Foxy

Foxy

When we went to Dubbo we also dropped in at the Cultural Centre. This is a free place, with an art gallery and a small museum. It also has a good cafe, where we accidentally stuffed ourselves with a late lunch big enough for 3 or 4 people!

The museum had lots of old things from the area, including some crazily narrows shoes and a replica of an old school classroom. The wooden desks with ink wells and space for books inside reminded me of the desks where I went to primary school, and they even had old books in them!

Back to school

Back to school

The art was particularly good. They had a few different exhibits, including some ‘designs’ for silly futuristic things like a flying polar bear farm (?!?!?!) and an exhibit from a competition on making art out of everyday rubbish. The pictures of my favourites are here. They’re a lizard made from a tyre, a fox made from chicken wire and old curtains and a penguin made from an old gas bottle. He looks pretty mean with a cigarette in his mouth.

Tyre lizard

Tyre lizard

 

Penguin from a gas bottle

Penguin from a gas bottle

 

 

 

Taronga zoo in Sydney is great. You can go there on a ferry, ride a cable car and it has great views over the city, not to mention lots of cool animals to see. I wrote about it here.

They have a sister zoo, Dubbo Western Plains. It’s 5-6 hours drive west of Sydney, past the Blue mountains, on the edge of the outback. We headed out there one weekend in June, setting off on Friday after work, and stayed in a cabin In a caravan park. As it’s winter and inland it gets to low single digits at night, so camping wasn’t on my agenda! On the drive out we hit 1 degree, and it was 3 degrees in Dubbo by the time we got there.

You can stay in the zoo itself, which includes some additional animal tours. It’s very expensive though, so it decided it was better to save money for another stuffed animal for my collection! We stayed in a cabin in Dubbo, which was 70’s retro and

I love animals, so needless to say I enjoyed the zoo. We had bacon and eggs for breakfast there looking at the lemurs on an island in the lake.

had a massive fan heater bolted to the wall. It did heat the place up nicely, until you turned it off!

The zoo is really more like a safari park. The main route around is 6km, and you can hire bikes to cycle it, or a golf cart! Needless to say we went for the active bike option. I managed to cycle around without any accidents, just one near miss with a kid running at me on a narrow path whilst looking behind him. I shouted at him! You only ever ride for a little while, then stop and go and see the animals. Its the same if you drive – rather than being like Longleat you need to park and get out to see the animals. The ticket is valid for two days, so you can go back the next day if you’re really keen.

By fluke we managed to time our route around to see feeding time with the hippo (called Happy), elephant (called Cuddles) and the Siamang apes. They were all very cool, and the apes were really noisy – it sounded like they were signing a song and were great to watch. Near the end it started to rain, but we managed not to get too wet. Here’s a load of pictures of cute things!

DubboMeerkats

DubboHippo2

DubboHippo

DubboElephant

DubboSiamangs

DobboRhino

DubboTiger

DubboKoala

 

 

Gangsters

Gangsters

Tucked away behind Circular Quay is the Justice and Police museum, based on the old police building and courthouse.

Entry is only $10, and recently they had a special exhibit called City of Shadows, based on thousands of old police photos from the 1920s which were recently found in a warehouse

The museum is small, but really interesting, especially the special exhibition. There were three section with photos, one about historic Sydney, one of crime scenes and one of criminals. The photos have been made into a film with voice-over which you watch as you first go in. The crime scene pictures were quite harrowing. I watch a lot of crime and detective dramas on TV, but knowing its real is pretty different. A lot of the pictures had blood and violent scenes, and quite a few had actual bodies in. There probably should have been a warning about it for the children!

Grizzly crime scene

Grizzly crime scene

The pictures of the criminals were all done as portraits, rather than just standard mug shots. They don’t know the story, but it seemed like the photographer asked them to pose how they wanted, so a lot of ganger character came through in the shots. They were really interesting to look at, and some of them had accompanying stories about their crimes.

Lady gangster

Lady gangster

In other parts of the museum you could sit in the judges chair, go into the cells (which were pretty small with nothing in, and used to hold 12 people), and see the old reception room complete with original furniture. One room was full of weapons ( including guns, axes, swords, daggers, maces and other grizzly implements). Some of them had actually been used to murder people.

Its not really on the list of major tourist attractions in the city, but it was definitely worth a visit. And there was this…. 🙂

Police Dog riding a mini car!

Police Dog riding a mini car!

 

Vivid1

It’s weird that now we have been here over a year, the same major events are coming around again. The Vivid light festival is one of my favourite Sydney events, which I wrote about before, here.

This year I went twice, once on my birthday and then again the following weekend with my friend Toby. Again the projection onto the Opera House was my favourite part. The Opera House is very cool anyway, and when its transformed with the lights and music I find it amazing. The show had animal patterns, a video game, a section about the construction of the opera house where they built and took it apart, it got splatted with paint and had lightning hit it.

Customs House and the Contemporary Art Centre both had big projections on them too, as well as other installations like giant inflatable white rabbits, lit up boats around the Harbour and a musical fountain in Darling Harbour.

I didn’t take my tripod along but managed to get some relatively good pictures hand holding my F1.8 fixed 50mm. Here’s some of my favourites.

vivid4

 

vivid3

 

vivid2

 

VividRabbit

 

vividdog

 

Sydney Olympic Pool (Milsons Point)

Sydney Olympic Pool (Milsons Point)

On the lower North Shore of the Harbour by Milsons Point (near the scary clown face theme park) is the Sydney Olympic swimming pool. Its almost right under the Harbour bridge, which makes for some great views. 86 world records have been set there since it opened in 1936 including at the 1938 Empire Games.

After going past it on the train most days I decided recently it was time to eventually try it out. Outdoor swimming pools are pretty common over here on account of the good weather. There’s one near our flat, which is $7 a swim. The one right by the Harbour Bridge is…..$7 a swim! In my mind its a total bargain. There are some extra costs though – I did pay an extra $2 to use the sauna and jacuzzi, and another $2 for a locker, and $1 for a shower token. I probably wouldn’t bother with those again, apart from the shower. The locker you can only access once, so no good if you want to go back for your sun cream or book. Most people seemed to just leave their bags around, which I reckon is fine if you make sure not to bring a load of money or cards with you.

There’s a 50m outdoor pool with salt water, a 25m indoor pool, kids area and a sun deck and cafe too.  From the stands and sun deck you can look over the harbour and opera house. I enjoyed my swim there, although would have preferred freshwater to salt water. It was pretty quiet with only 2-3 people to a lane most of the time, although that was a weekday afternoon. I imagine the weekends are packed out. I’ll probably make another trip back soon. 

John Lennons glasses

John Lennons glasses

In Sydney, on the edge of the Harbour overlooking the Opera House if the Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia. They have a free collection which changes regularly, and rotating paid exhibits to.

Since November there has been a series by Yoko Ono there called War is Over! (If you want it). Tickets are $20 and I thought it was worth a look. There are about 25 different works there, and I spent about 90 minutes going around. The works include sculptures, installations, interactive pieces, films and photographs. The theme (according to the booklet) is about “capturing the power of the human mind to transcend the present and wish for a better world in the future, without conflict”.

I enjoyed the art, and here are some of my favorite pieces (some of this stuff is a bit profound):

Play it by Trust: Another interactive work, these were chess sets where all the pieces on both sides are white. The piece is originally from 1966. Once you start playing and the pieces mix together its hard to know who’s piece is which, the idea of competition breaks down and it is meant to create a shared understanding and a new relationship based on empathy rather than opposition. Like in a real life battle or war I guess, if you realise we are all people. Matt wasn’t there to play a game with me, but given that he wouldn’t have been able to win i’m not sure he would have enjoyed it!

Play it by Trust chess set

Play it by Trust chess set

Telephone in maze: This is what it sounds like. The maze is made of perspex, and very disorientating as you can’t easily tell where the walls actually are. When you go in they warn you to put your hands in front of you as they’ve had a few minor injuries! I was OK inside the maze, but may have had a slightly embarrassing moment when I tried to go into it in a place which wasn’t the door! (Ooops). 

Doors and sky puddles: This was a big room, with a out 10 upright and a couple of fallen over suspended tatty doors with small messages from Yoko on them. On the floor were puddles coloured like the sky – sky is a recurring theme in a lot of the pieces. The booklet says ‘doors are just a figment of our imagination’ and barriers exist in our mind as much as in reality and that we need strength and courage to pass on through them. This idea resonates well with me. What barriers do you make for yourself? What if you didn’t? (A problems not a problem until its a problem).

Doors and Sky Puddles

Doors and Sky Puddles

We’re all water: This is named after a song with John Lennon, and is a wall full of glass bottles, all full of the same amount of water. They all have names of famous people on them from Charles Darwin to Hitler and Cleopatra. The idea (I expect) is all about highlighting the commonality between different people. It made me think about the nature of the self – briefly, until that all became a bit profound.

Touch me III: This was weird. Its about violence done to women and is a series of boxes, with silicone body parts in it laid out in a body shape, some of which have become deformed and worn over time. You’re invited to touch them, which I did. It was very strange as the silicone was a lot wobblier and softer than I expected. That’s all.

Vertical Memory and Wish tree for Sydney: These two pieces were on a similar theme of participation. In the first one you wrote where you wanted to go on a luggage tag and put it into a suitcase (I really had to think about narrowing my list down for that one). The second one was you wrote down a wish and tied it to one of several lemon-scented eucalyptus trees out on the balcony overlooking the Opera House. Its about Yokos belief in the power of the mind to effect positive change. 

It’s definitely worth a visit if you like art, even a little bit. Hopefully this post wasn’t too out there!

 

l there is

12. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Reviews · Tags: ,
The boar with the luiky nose

The boar with the luiky nose

When we were down in Melbourne we did the ‘I’m Free’ city tour. Knowledgeable, friendly people in bright green t-shirts take you on a walking tour of the city for about 3 hours. There isn’t a fixed fee, and they’re not paid, but instead you pay them a tip of what you thought the tour was worth at the end.

The Melbourne tour was really very good, so we said that at some point we would try the Sydney equivalent and we got around to it back in January. Although we’d been here nearly a year by then we figured there were bound to be some things we hadn’t seen yet and we didn’t really know a lot about the city history, so it seemed like a good chance to find out.

We met our tour guide Dee outside Town Hall and spent some time working out what major attractions they were likely to take us too. We got most of it right, expect the tour missed out Darling Harbour, although it did get a mention. First up we heard about the history of Gorge Street and how it didn’t used to be so important, hence ending up with a cathedral you enter via the back door as it was built facing the main road at the time which then became disused. We headed up to the Queen Victoria Building after that where we discovered the statue of Queen Victoria’s dog which talks, and that the historic clocks inside have figurines inside which move on the hour including an hourly beheading of Charles I!

We discovered plenty of other places on our trip including the inside of Customs House, the First Fleet memorial, Australia Square and the Rum Hospital (with the lucky boar above), and learnt about some of the city history too which was good. Just like in Melbourne our guide was knowledgeable, friendly and enthusiastic. We also got a map which had a good list of attractions on it, including some more obscure ones which we will try and see this year – like Hyde Park Barracks, the Rocks Discovery Museum, the money museum and plenty more. Lots of these are free too which is great! 

I’d totally recommend the tour, if you’re new to Sydney and have a few hours to spare or you’ve been here a while and want to get to know it a bit better. 

Artistic bird cages (with sound)

Artistic bird cages (with sound)

Albert and I

Albert and I

Soon after we first arrived we bought annual Merlin passes which are a great value way to see a lot of Sydney attractions. They included Madame Tussaudes in Darling Harbour.

This isn’t really the kind of attraction which would usually interest us, but as it was effectively free with our pass we thought we might as well check it out. The place is divided into about 12 sections including things like history, movie stars, A list, musicians, world figures and sports. Its fairly heavily geared around the big ticket celebrities with some other world figures thrown in like President Obama, the British Royal Family, Einstein, the Dali Lama and some heavyweights from the medical profession too. Being in Sydney there was some bias to famous Aussies including Paul Hogan, Hugh Jackman, Kylie, Danni, Rolf Harris (no mention of any scandal) and Dame Edna.

Mark Webber

Mark Webber

We went on a Sunday so it was pretty busy, especially around the more popular figures where people were queuing to have their photos taken (the longest one was for One Direction which had its own queuing system set up). There were props provided which you could use in your photos like a Crocodile Dundee hat, which I thought was a good idea.

I thought the wax works were pretty realistic. You definitely got a creepy feeling looking closely at them that they were going to move and make you jump! (Well I did anyway). They had a Justin Beiber which amused me as one man was walking around and said ‘Ah, there’s Beiber. I wanna punch him!’

It was worth seeing and I’m glad we went, but I certainly wouldn’t have paid the walk up price of $40. In all we probably spent about 45 minutes there. 

After we went to Pancakes on the Rocks pancake house. Matt won a $50 voucher to go there at a chin up competition at a friends circus event. The pancake house is open 24/7 to meet your pancake needs at any time of day or night. They have a selection of both savoury and sweet pancakes, breakfast pancakes and also meals not involving pancakes for those who want to go to a pancake house and eat something you’d find at a pub! We started with some savoury pancakes of course. Mine was mexican beef which was OK, but nothing massively exciting. The real win was in the dessert pancakes. Matt had Devonshire pancakes (buttermilk bancakes with clotted cream and jam) and I went all our for the Jaffa Pancakes. These had orange segments in grand marnier sauce aside chocolate buttermilk pancakes with cream and vanilla ice cream and topped with chocolate sauce and chocolate chips. Yummy! I was defeated,  couldn’t even finish it all and thought I might explode. The chocolate pancakes were an excellent idea, and although they were slightly dry all the sauce, ice cream and booze soaked orange pieces covered this up pretty well. If you twisted my arm I’d definitely go back for some dessert pancakes.

Rolf Harris

Rolf Harris

 

Old prison building

Old prison building

One weekend back in December we took a trip to Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour. It’s a train ride to the city and then about a 25 minute ferry ride. As it was a Sunday Matts whole trip was capped at $2.50 and mine was free as I’d already made 8 trips that week on my Opel card (like Oyster).

Entry to the island is free too. It’s about 500m by 360m so not very big. For a gold coin donation you get a guide book and can go on a self guided tour. As we arrived about midday and were in no rush we did the full Island tour of 2.5 hours.

Originally the island was a prison for the worst of the worst convicts who were sent away from nearby Goat Island or we’re repetitive offenders. The conditions were pretty terrible. During WW1 the island changed its use and be me a big base for boat building to support the war effort. There are lots of old naval buildings there now which are cool to wander about. A lot of them are sided as film sets as they’re basically big abandoned warehouses.

View from Cockatoo Island

View from Cockatoo Island

There are two long tunnels on the island, one called dog leg tunnel (it has a bend it in), which was built as an air raid shelter when the island became an obvious target during the war. We walked through the tunnel and found a geocache there along with another one somewhere else on the island.

We had some disappointment at the half way point of the walk when the cafe had sold out of ice creams! Luckily we found another cafe further on which wasn’t on the Mao which did have some for us (along with a German sausage van which my brother will appreciate).

Incidentally, there aren’t any cockatoos on the island any more, just a lot of very noisy seagulls.

You can camp on the island in tents they have put up there all year or hire out some of the historic cottages. It would be quite cool although there’s not a right lot to keep you entertained much more than a day!

Cockatoo Island Camping

Cockatoo Island Camping

Overall it was a good day out and worth the trip. I always like going on the ferry and the fact it was super cheap was great too.

Exciting news – we have a new page on our website!

On our fridge, and in more detail in my head, we have a To Do List. It’s not one of those boring ones about hoovering and chores though, but about all the places to go and things to do while we’re over here in Australia. We’ve added the new page to share it with you and you’re more than welcome to give us ideas too! I’ve also summarised what we have done so far with handy links in case you want to know about something in particular.

You can get to it by clicking the button under the main picture called To Do List (to the right of Home) or by clicking HERE.

Not quite the king of the jungle

Not quite the king of the jungle

Whilst in Melbourne on holiday with Phil and Rhiannon from the UK, we took the opportunity to go and see King Kong the musical.

This is new and is only on in Melbourne. The organisers have guaranteed they won’t put it on anywhere else in Australia because it too big and complicated to move. And if they do we get a refund of the ticket price, the flights from Sydney and a nights accommodation!

The show was in the Regent Theatre, a 1920s style building which was super ornate, both in the theatre itself and the other rooms.

The plot follows the standard King Kong tale where aspiring Director Carl Denham and young actress Ann Darrow travel to the mysterious Skull Island to film the ‘beast’ for his new film.

The show was truly awesome – in the sense of actual awe, where you go ‘wow’! The show features a cast of over 50 and the most high tech effects I’ve ever seen in a show. Before you even get to the 30 foot King Kong there were all sorts of set changes, a lot of excellent projection including with infrared sensors to pick out people’s outlines and project directly onto them, and a floor that rocked about like the ship. The ship has a mad Scottish captain who was entertaining.

King Kong himself was amazing. The first scene he appears in when he picks Ann from the vines was done very well and actually pretty scary! He was 30 foot tall, weighs 1.1 tonnes and is mainly moved by a series of men moving and jumping to pull on wires or lifting his legs. He moved really like a real gorilla which was impressive. His head is robotic and the facial features were all very realistic and made you actually feel very sad for him. Zips or panel on his body opened up to show red lights underneath when he got hurt. His noises were really loud and he came nice and close out to the audience quite a few times. There was also a surprise other giant animal which was very cool.

The show itself was a good spectacle with lots of singing and dancing with big choreography, cool outfits (including ladies in furry grey kong leotards!) and good music. Some of the singing was a bit variable, but I often find that with musicals. There was some artistic licence going on, but it was within reason I thought. The ending was quite abrupt and sad, so if they do re-run it I think that could definitely be improved.

I managed to resist the $35 cuddly Kong at the end!

I would totally recommend the show to anyone who has the opportunity to go and see it. For me it definitely raised the bar in terms of projection and effects. I’d give it a 9.5/10 as it only lost points because of the sad ending and a bit of dodgy singing.

Every year around Bondi Beach for about two weeks they have the FREE ‘Sculptures by the Sea’ festival, which does what you could expect. It’s been going 17 years, so it must be good!

According to the guidebook its the largest annual sculpture exhibition in the world, and the largest free cultural event in Australia! There were over 100 sculptures (107). Knowing it would be busy, we went one weekday evening after work. It was popular, but not stupidly busy. The area between Bondi and Tamarama beach is very scenic already, so with added sculptures there were some pretty cool views.

I’m not particularly arty, but sculpture is probably my favorite kind of visual art. I really enjoyed it, especially with the sculptures out in the natural landscape rather than in a gallery. Admittedly some of them were pretty weird, and I didn’t really ‘get’ them. Here are some of the highlights for me.  I added some artistic commentary from the brochure in places.

Like a flower swaying in the wind – One of two moving sculptures.

sculpture6

Multiverse – Cool stacked discs which reminded me a bit of a mountain cairn. Apparently this actually ‘expresses conundrums of time and space and refers to the idea of multiple universes’. So there.

sculpture9

Ocean cathedral – Archway made of bamboo which framed the landscape…’transient and ephemeral, swaying in the wind.’

sculpture8

The Great Bondi Sharehouse – This was fabric anemones and sea creatures attached to a big rock. They were really bright and colorful so looked really cool against the rock.

sculpture10

Diminish and ascend – Very cool staircase pointing off into the air. ‘A compelling perspective illusion that requires the viewer to literally diminish to ascend’.

sculpture7

Nomadic city – Mini tents filled with plants on the cliffs and powered by solar lights. This one was cool in a weird way and reminded me of some crazy spot Matt would think its a good idea to camp in! Really its a commemorative work to nomadic communities displaced from their homelands.

sculpture4

Plastic world – A globe of the Earth made of plastic rubbish left in the sea.

sculpture3

East of the Mulberry tree – the legend of the ten red crows – Crocheted polypropylene crows

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Passage secret – Big metal oval you can look through out to see which ‘pushes the boundaries of reality to open portals into another dimension’! Maybe we should have walked through it, but I went with the ‘don’t touch the art’ approach.

sculpture5

Horizon – My favorite. A ball filled with water on the cliff which reflects the landscape and sea back, upside down. It acts as ‘a monument to the coastal landscape and the constant line of the horizon.’ Yours for a mere $80,000!

sculpture1

Which do you like best?

drag1

My inner motorsport enthusiast was super keen to go and see some Drag Racing recently at Sydney Dragway. It was the Sydney finals.

We went on a scorchingly hot Sunday when it hit 35 degrees with not too much shade. The day opened with a marching band playing the Rocky theme tune – awesome! 🙂

Basically two cars go head to head to see who can cover a 1/4 mile track the quickest. They record the top speeds as well. There were a whole host of different categories, and I didn’t really understand what the difference between them all . They had Nitro cars, alcohol powered cars, door slammers (?!), outlaw (?!) retro cars, drag bikes, full on dragster cars (Top Fuel) with parachutes and some others which I can’t remember.

The word of the day was definitely noisy. We took ear plugs and certainly needed them. Everything was really loud, especially the custom dragsters – they got to over 400kph and the ground literally shook when they raced.

It was a pretty entertaining day, and you could walk around the pits and see the repairs and work being done on all the cars. I have to say though 7 hours was a tad too long to watch two cars going in a straight line, so we might not go for the whole day next time!

It was also a total bargain. We paid $40 each online and when we got there, because was female, I got the laydee price of $20, so got $20 back. We also got free Top Gear magazine and another motoring magazine too. There weren’t any men in dresses and heels though which was a slight disappointment.

Brooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooom!

drag2

Apprentice Restaurant, Sydney

Apprentice Restaurant, Sydney

We went for a meal out recently at the Sydney TAFE Apprentice Restaurant. This is nothing to do with The Apprentice TV show or Lord Sugar. Rather, its part of the collge where they train chefs and front of house staff.

For $30 you can book in which includes a welcome drink and a 4 course meal – bargain! I People at work did make some food poisoning jokes, but I’d heard good reviews and figured they wouldn’t let anyone loose on the paying public if they couldn’t cook things that were edible!

The restaurant was on the 7th (top) floor of the college building, and set out like a proper restaurant. It was half used as it was a slow week night – with a table of 10 celebrating a birthday and 4 tables of 2. Our welcome drink was our own choice (woo), so we went for a different wine each. I had a NSW Semillion Sauvignon Blanc. They were very generous and filled our huge wine glasses very full, so we probably had about 1/3 of a bottle each in one glass! They were very drinkable too. By the end of the second course we decided to go for another glass each and pay for that on top.

For each of the four courses there were two things on the menu. We weren’t too sure if we got a choice or not. Turns out we got one of each dish and it worked out well as we probably would have ordered different things anyway. We ate:

Appetiser:

King fish ceviche with tomatoes and avocado wrapped in a courgette slice (E)

Sushi rolls with wasabi soy sauce (M)

Entrée:

Warm salad of duck breast with roasted beetroot and cider dressing (E)

Cream of pumpkin and ginger soup (M)

Main:

Stuffed roasted leg of lamb with mint jus, garlic potatos and baby vegetables (E)

Green chicken curry with green beans and jasmine rice (M)

Dessert:

Vanillla panna cotta with strawberries and almond biscotti (Shared)

Bannana pudding with toffee sauce and pistachio ice cream (Shared)

The duck salad was my favourite thing. It was presented really well on a long rectangular plate  (shame I didn’t take a photo) and had loads of tasty bits and pieces in it. The duck was medium so still pink with crispy fat. In the salad was also roasted beetroot, salad, tomatoes, grapefruit segments for sourness and honey roasted macademia nuts for sweetness and crunch.

Laura our waitress was helpful and friendly. Apparently they are assessed a every service. At the endof the night we got the bill for the extra drinks, and it turns out the extra wine was $3.50 per glass. Considering getting wine anywhere in Sydney for $7.50 is a total bargain, this was amazing!

Overall I’d give it a definate 8.5/10 ad would be keen to go back. There was very nice food, good service and overall a total bargain!

23. October 2013 · Write a comment · Categories: Reviews · Tags:
Helicopter

Helicopter

Recently it was the Australian Navy’s 100 Year Fleet Review (see here).

The Australian Navy has now been around for 100 years, so to celebrate a whole host of war ships and tall ships got together in Sydney and there was a massive firework, projection and laser show over the October long weekend (yes, we get a long weekend in October here, but not in May).

For us there were two parts of the Fleet Review. On the Saturday there were lots of ships to look at in the Harbour, fly-bys and a fireworks show. In a separate post I’ll write about the Money where we went on to a whole load of the ships for a proper nosey around.

Matt is more into the details than me. I know there were fly bys by a Hornet which is super fast, and the Australian equivalent of the Red Arrows. The city was packed. On Toby’s recommendation we grabbed a cheeky afternoon drink at a cool spot on the Harbour with views of the bridge, which not many tourists know about! We watched the spectacular up at Observatory Hill which has cool views to the Bridge and along a lot of the Harbour.

Our viewing spot

Our viewing spot

I found the start of the show a bit disjointed because we couldn’t see much of the projection or hear the music. Because the show covered such a big area of the Harbour I don’t think many people would have seen the whole thing, unless they were on a boat or in the sky. We got a good view of the full thing later on the TV replay! It was cool to have been there to see it, and the fireworks got really epic and very loud towards the end – the giant bangs.

More on the boats themselves another time…

BOOM!

BOOM!

My trusty kindle

My trusty kindle

Before I get into the topic of my recent readings, I’ll start with a confession.

I have a kindle and I love it. My mum used to be a librarian, Matt’s dad works in printing so there’s a bit of a book bias in the family! I hate reading things on a computer screen, so if I have much to read at work I do tend to print things out. I love the smell and feel of a nice old book so wasn’t convinced about the kindle at first, but now I am totally converted. The main reasons I like it are:

  • The e-ink is just like reading a real book – no glare or computer like qualities at all
  • You can fit so many books in one small space – perfect for holidays travelling and even the train to work
  • Loads of books are FREE – yes, free. Those published before a certain date and those from new authors don’t cost you a penny and
  • Its easy to hold – no pages to fiddle with

So there you are. I read a lot of books on the Kindle, My favorite genres are fantasy and crime, with some non fiction and easy reading thrown in for good measure. Here’s some of the books I’ve read recently:

Game of Thrones (all 5 books), George R.R. Martin: These are awesome! I read them all before seeing the two series on TV. I can’t wait till the next book, although I’ve sort of forgotten where it all got too. The characters are well developed and I love all the fantasy stuff with dragons and mythical lands. The names f people and places in books can be a bit hard to follow, so probably watching the TV show first would help give you an idea of how it all fits together. We will be watching Series 3 soon!

The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkein: I read this last year ahead of the film coming out again, after reading it first in Primary school (I was an advanced reader!). I love it almost as much as GOT.

The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling:  I read this quite recently. For me the book was a real contrast between two sides of the story. On the one hand was the banal small village politics of local Councils and on the other was a gritty, and at times harrowing story about the teenagers and children around the village who get involved in drugs, self harm, unprotected underage sex, abuse and death. It was though provoking and I was interested that JK Rowling could write well about some pretty hardcore issues.

Life of Pi, Yann Martel:  I haven’t seen the film of this, so the book had me a bit confused at first as its a bit obscure and philosophical / religious. I’m glad I persevered though, its a great story. Who can’t like a book with a tiger called Richard Parker?

The Penal Colony, Richard Herley: This was a random Kindle book, about a man sent to a Penal colony on a remote Scottish Island. There are no guards and people have to spend the first week fending for themselves in the wild before they are accepted into the colonies. I really enjoyed this book as it was a bit different.

What have you read recently? Any recommendations for me?

Post warning: Best not to read if you’re really hungry!

For our first wedding anniversary we went for a meal at Restaurant Tristan in Horsham, which was awarded a Michelin Star shortly after and was excellent. I totally recommend it.

How time flies – recently it was our second anniversary and being a bit of a food lover I thought we should go somewhere for a nice meal. In Australia they don’t have the Michelin system, but use Chefs Hats instead. Good top restaurants can get one, two or three hats. 

After deciding I wanted to go somewhere with a degustation menu (‘A menu in which a series of small portions of unusual dishes is offered for tasting’ (Wikipedia)) I did some research and picked Sails in Lavender Bay. Its a One Hat restaurant, which seemed like a good place to start our Sydney fine dining adventure. The 9 course menu looked great, was reasonably priced in comparison to other places offering a similar thing and the restaurant itself it on the waterfront opposite Lunar Park with a view back to the Bridge and Opera House.

We decided to go all in with the matched wines which I’ve not done before. All in all we got 9 lots of food and 7 drinks – prosecco, 2 whites, 2 red, dessert wine and a port!

Here’s what we ate:

 SailsMenu

Its hard to pick a favorite course. The goats cheese pannacotta was really nice, super smooth and was presented really nicely with bright flowers, normal and orange beetroot slices and little colored jellies. I really enjoyed the scallops and surprised myself enjoying the cauliflower puree with those ass i’m not a cauliflower fan. The duck was awesome with masses of flavor and of course the chocolate desert with port was top notch. Although the wines were small 7 was quite enough!

10 our of 10!

One night after work we went on a night tour at the Sydney observatory for some star gazing.

There were a few bits to the tour: walking around the museum yourself, 2 telescope viewings, some 3D films and looking at the stars outside.

They had two different telescopes, a fancy high powered new sciencey looking one, and another that was more ‘classic’ and over 200 years old. We saw Saturn and Venus through these respectively. Saturn was cool, you could see the actual rings clearly. In comparison Venus just looked like a star really. I liked being in the towers. They are made of copper and the roof spins around depending on where you want to view – it made me think of mad scientists cackling manically.

The films were good for making you think about the scale of the universe and our significance in it. Our guide was good at explaining things and answering questions – Matt and I couldn’t resist some tricky ones about the shape of the universe and whats outside of it. Mind boggling stuff.

Definitely worth a trip.

The photos didn’t come out too well. We did see some cool lanterns from the Korean Buddism Festival on the way home, so here’s one of those instead! 

Koala paper lantern

Koala paper lantern

31. August 2013 · Write a comment · Categories: Reviews · Tags:
Big guns

Big guns

Back in July we went on a trip to the Australian National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour.

With Matt working on things for the navy, I was a bit worried about being bored stiff while he spent hours looking at every last thing. Luckily, it was actually pretty interesting! I’ll apologise now for my totally incorrect use of naval terminology.

Although its a museum its really interactive, and you get to walk around several different boats and a submarine. Here were the highlights for me:

Going on the submarine (HMAS Onslow): It was pretty cramped down there, I definitely couldn’t work on one of them, even though I’m short enough to not bang my head too much!

Boarding the submarine

Boarding the submarine

Replica of Captain Cook’s HMB Endeavour: This was pretty interesting. Having thought the submarine was cramped, the bottom desk of Endeavour took it to a whole new level, where you literally had to crawl around on your hands and knees! I liked all the old school wood, and couldn’t resist a piratey ‘Yaaaaarrrrrr!’ when we boarded!

Elysium Antarctic Visual Epic: one of the special exhibits they had when we were there was a photography exhibition from National Geographic photographers visiting the Antarctic. This was very cool, particularly all the shots of penguins!

Verdict: Certainty worth a visit, even if you don’t think you’ll be interested!

Captian Elly!

Captian Elly!

 

Soooooooo cute

Soooooooo cute

Ever since I found out about it, I’ve been wanting to visit Australian Reptile Park. It’s about an hours drive north from our place, up towards the central coast and not near any public transport, so I’ve had to patently wait until we got a car.

Now I love reptiles, and used to have them as a pet, so this was a pretty exciting adventure for me. On top of that, the name is slightly misleading – although its focussed around reptiles, probably more than 50% of the park is for Australian wildlife and birds. This means kangeroos, koalas and of course super-cute wombats!

I had an awesome time! 🙂  Most of the day was a highlight, but here were some of the particularly awesome bits:

Patting a wombat: He was sooooooooooo cute. They are well up there with penguins in the favourite animal stakes now. so far at zoo’s I’ve only seen them asleep or with their heads buried in food bowls, so getting to squeal over how cute they were up close, AND give one a stroke was brilliant. I also managed to accost a kangeroo for a cuddle, and pat a koala too – hopefully he didn’t give me chlamydia – most of them have it you know! :-S

Reptile show: The reptile show was cool, with the worlds largest kind of gecko, a tegu, baby croc and python that nearly strangled the keeper. There were lots of other shows on throughout the day with talks from the main keeper who was a bit of a comic character! One had a rattlesnake which impressed me – the rattle was much louder than I’d have thought. (Luckily you don’t get them in Australia though).

Rattle snaaaaaaaaaaaake

Rattle snaaaaaaaaaaaake

Elvis the crocodile: Elvis is another 5 meter long ‘big boss croc’ from up in Darwin. We didn’t get to find out much about his life story like we got a Wild Life Sydney, but we did get to see him being fed chickens off a stick, which was good to watch – the bang as he snapped his jaws shut was pretty impressive, along with his jumping skills.

Elvis the Big Boss Croc

Elvis the Big Boss Croc

Tasmanian Devils: Again, we’d only seen these guys asleep before. The ones here were really active which was good to see, and we found out some more about the conservation work going on. The Tassie Devils are in danger becasue of a disease, so the Reptile park is helping support a program to breed them in captivity to ultimately make sure they don’t go extinct. I gave some money and got a badge!

Tasmanian Devil

Tasmanian Devil

Galapagos tortoise: The giant galapagos tortoise went on a walk around the park and got to have his lunch while lots of people patted him! His shell was cool, huge and nice and warm! 

Tortoise lunchtime

Tortoise lunchtime

Verdict:  This gets no less than an awesome 9.8 /10! I just had to deduct a bit becasue I can live without the spider exhibit, and they failed to provide me with a decent cup of tea! (See, I’m still British at heart!)