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