So I arrived in Sydney yesterday night. Sydney has from 2.5 to 4.5 million people, depending on who you ask, but its actual business and shopping core is not all that big; you could walk from one side to another in less than an hour. Even so, there’s a lot to see. In the morning, I went to the Australian Museum, which was average although quite cheap to get in. It had a curiously varied set of exhibits, from geology (is there any way to make that subject interesting? I think not) to skeletons and biodiversity. Most of them weren’t hugely engaging and seemed to lack the vast amounts of funding that larger museums such as those in London or Washington DC possess. Ah well.
(Incidentally, I have a few ideas about how to improve museums. I won’t go into detail here, it deserves a longer essay, but I do feel that museums are currently trying to cater to too many types of audience and age-ranges. Completely besides from that, about 90% of computer exhibits are a waste of money.)
From there, I walked to Sydney Opera House via the Botanic Gardens. I have a soft spot for parks and gardens in the middle of cities; whoever first came up with the idea deserves a medal. While the parks surrounding the glasshouses of the botanic gardens were free to access, I was taken a little aback by having to pay to get into the tropical houses; until I realised that they were only asking for 50p. I have some great photos of the gardens that I’ll have to upload some time.
Sydney Opera House was predictably good, and the sun emerged from the clouds at just the right time. I also got a good view of the Harbour Bridge. It’s strange, seeing these famous landmarks in person that you’ve only seen on TV before. Your first reaction is, oh, there it is. Your second reaction is, hey, I’m actually in Australia now!
When I was setting out for the city centre in the morning, I spent a couple of minutes mulling over whether I should get a $30 AUD week pass for rail, buses and ferries in the centre, or just buy tickets as they came along (about $2.50 for a return). I eventually chose the week pass more for convenience than economy although I didn’t think there’d be much in it. As it turned out, the week pass was a great idea as I managed to get a ‘free’ ferry ride around the harbour using it, as opposed to a more expensive tourist ferry. It made me remember how much I miss the water in landlocked places like Cambridge.
After that, I strolled around the city looking at various shops and malls in an area called The Rocks. There was a pretty good band playing outside that I sat down and listened to for a while, and I passed by a couple of people singing Coldplay songs with a saxophone (Coldplay have a concert here sometime soon). I had to resist the urge to buy souvenirs, gifts and general touristy stuff in the knowledge that if there’s anywhere I’m going to be ripped off in Australia, it’s going to be in the tourist heart of Sydney.
And then I took a train back home. Following a bit of confusion about exactly where I was, I manaaged to make it back to the house. And here I am.
Other places I want to do: the PowerHouse museum, Chinatown, Darling Harbour, Star City Casino, the Imax, go up the Centrepoint Tower, more shopping.