Today we had a museum day. We started by visiting the Australian Museum. This is a museum of Australia fauna and flora, animals and mammals, geology and geography. Relatively interesting, but quite a lot to take in.
We headed then to the Anzac memorial and museum. This is very moving. A brilliantly designed memorial and a harrowing museum charting the sacrifices made by ANZACs from the first world war through to the gulf.
One of the people I had been trying to find in Sydney was Michael Lynch, who was CEO at the Southbank centre when I worded there. Suddenly last week I noticed that he was giving a talk on creative leadership this evening given by SAMAG, the Sydney Arts Management Advisory Group. It was a fascinating and impressive talk and it was good to see Michael again. He recognised me straight away and knew my name, which I was not necessarily expecting. Mind you I think I did a good job for him at the Southbank in difficult times. We are meeting Michael again next Monday.
Tuesday 1st December:
No trip to Sydney is complete without a Blue Mountains tour. Which is what we did today. I have been four times to the Blue Mountains, 1979, 1996, 2002 and again today. The area is always impressive and the scale is vast.
Wednesday 2nd December:
Today I went off on my own to explore Sydney, to do some shopping and to climb the Harbour Bridge Tower. It was a good day. To begin with, I headed for Paddington where I lived for 6 months in 1979. A lot of memories flooded back as I arrived in Hargrave Street and stood outside the house where I lived during those happy times. I wonder what has happened to those people I met during my time there? One of them, Marion, we hope to see in Brisbane later in our tour.
I enjoy just walking around, seeing where roads take me. I took the bus to Circular Quay where I had lunch, wandered through the rocks area and finally climbed the tower. I have decided not to do the bridge climb; partly because I do not have a head for heights and partly because it costs around $300. The tower climb cost $8.50 (senior concession!) and gives just as good a view. And there is a fascinating exhibition in the tower of the construction of the bridge which, back in the 1930s was an amazing engineering feat.
Thursday 3rd December:
Back in the summer, as part of my aim to be a tourist in London occasionally, I visited the London Canal Museum. It was a really interesting place. Subsequently, Marion suggested that I read 'The Secret River' the story of Solomon Wiseman who as a young lad, worked on the London canals. It was a hard life, and he could not earn enough to feed his wife and 2 young kids. So like all canal workers, he pilfered a bit of the cargo. But he was caught, convicted of theft and sentenced to transportation to Australia. After completing his sentence, he became a free man and started a business transporting items from Sydney to the settlers up the Hawkesbury River. He then claimed some land for himself, because a prosperous farmer and started a ferry across the Hawkesbury. That point is now called Wisemans Ferry and we visited it today. It is a lovely tranquil spot. And in the local cemetery, we discovered Solomon Wiseman's grave. So the circle from London Canal Museum to Wisemans Ferry was complete.
We had a quiet morning sending Christmas emails to family and friends. In the afternoon, we headed again to the Andrew Charlton pool for a relaxing couple of hours.
Saturday 5th December:
It was a warm sunny day, so we headed on the bus to Watson's Bay and walked onwards to Lady Bay, one of Sydney's naturist beaches. The fact that it was high tide meant that we shared a very small sandy expanse with a large number of naked guys. What can I say? An interesting afternoon. Afterwards we walked around the Heads from where there are some amazing view out to sea in one direction and inwards to Sydney city in the other direction.
In the evening, we had an excellent meal at the Colonial Indian restaurant in Crown Street, close to where we are staying.
Sunday 6th December:
Today we took the train down to Heathcote in the Southern Part of Sydney. We walked for about 90 minutes along the Karloo train deep into the National Park, quite a tricky path. At the end of that walk, we came across the Karloo Pool, which is a pool suitable for swimming at the bottom of the gorge. The swim was wonderful.