Monthly Archives: May 2023

Trip 4:August 7

The weather is still cool, but today it is splendidly sunny. So perfect for the planned outing to West Head, to enjoy the scenery and have a picnic.

Our drive took us north, and I was delighted beyond words to see that we were headed into Kuringai Chase National Park. Because of yesterday’s rain, the mountainous park was gloriously lush, and because it’s spring, wild flowers were blooming on all hands. I was in heaven.

We wound through the hills, surrounded by sandstone cliffs, gum trees, acacias, and casuarinas, as we headed out to West Head, which we reached in about half an hour. What a glorious spot. And what a view. We were overlooking the Barrenjoey Headland and Broken Bay. The water was impossibly blue, and sailboats were plentiful in many of the coves far below.

Black cockatoos, magpies, and currawongs thronged the trees. Pink, red, yellow, and white wildflowers splashed the forest with color. The fragrance of a pittosporum in bloom stopped me in my tracks—much loved and familiar from previous trips.

I am endlessly amazed by the tenacity of the gums/eucalypts, and I had much reason to be impressed by them today. There were fires through here a few years ago, and we saw gums that had been burnt to shells, but still with a branch or two with leaves starting out of the seemingly dead stumps. Wonderful. Delightful place for our picnic. And technically, still part of Sydney.

After lunch, we resumed driving through the forest and along the shore, winding our way through parkland and small communities. Then, as Mardi was feeling a bit under the weather, we stopped in Mona Vale to pick up some throat lozenges for her—and some vitamin C for me, to try to make sure I don’t catch anything. Trees and shoreline made the view endlessly charming, but as the sun began to drop to the horizon, we turned out wheels home. Not to rest, but to get ready for the evening.

There was time to freshen up —and take vitamins—before heading out to a concert at the Sydney Opera House! The city was dazzling, with lights everywhere reflected in the water. The Opera House came into view as we reached the Harbour Bridge, and stayed in sight as we rounded Circular Quay and headed down Macquarie Ave. toward the garage.

Having viewed the Opera House so often, and even having toured it, attending a concert there was a real joy. And the concert was splendid. Hard to beat Joshua Bell playing Beethoven. Sadly, Mardi was still feeling poorly, and even though she said she was game for a post-concert dinner, I could tell she was relieved when I said that I thought taking her home was a better option. She headed straights for bed when we got home. Brian and I had cereal for dinner and talked until midnight. I was still a little weary from jet lag and so even if it wasn’t exactly an early night, I very much looked forward to sleep. But what a splendid night.


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Trip 4:August 6, Part 2

Walked all over downtown, through areas partially familiar, with new buildings or new names on old buildings, but much still recognizable. Each time I return, more has changed. Definitely bigger, but still vibrant. I found a post office and mailed off cards to friends back home—sending them early in the trip, to make sure the cards arrive before I get back home. Rain picked up, and while I had an umbrella (thanks to Brian), I figured this might be a good time for lunch: lamb kebab in a bustling food court. Then off again.

Next stop was the Powerhouse Museum. Like the city, this has grown immensely since I first visited it, on my first trip to Australia. It has absorbed or linked with other collections and museums I saw on previous trips, and now has a number of outlying locations, but I was set to explore the Ultimo location, the main campus of this sprawling Museum of Applies Arts and Sciences. It’s called the Powerhouse museum because this building once housed the electric dynamos that powered the city’s electric tram system.

Spent several happy hours at the museum. Fun and fascinating exhibits on computers, robots, the senses, history of experiments, cooperage, cars, medicine, domestic skills, porcelain, and the astonishing Strasburg astronomical clock. That’s barely a hint at what I saw, but here’s a video I found that shows a bit more.

On my way back to the train station, where I was meeting Brian, I stopped to pick up a comic book for a friend back home and some flowers for Mardi. Then Brian and I headed back to the suburbs, where Mardi awaited us. A bit of conversation and the evening news, and then we headed out to their favorite curry restaurant. Jolly evening.

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Filed under Australia, History, Travel, Video

Trip 4:August 6, Part 1

Up early again and into town with Brian. The day was a bit gray and threatening rain, so I left my camera at the house. A repeat of yesterday’s train ride brought me again to the Wynyard station, from which I set off on foot. I made my way up George Street, turning in at The Strand, a favorite from previous trips. Built in 1891, this splendid Victorian arcade is home to high-end clothiers, impressive jewelry stores, fun gift shops, and charming coffee shops. To clarify, this is an arcade not in the American sense of a place with games to play but rather in the British sense of a narrow “side street” that takes advantage of the space between larger buildings and offers opportunities to smaller businesses. It’s elegant and bustling, and because arcades have roofs, one can window shop on damp days and stay dry.

Then onward to Market Street and the State Theatre. Didn’t have plans to see anything, but based on its reputation, I wanted to at least take a peek at this opulent venue. Timing wasn’t good for a tour, so I just admired the foyer and then continued on.

Next stop was the QVB—local shorthand for Queen Victoria Building. With that name, one could reasonably guess Victorian era, and one would be right. A full block long, the magnificent building offers not only lovely shops, but also with stained glass and grand staircases. The clocks are mechanical wonders—chimes and “action figures” portraying events in English history. I was fortunate to be standing right next to one of the clocks at 10:00, when it struck the hour, and so enjoyed the “show.” Most of the shops I passed were upscale, and on the upper level, most focused on Australian goods. There were also exhibits, from ones on Queen Victoria to ones on Chinese culture. But the building itself was the chief delight, with wood trim, high domes, carpeted floors, with a piano playing in the background. Just lovely.

On the lower level, it was a bit less posh, but offered a lot of little places to eat. I grabbed some chicken satay and a cappuccino for breakfast. And then I was off again.

But before I share the afternoon’s adventures, here’s a video to give you a bit more info and insight on the QVB. I think it does a pretty good job of capturing the experience.  

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Filed under Australia, History, Travel, Video