning, K and I visited a beach between Riversdale and Castlepoint. I’m glad K had an SUV – it was quite a narrow, windy, hilly gravel road but spectacular views.


Castle Rock, looking north towards Castlepoint

It was a lovely day, if a little windy.


We returned to more Siedler (yes we are addicted).

I had given K scanned copies of the old family slides, so we went through those, reminiscing, then K showed me video from his snorkelling near Cairns, and his visit to Goulburn, our father’s birth place. We had a glorious dinner of free range pig with roast veges. We watched a bit of the winter olympics.

Another storm was expected over Wellington, but thankfully the day after my flight home.

K left for work the next morning at 7.45 and I left half an hour later. I chose a different route to the usual one but got held up by sheep!


I stopped on the hill for one last look at the region.


And a pic of the rental.


I had enjoyed driving it. I had thought that if I bought a car I wanted something like it, but it was a bit basic inside for the price and I couldn’t open the boot while the engine was running (pretty stupid).

I had confused the time that I was supposed to be at the airport with the actual departure time so I was very early. I had had time to visit H and C’s cousin who lives near the airport. It was great to see her. She offered me something to eat but I figured I should get to the airport after dropping off the car.

The car rental people didn’t even look at the car and so the new aerial wasn’t noticed. I heard nothing from them after that so either they didn’t notice or didn’t mind the replacement. Relief.

I won’t talk much of my usual negative experience of Wellington airport. I did not have a beer (at $10 a glass) but did get something small to eat. The queue to go through customs was so long it wound past the eating places in the main lounge. (The airport is too small!) Once on the plane we taxied to the runway, stopped and returned to let off someone who had behaved inappropriately (apparently – I saw and heard nothing). The already late flight was another half hour late. The video screens didn’t work properly for the first third of the flight. The “Thai beef curry” was more like a stew. The “dessert” (an icecream) was too sweet.

The plane reached Melbourne at 7.40 pm a lot later than it was supposed to. The bag took ages to come through which was unusual for Melbourne. However, after getting the bag it was straight through to catch the Skybus (unlike ****ing Wellington).

End of. I’m still planning to travel to Sydney this year but have yet to organise things. I want to visit two cousins and two others, if poss. We will see.



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