Walking round Sydney you get a palpable sense of how the world is changing. A straw poll downtown suggested that a half to two-thirds of the people walking past were Asian. Many people have come here to live from Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea and other places over the past few years. People from these countries also come as tourists - increasingly joined by people from mainland China. Even in the Central Business District Asian people make up a significant percentage of the people on the street. The Queen may still grace Australian banknotes (though I notice she's been relegated to the lowest denomination - $5) but Australia is increasingly facing towards the east.
Mind you in most places it still feels a very European city (although pushing through the crowds in Chinatown last night was good preparation for our stop in Bangkok next week!). Nowhere more so than its cultural institutions. No Chinese opera on at the Opera House.
This is a truly fantastic building - in terms of architectural spectacle it beats The Sage hands down. We haven't been to hear anything so don't know what its like acoustically but listening to the descriptions from the tour guide suggest it's very good and way ahead of its time - it was originally designed in the mid-1950s.
Bang up to date is the Museum of Contemporary Art which has just reopened after a refit. (Today's photo is of 'Untitled 2005' from the current exhibition 'Marking Time') To celebrate they are showing 'The Clock' by Christian Marclay. A film lasting 24 hours it is made up entirely of clips from other films (Marclay is primarily known as a DJ and he has used his mixing experience to good effect) which all contain some reference to time - usually a clock or a watch. The really amazing thing is that the time shown in these clips is the actual time. And what's more he has edited them together to give a semblance of narrative. So someone will pick up a phone to make a call and the next scene will be a clip from another film of someone answering the phone. It is a staggering achievement. So far we've seen about 4 hours in several different sessions and it is mesmerising viewing. Hopefully it's going to be on at Tate Modern later this year. If it is go and see it.
But enough culture. Next we're off to the Great Barrier Reef. First, though, we have to fit in a trapeze lesson and cuddle a koala.