Harbour Bridge

Our Pacific cruise has come to an end as our ship, SS Noordam, is berthed between the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House in Sydney, Australia.

Harbour BridgeSydney Harbour Bridge from the ship

We arrived at 06:00 and, once dressed, went up on deck to photos of these 2 iconic attractions. To see them so close up after years of seeing them in photos and on TV. Disembarking was a breeze. Customs and Immigration took just 10mins but getting a taxi took a lot longer. We were directed to the queue for taxis and it took nearly 20mins to get to the front and get into a taxi. Our driver knew exactly where to go but it took a while because most streets were one-way and quite narrow in the suburb.

Opera House and leisure craftThe Sydney Opera House

Our hotel was very well located with plenty of a variety of shops within walking distance, 2 hop on/hop off bus stops very close and a tourist information kiosk with a representative there during the day. Interestingly, he directed us to the bus stop a little further from the hotel than the 2nd one which we discovered later in the afternoon.

Once again, we arrived at our hotel well before booking in time so we left our luggage and went out to discover the area. We decided to find the bus stop so as to be ready to leave early the next morning. It was in the next street and directly opposite Fitzgerald Park which had a most interestingly shaped fountain. This is the El Alamein, Egypt Memorial Fountain to honour those who died in the battle which took place there in 1942. I remember my father telling us about El Alamein and it didn’t sound pleasant at all.

Fountain 2El Alamein Memorial Fountain

We walked through Fitzgerald Park which had no grass as all the whole area was paved. There were budgies in the trees and lots of people taking the opportunity to relax and read on the many benches. At one side of the park was a very large police station and we didn’t know at the time that we would actually visit it before we left Sydney. 

Park near our hotelFitzgerald Park. Tim Murray had at least 10 posters in this small park

Having seen all we could in this area we got ourselves some lunch from a very nice little shop with delicious wraps. Thereafter we decided to spend the afternoon on the hop on/hop off bus and we discovered that Sydney is a lot more than a bridge and an opera house. The very first stop after we got on the bus was the Naval Base. In fact, the naval property, which we had driven through, was extremely large as it included a number of apartment blocks for the crews and others who worked at the Base. There was a very high fence around the area where the Frigates were berthed and we could see a band practising as well as Cadets going through their paces. It was only after we had taken a few photos that we saw the sign banning this activity. “Too late”, she cried. “You should have had more signs.”

Cadets on FrigateCadets on a Frigate

Naval frigatesNaval Frigates at the Base

We stopped at the Opera House for some outside photos but decided not to do a tour at a cost of Aus$40/pp. It is a really impressive building but I was amazed at how many steps there are around it. But they do have excellent access facilities for those who have any difficulty with mobility. If one is hearing or vision impaired special assistant facilities are available too.

Up the hill from the Opera House is a fabulous Botanic Garden next door to a Music Conservatorium. It was impossible to see all of the gardens in a short afternoon visit so we returned the following day.

Main ent to Botanic GdnPalace Gate – main entrance to the Botanic Garden

School of MusicMusic Conservatorium

As we walked to the bus stop we came across a most interesting layout of what appeared to be pieces of sandstone from an old demolished building. It is actually a piece of art by Kimio Tsuchiya and is created in a spiral to show the interconnectivity of the different ages.   The area was formally a quarry and these pieces represent the work of the craftsmen of the time.

Parts of a ruined bldgSandstone art creation

If we had known that the next stop was so close we would have walked instead of waiting 20mins for the bus. We got off at the Art School which had 2 very fascinating sculpted mazes outside the building.

Next door to that was the State Public Library of New South Wales (NSW) which was a constant hive of activity.

Public Library wheelchair entState Library Wheelchair Entrance

Other interesting things we saw hear were a bronze plaque in the pavement indicating the original position of St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church. An iron building which had been brought from Glasgow in 1858. Over the years it was also used as a lending library until it was moved to another venue in 1859 and finally demolished in 1958. It was interesting to note that the plaque was sponsored by Caltex petrol.

Plaque in pavement re Presbyterian ChurchBronze plaque about Presbyterian Church

Our final stop of the day was at St Mary’s Cathedral and Hyde Park across the road. The Cathedral covered a large area of land with its offices and Chapter Hall besides the main building itself.

St Marys Cathedral 2

St Mary’s Cathedral

Walking through the park was a beautiful and relaxing way to finish the tour for the afternoon. There were many tall trees with warning signs not to walk around them during storms as branches could break off and fall. We came across some beautiful fountains and statues in the park which added to the peaceful feeling of the place.

Apollo at Archibald FountainApollo in Archibald’s Fountain

Cannon and fountain in Hyde parkCannon (outside) and a fountain (inside) Hyde Park

Statue of Captain CookStatue of Captain Cook in Hyde Park

While waiting for the bus to take us back to our hotel there was one woman who spent the whole time wondering if the bus knew to stop at this point and was it the correct place for her to wait. I felt a bit sorry for her as she seemed to be on her own but any effort to make conversation was ignored.

Opposite the stop was the Australian Museum, next to it a lovely little flower garden and up the road an Aquatic Fitness Centre. Once on the bus we were able to see some places that we would like to visit the following day. It was also how we discovered that the bus stop information given to us by the tourist representative to catch the bus around the corner was seen to be the longer way to walk.

Australian Museum 2Entrance to the Australian Museum

Flowers at Aquatic CentreFlowers growing near the Aquatic Fitness Centre

We arrived back at the hotel at about 17:00 to find another person on duty who was unaware that our luggage was in the luggage room. It took her ages to find the key and then even longer to take all of our details. It was then that we learnt that the hotel did not do any catering and that the Reception Desk is closed from 20:00. We were given a ph number for any emergencies which, fortunately, we did not need to use.