Before you answer, how about you pull up a chair and I’ll wait on you hand and foot delivering up your choice of tea, coffee or Bonox. We can also get stuck into a packet of scrumptious Tim Tams. I know I’m not always the greatest host, and I’ve repeatedly nattered away without even asking how you’re going. So please make the most of the new me while it lasts.
The big development here this week is that our daughter, the inimitable Miss, went back to school on Wednesday going into Year 12, which is her final year at school. The start of the new school year is always a jolt. Holiday’s over. Time to face the music and get back to the real world. Or, at the very least, ensure she has a clean uniform and doesn’t run late on the first day. I ticked both of those boxes and much to my delight, she also agreed to have her photo taken before we took off. Could I be so lucky?!!
Returning to school, also means a return to dance.
I have to admit, I’m really looking forward to her getting her driver’s licence so I can hang up my taxi driver’s hat and stay glued on the couch.
Our son, JP, is still in holiday mode and having a trial run on a sound engineering job next Saturday night. We will be driving him to and from which means we’ll be picking him up from Wyong an hour away at 1.00am. So we’re really excited about him getting his driver’s licence too.
Meanwhile, I’ve been working flat out posting photos and accompanying stories from my three week stint house minding at Cremorne Point on Sydney Harbour. it’s taking a lot long than expected as I really jampacked a lot into some days and I’m doing multiple posts for these days. I am starting to wonder if I’ll ever get to the end. If you’d like to check out these posts, you can just scroll backwards from here.
While there are no doubt sports enthusiasts among you, I ended up watching an international ballet competition called the Prix de Lausanne through the week. Although Miss has been doing ballet for years, I’d never heard of the Prix de Lausanne, but my friend’s son was competing and I found myself rather enjoying and intrigued by the live stream. I don’t pretend to understand much about ballet, but I try. What I found interesting about this competition, is they also have classes and these are livestreamed so it allows dancers and teachers all around the world to tap into and absorb this expert advice and apply it to themselves. I was also delighted that another Australian dancer, Emily Sprout was competing and she did extremely well and was awarded a prize. Congratulations Emily! You can see her classical solo here if you’re interested.
My goodness! I could fall down on my hands and knees and thank all the architects or whoever it was who incorporated reflective surfaces into their structures! Have you ever noticed how they can produce such intriguing and captivating combinations of images just begging to be photographed? Of course, it helps when you have such stunning fodder as Sydney’s Opera House and Harbour Bridge. If by chance you also get the weather gods supplying perfect or intriguing light, don’t bother buying yourself a lottery ticket. You’ve already cashed in all of your good luck.
To be honest, I don’t recall truly exploring Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal. I’ve never been on a cruise or seen someone off there, although I have seen the massive cruise ships which I guess are anchored there the largest being Ovation of the Seas. So it was something new to check out and you know me, I was only looking at it through the lens and that was keeping me busy enough. BTW as I’ve mentioned before, I tend to zoom into the details of a building and forget to photograph the whole and as annoying as it is, I took no photos of the Overseas Passenger Terminal as a whole. Of course, I wasn’t thinking about writing a post about it once I arrived home. No I was too caught up in reflections.
Anyway, I thought I’d better provide a map showing the location of the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Sydney Cove just around from Circular Quay.
What attracted me to the Overseas Passenger Terminal was all the industrial equipment and other details. While Sydney Harbour has all it’s postcard glam, it’s also a working port and these striking industrial elements framed the Opera House well offering a fresh perspective. No doubt I’m not the first person photographing it from this angle. Indeed, there were even a few photographers lugging around tripods while I was there. However, my eye is my eye and who is to say that we’re seeing and photographing the same thing even if we were standing side-by-side?! Besides, one or both of us could screw up the shot, although at least in this digital era you can check before you leave and just keep snapping away until it works if need be.
Last but not least, photography from the Overseas Passenger Terminal isn’t just about reflections in the glass, but also some stellar up-close views of some of Sydney’s most iconic sights.
At the time I took these photographs, I was incredibly excited, especially with the quirky reflections I’d captured, but I’m intending to head back and see what else is possible, especially exploring the timing of the light.
Have you been doing much photography lately and what have you stumbled across?
After catching the ferry from Cremorne Point and the Museum of Contemporary Art closed, I headed for George Street, Tallawoladah (The Rocks), which is a short walk from Circular Quay. By the way, Tallawoladah was the name the original Cadigal people gave to the area Europeans have called The Rocks and it’s original name now appears prominently on signage which is good to see. About time, you could say. It wasn’t that long ago there was hardly a sign of Aboriginal Australia in the city. This is very different to how the Maori people are honoured and acknowledged in New Zealand, by the way, and something which seriously needed to change.
Thankfully my photographs are in order so I have some capacity to retrace my footsteps along George Street. Otherwise I’d have no idea what order everything slotted into and I’d probably have you jumping all over the place to keep up with my poor directions.
I didn’t get far, because just across the road from the Museum of Contemporary Art, my eager eye spotted the Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe across the road and I was in and I’ll never forget that indulgent slice of lusciously gorgeous chocolate mud cake. OMG!!!! it was superlatively good… silky smooth and so indulgent!! I sat outside and slowly imbibed it while sipping my cappuccino. I rarely drink coffee often these days so it gives you an idea just how special this moment was! There I was in Sydney, with a luscious slice of chocolate mud cake and a cappuccino after three years of serious deprivation. I might’ve been sitting down but inside I was swinging from the rafters. Yippee!! Life was superlatively good.
The Guylian Cafe is across the road from the famous Orient Hotel, which was originally built as a butcher shop in 1844. It’s been a famous pub for longer than I’ve existed. By this stage, it must’ve been around 6.00pm and it was literally buzzing with the after work crowd in full flight. Strangely perhaps, this was yet another moment I became acutely aware of the weirdness of our isolated lockdown world and my own enhanced isolation. I’ve barely been in a crowd for the last three years and there was a cacophony of voices across the road which sounded like threes full of Rainbow Lorikeets we get around here. To be very honest, it almost sounded like “blah, blah, blah!”
I kept walking.
Next stop was was Squidinky and much to my horror it was closed. OMG! To find something which mirrored my own personal quirkiness so precisely was like electricity to my heart and soul and for it to be closed…Oh woe is me! However, that said, I jumped on the computer when I got home and spent several hours perusing their website and there would be no doubt where I’d be heading the next morning…back to Squidinky along with the Museum of Contemporary Art.
As it turned out when I returned Max Mendez, the artist, was in. Oh be still my beating heart! My daughter would’ve been embarrassed if she’d seen me there because I’m always so effusive when I love something and I was literally salivating like a rabid dog. But as Kermit once said: “it’s not being green”, being different. Yet, at the same time, there’s such a refreshing beauty in it too which can take awhile to appreciate, especially in ourselves. After spewing out rapturous praise, Max said I lit up the room with my enthusiasm. Good to see someone appreciates me. BTW I found something very, very special at Squidinky…his Cockatutu range.
As a dance mum and well let’s just say someone who has done a few adult ballet classes even if I wasn’t star material, I absolutely loved it. Bought three plates and could’ve easily bought ten more and gave two to her ballet teachers as a thank you for Miss’s recent audition tape. I also recommend checking out Mark’s blog and seeing his lockdown project illustrating Sydney landmarks here.
By the way, I did think of getting a photo of Mark, and even of the two of us together, especially for the blog. He was so friendly that there’s no doubt he would’ve obliged but I was shy. Didn’t ask, which was very out of character, but perhaps I was too busy enjoyed the moment.
I kept walking.
After all these years of covid, lockdowns and insanity, it was good to be back at The Rocks again. I used to go to The Rocks as a child with mum and my brother and we’d go to Pancakes at The Rocks, which had the thick American style pancakes with maple syrup and whipped butter instead of our usual lemon and sugar or jam. Geoff went to The Rocks for a his sister’s pre-wedding dinner at the famous Spaghetti Factory. His mother initially was rather unimpressed. Coming from regional Tasmania, as far as she knew, spaghetti came from a tin and was hardly something special. My cousin was married at the famous Garrison Church but I didn’t make it there. It was up a hill and with my dodgy breathing, I was sticking to the flat.
Clearly, it was good to be back. Now that we’ve reached the Overseas Passenger Terminal, we’re going to hit pause and I’ll be back soon.
Have you been to Tallawoladah (The Rocks) and do you have any stories to share?
Being only a hop, step and a jump away from Circular Quay, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) was an obvious destination.
However, I was having a lot of trouble trying to navigate my way around the door display at the entrance and try though I may, I couldn’t work out how to get in and felt like an idiot. Well, you could only imagine how I was feeling when I found out it was already 5.30pm and the MCA was shut. Thank goodness they didn’t think I was trying to break in and called the police! Mind you, daylight Savings does that to you, giving you a false sense that everything’s still open and swinging from the rafters because it still looks like midday until about an hour before sunset at 8.00pm.
Anyway, I returned the next day and had a bit of a fossick around through the free sections.
As soon as you walk in, Vincent Namatjira’s larger than life mural P.P.F (Past-Present-Future) slaps you straight in the face. Vincent Namatjira OAM is an Aboriginal Australian artist living in Indulkana, in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara in South Australia. He has won many art awards, and after being nominated for Australia’s famed Archibald Prize several times, he became the first Aboriginal person to win it in 2020 In P.P.F. (Past-Present-Future), he has assembled seven figures significant to his life and practice in a large-scale ‘heroes narrative’. The work is semi-autobiographical – the artist states that each of the men represented on the wall have inspired him, and remind him of who he is. Read more here.
Personally, I was particularly encouraged by textilist, Julia Gutman, whose work: Isn’t it all just a long conversation? appeared in the Primavera Young Artist Exhibition 2022. Julia Gutman. I always seem to think of art as painting and trying to get things out in paint and getting them to look how I’d like is tough, but this work was a reminder that there are other ways to make a picture. Moreover, I’ve always loved collage and this is collage using fabric. The only downside is potentially having to wrestle with the sewing machine. Being mechanical and me having no mechanical empathy, the sewing machine and I have clashed in the past. Then again, there’s always hand-stitching and I’ve had a bit of practice on that front sewing ballet pointe shoes.
While the art is naturally why you visit the MCA, the building itself is very impressive and I wish I’d taken a photo of its entirety to share with you. However in my typical fashion, I have zoomed in and focused on aspects of the building and once again omitted the whole.
Of course, I managed to get a few door shots for Thursday Doors and these folks don’t care if the rest of the building is missing. It’s all about priorities.
Have you been to the Museum of Contemporary Art? Any thoughts?Perhaps, you might like to comment on the doors.
Forgive me ferries! It’s been years since my last ferry ride, but trust me! I’m seriously about to make up for lost time. Circular Quay here I come now I’m covid free and out of isolation!
Not being an early bird and being on the mend, I didn’t get to the wharf until halfway through the afternoon. At least, I got moving before sunset!
Covid free, I couldn’t wait to catch a ferry and started out with a trip from Cremorne Point to Circular Quay (ferry central) and walked around to The Rocks.
Ferries are fantastic! I love just watching ferries, let alone actually being on board with my hair flying in the wind and just taking in all the incredible sights of Sydney Harbour. I felt like a little kid again almost bursting with joy. Do you know what I mean?
Moreover, there are also surprises and the unexpected on Sydney Harbour. Today, I was intrigued to pot a tall ship out there. The identity of this ship generated a bit of debate. Initially Mr thought it had to be the Young Endeavour, which had sailed on almost a year ago as a “youthie”. However, the Young Endeavour had two masts and this ship had three. The next suggestion was the James Craig, but it’s a bigger ship. This all took us off the the great know-it-all of the modern age, Google, and it turned out to be the Southern Swan. I kept spotting the Southern Swan as I jaunted around the harbour, my new best friend.
Well. I’m only covering the trip to Circular Quay as I have further adventures to share and the trip home after dark deserves a post of its own.
Above: Ferry parking lot, Circular Quay.
Please stay tuned as we head over to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in my next post.
I was so excited to spot this panorama of reflections, and felt it deserved it’s own post. Even an amateur, intermittent photographer like me always has to keep their eyes peeled and their camera at hand. You never know what you’re going to see and as much as it might be about capturing what you see, you also need the vision to peer beyond the surface and skill to do it well. I’m still not convinced that you can do al of this with your phone but our daughter has the latest iPhone and it does a great job and is so much better than lugging my bulky Nikon SLR around.
Have you taken any remarkable photos lately. Please feel encouraged to leave a link in the comments.
Continuing my explorations of Sydney while house minding in Cremorne Point, I drove down to Cremorne Point Wharf the night I was cleared from Covid isolation, and could barely contain my joy. The approaching sunset was out of the world and ever so photogenic. While the harbour was dotted with sunset watchers who might’ve been sharing a bottle of wine of picnic, I was far from relaxed…a photographer on a mission for that elusive perfect shot. I was on the hunt.
Centre stage, of course, was the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I might be Sydney born and bred, but I never get bored of the bridge. It is beyond magnificent and it has this omnipresence in Sydney. Almost anywhere you go, you catch a glimpse or a oblique perspective of it somewhere although possibly not from a postcard perspective. Indeed, it makes a perfect exercise in how something can appear remarkably different from alternative perspectives.
Photographing sunsets seems easy and such a gift to any photographer. How could you go wrong? With diminishing light, the chances of blur increase and ideally you would have a tripod, which I didn’t because I operate on spontaneity and lugging tripods around really weighs you down. So there I was awestruck by such awesome splendour and yet having to hold my breath and hold the camera dead still to prevent that nasty of nasties camera shake.
Yet, I’m pleased with the results and I really did enjoy the sunset spectacular and gaining a deeper appreciation of the Sydney skyline, which has changed quite a lot since I was doing more of the sunset cityscapes about 20 years ago (pre marriage and kids).
I hope seeing these photos gives you a sense of being there in person yourself. Despite my agitation to create impeccably beautiful photographs, I managed to appreciate the serenity and unwind.
After arriving home from Balmoral, I had a nap which almost felt like going into a deep coma or sinking like a stone to the very bottom of Sydney Harbour. My sinuses also felt like they were in a vice and all of this felt like nothing I’d experienced before. For those of you who have had covid, perhaps you also know that sinking feeling that you’ve succumbed to the plague and are concerned and perhaps even curious about what’s going to happen next.
That was Saturday night.
Sunday disappeared, all except that all important RAT test.
With Geoff and Mister already positive back home and despite isolating before we left, we couldn’t avoid all being in the car together driving home from the Gold Coast which was about a ten hour drive in an enclosed car. Geoff wore a mask, but the rest of us knew we were probably done for and our time had come.
Still there was hope.
I’ve heard of multiple families where a few people got it but not the whole family. I could be lucky, even though I’m immuno-suppressed and at higher risk but stranger things have happened and covid doesn’t like to be predictable.
Anyway, much to my horror two red lines appeared and I was done for (Golly, it was like doing a pregnancy test!) With my autoimmune disease, damaged lungs and being immuno-suppressed, this is what we’d been dreading and why I’d self-isolated much longer than the official lockdowns. However, it all got too much and I not only needed to be around a wider circle of people, the lack of interaction wasn’t good for my neurological or mental health. At the same time, although I was out and about a little, I generally wasn’t in crowds and was still being careful. However, that all changed on New Year’s Eve when we went to Surfers Paradise to see the midnight fireworks. The beach in front of us was packed, but more importantly we were jammed into the tram on the way home like sardines, and it was like the perfect covid breeding ground. Geoff succumbed two days later and also developed a chest infection.
Two days later Mr succumbed.
Two days later Miss and I each had a PCR test and they were both negative, but I had it the next day, but Miss was still negative.
The next day I rang our local doctor back home who sent me through a script for the antivirals. It was a bit awkward going through all of this away from home and our local pharmacy as I could ave rung them and they would’ve dropped them round. As it was, I found Cremorne Pharmacy on Google and Miss picked them up. I felt like an intrepid adventurer sorting this out. Holidays aren’t just about fun and relaxing. Being is a different environemnt also fires up the brain cells (and hopefully doesn’t blow them up!)
So, for those of you who have had covid, how did you pass the time? Did you have a book you read? Watched movies? Boardgames? After all, having covid and being part of history isn’t the same as catching your garden variety cold!
As for me, I decided to read Julia Morris’s book: Julia Morris Makes it EASY. This crackpot spoof on being a celebrity was hilarious and just the thing to read when you’re down with the plague. My only complaint is that for some reason I didn’t get to finish it in the three weeks we were there. However, Julia Morris will be forever bound with my covid experience.
One last word on my covid experience. Due to my vulnerable status, I was referred to the Covid Care Team at Gosford Hospital, the local hospital back at home. I didn’t hear boo from them and thought they’d forgotten me until around midday on day 5, Geoff was ringing me frantically on the phone. You haven’t answered your phone and the care team is about to send the police around for a welfare check. I was doing fine, but it was all because I’m a covid infected night owl who was sleeping the morning away. By the time I rang them, I was at day 5 and out of isolation although much to my disappointment, she didn’t think I should go to Church until after Day 10. She even said: “they may not want you there”. Sob! However, after being so careful about avoiding covid myself, I did the right thing and went on a ferry ride instead almost flying in the wind on the deck outside and out of harm’s way.
A second last word on covid, I’ve had more than my share of respiratory bugs through the years, and a chest infection which turned to pneumonia was the worst of the lot so far. As I said, covid didn’t go to my lungs, and posed no risk to me. That said, I’ve had two vaccinations and two boosters and was on the antivirals. So I think it’s worth vulnerable people to be vigilant with preventative measures but not just because of covid. A friend of mine also dobbed in Influenza A as being far worse than catching covid as an elderly person with heart issues. So for me, I’m still taking precautions to avoid catching stuff and being careful and I’m thrilled to have come out the other side of covid fairly well.
After arriving at Cremorne Point the night before, I woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed ready to explore my new universe. With all of Sydney at my feet, where would I begin?
A good question and I decided to start out in familiar territory and head off to Balmoral Beach a few minutes drive away. Proximity wasn’t my only consideration. The Sydney Harbour Bridge was also very close by and I had no intention of driving across that on my first day Sydney or risk ending up there by mistake which is easily done in these parts.
I haven’t driven in Sydney for three years. So, there was a part of me who was rather intimidated and wanted to keep the car in the garage, but the other half was fortunately much more of an intrepid “never-say-never” adventurer. These two conflicting halves were arguing most of the way to Balmoral, especially when we didn’t quite get there by the intended route but both were happy in the end.
Of course, at this stage, I couldn’t even remember how I’d found my way to Cremorne Point, let alone how to find my way out and off to Balmoral. Any normal person who is directionally deficient like me would have satnav to guide their path. However, I’ve resisted all of that because I didn’t want to lose the meagre navigational skills I do have and become dependent on a device. After all, as we all know….use it or lose it!
However, I’m not opposed to using maps, and am very grateful for having Apple maps on my phone. Moreover, by the end of my stay in Cremorne Point, I’d changed my mind about getting navigational assistance and have now become a mad raving fan of Siri and rather than limiting my scope, she’s actually expanded my horizons and boosted my confidence. I can get there now.
Meanwhile, I still need to get to Balmoral and in my typical fashion, I ended up taking the road less travelled.
Now, to put you in the picture.
Here’s the recommended route to Balmoral from Cremorne Point:
Meanwhile, this is the route I took via The Spit, which took me halfway to Manly:
Mind you, this time I wasn’t lost. Rather, I was propelled ever onward down the hill by a series of pesky No Right Turn Signs eventually arriving at Middle Harbour Sailing Club on The Spit and needing to turn around.
I wasn’t disappointed.
Being a sailing family, it was interesting to check out and photograph the fleet.
To exit, I had to make another detour and turn left into Parriwi Road where my friend used to have a flat back in the day, but I can’t remember going there, or ever seeing the breathtaking views over Middle Harbour. Indeed, sometimes I wonder if I’ve been living in a broom cupboard all my life. Where have I been? Why haven’t I been here before? Sydney is my city and I barely know her at all! Gee, I’ve got to get out of my own bubble and see my own world, even if I can’t get further afield.
By the way, I was driving the little red car, an Alfa Romeo 147. She’s nice and compact for driving and parking in a relatively cramped urban environment i.e. around Cremorne Point. She was my partner in crime and facilitator of adventure (along with the ferries, of course) on this trip.
After stopping repeatedly along Parriwi Road to absorb and photograph the view, I finally made it to Balmoral.
Unfortunately, the weather was overcast and the light was flat and not casting it’s much desired magic. This wasn’t going to be the day for cracking good photographs, but it was still good to get out for a walk. Do some exercise, you know that thing I struggle to get around to unless photography’s involved.
Even on an overcast day. Balmoral is still beautiful. Technically, what I’m calling “Balmoral” also includes Edwards Beach which is separated from Balmoral by Rocky Point Island.
Balmoral is famous for it’s imposing Bathers’ Pavilion. Designed in a grand Spanish mission style and intended to put Balmoral on the map, it was opened in 1929. These days it’s home to a restaurant and is a popular wedding reception venue.
While I was peering through the front window, I had a bit of photography fun and I spotted a window on the back wall and managed to capture my reflection rather well. It was like peering into another world and finding myself there…intriguing!
Balmoral’s band rotunda is another stand out. I’ve seen Shakespeare by the Sea performed years ago AKA “back in the day”. I also love the profusion of Moreton Bay Fig trees which provide much needed shade during our roasting Sydney summers.
While these are the more beautiful aspects of Balmoral, there’s also a visible shark net. While shark nets are environmentally controversial, my father witnessed a teenager being taken by a shark off Balmoral beach as a ten year old boy and sharks are still lurking in Sydney Harbour even if they do only make their presence felt intermittently.
Lastly, being a dog lover and seeing so many dogs around the place, I had to mention Billy, a statue of a much loved local dog. In my usual fashion, I had to find out more about Billy because the plaque didn’t seem to do him justice and this account from the Mosman Collective is worth a read: Billy
I could write a lot more about Balmoral, but with so many adventures during my time in Sydney, I only have time for a quick sketch and someone else can explore every nook and cranny.
Have you been to Balmoral and do you have any stories to share? I’d love to hear from you!