Monday, January 1, 2001
The Henrys really impressed us by actually managing an 8:00am departure for their drive to the Brisbane area after our New Years celebration the night before. That left us to a quiet morning of phoning Bill’s parents, updating the travelogue and doing lots of e-mail. Then it was time to shoulder the day pack and on to prowl around Sydney. Our first objective was the Royal Botanic Gardens, near our fireworks vantage point the night before.
Our route through Hyde Park took us past parade preparations in celebration of the centennial anniversary of the Federation of Australian States. We also stopped to admire the inside of St. Mary’s Cathedral along the way. The Royal Botanic Gardens are all you’d expect, a collection of specialty gardens in a grand design. They border the water, affording excellent views of the Harbor Bridge and the Opera House. They are much too large to comprehend in a single visit. While there, we spent time in the succulent gardens, amazed at the sheer size of many of the specimens and visited the lotus garden with a huge display of white blooms, and a single pink one, on a large pond dedicated just to them. We had a delicious lunch at a small café right in the garden.
We cut our visit short to view the three hour long parade that went right by the western edge of the gardens. The three hour parade was clearly popular with viewers stacked ten deep along the street straining for a view of the action. There was a clear organization of the parade, with themes of war & peace, rebirth, etc. and sections that celebrated many states and regions of the country. The parade was a nearly perfect expression of what we’ve come to expect of the people here. That is to say that is was upbeat, patriotic and energetic with just a bit of naïveté. That is by no means a put down. It just seems that Australians still have an early 60s optimism that is really refreshing.
On the walk home we stopped at Martin Place to hear a musical set by two acoustical guitars, violin and bass that played across the musical spectrum with virtuoso performances of each of the instruments. Although we had intentions to get a nice dinner, we were beat and made due with snacks while we read and watched TV in the room.
Tuesday, January 2, 2001
Our final day in Sydney was beautiful, with a clear blue sky. We dedicated the morning to souvenir and gift shopping and touring Darling Harbor. This area is Sydney’s version of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, with lots of shops, restaurants, Imax Theater, Sega World and plenty of open plaza spaces with fountains and other water features. Near the edge of Darling Harbor is the Chinese Gardens. We toured this sanctuary from the city’s hustle and bustle and loved it. It is a beautiful garden full of traditional symbolism and features. There is lots of water, the garden’s blood, rocks, the garden’s bones, and earth and plants, the garden’s flesh. We were reluctant to leave.
On the way back to the hotel and our airport transfer, we made one more stop for pastries in China Town. Then we retrieved our luggage and boarded the airport shuttle that would eventually lead us to Caines.
Can you spell Hazy, Hot and Humid? We arrived after nightfall to heavy rain and lots of heat humidity. We were met by Tom Palmer who took us to their facility, the Palms Holiday Units, that would be our abode for the next four days. They are located in a small town named Trinity Beach, one of the so called “northern beaches”, located just north of the city of Cairns, pronounced “cans”. There we met Bev Palmer who showed us to our apartment, a two bedroom housekeeping affair. It was tidy and comfortable and we were tired. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.