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Familiar but strange

This is a photo I never thought I would ever take! There is usually a mass of people walking here, with waiters dashing back and forth across the flow from the restaurants on the right to the outside seating beyond the pillars on the left.

On Sunday I ventured out of my immediate neighbourhood for the first time in weeks. I took the ferry from my local wharf (I’ve never seen more than a handful of people of that route, so social distancing was absurdly easy) to Circular Quay, where I stepped into an alternative universe: the buildings were all there, but the vast majority of people had been stripped away. My goal was the botanic garden (still open in the lockdown, although all its buildings and cafes are closed) and the easiest route is to walk along the quay and past the opera house. All so unthinkingly familiar — but this time, also so very strange.

I generally scurry along this stretch, dodging dawdlers and tourists. No need for that now.

Where are the hundreds of restaurant tables?

The next shock was the forlorn, stripped-down Opera Bar. This place I avoid like the plague — so noisy, so crowded!

Opera Bar — no tables, no chairs, no bar, certainly no people.

Looking back at Opera Bar from the other end. I’ve never taken a photo with all the people; the one on the right, below, is from https://www.sydney.com.au/images/circular-quay-restaurants1.jpg.

I then walked around the opera house, rather than crossing in front. At the harbour end, I encountered one other person; there are usually dozens here.

At the harbour end of the opera house.

It was time to head for the gardens. My ferry is only hourly, and this eerie ghost town with its memories of happier times was not somewhere I wanted to have to kill time if I carelessly missed my return. I took one look at the hordes on the main path that runs along the water and chose another route.

And indeed, away from the harbour, the gardens were fairly deserted, and as lovely as ever.

Bridge and birds of paradise.

Something bushy sticking through a fence.

Bonus points if you spotted the man up the tree!

This is the approach to the cafe. A lovely spot, with good food (and it’s licensed).

These chairs and tables are usually spread all over this area, full of people.

This looks like a painting, doesn’t it? The reflections give everything an undefined look.

More reflections.

Clumps of plants, backlit by the low autumn sun.

The various little buildings where you might sit with a group are closed.

But the benches are still open! I sat here for a while.

This protea caught my eye while I was sitting. Protea Cyanoides ‘Little Prince’, according to its sign.

Usually, after a stroll around the gardens I’d finish off with a glass of bubbly at Portside, another venue at the opera house but much quieter and more civilised than Opera Bar.

No bubbly at Portside this time, alas. Certainly quiet, however!

So it was back on the ferry and home again.

Heading home.

Posted as part of Jo’s Monday Walk. (I see she has a cheese fest this week, oh yes!)


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The Walk to Work

No, this is not where I live! But I do pass this grand Victorian residence, protecting its privacy behind exuberant growth, and try to imagine a life that includes living in something like that.

In August I moved from ocean-side Bondi Beach to harbour-side Double Bay (both Sydney suburbs), which has brought me closer to where I work — so close (4km) that I can walk it in 55 minutes, door to door.

These magnificent jacarandas dominate this curve in the road.

It’s a very up and down route, and Google Maps has a nifty feature that shows just how much.

Up and down and up and down …

This church (St Mark’s, built 1848 to 1880) sits at the highest spot on the map above, just after “home”. With no tall buildings, there must have been vast views when it was built — but on the other hand, there wasn’t much to look at in 1880s’ Sydney!

I always pause here and marvel that so many people have this view. The horizon looks murky due to smoke from bush fires.

Time to head down from the lofty heights of the church to almost sea level. This road is, fittingly, called Loftus Road. I first encountered it walking home from work so had to slog UP it — after that, I changed the route home. 😉

Down, down, down. Hard on the knees.

Not only jacarandas are in bloom now — so is jasmine, and it’s everywhere. The scent hangs on the air.

Of course, there’s more to life than jasmine!

Red bougainvillea against a white wall.

At the bottom of the “hill from hell” sits Rushcutters Bay and the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia. The CYC was established in 1944 and hosts the annual Sydney to Hobart yacht race that begins on Boxing Day (26 December).

This is the expansive park beside Rushcutters Bay. At this time of the day, it’s full of joggers, walkers, exercise groups, and dogs (though it looks empty in this shot!). See that tower (like a yellow blob on a stick) on the horizon? That’s two blocks from my destination.

A lovely cafe, but no time to stop. (Sorry Jo, no cake on this walk!)

The Beast of Bodmin Moor? The Hound of the Baskervilles? No, just an elderly Newfoundland dog with his summer haircut. I see him most days.

Anyone for cricket?

I almost didn’t include this photo, as it’s hardly attractive. But it’s part of the walk, and the start of the long uphill stretch to King’s Cross.

Still heading up, but beside a more attractive street. This area is King’s Cross.

This pavement sign is hard to read even when you’re standing beside it. The whole text says “August 1929 Kellett St | Riot | Sly Grog Traders | Kate Leigh vs Tilly Devine | Rival Gangs in Violent Stoush | Razors Guns Bottles Stones | Wounded Do Not Identify Attackers to Police”. (Read about these two fascinating (if scary!) women.)

King’s Cross is gentrifying these days, but it still has its areas of sleaze, crime and violence.

The heart of “The Cross”.

I don’t like this alley (I usually have to flatten myself against the wall as cars go past) but it’s convenient.

I don’t know if this street is officially in King’s Cross or Woolloomooloo, but its character is very different to the streets where the walk starts and ends.

Now we’re definitely in Woolloomooloo — the signs say so! Originally home to dock workers, the area still has an air of non-prosperity despite being only 1.5km from the Sydney Central Business District.

More of those jacarandas. I can’t help smiling at such shameless flamboyance as I walk under the gentle drift of petals. And there’s that tower again …

You can see more photos of the jacarandas of Woolloomooloo here.

Yet more jasmine!

If you’ve read any of my other walk posts, you’ll know I hate stairs. However, this being the city not the bush, there’s a lift here too. 🙂 The stairs/lift take you up to a walkway over six lanes of busy commuter traffic.

The tower is visible again, closer now! And that’s the train I catch when I don’t walk. From the angle of the colourful wall, you can tell I’m going up, again.

Past the art gallery.

Another appealing cafe to march straight past.

This is The Domain, where you could graze your animals back when that was a thing.

Through the grounds of Sydney Hospital and Sydney Eye Hospital.

Stepping through the gates beside the hospital, you leave the world of the suburbs behind.

At the top of Martin Place. It’s all downhill from here!

I often top up my travel card and buy my (losing) lottery tickets at this little kiosk.

Past the cenotaph.

Trams are running on George St — at last! Still in ‘testing’, but at least the years of wretched construction are over. This tram is just about in front of my office building.

Last glimpse of that tower, from in front of my building.

And here’s the end of the walk, in the lobby of my building.

I hope you managed with all these photos! It’s a varied walk and I wanted to capture the different areas along the way.

Posted as part of Jo’s Monday Walks.


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Sculpture by the Sea 2015

dust - Norton Flavel

dust – Norton Flavel

The annual outdoor display of sculptures is on again in Sydney. With artworks dotted for 2km along the coast from Tamarama Beach to Bondi Beach, this free two-week event is hugely popular.

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There are over 100 artworks on display — but don’t worry, I didn’t photograph every one. 😉

A few sculptures that caught my eye

ashes to ashes – Kim Perrier

bath – Vince Vozzo

bath - Vince Vozzo (detail)

bjf13 – Ben Fasham

city dreams – Gao Xiaowu

city dreams - Gao Xiaowu

fun! – Naidee Changmoh

fun!- - Naidee Changmoh

intervention – Mike Van Dam

intervention - Mike Van Dam

kakashi – Zilvinas Zempinas

kakashi - Zilvinas Zempinas

man on ball – Wang Shugang

listen time passes – Barbara Licha

listen time passes - Barbara Licha

tree spirit eggs – Mark Eliott

tree spirit eggs - Mark Eliott

undulation – Benjamin Storch

undulation - Benjamin Storch

quotidianity the brothers – Fabio Pietrantonio

quotidianity the brothers - Fabio Pietrantonio

These “sculptures” were created by Mother Nature — eroded sandstone.

A few other things that caught my eye

I deliberately took a day off work so I could avoid the crazy crowds on a weekend, but look at all the people on the path! I’ve put this post in my Strolls around Sydney category because, believe me, a strolling pace is as fast as it’s possible to move.

It’s important to stay hydrated and safe in the Sydney sun (when the sun actually shines, that is — it’s been very wet here for the past few days!). There was free water …

… and free sunscreen.

And someone has to keep the artworks looking clean!

Keeping it clean.

Keeping it clean.


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