Tag Archives: Circular Quay

S- Sydney Harbour…A-Z Challenge.

Welcome back to my travel series for the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge, Places I’ve Been. Today, we sail into glorious  Sydney Harbour, undoubtedly one of the most stunningly beautiful places we’ve been so far, and for me, it’s home. Well, not exactly home, as I’ve never had the privilege of living right on the Harbour. However, it’s close enough.

Rowena Sydney Harbour Bridge

This photo was taken at Lavender Bay on the Northern side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and you can see the ferris wheel at Luna Park beneath the bridge. As you can see, I wasn’t too well when this photo was taken. 

Today,  our journey sets out from Circular Quay. On our left, there’s the grand spanning arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, colloquially known as “the Coathanger” and on the right, we’re chugging past the majestic white sails of the Sydney Opera House. All of this is jaw-droppingly beautiful. However, for daily commuters heading across the bridge on the train, the harbour is often little more than a fuzz while they’re reading the newspaper, tinkering on their phones or simply trying to keep their noses free from a stranger’s armpit.

Soon, we pass a small island, Fort Denison which is a former penal site and defensive facility occupying a small island located north-east of the Royal Botanic Gardens and approximately 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) east of the Opera House. The island was formerly known in its indigenous name of Mat-te-wan-ye, and as Pinchgut Island. I’ve never been there. However, my mother took each of our kids there when they were younger for a special lunch.

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A yacht sailing on Sydney Harbour viewed from Mosman.

Oh dear. I’m not too sure where we should proceed and it’s impossible for me to point out places on the left and right of the harbour with such a vast expanse of water in between. Particularly, as you may recall, when I’m so spatially challenged and really don’t want to screw it up.

So, being ANZAC Day where Australia commemorates it’s service men and women who’ve served during all armed conflicts, I thought I’d stop pointed out the window and jump in my time machine instead. Take you back to the evening of the 31st May, 1942 when the Japanese Imperial Navy sent three midget submarines into Sydney Harbour from larger submarines which were lurking outside the heads. These midget submarines were built for stealth, barely squeezing in two crew members each.

Midget sub attack Sydney harbour

Japanese Midget Submarine in Sydney Harbour.

The first midget sub entered Sydney Harbour at 8pm, but got caught up in anti-submarine nets and attracted the attention of the HMAS Yarroma and Lolita. Once they realised they’d been caught, the Japanese crew activated an explosive, deliberately sinking the vessel and killing themselves.

The second managed to sneak past the nets and fired two torpedoes, which hit a Sydney ferry, killing nineteen Australian and two British naval officers. It then received fire from a number of Australian vessels and managed to escape, but never made it back to the mother sub.

The third and final midget sub entered Sydney Harbour at around 11pm. By this time, Sydney was ready. It had six depth charges (anti-submarine weapons) dropped on it, and was presumed sunk, until it made a comeback four hours later and tried to fire its torpedoes.  Since it was pretty banged up, the attack was a bust and the submarine was sunk by allied ships at around 3am 1.

Clearly, these attacks caused a bit of excitement.

Two years after the war, the story of a Japanese pilot appeared in the paper. He’d flown a Zero straight through Sydney Harbour undetected the night before the midget submarine attacks. Not a comforting thought, especially when you consider that the attack came around 6 months after surprise Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor on the 7th December, 1941. These were very dangerous and precarious times and when you look at the bridge, the Opera House and the bright blue water on a sunny day, it’s very hard to imagine that the war ever touched our doorstep..

It reads:

ATTACK ON SYDNEY – Japanese Story Of 1942 Raid

AUCKLAND, Tuesday (A.A.P.-Reuters). – Susumu Ito, proprietor of a little fish-ing tackle shop at Iwakuni, Japan, claims that he flew over Sydney Harbour the night be-fore the Japanese midget sub-marine attack on May 30, 1942. Ito, then a Japanese naval lieu-tenant, aged 24, told his story in Japan yesterday.

This is what he said:

“I was pilot of a Zero float-plane carried by a Japanese ocean-going submarine of 3,300 tons.

“We arrived off Mayor Island, Bay of Plenty (New Zealand), in pitch dark one morning late in May, 1942. Our submarine carried midget submarines which were designed to be used to attack naval ships at Auckland and Sydney.

AUCKLAND SLEPT

“Our warplane was launched from the submarine and I quickly reached Auckland. While the city slept I cruised overhead un-molested and never climbing above 1,000 feet. I was never challenged or disturbed by intercepting fighters.

“I soon located Devonport Naval Base and gave it special attention. For the better part of an hour I looked for warships, but found no-thing that would warrant attack by one of our midget submarines.

“I flew back to the mother sub-marine and reported that there were no warships at Auckland.

“The submarine commander then decided to proceed to Sydney. We crossed the Tasman and surfaced off Sydney Heads on May 29.

FLIGHT OVER SYDNEY

“Unlike Auckland, I found the Sydney air rather crowded. There were Australian planes doing night flying exercises, but I was not molested.

“The Australian pilots did not appear to notice me, although the long streamlined single float of my Zero should have been conspicuous.

“I sighted what I considered to be suitable targets in Sydney Harbour and lost no time in returning to the submarine and making my report.

“Midget submarines were released. Later I left in the mother submarine for Rabaul,”

Ito said he spent about an hour over Auckland. His flight over Sydney was “very much briefer.” Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), Wednesday 16 July 1947, page 1

So, that all created a bit of excitement.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House viewed from a ferry looking East.

Perhaps, we’d better we’d better exit our time machine and go back to looking out the window. It’s a perfect, sunny, Sydney day.

Have you ever been to Sydney? Did she behave herself? Or did you experience four seasons in one day and possibly even a bush fire thrown in? I love you Sydney, but like all of us, she isn’t perfect.

Best wishes,

Rowena

References

Forgotten Sydney – The Attack On Sydney Harbour

https://www.navy.gov.au/history/feature-histories/japanese-midget-submarine-attack-sydney-harbour

Sydney Harbour Ferry…Not A Cloud in the Sky.

Yesterday, we went on an epic adventure to Sydney’s Mosman Bay…a journey taking 2.5 hours, two trains and a ferry across Sydney Harbour.

Of course, I wanted to share our ferry trip with you…especially as many of you have not been Down Under and experienced the magic first hand and like me, make the most of “vicarious experience”.

I love catching the ferry around Sydney Harbour and was also looking forward to catching up with my extended family.

Meanwhile, I should also point out that Geoff was working which left me playing Sargeant-Major getting the troops to the station, changing trains and onto the ferry on time. Move over Gomer Pyle, it was time for me to become Sargent Carter of “Move it! Move it! Move it!” and “You knucklehead” fame.

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Live “Statue” at Circular Quay. How does he do it???

However, when it comes to losing this plot, the kids weren’t the only antagonists in the cast. I also had to factor in the biggest question mark of the lot…the Rowie Factor.

When it comes to the Rowie Factor, there is no explanation. No rhyme or reason. The Rowie factor is like that spooky relative you keep locked up in the closet well away from the public gaze, but always seems to find their way out. Right at the very worst possible moment, they appear giving a huge, enthusiastic wave. OMG!!!! Your spirit sinks like a stone.

WHY????? WHAT THE?????

However, yesterday the Rowie Factor was in a benevolent mood and actually did good…Alleluia!

The Rowie Factor is pretty good at that too. There’s no middle ground. Only extremely good or crushingly bad.

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Sydney Ferry Supply

So, there we are finally onboard our ferry…Supply.  Acquired in 1984, Supply is one of 9 single-ended First Fleet Class catamarans, which mainly operate in the inner harbour.

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After moving out of Circular Quay, our ferry heads due East past Sydney Opera House, leaving the Sydney Harbour Bridge behind. Being the weekend with good winds and a cloudless sunny sky, we spot quite a few good sized yachts and a flotilla of smaller craft as we pass other ferries. The kids lean right up against the bow with their hair blowing in the wind and I thank God this isn’t The Titanic and they can recreate that famous scene without the ferry hitting a very, very lost iceberg and sinking to the very depths of Sydney Harbour.

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A Yacht on Sydney Harbour.

The ferry pulls into Cremorne Point and I must admit I’m feeling a little anxious because I’ve only been on this ferry route once before and my doubts start to inflate, getting larger and larger as I second guess everything turning the details into question marks and I am in full reassurance mode. Besides, if I do get lost in typical Rowie fashion, I have my phone and can ring for assistance. After all, it’s not like we’re the first Europeans visiting this place and there’s no one to call. Mind you, I question whether you can really get lost if you haven’t found where you’re going yet…

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Anyway, as we pull into Cremorne Point I hear someone calling my name and waving out to me. It’s my cousin from interstate. At first, I thought she must’ve been coming to lunch but it was all pure coincidence. She was returning to her old stomping ground and also happened to have the afternoon free so came and joined us for lunch. Call it serendipity, meant to be, whatever. This had to be more than coincidence and I think you’d need a supercomputer to calculate the odds of us meeting up.

Meeting my cousin was such an unexpected surprise. I was stoked! (That said, I had to marvel at how the unexpected synchronised so well when the planned can go so horribly wrong!!)

Anyway, we had a fabulous afternoon meeting up with family and Geoff met us there after work and later drove us home.

These are a few night shots of Mosman Bay, which Geoff took just before leaving.

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Mosman Bay by Night. Photo Geoff Newton. Note Sydney Tower on the left.

Have you ever been to Sydney? Do you have any special memories and I’d love you to add links to your posts.

xx Rowena

 

 

 

Sydney Opera House: New Perspectives.

Go anywhere near Sydney Harbour and there are those omnipresent, white sails better known as the Sydney Opera House…such an iconic beauty!!

Yet, being Sydney born and bred, she can become a little ordinary. Indeed, as the train rattles over the Sydney Harbour Bridge for the umpteenth time, she becomes little more than a white “blotch” beside the Harbour.

After all, like so many special friends, it’s so easy to take her for granted and look overseas for those incredible cultural icons: The Taj Mahal, The Pyramids, the Great Wall of China and sentimental favourites the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty. Being local, it’s not often that we actually stop. Stand still. Simply gaze into her wondrous face. Let alone take in a performance.

Wally Opera House Steps

Wally on the Opera House Steps

However, yesterday I saw the Sydney Opera House through fresh eyes when I was introducing it to a British tourist, Wally the Wandering Wombat. Don’t ask me how an Australian wombat became an English tourist. I am just the paparazzi, following Wally for an upcoming book.

You see, Wally is touring the world promoting Mysotis, which is the umbrella term for a group of neuro-muscular auto-immune diseases, including dermatomyositis. This is a pretty tough job for anyone. Myositis is an exceptionally rare disease and can be quite debilitating. So, if you have it, you’re often not well enough to organise sporting events, races, marathons and other physical challenges to get the word out. Indeed, if the disease is in an active phase, you could well be glued to your bed. That is, unless you have a mobility scooter or some other form of technologically-enabled transport to get you around. Moreover, publicising anything which is rare, unknown and impossible to spell and pronounce might not be completely and utterly impossible but…@#$%!! As you can probably gather, I haven’t had hoards of journalists desperately camped outside my front door just waiting to catch a glimpse of Wally. Not at all! Wally, sadly, has flown right under the radar on his travels and remains quite the nobody…just like myositis!!

Crowds cheering for Prince Harry. There were no such crowds waiting for Wally!

 

He’s also had some very stiff competition lately what with Prince Harry being in town. Wally might be cute and furry but he certainly isn’t a Prince and Prince Harry isn’t your garden-variety prince either. Not only has spunk but he’s also single!

While Wally might be cute with a huge heart, the reality is that he’s small, blue and…wallyish.

Wally at Circular Quay Station.

Wally at Circular Quay Station.

Anyway, yesterday I took Wally down to Sydney to get some publicity shots in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We caught the train down to Wynyard and changed trains for Circular Quay. As soon as we pulled into Circular Quay Station, Wally was immediately struck by the panoramic view across Sydney Harbour.There was the Sydney Harbour Bridge on your left, the ferries straight in front and the Sydney Opera House just around the corner. That was almost too much for my humble camera lens to process. These days, it’s much more accustomed to capturing sunsets, kids and dogs. Later on, it was almost in shock when it captured two icons in one image!!

Incredible! Incredible! Incredible!!

Wally & I with the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Taken beside the Sydney Opera House.

Wally & I with the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Taken beside the Sydney Opera House.

Although I’d planned to photograph Wally in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, I’d quite literally forgotten all about the Sydney Opera House. I don’t know why. My best guess is that I’m so used to it, that she’d simply become part of the furniture. For this reason, I am so glad I took Wally over to Circular Quay. So often I gain such a richer appreciation and insight through observing and capturing it through my camera lens. It’s almost like a re-birth and so it was that I saw the Sydney Opera House through fresh eyes, gaining a whole new appreciation of this incredible architectural marvel.

Wally climbing the Opera House.

Wally climbing the Opera House.

I really needed that reminder as well. As Australians, we so often think that anything of cultural note is overseas. This dissatisfaction even has a name: ‘cultural cringe”. Last weekend, my sense of wanderlust was stirred up yet again when I heard how a friend of mine had just returned from Gallipoli via Paris where he proposed at the Eiffel Tower. Wow! That brought back memories. Certainly NOT of when Geoff proposed (the pouring rain wasn’t great for romance but it was Valentine’s Day!!) but of spending 6 weeks in Paris back in 1992. Back in the day, I sat in view of the Tour Eiffel which was all lit up for Bastille Day and enjoyed the fireworks. I also photographed the Eiffel Tower in some detail, even though I didn’t pay to go up. Just listening to my friend’s bit of romance, I found myself yearning to go back and revisit the “grand dame” but as a parent, responsibilities come before expensive travel these days.

Wally posing between two incredible Aussie icons: the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

Wally posing between two incredible Aussie icons: the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

Designed by Danish architect, Jørn Utzon, Sydney Opera House (1957 – 1973) was inscribed in the World Heritage List in June 2007: “Sydney Opera House is a great architectural work of the 20th century. It represents multiple strands of creativity, both in architectural form and structural design, a great urban sculpture carefully set in a remarkable waterscape and a world famous iconic building.” UNESCO

Shadow Selfie on the Opera House Front Steps.

Shadow Selfie on the Opera House Front Steps.

The expert evaluation report to the World Heritage Committee stated: “…it stands by itself as one of the indisputable masterpieces of human creativity, not only in the 20th century but in the history of humankind.”1.

Wally on the Opera House Steps

Wally on the Opera House Steps

Anyway, with what started as a quick photo shoot in front of the Bridge, turned into a photographic walking tour around the outside of the Sydney Opera House. As luck would have it, and I can assure you that this was one of the few strokes of luck I had yesterday, it was a gloriously sunny day with a deep azure blue sky, which made the perfect background for those striking white sails. As the day went by, the wind whipped up and I can assure you that it was just as well those sails were made of heavy concrete because otherwise the Opera House would have sailed away!!

Opera House Behind Bars (the fence at the Botanical Gardens)

Opera House Behind Bars (the fence at the Botanical Gardens)

So I hope you enjoyed Wally’s Tour of the Sydney Opera House.

xx Rowena

Heading home...walking beside Circular Quay.

Heading home…walking beside Circular Quay.

 

Sources

1. http://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/about/house_history_landing.aspx