Friday, March 30, 2012

Manly Wharf | Sydney

A nice girl from Sydney who had been following our travel blog emailed and asked if we wanted to meet up once we got to Sydney. There was no chance we'd pass up meeting with an Aussie local.

We decided Many Wharf would be a fun spot to meet since we'd have to take a ferry across scenic Sydney Harbour to get there. We hit it off with Gemma and her husband Andrew right off the bat. They are such a nice, creative, free-spirited couple who lives for adventure. They were getting ready to take off on their own 4 month travels at the time, and I have loved following their trip on Gemma's own blog since then (they hit a bunch of countries we missed and are excellent photographers, so it would be worth your while to check it out)! Making friends around the world is one of the coolest things about traveling. 

It was an overcast and rainy day in Manly Wharf, but the water was still full of surfers and the cafes on the waterfront were still serving hot coffee. It was such a lovely afternoon spent with good people. 

- Julia

The first handful of photos were taken from the ferry as we went across the Harbour.
Our new friends, Gemma and Andrew.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Around Sydney 2

While in Sydney, we headed out on a walking tour one day to learn a bit about the city. 

We learned on the tour that Botany Bay (now Sydney) was discovered in 1770 by James Cook Archibald from Britain. In 1776, Britain decided they would send all their convicts to New South Wales. The convicts were allowed to wander free because there was no way to escape from this big island in the middle of nowhere. After the convicts started killing and mugging each other, Hyde Park Barracks (pictured below) were built in 1819 to lock them up at night. The only architect in town was a convict, so they let him design some buildings (such as the Barracks, a church, and some government buildings). 

The land was originally thought to be uninhabited, but they later found that aboriginals had been there for 13,000+ years. Following many bloody battles and diseases, only 1% of Sydney's population is aboriginal today.

Some things we saw on the tour:

- Sydney Tower
- St. Mary's Cathedral (largest church in Australia)
- Hyde Park Barracks
- Sydney Hospital (oldest hospital in Australia)
- The Strand Arcade at the Pitt Street Mall (which has the second highest rent for retail space, New York's fifth avenue is first.)
- Sydney Opera House
- Harbour Bridge

St. Mary's Cathedral, the largest church in Australia.
Clock inside the Strand Arcade, a Victorian style shopping arcade open since 1892.
On the right is the Sydney Tower (called "The Golden Bucket" by locals), which is 309 meters tall.
British convicts sent to New South Wales were allowed to wander free because there was no way to escape. After they started killing and mugging each other, Hyde Park Barracks (pictured below) were built in 1819 to lock up convicts at night.
Taking a tour is great to learn about the statues around town. I'm sure these had some great stories behind them but I don't remember.The Australian coast of arms has an emu and a kangaroo on it because they physically can't walk backwards, meaning Australia would always be moving forward. Interestingly enough, you can find both of these animals to eat in an Aussie restaurant.
A model of Sydney beneath our feet.
Below is the oldest part of Sydney, known as The Rocks. This is where the British convicts and soldiers first settled. Many of the buildings have survived and been transformed into shops, restaurants, and a weekend market.
The unmistakable Sydney Opera House, a world-class performing arts center and a symbol of Australia .
The walking tour conveniently ended at The Rocks outdoor market where we were enticed by an entire street of food stalls. We treated ourselves to some bratwursts, which was awesome after a few hours of walking.