Welcome to Port Jackson. That’s the actual name of Sydney Harbour. Who knew? It was given the name around 1770 by Captain Cook, the same navigator who explored Hawaii and New Zealand.
Welcoming us to Sydney was none other than Olivia Newton-John. The Aussies remain “hopelessly devoted” to her.
Our airbnb in Sydney was just off Oxford Street, about two miles south of Sydney Harbour, so we had great views of the most famous parts of Sydney from our 16th-floor balcony. On several nights we could watch the fireworks over the Opera House roofs.
The walk to the harbor wasn’t bad either. Part of it was through Hyde Park, named after Hyde Park in London.
Just two years after the fountain was erected, the ANZAC Memorial was completed, honoring the efforts of the First Australian Imperial Force during World War I and the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps.
The walk to the harbor continues through the Royal Botanical Gardens.
The harbor is busy! Several huge cruise boats were in port during our stay. The ferries all leave from Circular Quay. The train and buses stop here too.
At last, the Sydney Opera House…
Although the Opera House is now a recognized and much-loved icon worldwide, it’s just over 40 years old. Construction took 16 years, with completion in 1973. The architect was inspired by the cliffs along Sydney Harbour to create the granite platform and used sections of a sphere to model the “sails.” Now yachts in the harbor repeat the sail pattern.
The roof is made of white ceramic tiles. The intent was to provide a contrast to the buildings of dark red and brown brick around the harbor. Serendipitously, this white surface is great for multi-colored light shows. Our visit coincided with Chinese New Year. While we walked around the harbor one night we were amazed to see a totally different look to the opera house.
The Opera House isn’t the only impressive sight in the harbor. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is iconic as well. It is apparently affectionately called the Coathanger. It was completed in 1932. Imagine the harbor and bridge without the opera house at the time.
Sixteen people died building the bridge. Paul Hogan (who said, “Throw another shrimp on the barbie”) was a rigger on the bridge at one time.
A very popular activity in Sydney is the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb, now with several choices: climbing to the top, climbing halfway (why?), and climbing up the bridge pylon. The summit is 134 meters above sea level, not for anyone with acrophobia. A sign of the times: There is now a special Bridge Climb Mandarin! On this trip we just walked along the regular sidewalk.
Michael, Liz, and Chris did the bridge climb in 2000 when they went to the Sydney Olympics.
The photo above has quite a story. Since bridge climbers are walking over pedestrian and auto traffic, the organizer is very concerned that nothing is dropped during the climb. “For safety reasons, you can’t carry anything with you on the Bridge.” Walkers leave personal items behind and wear jumpsuits. A company photographer takes a souvenir photo at the top. Somehow Liz snuck an American flag into her jumpsuit and pulled it out for the family photo. “Great!” said the guy at the top. “Not acceptable,” said the guy back on the ground. Our threesome left without a photo since they broke the rules. After extensive negotiating and some help from our Kodak Australia colleagues, we finally got a copy of the photo with the flag digitally removed. Through the miracles of technology, the flag has been restored to its (un)rightful place.
Back to the present, these are our last views of the bridge…for now, at least.
Next, we’re headed up the coast toward Brisbane, unexplored territory for us.