Tag Archives: Luna Park

Sydney Harbour with Me & My Boy

Rewinding just a little to the Sunday before last, which was better known as Sunday 9th November, 2014…

While my husband was battling with computers, cables and unpronounceables at work from the very wee hours and our daughter was singing her lungs out rehearsing for her grand appearance at the Sydney Town Hall (see previous post), the boy and I took off to Circular Quay and decided to explore Sydney Harbour by ferry.

They worked hard. We played hard.

The view back towards Circular Quay as the ferry pulled out. You can see the train station in the foreground.

The view back towards Circular Quay as the ferry pulled out. You can see the train station in the foreground.

We had a special Family Fun Day Ticket which allows unlimited trains,ferries and buses anywhere in the Greater Sydney Region for the ridiculously low price of $2.50 each. I really like to push these tickets to the limit and jam as much action as I can into one day. Feels like payback for the ridiculous prices you pay on public transport the rest of the week.

Ideally, we both wanted to head to Manly which is still Sydney’s ultimate ferry destination. However, we had to be back at Town Hall by 4.30PM and I didn’t want to take any chances. Of course, I hadn’t done my homework and had no idea how long a return ferry trip to Manly would take or how often the ferries went or the details of the ferry timetable.

This meant that we needed to stay within Sydney Harbour.

From: Circular Quay, Sydney NSW To: Darling Harbour, Sydney NSW 2000

 

For our first ferry trip, we decided to catch the ferry to Balmain. We boarded the Scarborough,  a catamaran style ferry which was built in 1986. I guess 1986 isn’t quite what it used to be because the ferry had that nostalgic, aged feel about it, especially when it creaked and groaned on departure. I also had to wonder whether the wharfie was a bit under the weather. Took him a few goes at times to get the rope around the bollard. It was after all a Sunday.

The Scarborough was quite a suitable name for a boat when you’re going on an adventure. The ferry was named after one of the ships in the First Fleet. On 13 of May 1787, the First Fleet set sail from Portsmouth, England. Led by Captain Arthur Phillip, this historic convoy  carried the first European settlers to the new penal colony of New South Wales.  Read more here: http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/discover_collections/history_nation/terra_australis/firstfleet.html

Mister sitting very still behaving himself.

Mister sitting very still behaving himself.

Mister was exceptionally well-behaved on our trip. He must have got wind of what happens when you run a muck on the Scarborough. When convicts Philip Farrell and Thomas Griffiths aboard the original Scarborough were suspected of an attempted take-over of the vessel, they were transferred to Sirius where they received 24 lashes, before being transferred to Prince of Wales.  http://firstfleetfellowship.org.au/ships/hms-scarborough/

Of course, Mister sat very still.

Although I cut the nose off the cruise ship in this shot,  you can see the Bridge in the background and get an idea of where we went.

Although I cut the nose off the cruise ship in this shot, you can see the Bridge in the background and get an idea of where we went.

Leaving port, we were awe struck by the huge cruise ship, which was docked at Circular Quay. These huge cruise ships seem to be part of the furniture these days but they still look humungously huge like they’ve been taking growth hormones of some sort. They’re just absolutely massive. I’ve never been on a cruise and I’m sure they have their appeal and I really would like to go someday but not on one of these massive cages. They remind me of those awful ships which transport live sheep to their deaths. I really don’t fancy being stuck on board any kind of boat with so many people. As impressive and glamorous as they might appear on first impressions, I’d much rather find a deserted island somewhere in the South Pacific and veg out for a bit.

A different perspective...going under the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

A different perspective…going under the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

After leaving port, the ferry rounded Millers Point heading west underneath the magnificent Sydney Harbour Bridge. This was when I truly started taking more photos than even the most snap-happy tourist. I might be Sydney born and bred but the Sydney Harbour Bridge has never lost its “wow”!!. I just love what we lovingly refer to as “the old coathanger”. Opened in 1932, the Bridge needs no introduction and it remains breathtaking beautiful. An architectural icon which screams out: “Sydney”! The Bridge also has a special place in my heart because I used to see the Bridge while I was having my blood transfusions at Royal North Shore Hospital, right at the very top at level 12. I used to focus on the flags flying at the very top while they were getting the cannula in. That could really hurt. For more info on The Bridge:http://www.sydneyharbourbridge.info/

A Crane-eye's view of Sydney. Bangaroo.

A Crane-eye’s view of Sydney. Bangaroo.

 

This provided us with very much what I’d describe as the backend view of Sydney Harbour and there was an entire jungle of cranes  frantically building at Barangaroo.

 

Mister in front of the Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour. You can see a Tall Ship in the background.

Mister in front of the Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour. You can see a Tall Ship in the background.

As we approached Balmain, I couldn’t really see anything which was readily accessible and so we decided to stay on board and headed around to Darling Harbour and viewed the magnificent Tall Ships moored at the Maritime Museum.

Then we stopped over at Luna Park where it’s huge enough smile flashes rows of pearly white which look like they need urgent dental treatment. Luna Park is not only famous for its smile but also its Ferris wheel and other assorted rides. Even though I’m well and truly too big for it, I still love the carousel and rising on a horse. To read about our trip to Luna Park in 2012 click here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/walking-to-luna-park/

 

The Luna Park Face viewed from the ferry.

The Luna Park Face viewed from the ferry.

It is hard to believe just how many fabulous sights you can take in on a 30 minute ferry ride…especially for the grand total of $2.50 each and the day wasn’t over yet.

 

As we returned to Circular Quay, the ferry gained speed and for a creaky 30 something year old creaky wooden structure, the Scarborough made good speed and white water was churning out the back of the ferry. Perhaps, we could’ve tried a bit of water skiing…!

 

Leaving Balmain Wharf with more than a splash.

Leaving Balmain Wharf with more than a splash.

 

It turned out that the  Scarborough was taking a different route across to Neutral Bay, so we decided to stay on board.

This trip took us East away from the Bridge and out past the Sydney Opera House. Talk about amazing! Like the Bridge, the Sydney Opera House needs no introduction and it’s iconic white sails are well and truly Sydney.

Sydney Opera House viewed through the front of the ferry returning from Neutral Bay.

Sydney Opera House viewed through the front of the ferry returning from Neutral Bay.

This ferry trip also took us past Kirribilli House, the Prime Minster’s Sydney residence  and Admiralty House, the Australian Governor-General’s Sydney Residence. I visited these grand, historic buildings at an open day a few years ago and had hysterics watching children roll down the steep green hills towards the Harbour. I couldn’t help wondering if the Prime Minster ever tried rolling down the hill to clear their head when they had a particularly difficult situation to sort out. I’d really love to roll down the hill there myself and intend to head back for a return visit with the kids in tow. That way when someone sees a middle-aged woman rolling down the hill like a 5 year old, they’ll be praising my parenting skills instead of declaring me a lunatic and locking me up.

Admiralty House,Kirribilli.

Admiralty House,Kirribilli.

After our second ferry ride, we headed back to shore and indulged in what seems to be a mandatory ice cream cone at Circular Quay. Although these lusciously creamy ice creams are simply irresistible, they inevitably drip like crazy all over me and it was just as well Mister was wearing dark pants which camouflaged the drips.

Floating lanterns at the Thai Festival, Circular Quay.

Floating lanterns at the Thai Festival, Circular Quay.

Next, we briefly explored a Thai cultural festival outside the Museum of Contemporary Art.

By now, however, it was time to draw our adventure to an end and catch the train to Town Hall to meet up with Geoff and Miss.

We arrived at Town Hall 30 mins early so I decided to take Mister to his favourite toy shop which is in the Queen Victoria Building. They have a model train set up in the window, which has been a fabulous babysitter in the past while Mum and I have enjoyed a coffee at the cafe next door.They also have an excellent collection of model train things for sale.

No sooner had we walked in the door and Geoff had been sprung. Like father, like son, they both adore model trains…or any train for that matter. Geoff had also arrived early and was filling in time or should I say, he was probably planning to buy out the shop before we ran into him. It was hardly a coincidence!

And look who we also ran into…

Mister and the old big red fella

Mister and the old big red fella

Mr Claus…also running a little early, don’t you think?!!

Walking to Luna Park…

I’d like to let you in on a little secret. I have found the perfect time out location… not for the kids but for you. Better still, it’s not going to cost you the earth. It’s absolutely free. Now, that’s one for the record books, isn’t it?

I wasn’t actually looking for time out on a conscious level when I found this spot. It’s school holidays. I had just been to the dentist and I was walking to Luna Park with Mum and the kids and  feeling rather exhausted.

Anyway, that was when I found this perfect little spot to relax. It isn’t the park under the Harbour Bridge but that’s a critical part of the plan.

You see, step one is to ever so kindly deposit the kids in the park with your partner (or some other obliging grown-up other than the local stranger danger). This isn’t as bad as it sounds. The park is fully fenced and is nestled right underneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge with stunning views across the harbour to the Sydney Opera House. Being just an easy stroll down hill from Milson’s Point Station and on the way to Luna Park, this park is definitely has location. The kids can even go train spotting and listen to the trains rumble over the bridge. I assure you they will all have a ball and won’t even notice you’re gone.

Step two. Tell them you’re just ducking off to the loo.

Well done! At last, you’re a free agent.

So where are we going? Well, I wasn’t lying when I said you were off to the loo but this is no ordinary loo. This loo does everything except serve you a barista style cappuccino.

Nestled under the Harbour Bridge under the shade of what is either a huge weeping fig or a Magnolia Grand flora (my husband and I couldn’t decide), you will find the Fitzroy Street public toilets. These are almost as entertaining as visiting Luna Park itself and my kids just love them. Fortunately, as I mentioned before, they are over in the park with Grandma or they would be pressing all the buttons and I would be strung out instead of relaxed.

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Made of stainless steel, the Exyloo resembles some kind of alien spaceship which has just zoomed in from another planet. You press a button to get in and another button to close and lock the door. Then, speaking in a friendly but robotic tone of voice, the toilet kindly lets you know that “your maximum use time is ten minutes”. At that point, the door opens automatically and I guess you face the risk of being caught up in its self-cleaning cycle if you don’t get out quickly enough.

Anyway, I sit down on the toilet and start enjoying the music: What the world needs now is love sweet love… Yes, it’s definitely music of the elevator variety but I love it. I’ve never been to a toilet which not only talks but also plays music before. It’s so much fun!! I feel like a big kid. This toilet is so amazing that it even dispenses the toilet paper automatically at the touch of a button and flushes automatically when you wash your hands. You press the button to open the doors to leave and then best of all, the toilet even cleans itself.

A toilet that cleans itself… I’ve been hanging out something like that. If only I could find myself a good crowbar, I could possibly take the Exyloo home. Not that I’m about to become a toilet thief but it would accessorise perfectly with my stainless-steel cooking appliances if I’d ever got around to renovating my kitchen!

Anyway, there I was sitting on the throne feeling like the Queen of Milson’s Point when I remembered that I had a book in my bag. For some unexplained reason, I suddenly felt almost compelled to read my book in the toilet. Don’t ask me why. I never read in the toilet at home but perhaps that’s just my point. I can’t even sit on the toilet at home without being interrupted. It’s like there’s some alarm system which goes off as soon as I sit down. Suddenly the kids, who up until this point have been playing quietly, suddenly grab each other by the throat and in what’s yet another case of he said she said, I’m playing Justice of the Peace all from the sanctity of the toilet. Somehow, even the dog manages to open the bathroom door and let himself in. I mean this is the bathroom. It is, after all, meant to be private. Yes, I know there’s such a thing as a lock but we haven’t quite got around to installing one yet and to be honest, I’m so used to chaos in the bathroom that I’m usually oblivious to it.

So ironically, this public toilet was the most private toilet I’ve been to in ages!

Desperate times call for desperate measures. I really needed to recharge my worn out batteries. I was tired and exhausted and when I experienced more than a moment’s peace, I over-compensated. Being able to read in the toilet, was such pure, unadulterated indulgence. It was the sort of serious decadence that could only be compared to eating a hot chocolate with whipped cream, marshmallows and a chunk of Toblerone on top (I had one of those recently at mid-station Perisher and I can assure you it was the very epitome of decadence. It was divine!!)

Even though I wasn’t reading War and Peace, I did feel dreadfully guilty about reading my book in the toilet while Mum was minding the kids in the Antarctic winds outside. But I wasn’t in there long. I didn’t even use up all my ten minutes. I was literally out of there in a flash…just a slightly delayed flash that’s all. I was only reading a couple of motivational quotes and looking at the pictures but when those precious moments have been stolen, snatched away… they feel amazingly good but also amazingly bad. I must confess that even I went on just a little bit of a guilt trip and felt like I’d just been caught stealing the last cookie from the cookie jar. I was indeed a bad, bad girl!

However, I had just had the most hell-raising train trip with the kids and I really needed to detox for a few minutes. The train can be such an adult environment where the kids are out on display and have to use their very best behaviour. They’re expected to sit still. Not put their feet up on the seats. No fighting. No bouncing on the seats or turning around and staring at the person behind. No sticking sticky fingers all over the seats and no drawing on the seats either. They are expected to act and behave like mini adult statues. When the kids, heaven forbid, actually behave like kids, can’t you just feel the dagger stares piercing through your equilibrium? It’s not the kids that are being judged for their behaviour. It’s you. You are the bad mother who can not achieve the impossible. You can’t control your kids. I have to admit that I was a bit flummoxed too. I couldn’t understand why my kids just couldn’t look out the window and recite the names of the stations like other normal kids. Why did they have to rip each other apart…especially in public? The kids were so bad that the man sitting opposite us even moved to another part of the carriage.

Sometimes, I feel like handing the kids over to these well-intentioned strangers and letting them have a go. They always seem so convinced they could do a better job!

So you understand that after traveling all the way from Woy Woy to Milsons Point on this never-ending train trip why, even with my mother’s assistance, I was going totally crazy. Reading in the toilet was certainly a much better option than all the alternatives!

Our daughter on the carousel.

Our son on the Ferris wheel.

To finish the story off, we had a wonderful time at Luna Park. My six year old daughter somewhat conquered her fear of heights and went on the Ferris wheel with me. I managed to survive my fear of fear and went down the slide in Coney Island and we all spun out of control on the Spider. It was great fun and the kids almost went to sleep on the train home. That was worth a trip to Luna Park in itself.

Postscript:

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Photo: my husband at the park bench.

Yesterday, I went back to Kirribilli with my husband to photograph the amazing Exyloo for my blog. Much to my surprise, not everyone shares my fascination. It had just completed its self-clean cycle and a woman was complaining about the floor being wet. There was nowhere to hang her handbag. I was also chatting to a mother with young kids who I thought would love my story about reading in there. However, she just stared at me as though I had two heads and I was the biggest weirdo she’d ever seen. I guess people are a little bit circumspect about strangers photographing public toilets these days.

This made me reconsider my perfect location just a little. Without the stress of the kids, I noticed a park bench that was only metres away from the park. With all those perfect views, you don’t really want to lock yourself away in the loo. You want to make the most of it. So might I suggest instead taking turns watching the kids with one of you in the park and while the other one chills out on the bench. Who knows? You might even get through the Saturday paper.

All it takes is a little bit of smart planning.

xx  Rowena