We travelled to Sydney with our daughter who had a convention to attend. Her conference was at the New Exhibition Centre in Darling Harbour giving us an excuse to stay somewhere we’d not been before.
We chose to stay in an Airbnb apartment in Pyrmont. Very convenient to our daughter’s convention and opening new places for us to discover and visit.
With our daughter off at the convention, our first stop was breakfast at the Social Brew Cafe. It was busy. I can only imagine that it would be frantic on a Saturday or Sunday. The coffee was great and the eggs excellent. It provided a good base to start our day.
Sitting at breakfast we read up on how to access the transport system. It was clear we needed an Opal Card which we could get from our local Convenience Store, where we could also get a few provisions for our apartment.
We needed a plug for the sink as the dishwasher didn’t work. We found the plug with the stationery! Unfortunately the plug didn’t fit just like the others in the apartment. This was no big deal just a little frustrating.
A short walk from our apartment and we were at the Naval Museum where my student got me a discount. We visited three ships. Unfortunately the submarine was in dry dock so wasn’t able to be viewed.
First it was onto the restored James Craig. The ship was built in Sunderland. England in the mid 1870s and shortly thereafter it headed to the Southern Hemisphere where it spent the rest of its days. Our volunteer guide showed us pictures of the abandoned hull from which today’s restoration looks quite remarkable.
From the James Craig we headed across to the HMAS Vampire, the last destroyer built in Australia. Before boarding we watched 2 short videos showing how the Vampire and the absent submarine , Onslow, engaged with potential enemy ships. The HMAS Vampire tour was interesting. I found it fascinating just how mechanical the operation from the bridge was and this for a ship decommissioned only 30 years ago.
Before heading to the next vessel, we visited the Container exhibition. The exhibition told the expected story of how much cargo was moved in containers as we’ll a small how containers where used for modern buildings. My favourite person found the design element fascinating while I found the stories of what had washed overboard fascinating and somewhat scary.
It was then across to the HMAS Advantage a patrol boat that had featured in an old favourite TV show , the ABC’s Patrol Boat, starring Andrew McFarlane. This was the first of two brushes with old TV shows but I’ll get back to that.
Our final ship was the replica of the Endevour. It seemed so odd to be asked if we knew the significance of The Endevour. Of course it was a replica and of course we did know it’s significance. This was James Cook’s ship and is integral with the claiming of Australia by the English by virtue of its voyage to Australia in 1770.
The ships are all worth a visit, made all the better by the volunteer guides wealth of knowledge. Their stories make the ships come to life. The guide in Captain Cook and Bank’s quarters was excellent. Her telling of the Endeavour’s grounding was fascinating.
With the Endevour visit completed we walked to the nearby ferry wharf and took the short ride to Balmain.
In our many visits to Sydney I’d never been to Balmain. I’d always remembered a TV show of the 60s, My Name’s McGooley – What’s Yours?” a favourite of my Grandfather. It gave me such fond memories of his chuckling and roaring laughter at the shows antics. The TV show was a situational comedy of this formerly working class suburb in the 60s.
From the ferry terminal at Balmain East we walked up Darling Street, past the birth place of former NSW and Labor Premier, Neville Wran, and on upto the London Hotel. Sitting on the hotel balcony having a glass of wine was a delight. The view to the local park, across to the trendy shops and back to the Harbour with its glimpse of the Bridge was quite special.
We sat musing on how much this inner city suburb must have changed from the time portrayed by Gordon Chater’s fictitious character McGooley. This is no working class suburb anymore as much as it might seek to claim it through its references to its roots.
After an hour or so sitting in the balcony we walked back down Darling Street, detouring to the Harbour to take in more of Sydney’s stunning views before catching the ferry back to our apartment in Darling Harbour for a relax before dinner with a friend.
Our friend a former work colleague, who had relocated to Sydney a few years ago, picked us up and took us for a drive across Sydney to Bondi. The early evening drive took us across the city past Hyde Park where the remnants of the Sydney Festival were still evident, on through Kings Cross, along the shore of Rushcutters Bay, through Double Bay before we parked at North Bondi beach at dusk. I’d been to a Bondi more than once but it’s a drive that can be done over and over again, the sights of the bustling Cross, the seemingly endless boats moored in the Harbour and then the beach.
Watching the surfers take the last of the day’s waves was a great way to settle into some fish in North Bondi and end the day.