Doing Sydney

img_9499We have just three days to ‘do’ Sydney and gravitate naturally to the harbour, where most of the action is to be found. Sydney Harbour Bridge is known locally, and with affection I think, as the coat-hanger.  It’s not a pretty sight, but I can’t help but be impressed.  Strong, solid, dependable, conveying a positive image of the city, a marketing executive’s dream.

Just across the water from the coat-hanger is Sydney Opera House. To be honest, I’m not totally impressed by the view from the quayside, but we take a ferry ride to see it from the water.  This is a better angle, front on, and from here it looks every bit as good as I’d expected.

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Between the coat-hanger and the Opera House is the Circular Quay, clearly the place where all the action is. We are visiting over a weekend, and the place is heaving with people catching ferries, admiring the cruise ships and generally taking in the atmosphere.  Buskers, mime artists and human statues all draw in the crowds: here a group of Aboriginals knock out a tune on a didgeridoo, there a man in a bronze suit sits apparently in mid-air (how do they do that?), further along another man plays an accordion tunelessly.  All human life is here.

We have a drink in the outdoor bar of the Museum of Contemporary Art, watching the comings and goings of vessels at the Circular Quay. The two girls behind the bar are Brits.  I ask if they’ll ever go back to the UK.  The older one, from Edinburgh, has been here a year and isn’t sure.  The younger one has been here just three weeks and doesn’t share her doubts.  “Never,” she says, “why would I leave this to go back to London?”  She gestures at the throngs of people clearly having a very good time under a hot Sydney sun, and I take her point.

We get a bus to Bondi Beach, just to see what all the fuss is about, and are underwhelmed. We are not beach people so our view is hardly unbiased, but to me it looks like little more than a big sandpit.  There are no surfers on the ocean, just one small guy walking down the street dwarfed by his enormous board.  I scan the sea hopefully for sharks but am disappointed.  Even some half decent art deco buildings can’t make up for the fact that Bondi Beach is a let-down.

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But Sydney has other, more pleasant, surprises up its sleeve. Early on our first morning we spot this bird next to a small area of water.  It’s an Australian White Ibis. We are so excited that we nearly miss our hop-on hop-off bus as we try to photograph it.  But when we get down to the Circular Quay there are several others all strolling around, totally unconcerned by the hustle and bustle that surrounds them.  Later in the day as we walk back to the hotel we spot more in Hyde Park, close to the Anzac Memorial.  Australian White Ibis are everywhere in Sydney.

So, a bird that seems wildly exotic to a British birder is as common as muck out here. I think we’ll like Australia.

Author: Platypus Man

"Platypus" is a red herring: I'm English, although my blogging career began in my record of a 2016 road trip to Tasmania. Other blogs followed covering road trips in Newfoundland (2017), the Yellowstone area of the USA (2018) and New Zealand (2019). My current project is "Now I'm 64" , a weekly blog covering UK travel and wildlife, along with bits of history, social commentary and moans about the injustice of aging. I can guarantee a few laughs, and also the occasional rant. Some of it's even quite well written!

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