17 March 2008

Our Latest Adventures...!

Helloooooo!!!


Right, so this blog’s going to be a little different from the previous ones. We’ve done a fair amount since I last posted and we’ve taken heaps of photos. So this one’s going to be a photo blog – mainly photos with explanatory captions instead of my ramblings interspersed with photographs.


Just a quick note about the photos. If you click on the pics, you should be able to view a larger version. If you want to see any of the pics in higher resolution (bigger format), please send me a mail and I’ll send it via email. The original pics are about 1MB each in size so I had to make them smaller to put them on the website.


WAHROONGA


This one is especially for Marc & Janke… I’m not sure about the rest of the Pacific Highway, but this stretch is really well used by bikes and there are plenty of traffic signs warning motorists about motorbikes. The Think Bike campaign on steroids!! And the bikes on the roads……. *sigh* So many beautiful bikes on the roads…… I must remember to get some pics of some.


This is me on our new chocolate brown leather sofa proof-reading Scott’s last blog! It’s ÜBER comfy!!!


HORNSBY

This is a sculpture by Victor Cusack called Man, Time & The Environment. It was unveiled in ’93 at an estimated cost of $790,000 – plus the annual expenses of up to $25,000 (I suppose for running the water & electricity to run the water pumps).

It incorporates three ancient water clock designs: a Greek Clepsydra clock, a Pendulum clock and a Chinese Water Wheel.

It was actually not working at all for quite some time and was fixed in consultation with the artist last year. From what I can understand this was quite a big operation where they brought in a crane to lift the whole mechanism out and cordoned off a huge chunk of the piazza to work on the thing. It’s been quite a controversial piece – the locals either love it or hate it (and think it’s a complete waste of space, time & money) – but not one of them wants it removed! Even if some people don’t think its very pretty, it belongs to the Hornsby Shire and they’re not about to let it go!


This is taken just to the right of the Water Clocks. Westfield mall is split in two sections in Hornsby – separated by glass walkway over the piazza which you can see to the left on the second level.

It’s a fabulous mall with a fabulous fresh food market underground. There are butchers, greengrocers, a fish market and a chicken butcher. Yip! That’s correct – a chicken butcher! It’s the size of a normal butcher’s store front but with every different type of chicken cut you can think of. There are kievs, chicken balls, kebabs, etc and they’re all beautifully presented.


This is part of the parking lot for the Hornsby train station. Notice how all the cars are reverse parked?

This is the reason – these signs are all over the parking lot. I’m not sure why – I haven’t found anyone to ask about this. I will though & then I’ll pass on the info.


BONDI JUNCTION

On the way to meet Graham & Percy for dinner last Thursday night, I took this pic of the inside of the double-decker train. You’ve seen the outside, now you can see the inside. I must seem like SUCH a tourist everywhere I go with my camera! LOL!


Percy, Scott & Graham (Scott’s uncle) at Kelly’s in Bondi Junction. This restaurant is on the 6th floor of the Bondi Junction Westfield. It has the most magnificent view of the Sydney harbour. If I remember correctly, the restaurant is owned by Percy’s niece and actually has boerewors on the menu! The food was outstanding and the setting was quite incredible. Scott & I couldn’t quite believe where we were….. Sitting in a restaurant in Sydney, Australia owned by a South Africa – with Graham and Percy who we’d only seen a few weeks previously at our farewell party in Cape Town. The surreal feeling came creeping back in that night!


LUNA PARK

After a rather hectic week (Scott’s second at work & mine running around getting supplies to make our apartment feel like home), we decided a little fun was in order on Friday night. So we took the train down to Milson’s Point station and walked through Kiribilli & Milson’s point down to Luna Park.

Click here for the history of Luna Park - it's really interesting!


Scott at the top of the stairs leading down to the wharf. The entrance towers of Lunar Park are behind him.

The entrance to Luna Park – Scott’s under the blacked out tooth!


Our first ride was the Ferris wheel. That’s the Ferris wheel in the background. The funny arch thingy above it is actually the Sydney Harbour Bridge!


A great pic of Scott taken on the Ferris wheel with the bridge in the background.


And one of me in a similar spot. Just to prove that we’re actually here and not hiding out in Pofadder pretending to be in Australia! LOL!


Taken from the Ferris wheel… The entrance to Luna Park (bottom left), Milson’s Point ferry pick up (bottom centre), a beautifully lit up Sydney Opera House and everything being dwarfed by the Sydney Harbour Bridge.



The colours and lights of the main drag at Luna Park. The castle-like building on the left is the Crystal Palace which has various function venues. That night it was being used by the Chartered Accountants association for their annual awards evening – so plenty of accountants walking around in black tie. Apparently this is a fabulous venue – our boss’s daughter had her wedding reception here.



There’s a massive warehouse-sized hall which has all these really old “rides” and amusements. It's called Coney Island (see history of Luna Park above). It’s wonderful how beautifully some of the old equipment has been maintained. I didn’t take a photo of it, but do any of you remember seeing the spinning top? It was a round cone shape made of wood polished to a satin sheen. Everyone would take their shoes off and hop into the middle. When it started spinning, the aim was to try and stay in the middle. The one here is in perfect working order and still a functioning “ride”.


As you walk down into the hall, there is a wall of photographs depicting the history of Luna Park in Sydney. There actually used to be a Big Dipper roller coaster but it’s long gone.


This is two barrels rolling in opposite directions. I made it through okay and then turned to take this pic of Scott going through. The lady behind Scott’s arm clutching her bag didn’t do so well – she ended up falling over and tumbling around until they switched the rollers off – it was rather funny to watch! She must’ve felt like a right ‘nana though.


As far as rides go, this one was terrifying!!! It looks to pretty in this picture taken from the Ferris wheel, doesn’t it….. I think it was called the Flying Saucer or something equally arb. Basically it’s a wheel which sits flat. People are strapped in standing up to the inner rim of the wheel. See the solid white light around the rim? The tops of our heads were just inside that rim. So it starts spinning and you’re kinda squashed against the cushion at your back….. and then the damn thing starts lifting on one side on this massive arm….. until the whole wheel is at 90 DEGREES TO THE GROUND!!! AT HIGH SPEED!!!!!!! AND IT WENT ON FOREVER!!!!!!!! I got of this one and EVERYTHING was shaking!!! I’m getting too old for this extreme adrenalin stuff!!! Needless to say, we hit the bar for an ice cold beer to sooth our throats after all the screaming. Sorry, did I say “our”? No, Scott didn’t scream like a little girl at allmuch okay, maybe a little. LOL!


After the beers, we walked around a bit and did some fun stuff like winning a little Bob The Builder plush toy for hitting balloons with darts. Scott then managed to persuade me that The Ranger would be fun to go on. You know the Pirate Ship at Ratanga and all the other shows/theme parks you’ve ever been to? Well take the Pirate Ship, add steroids and a centre pin which must’ve been faulty BECAUSE THE BLOODY THING WENT ALL THE WAY AROUND!!!!!!! How stupid am I????? Why do I do this to myself???? I think I’ll blame it on Scott’s ability to make me take up childish dares….. Me, a competitive nature… NEVER! LOL!!!


Scott sitting on the jetty outside the park with the lights of the city behind him – bit blurred but my idea of an arty photo!


Another one to remind us that we’re ACTUALLY here!!!

SATURDAY IN WAHROONGA

On Saturday morning we went off to Barbeques Galore in Hornsby where we bought our Weber Q200 gas barbie. We haven’t cooked on the stove since we got it!!!! It’s brilliant!!! Sure, you can’t beat a real braai with a fire ‘n all….. but this is the way things are done here, so when in Rome….


Scott cooking up a storm on the Weber – T-bone steaks and a couple of chicken & pepperdew snags (snags = sausage).


Doing the usual thing at a barbie…. Suckin’ on a cold one! Oh, and the bright pink plate on the side of the Weber? Those, 2 bowls & two coffee mugs are the sum total of our crockery! Everything else is in transit – actually, not in transit but still sitting in Cape Town. I just hope like hell that we get our stuff before my folks arrive at the end of May!!! It’s starting to look like it may be a tight race…


SUNDAY'S DAY OUT IN SYDNEY

The Sydney Fish Market. You can see part of the warehouse behind Scott – that is the main fish market. It’s noisy, crowded and packed with wonderfully fresh seafood. We started off with a dozen fresh oysters – we actually watched the guy shuck them! Yum! Yum! But it was really busy and crowded so we headed outside to find somewhere to get lunch – most of the fish markets (shops) inside and outside have take-away sections as well as being able to buy fresh, raw fish. Oh boy, the variety!!! Crabs with a body the size of a rugby ball, every different size of prawn, octopus, scallops, squid (whole, calamari steaks & rings), special sashimi cuts of tuna & salmon, so many varieties of fish - some I’ve never heard of. I even found greenlipped abalone (pronounced abalone) which is REALLY small – about the size of a cake of Dove soap only half as thick. There was also a swordfish in one of the shops – it was MASSIVE and there was only a piece of it on display. Think of the difference between an old Nissen bakkie and one of those open cast mining trucks and you may come close to how it dwarfed the other fish on display.


The platter we ordered included calamari rings, deep fried white fish, deep fried prawns, scallops in the half-shell, oyster mornay, oyster grilled with bacon and some chips too. It was delicious and could’ve fed a family of four!!!


Yum! Yum! We made a damn huge dent in that platter – a few things left over buy we just couldn’t anymore!!!


Now it was time to walk off all that (deep fried, greasy) seafood so we headed for Darling Harbour via the Pyrmont Bridge.


This is a beautiful little drinking fountain on a street corner on the way to Darling Harbour.


Coming up to the Pyrmont Bridge which crosses Darling Harbour. The Metro MonoRail runs over the bridge and does a circle into the city via Chinatown and Paddy’s Markets amongst others.


Me on the Pyrmont Bridge – see the Sydney Tower in the background. Also known as the AMP tower but that’s for another days’ outing.


Over the bridge on the right is this old ferry – the South Steyne. The old girl’s been retired and is now a floating bar and restaurant.


Over the left side of the bridge is the Australian National Maritime Museum which has a massive indoor section as well as these outdoor exhibits – the lighthouse, the HMAS Onslow (submarine), HMAS Vampire (the big navy ship) as well as the Australian-built replica of Captain Cook’s HM Bark Endeavour – you can see the masts in the background. Also another thing to explore on another day…..


Scott looking over the water..


This flag is enormous!!!! A very majestic sight from the bridge.


This must be the control tower for Darling Harbour.


Some of the cats moored outside the Aquarium and Wildlife World – ours is the one on the left……!


A great shot of Scott on the Pyrmont Bridge.


Looking back the way we’d come with the monorail passing us.


Standing near the Aquarium looking back at the bridge.


THE SYDNEY AQUARIUM

A Lion Fish


A Loggerhead Turtle

These little guys were cute – Pineapple Fish


The elusive Platypus…

A Saltwater Croc peeping out of the water


The same croc from below – just hanging out…


There were a whole stack of White Tipped Reef Sharks all hanging out together at the bottom on this tank – looked like a White Tip parking lot!

These Sting Rays were HUGE – look at the size of the shark behind it and then also the tunnel and a person’s head and shoulders.


Going down to see the seals…


This little critter is a Weedy Sea Dragon – I really battled to photograph him & this is the only one that came out.


This little fellow had such an expressive face with those big eyes.

Personally I think this little critter would’ve been more at home at Wildlife World next door!

A cool pic of Scott in the floored tank – that’s a strange looking shark under him (see next pic)


Strange looking shark this – but I can’t for the life of me remember it’s name!


The main viewing are of the big tank. I must say here that I think the Two Oceans Aquarium at the Waterfront in Cape Town is far more impressive than this one.


THE MONORAIL

The Monorail coming into the station at Darling Harbour. The monorail isn’t all that impressive. It’s got four cars with seating for only 8 people (2 seats facing each other) per car. There is advertising signage on the outside which makes photography from the cars impossible (you can see through the signage but a photo wouldn’t come out). The ride is quite fun once you get a seat. Most of it is through buildings so you don’t really get much in the line of panoramic views of the Sydney harbour.


Scott (with Pyrmont bridge in the background) waiting for the next car to come along as the first one was completely full.


QUEEN VICTORIA BUILDING


WOW!!! We came across this stunning building by accident. We were across the road looking for the Australian Opal Cutters when we happened upon this. This shopping mall was described by Pierre Cardin as "the most beautiful shopping centre in the world".


The stone was set on July 29 1896 by the Mayor of Sydney, I.E. Ives.


The statue over the entrance.


Standing in the entrance looking up at the dome with its stained glass ceiling.


The inside of the mall – a lot of very exclusive shops here.

The stained glass windows seen above the entrance in the first pic


The staircase and the stained glass windows at the entrance.


Scott on the staircase


Me on the staircase


Looking down at the mosaic floor


This clock is spectacular! It’s suspended from the ceiling and has so many intricate details that would take me all day to describe. I found the following in Wikipedia: "Two large mechanical clocks, each one featuring dioramas and moving figures from moments in Australian history, can be seen from the adjacent railed walkways. The Royal Clock, designed by Neil Glasser and made by Thwaites & Reed of Hastings in England, shows scenes of English royalty from King John signing the Magna Carta to the execution of King Charles I. The Great Australian Clock, designed and made by Chris Cook, weighs four tonnes and stands ten metres tall. It includes 33 scenes from Australian history, seen from both Aboriginal and European perspectives. An Aboriginal hunter circles the exterior of the clock continuously, representing the never-ending passage of time."

Well, that's it for now. Once again I'm sitting in La Roma Cafe putting all this together. Scott's just SMSed to say that he's going to meet me here so we can get a floor mop and some groceries. This is great 'cos this laptop is damn heavy and to carry everything home - even with my trolley - is a mission.

Last night we celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary with a fillet roasted in the Weber and a bottle of bubbly! What a wonderful evening! And a very eventful two years of marriage!!!! LOL!!! I wonder what the next two hold in store - let alone the next 50!!!???!!!

I start work next week Tuesday after the Easter weekend which is quite exciting and a little daunting too. I'll try to post before I start next week but if not, then the next time will only be at the beginning of April when we get our ADSL line installed.

Now how about sending us some news of what's going on in your lives!!!
We really what to hear your news!

All our love, hugs 'n kisses,

Mands & Scott

1 comment:

Nubud said...

Hiya!
thanks for the fabulous tour of Sydney. I remember briefly walking through the Victorian mall - with only 24 hours in the city, it was very brief. In May we'll take a more liesurely stroll with two excellent guides!
Pity we've all got to wait until April for the next posting. But you'll pick up your email I know, so will send another nice long one.
luvya both
Mom