Oct 9, 2016

Budgie Smuggler Hiding a Wedding Tackle

Prejudice is an emotional commitment to ignorance

Nathan Rutstein

From the bridge looking down over Opera House and Sydney
I love the colorful way Australians speak, hence the title of this post.  This is one of the expressions our host Natalie taught us while in Sydney.  We were talking about swimming at the Ironman and in general.  Aussies all seem natural swimmers (and who wouldn’t be with so many amazing beaches to choose from).  A Budgie Smuggler is a Speedo, A Wedding Tackle is the male part hidden (sort of) in the Speedo…

We are spending another couple of days in a large city, this time the big sister to Melbourne, Sydney.  We loved Melbourne but we did not connect with Sydney.  Sydney was the only place in OZ where we were pushed around by people running to get to wherever they were going in a hurry.  In most other parts of Australia, people are not tied to their cell phones, but here they are.  It felt very heartless and cold.  Regardless, we still did see and experience a lot.

Overall our impression of Aussies is that they are very friendly and take time to give you information when needed.  They are proud of their country and have traveled extensively (within country and abroad) giving them a wide perspective to speak from.  What surprised us was how often they mentioned watching the TV programs ‘Survivor’ or ‘Lost’ when they knew we were from US/Canada.  We haven’t watched these programs but from the little we know about them, it seems it would give the Aussies a very warped image of Americans.  There were also numerous negative comments about Trump even though the majority of people we spoke to would lean right.

Famous 'Coat Hanger' bridge
We spent quite a bit of time observing the port to see how easy it would be to sail it were we to come here with Déjàlà; our conclusion is that we wouldn’t dare come in here.  Most large boats and ferries completely ignore the rules of navigation and sailboats have to fend for themselves.  The traffic is constant and heavy.  Other marine centers in Australia seemed much more sailing friendly.

Close up of roofing tiles
Very shiny and well preserved after so many years in the elements
Orange peel idea
Clever 'fake' Opera House ticket
First we’ll address the Sydney Opera House since it is one of the most instantly recognizable buildings on Earth.
  • Danish architect Jorn Utzon won the design competition in 1957. Nature inspired much of the opera house’s geometry from breaking waves to the beech forest near Utzon’s home in Denmark.
  • Utzon said his design was inspired by peeling an orange:  The Opera House’s 14 outer shells form a perfect sphere.  It is covered with 1,056,006 perfectly interlocking concrete shell tiles developed on the geometry of the sphere to cover the roof.
  • Utzon had never visited Australia when he won the competition; he used naval charts of the harbor to assess the site.
  • Kisses funded some of the Opera House: singer Joan Hammond sold smooches for 50 pounds during the public fundraising, and kisses were sold at the fundraising parties across Sydney.
  • Construction began in 1959 and was not completed until 1973, ten years after the building was due to open.
  • Uses the port water via cool/heat pump system for temperature control.
  • It contains the world’s largest Grand Organ with 10,244 pipes.
  • Increasing delays in the Opera House’s construction led students to create satirical fake lottery tickets to the opening – image of a white elephant …
  • Originally estimated to cost $7M, final cost was 1457% over budget at $102M

St Mary’s Cathedral

Grand and beautifully landscaped grounds near the cathedral
Stunning inside
Also Gothic Revival like the beautiful bank we saw in Melbourne.  It is unusual in that it lines up on a N-S axis instead of the usual E-W due to ground slope.  It is the second cathedral built on this site, first one was in 1788-1835, burnt in 1865 and rebuilt in 1900.  Twin spires were built much later in 2000.  It is filled with intricately carved pinnacles, flying buttresses, arches, vaulted ceilings, grotesque winged gargoyles, trefoils, quatrefoils, and stunning terrazzo floors.

Photo exhibition on grounds near cathedral called Australian Life, my favorites:

Ess Vaun
Bedroom Settings. Someone's Dream, Someone's Nightmare
Sydney, NSW

Cameron Cope
Parliamentary camouflage is a street photo that raises the question around
how the built environment can shape human behavior
Melbourne, VIC

Deb Bonney
The Lambs - Family of sheep keeping out of the heat on the front veranda
Koroit, VIC
The Rocks

Near a restaurant where we had lunch
Someone was on a ladder removing the various ferns growing in the mortar
Seemed like an endless job
Very narrow alley
Oldest known archaeological sites in the Sydney region are about 15,000 years old – four times older than the great pyramids of Egypt.  However, it’s likely that the area was occupied long before that – up to 50,000-70,000 years ago – but many of these older sites may have been flooded by the rising sea levels, have been destroyed, or are yet to be found. 

ASN Warehouse
It is now a partly gentrified area where the government is trying to balance development with keeping its historical value alive.  As the traditional home of the Gadigal, and the place of first European settlement in Australia, The Rocks has many secrets to share.  You can see them in the rock face that gave the area its name, the roughly laid cobblestone laneways, the solid wooden beams in the warehouses, and the crushed cockle shells that make up the mortar between huge hand-carved sandstone bricks.

Argyle Cut
The Rocks is a unique historical precinct where you will be transported back in time and, as you wander the streets, you will be impressed by many of the sights, including the Argyle Cut. The Cut was begun with convict labor in 1843 to provide direct easy access between Millers Point and The Rocks but was not completed until 1859, with the use of explosives. Today, the Argyle Cut is an imposing but aesthetic example of convict public works that still provides a dramatic crossing through The Rocks.  
Museum of Contemporary Art

Even the entrance is a piece of art...
Emily Floyd
Gulag Archipelago (inspired by Solzhenistsyn), 2016
Tjanpi Desert Weavers, collaboration of several women
Seven sisters tree women, (only 3 shown here) 2013
Native grasses, found fencing, textile, yarn, string, feathers, wool, branches, etc
Fiona Hall
Manuhiri (Travelers), 2014-2015
Collection of driftwood from Waiapu River, Aotearoa, NZ
Art Gallery New South Wales

Another place where the grounds are beautiful
Bununggu Yunupingu
Hunting scene with diamond sting ray, 1959
Bark painting
Mathaman Marika
Wagilag sister's story, 1959
Bark painting
Pukumani Grave Posts
Wood and pigments
Kings Cross, Red Light District

Especially interesting on a windier day with water flowing every which way
El Alamein Memorial Fountain was built in 1961 to commemorate the deeds of Australian soldiers who fought battles near the Egyptian Town of El Alamein during WWII.  Its distinctive dandelion shape soon became the symbol of Kings Cross.  It has been copied all over the world. (Vancouver, Canada for one)

Pretty roundish building viewed from an overpass
QT Hotel

Makes you take notice!  Director of Chaos!
Ordering the morning coffees at the QT Hotel coffee shop
Kooky hotel where you are met at the door by a staff member known as the "Director of Chaos".
Dressed in military chic (black and leather) with 'dayglow' orange hair they are the sunny greater of the very quirky QT Hotel on Market Street. 

Westfield Center Point Tower

1,014 feet above CBD of Sydney
View from UP there...
A few tidbits
  • Inhabitants of Sydney are called Sydneysiders.
  • Sydney is the fifth most expensive city in the world. Singapore is first then Paris, Oslo, Zurich and here. The high costs are mostly reflected in real estate.  Cars can be as much as $5,000 less than the US, food is at par or less.
  • Most beaches in Sydney (and many others in Australia) have picnic shelters, electric barbecues, play areas, change rooms, toilets, and kiosks. Some even have free sun-block stations. Very clean and cool!
  • Sydney has more than 70 beaches and the water temperature is nice from November to May.
  • The Harbor Bridge is nicknamed The Coat Hanger.
  • English, Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin, Greek and Vietnamese are the main languages spoken in Sydney.
  • Operating since 1875, the Sydney Ferries carries over 14 million passengers each year in and around Sydney.
  • It has the deepest natural harbor in the world with 504,000 mega liters of water.
  • Interesting that all day to day restaurants we went to asked you to order and pay at the counter/bar.  Cutlery was already at the table standing in a pot/jar.  You carried your own drinks back to your table.  Saves on staff I suppose.
Had no idea what a zebra crossing was...
Yep - that's it without the zebra...

These little places (less than 16 feet wide) go for $800,000 in Sydney

Australia in General

  • Wombat poop is cube shaped!  It uses it to mark its territory.
  • Most pharmacists are called chemists here.
  • Bars and clubs close at 2 am. And bar-hopping is not allowed after 11 pm. Meaning that you can stay in the bar that you are in after 11 till closing time, but once you go out, you cannot enter another bar. So better make sure that you are in the bar or club of your preference at 10.45 pm or so. And stay there!
  • It is believed that Australia’s first currency, the ‘cartwheel’ pennies, were sent to Sydney due to their unpopularity in England because of their weight and size.  NSW was seen as a convenient dumping ground for such items as well as convicts like George Cribb.
  • The Dutch first recorded contact with Australia in 1706. 
  • Pubs are generally called hotels.  Hotels, to confuse things, are also called hotels.
  • A liquor store is called a bottle shop or an off license.
  • The Aussies only had one military coup and it was because of rum.  Aussies love their beer, but in the late 18th century, it was all about rum. Rum was a popular form of payment back when Sydney was just a colony. However, in 1808, Governor William Bligh banished the practice and the ringleaders of the rum trade, also known as the New South Wales Corps, didn’t agree and deposed Bligh in a military coup which is now known today as the Rum Rebellion.
  • More than 85% of Australians live within 50km of the coast.
  • The world’s oldest fossil, which is about 3.4 billion years old, was found in Australia.
  • Australia has the highest electricity prices in the world.
  • There were over one million feral camels in outback Australia until the government launched the $19M Feral Camel Management Program which aims to keep the pest problem under control.  Interestingly enough Saudi Arabia imports camels from Australia mostly for meat production.  Wondering if the two are related.
  • Australia’s airline Qantas once powered and interstate flight with cooking oil.
  • Per capita, Australians spend more money on gambling than any other nations.  It is home to 20% of the poker machines in the world.
  • Australia is home to the longest fence in the world.  It is 5,614 km (3,488 miles) long, and was originally built to keep dingoes away from fertile land.
  • If you visited one new beach in Australia every day, it would take over 27 years to see them all.
  • The male platypus has strong enough venom to kill a small dog.
  • Australia has 3.3 times more sheep than people.
  • European settlers in Australia drank more alcohol per capita than any other society in history.
  • The Australian Alps receive more snowfall than Switzerland even though it is only over 6 weeks.
  • The Box Jellyfish has killed more people in Australia than stonefish, sharks and crocodiles combined.
  • Australia is the only continent in the world without an active volcano.
  • There are 60 designated wine regions in Australia.
  • No native Australian animals have hooves.
  • Each year, Brisbane hosts the world championships of cockroach racing.
  • Despite sharing the same verbal language, Australian, British and American Sign Language are all completely different languages.
  • There have been no deaths in Australia from a spider bite since 1979.
  • In NSW there is a coal fire beneath the ground which has been burning for 5,500 years.
  • Kangaroos and emus cannot walk backward, one of the reasons that they are on the Australian coat of arms.  Speaking of, Australia is one of the only countries where they eat the animals on their coat of arms.

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