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
“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former. “ Albert Einstein
We went to see the new Les Miserables film on the 27th. It was spectacular – really did the musical proud. I hope Hugh Jackman gets the Oscar for it. We then headed out on the 28th on our trip down to Sydney, stopping first in the hippy haven known as Byron Bay. One of the highlights was a man cycling round with a stall selling coconuts. Fantastic. A storm started brewing over the beach so we moved on (after getting a thorough soaking) to a beautiful little coastal town called Yamba which was decidedly less busy! At night we drove down to our YHA hostel in Cops Harbour but came and went like ghosts in the night, leaving early in the morning to get down to Port Stephens in good time. It was there that I finally met Wendy (the lady who helped to set up my volunteering in PNG). She whisked us away to her ‘sand pit’: a national park consisting of a vast expanse of sand dune, where we had another crack at sand boarding before rinsing off in the sea. Hannah and I did a fantastic yoga session on the beach which was quite amusing considering the strange looks we were getting from the fleets of tourists.
That morning we popped out on a, rather cheesy, camel ride which was nevertheless good fun before heading on our way once more. We arrived in Sydney just after lunch to an extremely welcoming household. We’re staying with Aunt Sally’s friend Libby and her family in Northern Sydney, a short train journey from the central city so an ideal location for us! We headed out in the car to have a look around and got very excited crossing Harbour Bridge for the first time and seeing the view of the opera house! We stopped off at Bondi beach. Over the trip we’ve been making a compilation of ‘jump’ shot photographs in different places so had a go jumping off a ledge around a metre and a half high onto the sand. It was the most hilarious stupidity I’ve been party to in a while. Kieran jumped off and the sand was surprisingly hard so he twisted both of his ankles badly. I idiotically followed a while after and jumped even higher, giving little thought to the landing as it didn’t appear to be too far down. I landed on a rock and, apart from twisting both of my ankles, seriously jammed my knee resulting in an inability to walk for the rest of the day. Useful. Even after this Anna then jumped off as well and jammed her ankles too. How hilariously ridiculous.