So yet again I am behind with the blog and I am looking back through my notes thinking w*** I should have written the name of that town down and if I'm honest the dates are all going to be guestimated because I can't remember those either.
I drove down in to Sydney, the main motorway takes you across the Sydney Harbor Bridge which was pretty cool, scrub that it was fantastic!So much so that I decide to drive across it another two times, I would love to say that this was through choice but instead I am going to have to admit to getting lost on the maze of one way streets.I was panicking a little as I crossed the bridge for the third time, driving through the 'e-toll' thinking I have no idea how to pay an e-toll and I have to do it three times! After asking at the Police Station and then queuing for forty five minutes at the RTA the lady behind the counter gave me a phone number to call.Of course you have to register the vehicle, which costs you $3.50 then pay the four dollar toll, luckily the toll is daily so at least it wasn't going to cost me for the two 'tourist drives' I took across the bridge.
After I had seen lot of Sydney or to be more precise I had seen only a little bit of Sydney but a lot of times I finally found the YHA.I was thinking of all the times Dad had been lost with us in the car and we'd be quoting 'look kids Houses of Parliament' from the Lampoons film.As I drove around the block again and again I was saying it to myself thinking how of the ribbing Dad would be giving me if he was in the van with me.
Anyway I eventually found the YHA, parked the van in the basement and tried to pack a bag for three days in a dorm.When you have been living out of a van for six weeks it's really difficult trying to pack without out packing everything, so I ended up going up and down in the lift about thirty times as I'd left my toothbrush, phone charger, camera, lonely planet etc. etc. in the van.
The YHA was pretty impressive, the dorms were fairly standard but the funky dining room & lounge were brilliant for chilling out but were no match for the roof top pool and sauna!Even more amusing was the fact that the council offices over looked the roof top, so as us lowly backpackers relaxed in the pool, the jealous council workers sat at their boring desks looked on in envy! LG.
As usual my impeccable timing had meant that I arrived in Sydney on the third night of the race riots that had kicked off after two Indian students had been beaten up.Not bad that'll be my second city suffering from riots so far!
I'm not sure if it was the influence of race riots but the Aussies seemed to have stopped calling me a POHM???
Once I had put everything on charge, washed all my clothes that were so desperately in need of a washing machine they could probably have walked to the laundry room on their own, I took a stroll around the city.The city felt very American, it had a great busy vibe with hordes of people purposefully walking through the mini metropolis, big yellow taxis crawling along in traffic, trams clattering down the centre of the street, a tube station on every corner and a mono rail gliding overhead.With all these transport options I opted for Shanks's Pony. Definitely the best way to see the city and most likely the quickest too.
As I strolled around without a purpose, I caught glimpses of the bridge which enticed me down to the harbor where I spotted the Opera House. After seeing the ironically shaped building a million times on the TV I was surprised by how small it looks in real life. The bridge dominates the skyline and dwarfs the armadillo shaped opera house.
Back in Port Douglas a local lady had recommended the Sydney Observatory.I'd never been to an observatory before so I was fairly intrigued.The beautiful stone building looks down over the harbor with fantastic views of the bridge and the Opera House, the walk to the highest point in Sydney was worth it for that view alone.The astronomer that took the tour was really enthusiastic and answered all our silly space questions during a 3D presentation about the solar system and our galaxy.He told us a little bit about the Hubble telescope, showed us some cool pictures and then took us to the observatory domes to look through the telescopes.The first of which is the oldest telescope in the Southern hemisphere, a priceless A1 museum piece which we were allowed to use (under very strict supervision).The second was a state of the art computer guided jobbie, both the telescopes were amazing and allowed us to see some pretty fantastic stuff like Saturn's rings, some of the constellations and the Southern Cross.Definitely going to look up some more observatories on my travels.
My second day in Sydney was spent exploring more of the city on foot.If I'm honest I was killing time until my bridge climb.I had the last climb of the day, so got to see the skyline during daylight and was lucky enough to watch the sun set as we climbed.
The palaver that you have to go through before you are allowed on the bridge I didn't think I would ever get to see the bloody thing.Firstly you have to sign your life away, then you have to empty your pockets of everything, we were given a list of stuff we were not allowed to take on the bridge, cameras, coins, jewelry, tissues yadda yadda yadda.Basically the only thing you could take were your glasses, which they strapped to your head.Then they give you a jump suit, a harness and a ton of stuff that we had to clip to our harnesses.A rain jacket, fleece, beanie, handkerchief, gloves, head torch, navy seals radio etc. etc. we then had a safety briefing.After an hour and a half we were ready to go.The climb took about the same time again but it was worth it, it was amazing and the view was phenomenal. We were blessed with a beautiful still clear evening so we could see for miles.
Being the only POHM on the climb I was proud to find out that designer and builder was British.In true British style we went over the four million dollar budget and the company from Scunthorpe went bankrupt when the final cost of the bridge came in at ten million dollars.Unfortunately for the Aussies the bankruptcy made a mockery of the six month warranty that we gave the bridge.
After the bridge climb, I strolled across to the Opera House, where I had tickets to see the Sydney Philharmonic Orchestra.There was a special exhibition on at the Opera House, so it was lit with the projection of aboriginal art work, from across the water it was a fantastic sight.
Inside the Opera House is not as grand as expected, it reminded me a lot of St Gabriel's Church at home (much to Mum's amusement, I think she was shocked that I remembered what the inside of a church looks like).
The performance was phenomenal and as I attended the seminar beforehand I actually managed to follow the story of the music.Obviously the music was amazing, watching and listening to nearly one hundred musicians performing perfectly in absolute sync just blew me away.I feel very cultured.
As I walked out of the performance, Mum called and we talked the whole way back to the hostel which was lovely a great end to a brilliant day, although it did make me feel a little home sick!