Tag Archives: Sydney Harbour

Reflections of Sydney Harbour- The Overseas Passenger Terminal.

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.

A curious photographer chasing reflections in the glass.

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.

Reflection Ferry Passing the Sydney Opera House

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.

The Southern Swan and the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney’s Most Famous Face – Luna Park.

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?

Best wishes,

Rowena

Sydney in the Rain…Cremorne Point.

“Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby. “

Langston Hughes

Inevitably, when anyone pictures Sydney Harbour with its magnificent arching bridge and the towering sails of the Sydney Opera House, the weather is postcard perfect with bright blue skies. Moreover, as the sun casts its magic spell over the ancient ocean, it sparkles like a brilliant sapphire carpet and comes to life. It couldn’t get any better. I’ve experienced days like this on the harbour myself with ferries zipping around and crowds of colourful but faceless hundreds and thousands drifting around Circular Quay. Talk about paradise!

However, when I arrived in Sydney to begin three weeks of house minding at Cremorne Point, it was bucketing with rain, even before we left home. Indeed, the drive down was treacherous, and I was driving down the freeway grateful for the taillights in front to guide my path. All of this was particularly hair raising for an anxious driver like myself. Yet I persevered like an epic hero, albeit with a much humbler objective. I was no Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia. I’d simply got out of bed, onto the freeway and was driving my car. Yet, I was incredibly motivated. Thrills and adventures awaited me at the other end of the rainbow along with my friend’s dog, two cats, and two Guinea pigs. I was also simply overjoyed to get out of the house and be in Sydney again after two years of covid, lockdowns and isolation, especially on top of the horrific bushfires of the Summer of 2019-2020.

Yes, indeed! I was a lucky duck!

Just to put you in the picture, I am from Sydney. I spent my first few years living in a flat in Rose Bay with my parents and then we moved to the North Shore where they bought a house with that all important backyard and soon after that, my brother arrived. I went to Sydney University and moved into student digs nearby. After graduating, I mainly lived in terrace houses around Glebe, although I frequently went to Whale Beach on the Northern Beaches where my parents had a weekender. So aside from my early days in Rose Bay, I’ve never lived close to the harbour or near Cremorne Point and I was looking forward to embracing this opportunity 200% and carpe dieming every single minute of every day. I didn’t want to waste even a fraction of a moment. Perhaps, that explains how I found myself down at Cremorne Point Wharf on my first night not only in the dark, but also the rain.

At the same time, I did question whether photographing in the rain was a good idea. After all, my Nikon SLR is a valuable piece of ELECTRONIC equipment and it isn’t waterproof. Secondly, I could hear my grandmother calling out: “You’ll catch your death of cold.” This wasn’t such a random idea either considering Geoff and our son were both back home with covid and after spending the day in the car with them returning from Surfers’ Paradise, I was clearly at high risk of catching it myself. Could drenching myself to the skin be just the thing to push me over the edge into being covid positive? I briefly considered the science and didn’t think being wet could aid germ transmission yet I couldn’t switch off my grandmother’s warnings completely.

As you can see from the photographs, I got absolutely drenched and as much as I tried to protect the camera, it did as well. Yet it didn’t fizzle out and neither did I. We forged on.

Although this grey and muted perspective of Sydney Harbour wasn’t cliched perfection, it had a different kind of beauty which was strangely serene. Moreover, I’d never seen anything like it. This was mine. All mine. Yet not in a possessive capitalist sense, but in more of a profoundly spiritual, and deeply personal way. I felt like I’d almost merged into the landscape.

Have you experienced that sense of riveting and almost all-consuming awe being outdoors and absorbing an aspect of our wonderful world?

I have, especially looking through my camera lens where some kind of mystical fusion occurs, which is not that different to falling in love.

Anyway, this was just the beginning of three weeks in wonderful Sydney. So stay tuned.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 29th January, 2023.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share & a Belated Happy New Year!

My apologies for not being active lately. However, we went away to Byron Bay and the Gold Coast just after Christmas. We spent New Year’s Eve taking in the New Year’s Eve fireworks at famous Surfers’ Paradise. To be perfectly honest, we were sorely disappointed. The fireworks suddenly stopped without a finale as though someone had poured a bucket of cold water on proceedings. There were a few fights around us, loads of drunks but the beach was a sea of joyful revellers and it was mind-blowing to see so many people there. We caught a tram from Geoff’s sister’s place in Southport into Surfers which was very convenient, but the crowds coming home were phenomenal and sardine tin doesn’t come close to describing how packed it was.

Not unsurprisingly, Geoff caught covid NYE and two days later tested positive on a RAT. I was in disbelief. As you may recall, I’ve been continuing to isolate to avoid covid due to my lung condition and being immuno-suppressed. However, I get sick of being a wet blanket and just wanted our family to have fun. Geoff and I met on NYE 1998 watching the Sydney fireworks at a mutual friend’s place and I’ve always wanted to watch the fireworks together in person as a family and this was our big chance. The “kids” are about to turn 19 and 17 and are starting to forge their own paths. We don’t have forever to be doing things as a family.

A rainy night for our arrival in Sydney.

Following Geoff’s diagnosis, we came home early to avoid passing it onto his other sister and husband and hoped we might be able to beat the odds and get me home without getting infected. I was booked in to mind my friend’s house in Sydney the day after our early return so we hoped our quarantine would work. It didn’t. The night we arrived home, our son tested positive. The next day our daughter and I had a pcr test and that was negative. However, the next day I was overcome by the most mind-blowing fatigue. I sank like a stone. That probably sounds familiar. By this stage it was Sunday and I did the dreaded RAT test and much to my horror, was positive. Have any of you noticed how doing these rats is like taking a pregnancy test? Fortunately, I was much more excited about the results of the pregnancy test all those years ago. By this stage, covid had struck my sinuses and was nasty but thank goodness, stayed away from my lungs which are my Achilles Heel. Next day, I got onto the antivirals which seemed to give me a bit of pep. No doubt they made a difference. Meanwhile, Geoff had a chest infection and was on antibiotics. Our daughter felt symptomatic but didn’t test. So, that was the end of our status as “novids” and so far so good.

Our house minding gig was a wonderful opportunity. We were staying at Cremorne Point on the magnificent Sydney Harbour. We were a short drive up the hill from the wharf with harbour glimpses, a balcony looking out across the street where I could ponder who was living in the flats across the road and also watch the lightening display one stormy night. However, we weren’t really house minding. We were pet sitting. We were minding a dog, two cats and two guinea pigs. This is never a matter of just filling up their hungry bellies and topping up the water bowl. We loved their pets like our own. Indeed, our daughter was particularly excited to have cats and Guinea pigs as we’re a dog only family.

Sydney Opera House framed by the Sydney Harbour Bridge

While others probably would’ve planned out every second of their holiday time, we had no plans and getting covid only fueled the uncertainty. Three weeks sounded like a long time, but it disappeared in a flash and while a caught up with a few friends, I barely caught up with anyone. However, I caught loads of ferries and have become what you might call a “Ferry Hopper”. I caught the ferry to Circular Quay a couple of times initially but then I went further afield to Manly.

My fine self at Manly Beach about to blow away

Catching the Manly ferry is such a Sydney thing to do and I was reminded of trips in days gone by as a child but also as a teenager with my friends where we used to buy a plate of “chew and spew” Chinese for $10.00 and head to the beach. Manly is on the Northern head of Sydney Harbour.

Not the best beach day in Manly. The beach was closed once the lifesavers finished for the day. Everyone was ordered out of the water.

Watson’s Bay

We also caught the ferry over to Watson’s Bay, near the Southern Headland. Watson’s Bay used to be a fishing village and despite the influx of luxury homes, many of the historic cottages still remain and have been preserved under the National Trust.

Miss & Geoff at Watson’s Bay

While on the subject of bays, I also caught the ferry to Rose Bay. My parents were living in a flat on Old South Head Road there when I was born. They moved to Wahroonga when I was about two (in around 1972) when my brother was on the way.

In addition to my ferry hopping, we also visited Taronga Zoo. Not only does it have the wildlife, the harbour views from Taronga are incredible.

also went to the Art Gallery of NSW and it’s new offshoot, Sydney Modern. I think it’s been three years since I’ve been to the art gallery and sometimes I’d go a couple of times a year. Just another casualty of covid and covid lockdowns. The new gallery was great but I couldn’t help thinking they could’ve squeezed more paintings into that vast space. However, these gallery people seem to be great believers in conserving white space and less is more. I know it makes sense but what about all those paintings consigned to the dungeon that we could also be seeing? Well, clearly no one asked for my opinion.

Lastly, I went to Cockatoo Island , a UNESCO World Heritage Site at the junction of the Parramatta and Lane Cove River in Sydney Harbour. Cockatoo Island is the largest of several islands that were originally heavily timbered sandstone knolls. Cockatoo Island became a penal establishment in 1839 and convict-built buildings remain today. Exploring Cockatoo Island through my camera lens was a lot of fun.

Indeed, I’ve taken a swag of photos while I was in Sydney. Our son estimated I’d taken 3000 photos, but I’m not sure. Moreover, I had a lot of trouble with the auto-focus on my Nikon and too often I’d have to take at least two photos just to get one in focus. It would be fair to say my Nikon SLR is an endangered species.

However, all too soon we were packing up to come home. Arriving home with two packed cars to a packed house, although at least the Christmas decorations could disappear back to the roof. Geoff has also had to resurrect his working from home facilities and did a massive clean up yesterday. Still a long way to go.

Lastly, I’ll just mention that we still have Christmas pudding, brandy butter, Stollen, Christmas cake and even a spare Turducken (turkey, chicken and duck) in the fridge/freezer. My parents didn’t make it up here on Christmas Day and we weren’t terribly hungry. Hopefully, we might manage to have Christmas in February along with birthday celebrations.

How are you going? I’m looking forward to catching up.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Natalie the Explorer

Best wishes,

Rowena

A New Year!

I have no idea what to say about the arrival of 2022, except that it’s here and none of us have a crystal ball.

We had no plans, but weren’t disappointed, except in the music which accompanied this year’s TV viewing of the Sydney Harbour Fireworks.

Although we spent the night at home, we went over to Pearl Beach in the afternoon, and walked around the rocks. It had been an exceptionally hot day (especially after all the heavy rain we’ve had lately). So, by the time we arrived in the early evening, t was perfect. Happy Days.

However, covid had even made it onto the local rock face.

The Covid Pandemic in Pearl Beach

That might not sound like much, but people don’t write things on our rocks around here as a rule.

So, you could say that it represents a degree of frustration.

Or, perhaps it’s simply a statement of fact!

Of course, it’s probably not “a local” being this time of year, but some interloper from Sydney, although the people of Pearl Beach probably blame the uncouth hoards from “over the hill” (which includes yours truly).

However, if covid truly comes to town, Pearl Beach is prepared. I spotted this:

After dinner, as per usual, we watched the fireworks extravaganza on TV grateful for the extraordinary celebrations going ahead amidst uncertainty and stormy weather. Indeed, listening to the news tonight, I could be excused for thinking life was continuing on business as usual. At least, that’s what we’ve been told.

What did you get up to for New Year’s Eve? I’d love to hear from you!

Best wishes & only the best for the New Year,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 14th June, 2021.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How are you all and how was your week? I hope it’s been good overall, and that you’ve been able to savour some of the zest of life.

My week has been quite a rollercoaster ride, which is quite an apt description after we visited Sydney’s Luna Park after midnight when it was well and truly shut and the rollercoaster was fast asleep.

Darling Harbour

Last night, we went on a Sydney Harbour Cruise to celebrate a friend’s 50th Birthday. I was really looking forward to it because I’ve never actually been on a Sydney Harbour cruise before. I know that sounds like quite a travesty for a Sydney person, but I’ve certainly been on ferry rides around the harbour and they’ve been absolutely magnificent. Anyway, our ferry ride began at Darling Harbour at 6.00pm after sunset, and went for four hours and then we drove across the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Kirribilli to absorb the magnificent imposing grandeur of the Bridge just overhead, the inky black water and the view across to the Sydney Opera House in the background.

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It was a fancy dress party, and some of our friends had really gone to town and that really added to the festivity. As you can see from the photo above, some of my friends went all out, and really looked spectacular. I’d had such a crazy week, all I managed was a pair of rainbow socks. I also wanted to keep warm and went for long pants and my trench coat. I looked rather like Inspector Gadget if I had to put a name to my get up.

Above: I’m dancing to “YMCA” a party classic.

While I naturally enjoyed the people, party and full but floating immersion into Sydney Harbour after dark, what I probably valued most was the opportunity to get to know my friend and his family better. I really appreciated the significance of that after being a part of my friend, Lisa’s funeral two weeks ago and getting to know her much better after she’d passed away. It wasn’t too late, but it certainly meant lost opportunities. We really need to get to know and appreciate each other in all our technicolour glory now.

Anyway, so the Harbour Cruise party clearly represents the what went well this week. On the other hand, our daughter ended up in hospital to expedite some medical tests. When she was about ten, she was diagnosed with a digestive condition called gastroparesis, which involves delayed gastric emptying. She has been a lot better. However, over the last couple of weeks, it flared up again and I took her to the doctor on Wednesday morning, and by the afternoon, she was fed up and asked to go to hospital. Oh joy! Gastroparesis is a complicated condition and I wasn’t expecting a lot of answers or understanding at Emergency. Indeed, all I expected was a wasted night and being sent home after midnight exhausted with making any progress. However, they were actually very supportive and decided to admit her to expedite the tests and give her some medication before she could get an appointment with the gastroenterologist. So, it actually turned out to be a brilliant plan and she had an ultrasound, barium swallow, blood tests and left with a script for Domperidone, which speeds up peristalsis. She’s looking so much better today. So, fingers crossed we’re on the right track. It’s so hard seeing your kids unwell, or being around other sick kids. I take my hat off to anyone who works in paediatrics and helps our sick little people.

I am still feeling the loss of my friend, Lisa.

What more can I say?

The last song for the night on the Harbour Cruise was: “Hey Jude”, and the lines: “take a sad song, and make it better” hit me in a new way. I got pretty emotional during that song, but it is so true. It’s telling me to take my grief, and make something positive out of it. Help Lisa to leave a positive legacy. I also really believe it’s important to acknowledge our sadness, disappointment, hurt and losses and not just paint a glossy veneer over the top. That it’s not healthy to hold it all in and rather, that it can be self-destructive.

Not unsurprisingly, my research went on the back burner this week. However, I did manage to read C.J. Dennis’s: “Old Digger Smith” and am currently reading “The Adventures of Ginger Mick”. These books are part of a series of books featuring the Sentimental Bloke, which is the title of the first book in the series and it’s been made into a movie. It’s an Australian literary classic, and written in the Australian vernacular of the WWI era, it not far off trying to unravel Chaucer. However, I find when I speak it out in my head, it mostly makes sense. By the way, the “Sentimental Bloke” was a best seller and a popular read for WWI soldiers and a special pocket-sized edition was made which fitted into their coat pocket. (I wonder how many sentimental blokes are around these days and how many are reading books? We had the New Age Sensitive Guy when I was younger and I wonder if he’s still around? Or, if all of us have had to harden up? Keep calm and carry on?!!)

Well, I’m still sentimental, and my friend shed a few tears in his speech last night. So, we’re not gone yet.

Anyway, it’s the long weekend here in Australia. One benefit of still being part of the Commonwealth, is getting a day off to celebrate the Queen’s Birthday. With a long weekend, families are catching up and I finally managed to meet up with my friend’s daughter and grandchildren and met up with them at the beach. Silly me, forgetting it’s Winter, I went barefoot and my feet were absolutely freezing. They hurt.

Anyway, that pretty much covers my week, and stay tuned for some photos from the Harbour cruise. The Weekend Coffee Share is Hotsted by Natalie the Explorer and here;s the link:

https://fresh.inlinkz.com/party/3c1e93537aea4ffcb5dad6b688cae536

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS I just had to include another phot of my friends dancing in their glad rags looking absolutely sensational. I’ll have what they’re having.

Thursday Doors – Kirribilli, Sydney.

Welcome to Another Thursday Doors!

Today, we’re heading down to Kirribilli, located smack bang on stunning Sydney Harbour. Indeed, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is parked here with one foot in Kirribilli, and the other planted across the water in Miller’s Point. Not unsurprisingly, the Bridge dominates Kirribilli with its sheer physicality, but also in terms of sound, whenever a train rumbles across all that steel with its echoing, idiosyncratic roar.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge viewed from Kirribilli today. In so many way, the bridge is the gateway (or door) into Sydney.

In a sense, our trip to Kirribilli represents the opening of an invisible door. This door marks the dividing line between the safety of home, and the more risky context of Sydney and Covid 19. Although there hasn’t been a case of community transmission for over a month, clusters have seeming sprung up out of nowhere, but usually connected somehow to the hotel quarantine program. While contact tracing does a fabulous job of identifying potential spread, it doesn’t actually prevent you from catching it. It only tells you after the fact. Due to my auto-immune disease and associated lung fibrosis, I am at a heightened risk of catching the virus if it’s around, and also having a more dire outcome. So, for me, caution makes a lot of sense, especially with the vaccine around the corner so I don’t have to lock myself away forever.

However, there’s also a risk that avoiding medical treatment for these conditions could also be harmful, and all my specialists are located at Royal North Shore Hospital about a 15 minute drive North of Kirribilli, and I often go to Kirribilli afterwards as a reward.

So, that’s how I ended up having lunch with my husband, Geoff, in Kirribilli and comin across this really beautiful and richly ornate door as we walked down to the water’s edge.

Isn’t it something?!!

However, even to the most one-eyed door lover around, it still couldn’t compete with this…magnificent Sydney Harbour.

The thing that particularly struck me about Sydney Harbour today was just how empty it was. It’s usually a hive of activity with ferries criss-crossing the waterways and people moving around on the foreshore. There could well have been one of those towering cruise ships in port, as was often the case before covid. Sydney Harbour isn’t usually this empty, even on a weekday.

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed our trip to Kirribilli, and I apologize for being a one-door-wonder this week, but hopefully this is a sign of things to come and I’ll soon be able to get out and about more and venture further afield.

This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Dan Antion.

Best wishes,

Rowena

A-Z Reflections 2020…Place I’ve Been.

Phew! That’s the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge done and dusted for another year.

Before I go any further, I’m going to provide a quick list of posts before I reflect on the challenge itself (just in case you’re going to read one post and go no further.)

A- Amsterdam: 1992

B- Berlin: 1992

C- Canberra

D – Devonport, Tasmania: Crossing Bass Strait 2017.

E – Eaglehawk Neck, Tasmania, 2017.

F – Florence: 1992. 

G – Geraldton, Western Australia 1997 and 2002. 

H – Heidelberg: 1992.

I – Ipswich: Visiting My Grandparents.

J – Jindabyne: Skiing in the Australian “Alps”. 

K – Koln (Cologne) – 1992.

L – London: 1992.

M – Melbourne: 1997. 

N – Driving Across the Nullarbor Plain: 1996.

O – Great Ocean Road, Victoria: 1998 and 2002.

P – A Different Perspective of Paris: 1992.

Q – Queenstown, Tasmania: 1995

R – Rotorua: 2001.

S – Sydney Harbour: Forever.

T – Toowoomba: 2010

U – Umina Beach, NSW: Home.

V – Places I’ve Played My Violin: 2012.

W – Whale Beach, Sydney: 1990 onwards.

X – An Extraordinary Travel Yarn (Pinnacles WA) 1990

Y – Yachting Holiday (Hawkesbury River): 1983.

Z – Taronga Zoo, Sydney: 2009.

This year, I had trouble signing up, but decided to go ahead with my usual write-on-the-run approach instead of being prepared, organized and “this is something I prepared earlier”. However, despite almost combusting in this intense pressure cooker environment, writing on the run also gives my posts a sense of immediacy and intimacy, which might be lacking otherwise. Moreover, with the changing state of coronavirus around the world this year, it worked particularly well and helped me feel more in tune with the times. For me, it’s not a time where you want to be out of step with the people no matter who you are. You’re putting something out there into the pond and it needs to have some kind of synergy with the mood of the times.

What do you think? Or, perhaps, it’s a case of: “Hey, Ro. Get off your soap box.”

As you know, my theme for this year was: “Places I’ve Been.” My thinking behind this idea was to post a series of bright, colourful photos of where I’ve travelled in the past at a time where planes right around the world are ground, borders are closed and travel is banned. Indeed, travellers have been in quarantine and isolation and a cruise ship, the Ruby Princess which returned to Australia without her passenger being screen for coronavirus A month after its return, 19 passengers were dead in Australia, two deaths were reported from the US and more than 600 had tested positive. With around 200 of the 1100-odd crew struck down with the virus, the ship spent weeks moored at Port Kembla. With all these travel bans in place, I even had a few friends contact me during my series on Facebook suggesting I contact the Police about travelling at the moment. That was a pat on the back. I’d truly recreated the immediacy of travel, even though one of these trips dated back to 1983.

However, as usual my posts were much longer than anticipated and I actually managed to clock up 32, 650 words.

Rowena in Florence

The series also allowed me to write up a good swag of my own travel stories and experiences and I’m already in the process of editing them and putting together a hard cover book at least for the family. Well, at least I’m downloaded all the stories and created word documents with the photos removed. It’s a start.

It also allowed me to redefine travel. That we tend to think of travel in terms of going to various places. Or, visiting particular sites, which creates a sort of check-list type of travelling. I’ve going here. What’s there to see. Let’s get through this place as quickly and efficiently as possible and get onto the next one. It’s this kind of travelling that leaves tourists heads spinning. I’ve seen 50 churches, been to 20 galleries and my heads spinning like a zoomed up merry-go-round where you desperately just want to get off. Oneed, after also staying in so many hotel rooms, it can be a relief to get back home to your own bed and stop living out of a suitcase.

That’s not generally how I’ve traveled. I spent roughly nine months in Europe back in 1992 and I barely planned anything and wandered around. Met and lived with locals and chatted with other backpackers from around the world in cafes. Sure, I had time on my side and we lived on the smell of an oil rag to stretch our money almost to breaking point. However, we had breathing spaces to take it all in, and we had the rest of our lives to fit it all in.

Anyway, as I said, this series allowed me to redefine what “travel” mean to me. It wasn’t just about place, but it was also about people. Indeed, when we visited Ipswich, that was all about seeing my grandparents and how the family home can become that place.

I also learned  a lot about myself. My personal journey has experienced a number of earth-shattering blows where it’s at least felt like everything I have and have ever known has been destroyed and I’ve had to rebuild myself from scratch, while the people and structures around me have continued virtually unchanged. For me, that’s been the result of three acute life-threatening health and disability issues, which have seriously limited my capacity to travel, along with the resulting loss of employment which has left me without a personal income.

Rowena skiing downhill Fri

Yet, despite these blows, I’ve continued to travel and view new places and experiences through the pen and the lens and share these experienced here on Beyond the Flow. Working through this series, therefore, sharpened my identity as a traveler, a person who lives and breathes for travel and just because it’s on a different scale to what it used to be, that doesn’t change who I am.

So, so to reach personal break though during the A-Z Challenge, speaks volumes and I’m naturally very grateful. Every year, I find the process of structuring a series of almost random things into a cohesive theme creates profound outcomes. It produces a creative energy I struggle to explain. Have you found that? I also suspect that writing all my posts within the stressful confines of the 30 days contributes to that alchemy. You throw all these random things into the pressure cooker and every year, I’ve been dished up with a surprising masterpiece.

I’ve also made friends. Indeed, I still have friends I made on the very first A-Z Challenge I did something like five years ago. Once again, I’ve made some new ones this year and I’m certainly intending to keep in touch, especially after going through social isolation and lock down together. We’ve forged a bond.

So, I’d like to thank everyone who organizes this every year and everyone who has visited Beyond the Flow, but I’d also love to welcome you over to visit.

On that note, it’s time to say Goodbye for another year, although I hope to see at least a few of you in between. I also hope that you and yours are keeping well and safe as the coronavirus crosses the globe. Bless you!

Love & best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

 

Z- Taronga Zoo, Sydney…A-Z Challenge.

Welcome back to Place I’ve Been,  my theme for the 2020 Blogging From A to Z April Challenge. Today, we’ve finally reached the end of the road. Z is our last stop, and today we’re heading of to Taronga Zoo, with its magnificent views across Sydney Harbour.

Giraffes Taronga Sydney Opera House

The Giraffes can look across Sydney Harbour to the Opera House.

Today, we’re hopping back in the time machine and switching the clock back to 2009 when we went to the zoo to celebrate our son’s 5th birthday with my parents. By the way, this isn’t the first time I’ve reflected on this very special birthday celebration and you can read about it: HERE. This was the kids’ first time to the zoo and my last, although Mum  bought annual passes for herself and the kids, and a trip to the zoo became a special day out with “Mama”.

 

That’s where zoos become rather enchanting and it’s absolutely magical to see such a diversity of animals from right around the world almost within arm’s reach where you can almost feel part of their orbit. However, on the flip side, animals belong in the wild and deserve to be free. After all, I certainly wouldn’t want some other species to keep me in confinement for their own personal entertainment (even if I do sometimes wonder if that’s what the dogs are up to when I keep throwing the ball).

Jonathon & Amelia Sunbear

However, just to really confuse the picture, zoos have now become sanctuaries for endangered species and are running breeding programs. Animal habitats in zoos have also improved significantly over the years. I still remember seeing the orangutan’s in their previous caged enclosure at Taronga back when I was at university many years ago now, and seeing their sad eyes peering out between the gaps.

It is also possible that we idealise life in the wild. After all, it’s not free of predators, loss of habitat, food and water shortages either.

Amelia & Bear

Thomas French addressed these contradictions in  Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives:

“Despite all their flaws, zoos wake us up. They invite us to step outside our most basic assumptions. Offered for our contemplation, the animals remind us of nature’s impossibly varied schemes for survival, all the strategies that species rely upon for courtship and mating and protecting the young and establishing dominance and hunting for something to eat and avoiding being eaten. On a good day, zoos shake people into recognizing the manifold possibilities of existence, what it’s like to walk across the Earth, or swim in its oceans of fly above its forests—even though most animals on display will never have the chance to do any of those things again, at least not in the wild.”
― Thomas French, Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives

handprints & pawprints

Hand Prints & Paw Prints.

I also came across this from excerpt about a lion at the zoo:

“See this abdicated beast, once king
Of them all, nibble his claws:
Not anger enough left—no, nor despair—
To break his teeth on the bars.”
― Cecil Day-Lewis, The Complete Poems of C. Day Lewis

So, I’m not sure where that leaves us.

Indeed, perhaps it’s a good time to offer you a piece of birthday cake, or perhaps some pavlova?

Jessie the elephant

Jessie the Elephant.

Meanwhile, I want to share an interesting story with you about the opening of the zoo back in 1916 and the challenges they faced moving the animals from their previous location at Moore Park in the city, on the other side of Sydney Harbour a good 15 years or so before the Sydney Harbour Bridge had been constructed and ferry was the only way across the harbour.

I’m not sure whether I should start a guessing competition to see which of the animals was the most difficult to relocate and why. However, it wasn’t the lions and tigers. It was Jessie the much beloved and only surviving elephant. Rather than paraphrasing, I thought I’d share the full story with you even if it does add significantly to the word count. It appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 10th November, 1911. It takes you away to another time and place, and if you’re anything like me, I’m always willing to travel.

REMOVING JESSIE. HOW IT WILL BE DONE.

THE NEW ZOO SITE. WORK. TO START IN JANUARY

 

The animals went in one by one – into the Sydney Zoo – but they will all go out together.

Presently they will be in the midst of packing up and moving. They are to have a new home. From Moore Park they are to go to Ashton Park, which is on the other side of the harbour.

The elephants went in one by one, and one by one they died, until today only one remains. Every Sydney child knows Jessie. She is one of the oldest inhabitants of the Zoo, having been there for 30 yoars. And the question is, How will she take this breaking up of the old home?

Jessie, the elephant, is not only the biggest animal in the Zoological Gardens, she is also the biggest problem in the way of “moving.” You can manage the monkeys and the apes, for they will do as they are told, you can open the door of the tiger’s cage, or that of the lion, and tiger or lion will walk obligingly into a portable cage, ready to be carried away; the crocodiles and the pythons present no insuperable difficulty, so long as they are handled with care. But you can’t put four tons of elephant into a cage – or, if you could, you wouldn’t be able to move the cage afterwards.

So Jessie will walk. It remains to to be seen how the airing will agree with her. She is not familiar with trams, or lorries, or motor cars. She has never paraded up and down our busy streets, and the strangeness of it all may not be to her liking. She is, however, a wonderfully good and sensible elephant, and it is not anticipated that she will give much trouble. But, in order to keep her in a good humour, she is to be given two nurses, who will walk one on either side of her – two of Wirth Brothers circus elephants if they are to be had. The only fear is lest evil communications may corrupt Jessie’s good manners, and lead to her running away to join the circus.

Jonathon Fenec Fox ears

My What Big Ears He has!

A START IN JANUARY

Anyway this is not to be for some time yet. The decision to move the Zoo from Moore Park to Ashton Park – that magnificent stretch of natural bush lying between Whiting Beach and Athol Gardens – has only just been arrived at; but assuming that it is gazetted without undue delay, it is hoped to make a start in preparing the new home for the denizens of the Zoo in January next – building, surveying, fencing and cleaning. First, there will be a topographical survey and then part of the area – the site to be set apart for the Zoo is 60 acres in extent, the total area of the park being 140 acres – will be fenced, probably 40 acres of it. The other 20 acres will be kept as required for zoological purposes. As soon as the surveying and cleaning of the land has been completed, the laying out of the grounds will be proceeded with. Paths will be made, and the quarters fixed for the various orders of animals: and when the money is available the buildings will be erected.

Taronga Zoo Dome

The Government intends to do all it can towards making the Zoological Gardens of Sydney not only the first in Australia, but, ultimately, one of the first institutions of this kind in the world. Indeed, no other Zoo in the world can boast such a magnificent site as this one at Ashton Park. There are zoological gardens covering a larger area – as at Bronx Park, New York – but there is none as beautiful. It is proposed to begin with an initial outlay of £20,000 or £30,000, spread over a period of four years, and this is a modest enough beginning. ‘We must cut our coat according to our cloth,” said one of the directors yesterday. “In time Government and people will come to realise what a fine asset these gardens can be made.”

The council of the Zoological Gardens is fortunate in numbering among its members two such enthusiasts as Mr Fred Flowers (Chief Secretary ) and Mr Hoyle, M L.A , both of whom have thrown themselves heart and soul into this forward movement.

NATURAL BEAUTY

The natural beauty of the site will remain. From the harbour one will see no sign of habitation. No bricks, no red tiled roofs, will mar the beauty of the bush. There will be no high buildings. Nothing will be used except the rock which is lying there. Green trees and rugged rocks will be all that will meet the eye. There will be as little fencing as possible and wherever it is feasible sunken fencing will be introduced, leaving nothing to interrupt the view. Straight lines and all formality will be tabooed. There will probably be no flower gardens – only the natural features of the ground showing the Australian bush.

It is probably that there will be a special endeavour to make the new Zoological Gardens typically Australian, with masses of beautiful wattle trees, bright-flowering eucalypts and brilliant creepers everywhere in evidence. Here we shall be given to us a piece of Australian bush under the very best conditions. The creek running through the centre of the ground will become a fern gully, with an abundance of tree ferns, staghorns, and palms. We shall have birds’ nests in plenty. Lyre birds and many other Australian species will flit from bough to bough. Large ponds will be made by blocking the creek, and the ponds will be full of our water-lilies. Upon them and around them will be a multitude of birds, foreign as well as Australian.

Another advantage in not having flower gardens will be that many of our Australian animals, such as the native bear, the opossum and rock wallabies will have the run of the whole grounds, though there will be little sanctuaries for them to go into when the grounds are unusually full of visitors.

BARLESS CAGES

For the housing of the carnivora, the latest system of barless cages will be adopted, as in Hagenbeck’s world-famous gardens at Hamburg, There are natural rocky enclosures in the park, and these with little difficulty, can be made into large cages – walls of rock, with moats, are aimed at the different orders of the animals will be grouped together, so as to make the whole collection valuable from an educational standpoint.

The birds will be kept in large cages, enclosing trees. Instead of having one small cage for each species, a whole family of birds will be put into one large cage – all classes of cockatoos, for instance – and they will have ample room for flying among the trees. There will also be cages where many different species of birds will be seen together.

Three years ago the Director of the Zoological Gardens, Mr Le Souef, took a trip to Eugland and Europe, and visited the principal gardens. Speaking to a “Herald” representative yesterday, he said ‘The whole point of usefulness, as far as I was concerned, centred in Hagenbeck’s Gardens in Hamburg. I consider that the style adopted there must sooner or later be copied by every zoo in the world. It is a privately owned zoo. Like his father before him, Hagenbeck has all his life been dealing with animals, and he conceived the idea of this new type of barless cage that we propose to introduce in Sydney. It completely revolutionised all previous ideas of housing animals.”

MUSIC IN THE OPEN AIR

Mr Le Soeuf makes another interesting proposal. “All the gardens of Europe contain excellent features in the accommodation provided for out-of-door life” he said. “All the music and refreshments arrangements are out of doors. For instance, in the Berlin Gardens there were two magnificent bands, around which were about ten thousand chairs and little tables. The people go in there of an afternoon or evening, and drink beer or coffee while listening to the music. There are red tables and white tables, if you sit down at a red one it signifies that you drink coffee, if at a white one it signifies that you drink beer, It saves time and trouble – your coffee or beer is brought to you at once.

“Sydney has never had an opportunity of enjoying this kind of thing, and I would like to see it introduced in connection with our new gardens. In our climate it is exactly the thing required, instead of sitting in stuffy restaurants.”

Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), Friday 10 November 1911, page 8

 

Jonathon Giraffe Taronga

…….

This brings me to the zoo today which is closed due to the coronavirus just like all museums, galleries and places where the public congregate and actually have fun. However, they’ve taken Taronga online and you can check out some of the animals on  Taronga TV . I’m sure many parents have appreciated having the zoo online with the family kept at home on lock down. It’s a great idea, I’m just a bit surprised they haven’t featured our Australian animals. So, just to make sure you’re not disappointed, I’ve included a link to a koala talk at the Australian Reptile Park.

Anyway, on that note, it’s time for me to hit the sack. Actually, that time’s been and gone and it’s very late.

So, this brings the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge for 2020 to an end, although I think I might continue this series. I’ve really enjoyed it.

The End

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

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.

DSC_5852

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

Happy New Year!

Wishing you a Happy New Year for 2020 from Sydney Australia. I’m still no closer to working out my resolutions for 2020 and my word for the last three or more years has been ACTION, which as usual often turned into PROCRASTINATION or its near relative DISTRACTION. However, to be fair to myself, I did manage to write 97,835 words here at Beyond the Flow so unless my main goal was becoming Susie Homemaker, I did alright. Now, I just need to glue those words together into something called a book. That’s my main goal for 2020 and having acquired perfect vision on the count of midnight, this has to be my year. Bring it on!

Meanwhile, I leave you with a link to the iconic Sydney fireworks, which we only watched today as we were at a party last night. Yippee! It’s the first time we’ve been out on NYE for years what with having young kids, being sick and having anxious dogs who fret and potentially escape due to the fireworks. We left them inside hoping that the younger pups might bolster lady who ends up a hyperventilating, dribbling mess on Geoff’s lap on previous years.

Before I heard off, there is one New Year’s wish, indeed a prayer, we’d appreciate over here in Australia. We’d really like a strong soaking rain to put out the bush fires and help the farmers out of the drought. The ongoing 2019–20 Australian bushfire season is already the most destructive bushfire season since the 2008–09 Australian bushfires[2] and the most widespread in history, having already burned over 5,900,000 hectares of land, destroyed over 2,500 buildings (including over 1300 homes) and killed at least 18 people. That’s a lot of heartbreak. 

Yet, at the same time, there is still joy or perhaps only a glimmer of sunlight even at the heart of tragedy. The are stories of the incredible fire fighters many who are volunteers and too many who have given their lives. Their are stories of loss, but also stories of being spared and despite the destruction and the choking smoke, fire has its beauty.

I’ve leave you with a few favourite photos from 2019…the year that was.

Love and best wishes,

Rowena