03 Apr
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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

8 April 2011

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7th April 2011

To my surprise the Sydney Opera House is every bit as beautiful and engaging to the eye as the hyperbole would suggest. To say it gives a focal point to the harbour view is an understatement. To my mind it makes the harbour view. I tried to envisage Sydney’s harbour without the opera house and while it would still be attractive it would not really be iconic. Not like Hong Kong’s harbour is. The renowned Sydney Harbour Bridge is only really notable as a counterpoint to the opera house; on its own it couldn’t really hold a candle to the Golden Gate Bridge, for example.

My other surprise for today is the attractiveness of Sydney’s old neighbourhoods. The area we’re staying in is Newtown, a very eclectic patch full of unusual shops, independent galleries, ethnic restaurants, stylish cafes and beautifully restored Victorian terraced town houses rubbing up against broken down remnants of the area’s less salubrious past. Think Camden or Brighton. It goes without saying I like it very much.

We explored a lot today, including the Royal Botanic Gardens with an enormous colony of flying foxes occupying all the big trees around the middle of the gardens. Dangling leather-clad bats and delicate pink cherry blossom make for an odd juxtaposition. In one of those ‘it’s never simple’ scenarios that show up in conservation work, it turns out that the bats are damaging some rare and important trees in the gardens… but the bats themselves are also a protected species. Tricky.

We also thoroughly perambulated an area called The Rocks, a warren of alleys and staircases which serves as the central locality for wall-to-wall tourist eateries and souvenir shops that every major city possesses. Eventually we found we had explored too much, and limped to the nearest train station for a trip back to our lodgings. We always do this. My feet ache like the very devil and Maureen has nodded off on the sofa.


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