Paddy’s Markets, Darling Harbour, & the Museum of Sydney…

Wednesday, April 4

I think I’m finally getting the hang of the bus and train system. Maybe if I spent a week in NYC by myself, I’d figure it out, too. But for the time being, I will just be grateful that I can get from my residence to the bus, and then take that to Railway Square.

Instead of hurrying across two large lanes of traffic, I made my way into another Gloria Jean’s for coffee and a muffin. What leisure, to not worry about buses anymore! Then Laura and I met in front of Hungry Jack’s again, and headed for Paddy’s Markets.

I guess you could say the Markets are the giant flea market that resides in China Town, and has everything from regular stores on the second floor to fruits and vegetables downstairs, along with all the Sydney souvenirs. After waffling about it, I finally decided to go ahead and get a bunch of Sydney goodies, and then not have to get so much stuff on Friday. Besides, what if I didn’t get around to coming back?

After the Markets, we continued through Chinatown, where I’m still debating over what that sculpture/tree thing is supposed to be. I didn’t get close enough to see it, but at a distance, it looks like a cross between a tree and a giant gold hand. You decide.

As for myself, I can now claim to have bought a wombat in Sydney’s Chinatown. How many others can make that claim? Yes, it’s a stuffed toy, not a product of taxidermy, and it’s just for me. Besides, people at home will probably think it’s a bear, but I’ve read enough of Diary of a Wombat and The Muddleheaded Wombat to see how cute they are. Of course, if I had one digging in my yard, I might not think that. I was considering the one that’s bigger than Sadie, but I decided it would be hard to fit it into a suitcase… even by itself.  : )

We arrived at Darling Harbour, and took a look around, but didn’t stop to do very much besides take pictures. As you’ll see, Titanic 3D is playing in IMAX, but I wasn’t really up for watching it.

The fountain of cranes was quite lovely and fun. And the pedestrian bridge was a good way to get up and see everything. But though I could see the Aquarium, the Maritime Museum, and WILDLIFE Sydney from the bridge, we didn’t go to visit any of them.

We took the Monorail back to the vicinity of the Botanical Gardens, because I wanted to see the ANZAC Memorial. I saw the Memorial Park in Townsville, and had heard that the Memorial in Sydney was something to see, also. Perhaps they were talking about the one in Canberra, but since I didn’t have time to go there, I went to the Sydney one, instead.

On the way, we came across St. Mary’s Cathedral, which has a fountain in front of it, full of Greek gods. At least, I’m assuming they’re Greek, because none of them were dressed, and I think Roman gods would’ve worn animal skins or something. These statues didn’t even have strategically placed maple leaves, like in the Botanic Gardens, though, so there won’t be any close-ups.

By the way, can anyone tell me why naked statues in Sydney have those maple leaves, when Australia doesn’t even have maples? Then again, a eucalyptus leaf wouldn’t quite… ahem… cover the problem.

My favorite part of the fountain was the spitting turtles. There were also spitting fish, but they weren’t quite as cute, kind of scary-looking, actually.

After St. Mary’s Cathedral, where a wedding photo shoot was taking place, we walked down and attempted to get a look at the Coca-Cola sign at King’s Cross. Unfortunately, it was too far away to see clearly. We turned around, got a good look at the Tower Eye, the highest point in Sydney, which was definitely towering over us. For some reason, I keep wanting to call it Centerpoint Station, as in the Star Wars books. Maybe somebody called it that, accidentally, when they were with me? I can’t figure it out. Then, we crossed the park, nodding to the statue of Captain Cook, as we passed.

The next stop was the ANZAC Memorial, but I’m going to save that for another post. Remembering the sacrifices of “our boys”, no matter what country you come from… it shouldn’t be trivialized by including it with my tourism tales.

After the Memorial, I stopped at a Starbucks for lunch, where I had my first Caramel Macchiato in almost a year. Along with a thoroughly Aussie sausage roll and scone. The way I hear it, Starbucks used to have a bigger presence in AUS, but I’m not sure if the company overreached, or if there was too much competition. Whatever happened, they crashed and burned in Australia, leaving only a few of them in the big cities. After walking all over Sydney, though, I would say that they’re still maintaining a presence.

I finally located the Museum of Sydney, which was built on the foundations of the first Government House. If you remember the pictures of the dollhouse castle from the Botanic Gardens post, the original building was more like a very, very large plantation house. Ok, I’m not really slamming the new Gov’t House. I’m sure it looks bigger inside.

You can’t take pictures inside the museum, but there’s more to the outside of the place than you first realize. At one point, the ruins of the old House were in danger of being paved over and they were debating how to preserve their history, without closing off streets completely.

The compromise was reached when steel studs and white granite were used on the front area, to mark where the foundations lay. The granite slab that’s slanted up from the rest, it’s like that so people can see the original foundations through a glass, there. The upstanding logs are a piece of artwork to commemorate how the Aboriginals of the area first saw the First Fleet when they landed.

Inside, I wandered all over, especially enjoying the black and white films that told me what that dinky little fort was, out in Sydney Harbour. It’s Fort Denison, once called Pinchgut, and occasionally used to hang convicts that had really overstayed their welcome, even in Australia. It’s another example of how perspective can affect a location, as in my opinions of the size of Government House. Fort Denison looks like it’s about the size of my bedroom, compared to Sydney Harbour, and sitting in the shadow of the Harbour Bridge. But it’s actually quite big inside, even though it was never used for defense of the Harbour.

Another video told all about the building of the Harbour Bridge, though the narrator sounded like he was bored, from start to finish. Thankfully, the subject was quite interesting, to start with, so I didn’t let the narrator put me off. And seeing the videos of the area, before the Sydney Opera House was built, was fascinating, too.

Upstairs, I did better reading up on the history of people I had already heard about. I thought Lachlan and Elizabeth MacQuarie looked like a nice couple. He was one of the first governors, and she was interested in improving the culture and society. Even for a painting that’s really old, he was quite handsome. For those Americans who don’t know, there are tons of locations named after MacQuarie, as he was here early enough to name them all himself.

Also, there was a section on Jørn Utzon and several scale models of the Opera House, including the sphere that he used to illustrate how creating the “shells” of the House would be actually possible. The other architects and engineers had finally deemed it impossible, until Utzon stepped back into the picture. His explanation made it look like child’s play, both literally and figuratively, as the scale models looked like a set of children’s blocks.

The gift shop in the Museum of Sydney was quite fun, with all sorts of neat toys and interesting decorations, as well as gifts designed to go with the World War II display, upstairs. Talking about the Home Front in Wartime Sydney, there were many displays about what the women had to do while their men were away. The video also mentioned the arrival of American troops, and how they had to try and get along with the Sydneysiders.

I even bought one of the replica books that the Americans were provided, that explained a bit of what Australia was like and what to expect while they were there. I’ve only skimmed it, but it explains cricket and the size of the country to the bewildered American boys. Of course, that book was written before Hawaii and Alaska became states, so they could say that our countries were about the same size.

Yes, I find all the reminders on the roads, to look right, quite amusing and helpful. I’ve been here long enough to remember which way to look, but I think there are plenty of tourists who would get run over, without these reminders.

Then, I took in the view from the train station at Circular Quay, and went back to Newtown to look over my tourist treasures. No, I don’t know who I’m giving what, yet. I bought a wild array of things at Paddy’s Markets, for good prices, and I plan to decide on who gets what, when I get home. Because, remember, I’m also bringing home gifts that I’ve been buying for a year, so I’ve forgotten half of what I have.

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