“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
– Terry Pratchett – A Hat Full Of Sky
I’m home for just over two weeks now. I think this is a fantastic quote but I can’t say that I totally agree. At first it was shocking how muted the colours seem. I got my usual feeling, on returning home, that the predominant colour of England is grey. I’m now firmly back in the world of insane dogs, frantic attempts at family outings and elderly, incontinent cats. It’s almost as if I never left.
So, I’m heading in a general homewards direction in about an hour. Have just crammed as much as possible into my suitcase and rucksack; with all of the PNG bilums (wool bags), spears, arrows etc it wasn’t easy. I’ve had to leave quite a lot behind including the ‘mud men’ masks which is a shame – they’re left in very good hands though! Have spent the last couple of days getting my first glimpse into the world of moving house. Having never moved house, or even witnessed anybody moving house before, it was a completely novel experience helping Kieran to pack up his house into boxes. There were a series of complications which resulted in the removal van being unloaded into a storage facility through a small door which could only be open for four minutes before the alarm went off leading to a $60 fine! Anyway, I’m bizarrely arriving into England tomorrow morning at 7 despite the fact that I’ve got 14+8 hours of flying and over 4 hours in Singapore…fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly!
I’ve now touched down back in Brisbane, but the last evening in Sydney was definitely one to remember. In the afternoon I tried my hand at the flying trapeze which was fantastically fun. It was with ‘Sydney Trapeze School’ in the middle on Centennial park, if anyone’s interested in giving it a go! That evening we went to see ‘La Soirée’ at the Opera House. The act was like an intimate cabaret with a circus twist; There was a very small circular stage in the centre of the studio with little tables and chairs running around the outside. It was outstandingly brilliant: As vibrant as a full-blown circus, as impressive as the Olympic gymnastics and as witty as a show at the comedy store in London. It’s a definite must-see for anybody in the Sydney area!
I almost stepped on one of these earlier. My foot was around twelve inches above it’s torso before I suddenly noticed it on the path. I flew backwards and in my shock I could barely articulate a proper swear word. On identifying it on our return to Libby’s house we discovered that not only is it endangered but according to the ‘Australian Venom Research Unit’ the ‘broad headed snake’ “may become agitated when disturbed, and strike rapidly. Its venom contains neurotoxins and procoagulants…and may cause serious illness.” I’m very glad that we didn’t attempt to get a photo, as the snake was in fact raised up into this threatening position, but it does mean that I’ve had to borrow a photo off the internet so forgive me for that!
At 7:30 am on New Year’s Eve Kieran and I arrived at the botanical gardens to a ridiculously large number of people already snaked around the park in a neat seated queue. We waited until around nine o’clock when somebody decided to get up, naturally resulting in a mass stampede towards the end of the field. We dived into the mob and got swept away up the hill eventually petering out into what vaguely resembled a line. The gates didn’t even open until 10 and there were thousands of people in front of us. By some stroke of luck we managed to pitch a spot right at the tip of ‘Lady Macquarie’s Chair’ with a fantastic view of the bridge and Opera house. This was quite an accomplishment as at the end of the hour, there wasn’t a patch of grass visible with 17,000 people crammed in like sardines. The day’s toil was definitely worth it; it has to be one of the finest firework displays that the world has to offer.
Since then we’ve spent our time getting familiar with the city. We popped on a ferry over to Manly yesterday. The ferry ride itself was gorgeous but Manly was almost as packed as the botanical gardens were the evening before. We later made a visit to the largest cinema screen in the world – the IMAX where we watched the hobbit (in my case, for the second time but the other’s were desperate to see it). The screen was so big that you had to look around you to get the whole picture!
Today unfortunately Anna and Hannah have had to head in a general homewards direction so four has become two. Kieran and I, though, have had a fantastic day exploring what the city has to offer in terms of galleries and museums. The ‘Art Gallery of New South Wales’ in my opinion in definitely preferable over the ‘Museum of Contemporary Art’. The Australia Museum is also worth a visit. One particularly fantastic exhibition was ‘surviving Australia’ which covered the natural history of the country. I genuinely had no idea that there had been giant marsupial lions and tigers in Australia. It seems completely weird! There was also a giant marsupial called a diprotodon which was unlike anything I was aware had ever existed! http://news.nationalgeographic.co.uk/news/2003/10/1016_031017_giantmarsupial.html