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