So we’re staying in a $5,000,000 apartment tonight. Yep that’s a five with six zeros after it, you read that right. We’re staying in a place called Walsh Bay which is very central (literally a two minute walk from the Harbour Bridge) and have had the most luck we have ever had. Not only are we staying in a really nice place but the person that we’re staying with happens to be one of the nicest people we’ve met, still taking us on for couch surfing even after she had her bike stolen.
After chatting to our host for a while over lunch, we headed out to the bridge and had a walk along its span between the pylons. It really was quite magnificent although the view was somewhat spoiled by the high fences and barbed wire that stopped those people who have tendencies to jump off tall structures. There are two tours on the bridge that we debated doing, one is the bridge climb whereby you scale one of the massive arcs to the very pinnacle of the bridge, the other being slightly less impressive but having significantly less of an impact on a bank account, was a climb up one of the four pylons. Apparently the views from both are pretty much the same except that for the bridge climb you pay an extra $185 for the privilege. We however settled on neither, satisfied with the views from the bridge footpath itself.
Our next stop off was located deep in the warren of back passages and narrow laneways that makes up the Rocks and so we delved into a very important slice of Sydney’s history. This is the area that was first landed upon and colonised in the name of Great Britain and the area where all the convicts were shipped ashore and the concept of modern Australia was born. In the very heart of the Rocks there are four of the oldest houses in all of Sydney (and by extension Australia) now taken over by Susannah Place Museum. This excellent museum is dedicated to the lives of those who lived in these buildings since they were built and aims to preserve a glimpse into the past for future generations of tourists and Australians alike. You could only enter the houses during a guided tour, but this is incredibly cheap for the amount of detail and attention you receive with each tour having a maximum of ten people. Each room represents a different era and is lovingly preserved using, where possible, the original artefacts and decorations. It is a truly absorbing museum and really helps one to connect with the history of the place.
Just down the road from Susannah Place is the Rocks Discovery Museum, a free museum that offers a look at the general history of the region as well as some interesting stories concerning the people who lived there. Unfortunately we got there at four and so had to rush around before it closed, but it does provide a particularly fascinating look at how the Aboriginal people lived in the area before the white settlers arrived and even looks at the integration between the two different cultures. There were also sections on; crime, which was apparently rife, and notable persons of the area. It was a really well put together museum especially considering that it was completely free.
To round off the day we decided to pay a visit to the most famous of landmarks; the Sydney Opera House. We got there just as the sun was starting its journey beneath the waves of the harbour. We had thought previously that the Opera House didn’t look as impressive as pictures had led us to believe but as we approached and as its truly imposing bulk rose up in front of us we stared up at the smooth and powerful lines that it cut through the darkening sky. This impression lasted until we got even closer and realised to our astonishment that the famous sails are made of thickened bathroom tiles. It’s so strange, a bit like idolising Natalie Portman’s beautiful lines and flawless skin and then getting a bit closer and realising that it’s actually made up of small wrinkles covered in makeup. Disappointing to say the least.
After our disappointment we were looking for something new that would properly round off the evening and stumbled across the Museum of Contemporary Art. As it is a Thursday, and everything is open late on a Thursday in Australia (that being the perfect day for it, obviously), it was still open and so wandered in, or at least Alex did, dragging the kicking, screaming, modern art-hating horror that was Rach. And in all fairness Rach probably had the place sussed a lot more than Alex. There were some good individual pieces however as a whole the gallery seemed to be full of pretty poor modern art, things that had required no effort or thought only to be backed up by some quite frankly preposterous, pretentious drivel.
So drained of the will to live we headed back to our sumptuous apartment to help prepare a dinner for us and our host.
Rex’s Rules of the Road
- If you want a view from the top of the bridge don’t spend $200, spend $15 instead and head for one of the pylons. Same view - $185 less, go figure.
- Opera House seemed to a bathroom tile jobbie and although we would never suggest avoiding such a popular landmark,unless you want your illusions shattered maybe stand a little further back than we did.