Reflections on Sydney

If Paris is known for kissing, Copenhagen for bikes, Cape Town for Table Mountain, and Hong Kong for shopping. Then, Sydney must be known for beer. Because they drink a lot of it. But there’s a lot more to this incredible city.

There are something like four or five pubs that all claim to be the oldest. Here are two right next to each other.

Solo travel has been a lot of fun. It’s nice to have the freedom to choose what to do — or not to do. With that said, one of the reasons I have such fond memories here in Sydney is the fact that I have friends here. It’s much different to come into a city knowing people as opposed to coming in blind.

My friends, for example, took me to see some of the local beaches that were off the beaten path. I learned that, in this otherwise forward-thinking country, swimming during the daytime was against the law until 1908. Apparently it would have been too tempting. After seeing the people at Bondi, I can understand why.

Even when swimming was legalized, these neck-to-knee suits were most popular. That’s definitely not what they’re wearing these days.

I met even more friends who made me feel like a welcome visitor. It was a completely different experience than, say, Copenhagen where I had to fend for myself and find friends in the service industry.

It’s no wonder that the Australian and American governments are also close friends. We have a lot in common, after all. Although, we do have a bit of a checkered past.

In the late 19th Century a small fortifaction called Fort Denison was built in the middle of the harbor (the then Governor was afraid of a Crimean War-inspired Russian invasion that never came to fruition). On the island, he built a stone turret with a cannon at its top. Unfortunately, he didn’t get it quite right because if the cannon were ever to be fired, the turret would fall apart from the recoil.

Anyway, one night in May 1942 three Japanese submarines positioned themselves two miles outside of Sydney Harbor and assembled a seaplane. The plane flew over the harbor and identified the USS Chicago that was docked here. Then, the Japanese sent in three midget submarines. One was caught by the partically complete sub net and its crew blew themselves up. The other two tried — unsuccessfully — to fire torpedos at the USS Chicago. The Chicago fired back, also missing. Instead, it struck Fort Denison. It’s the only time anyone has ever fired on the little Fort…and it was us! Looks like it’s not as safe as Charleston Harbor…It is more beautiful, though. Sorry South Carolina.

The Australians have a strong maritime history. Here, for example, is a boat made out of beer cans for an annual regatta in Darwin wherein people create boats from used beer cans, which is not a problem because there are so many.

Moving on from the beer and boating, Australia’s wildlife is, I think, more interesting than Africa’s. Most zoos and circuses have “wild” African beasts. Australia’s animals, on the other hand, are harder to come by. The Koalas and Kangaroos were definitely a highlight.

New Zealand has some adventures in store, that’s for sure. But Australia has some amazing memories. Can’t wait to get back!

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  1. December 10, 2012

    […] flew from Sydney to Auckland today. I got to the airport early so I walked around a bit. It’s amazing the […]

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