Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I spot the Opera House and Harbour Bridge lit up at night as the plane lands. Sydney done, I can move on now! Okay, okay, I suppose I ought to see whether there is any more to the place…

Q and Natalie pick me up from Sydney Airport, and give me the tour of the city - through Paddington, Oxford Street, past Hyde Park, (I'm not in London, honest!) then down Margaret Street and over the Circular Key and the Harbour Bridge.

As "Banjo" Paterson so aptly put it in 1902, commenting on my RTW trip..

It's grand to be an unemployed
And lie in the Domain
And wake up every second day
And go to sleep again.

They live just north of the bridge, in North Sydney, next to Neutral Bay park. We arrive at their flat, which is a three-storey thing, with underground car park. It's a nice flat which they've been in about a month. Q has stocked up with beers, which we enjoy before retiring. Luckily for him the decent ales he's ordered for his housewarming haven't been delivered, so we just work on his local lager supply.

Q lives in a place which is named "A good fishing spot"!

Next morning we walked down to the harbour, a 10 minute walk, leading out right next to the famous Harbour Bridge. The Opera House is just across the water.

Not bad for a 5-10 minute walk from one's front door

Q and Natalie

We hop on the ferry from here, admiring as we do so two chaps fishing next to a "No Fishing" sign.


The boat takes us across the water, over to Darling Harbour, past the James Squire brewpub, noted for later! There's lots happening around the waterside, entertainers performing etc.

Today is Good Friday, and we've been warned that almost everything is shut in Australia, it's supposed to be like Christmas Day back in England, but it turns out not so bad. We walk through to Chinatown, and the Market City shopping centre, where we go to Dragon Star Chinese restaurant for yum-cha. Of course Sydney has one of the best restaurants in the world, the French-Japanese fusion "Tetsuya's", (signature dish the mouthwatering-sounding confit of ocean trout served with unpasteurised ocean trout roe, followed by double cooked de-boned spatchcock with braised daikon and bread sauce) but aside from the remote chance of getting a table at the best of times, it's closed today. Next time...

After lunch, a pleasant and required stroll through Hyde Park to the Botanic Gardens, which is full of all sorts of weird things - it's the Australian way!

Tthen up to Sydney Opera House. It does look quite impressive, one of those icons you know so well before even visiting the country.

Next more walking, round to Darling Harbour and the James Squire brewpub. We try their Highwayman, IPA, Docklands IPA, Pilesner, Golden Ale, Craig Stout, Amber ale and Governer King beers, some a couple of times to make sure. I think we settled on the Highwayman and Governer King as being fairly pleasant and worthy of recommendation. Food for me is chilli squid and crab salad.

I am a happy boy

We watch an ultra-cute Korean 2-year-old try to make multiple breaks for freedom from her parents. Dad keeps having to collect her as she tries to totter between the bouncer's legs. Q and I brood away, Natalie thinks we're just plain rubbish.

Next day it's raining, alternating between light showers and seriously heavy downpours. We're waiting for a "window" to go fishing just near the house.

Moody blues

In the meantime we watch one of the old favourites, Blues Brothers 2000. Rain still hasn't stopped, so we start watching Ray. Finally the rain stops, so we wander out excitedly to go fish off the quay near their house. Some bait from the corner shop, where we were going to ask for advice, but as the old chinese woman there has trouble finding the words to explain that the bait is underneath the ice-creams in the freezer (!), so we head down unadvised to the chosen spot, just 30 seconds from Q's front door, and get set up.

There's a dead fish in the water, which isn't a great sign, but we're not fishing for food, it's for pleasure. After a bit of fiddling about with the line because I thread the line the wrong way through the bale, we get started. Q soon picks up his casting as Natalie appears to take some photos. We're getting a fair bit of tugging, but little else, until suddenly, Q's got one! He reels it in without too much of a fight - it's about as big as your average goldfish, but by jove it'll do, it's a catch!

Next challenge is to get the hook out, which is imbedded in his gill. I confidently explain that it's easy, you just put your finger in its mouth and AARRRRRGHHH I squeal like a girl as it clamps down on my thumb! Q has a go with similar results as Natalie catches our pathetic gestures on film. Finally we get it to settle down on the ground without wiggling too much (poor bugger's probably drowning by now) and I get the hook out, then Q scoops it back into the water via a few bounces on the rocks. Oops! Looks like Nemo will live another day...

The rainclouds roll back in shortly after, so we retire, then Marc and Jess turn up from their drive from Melbourne with Niran in tow. We all head out for pizza in the nice place all of 15 metres from Q's door, then retired to the house and stayed up chatting till all hours.

Little Kvanz

Big Kvanz

Once "all hours" was over, I had to help my little brother Lewis out with changing his flights to get him to Japan in about a day's time. Stress! I finally get to bed coming up to 5am. Up in a couple of hours!

Q drops me at the airport. In, all fairly painless, until the SOUR NOTE! Bloomin' airport security confiscate my antibacterial handwash, the wash that has accompanied me to Russia, all round Europe, to Nepal twice, to all of South America, across the Pacific, and they confiscate it. Why? Because the bottle is a 250ml bottle, and you're only allowed 200ml or something. THE BOTTLE IS 80% EMPTY! B**stards. Time for another continent...

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