P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney

Bondi

Made my final interstate venture to New South Wales and after 11 months managed to reunite with a familiar face at beautiful Bondi Beach.  How else does one begin a reunion?  With brews on the beach, of course.  As the ultimate surfer’s paradise, beach goers flock to Bondi’s shores to catch some rays, hike the cliffside, and shred the gnar.

Bondi Beach is also home to a Buvarian Bier Cafe.  A quaint pub equipped with a great happy hour, good draughts, and a foosball table (on which I kicked Joe’s behind 10-0*).

Manly

A 30-minute ferry ride from Sydney’s Circular Quay will take you to Manly Beach, known amongst surfers for its waves.  From its sandy shores, one can watch townies running the boardwalk, pros and amateurs taking to the waves, and school-aged students training for the Surf Life Saving Club.

Also located in Manly is a marine sanctuary, home to stingers, little penguins, and reef sharks.  The sanctuary works to rescue and rehabilitate sick and injured marine animals found within Sydney Harbour and surrounding waters.

Darling Harbor

Sydney CBD is just that–a central business district.  Fully equipped with tall buildings, banks, and bustling businessmen.  The highlight of venturing into the city was walking up the steps to the Sydney Opera House (because let’s be honest:  Did you really go to Australia if you didn’t visit the Opera House?).

While Darling Harbour houses the zoo and aquarium and I was ecstatic to see dugongs and a crocodile stalk a lorikeet, Sydney just did not do it for me.  A day is more than enough time to take in the numerous “parks” (large grass patches amongst the concrete), the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, and the Royal Botanic Gardens.

NSW State Lib

Would I be me if I didn’t take the time to snoop around the nearest library?**  In regards to style the New South Wales State Library differed drastically from those of Victoria and Queensland, but it did not fail in terms of education.  Aside from the many shelves of books, Australian State Libraries have exhibits that offer an intimate view into Australia’s past–this year specifically from the eyes of military personnel because 2015 was the ANZAC centenary.

While I would have preferred to spend all four days in NSW basking in the sun on Bondi Beach, I am grateful nonetheless to have had the opportunity to visit such an iconic city.

xo

*While yes, I am undefeated in foosball, Joe and I found a billiard table in a Sydney bar and he beat me 3-0.  Still sulking, but a rematch has been scheduled.

**Shoutout to Joe for being a good sport and entertaining this passion of mine.

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Love is Love

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Since being in Australia, I have roamed museums and historic monuments where I have learned much about Australia’s past.  I attended Melbourne’s annual Midsumma Pride March where I got the opportunity to impact Australia’s future.

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On what was supposed to be a dreary day, gray skies and thunderstorms, Mother Nature had a change of heart and St. Kilda was bathed in sunlight.  The pleasant weather mirrored the cheerful, supportive, and prideful aura emitted from everyone participating in and attending the March.

Members of the Melbourne and Regional Victoria communities gathered on Fitzroy Street to celebrate and honor members of the LGBTI community.  It was beautiful to see people of all races, job statuses, and sexual orientations gather to show respect and support for marriage equality.   Flight crews, police forces, supermarkets, and churches were a few of the groups present.

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Ten minutes after the March’s commencement, a radical group sat in the street in protest of the Midsumma Pride March.  Derogatory remarks were spat at marchers and bystanders, while police worked to get the protesters under control.  As they say, “The show must go on,” and so it did.  Within five minutes, the event staff rerouted the parade around the hindrance and police escorted said hindrance off the street accompanied by a chorus of cheers and hollers from the crowd.

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The March continued as planned and finished with a great celebration complete with Aussie sizzles, performances, and immense support for the LGBTI community.

The theme of this year’s event was marriage equality, and I can only hope that the politicians present will have a positive impact within the Australian government.  As great as Australia is, it would be so much better if it abandoned its homophobia and embraced what so many other nations have already.  Love is love.

xo

 

(Still) No Queens in Queensland

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Much farther south from picturesque Port Douglas is beautiful Brisbane, Queensland.  Located along the river for which it is named, the capital city, although smaller than Melbourne, is packed with much to see and do.

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Brisbane City Hall’s clock tower is 85 years old and still uses the original cage lift and operation handle to transport maintenance personnel and visitors to its observation deck; thus, making it the oldest manually-operated cage lift in Australia.  Originally the lift was installed as a service elevator, but by 1930, shortly after the construction of the building, public tours began for sixpence per adult ($0.50 USD).  The lift, which has always been powered by an electromagnetic motor, carries passengers to the observation deck located 76 meters above Brisbane’s CBD.

The bell tower houses five bells, each with at least one exterior hammer.  There are four quarter hour bells and one hour bell (that alone weighs four tons!).  The four clock faces are the largest analog clocks in Australia measuring five meters in diameter.  The minute and hour hands measure three and 1.7 meters, respectively.  A master pendulum clock, located in the corner of the bell tower, controls the operation of both the bells and clocks.

After completing the bell tower tour, one can continue on to the Museum of Brisbane.  The Museum’s exhibits give a history of the capital city and its development through time, as well as several art exhibits promoting the work of local artists.

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Quite a large exhibit showcased a particularly challenging photography technique called camera obscura, Latin for “dark room.”  To achieve images like the one above, an outside image is shown through a pinhole aperture onto the wall of an inside room, producing an upside-down and reverse image.  A long exposure time (sometimes up to five minutes) gives the images their vibrancy.  The sharpest part of the image is located parallel to the aperture; and it is known as the point of clarity.  The outer edges are less clear due to the angles of the walls, ceiling, and floor onto which the image deflects.

“If you want to get laid, go to college.  If you want an education, go to the library.” –Frank Zappa

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The State Library of Queensland differed greatly from that of Victoria, most notably in its more modern design.  Since this year marks the ANZAC Centenary, the State Library was hosting an exhibit to honor the men and women who served in WWI.  There were displays showcasing draft notices, medical exams/records, progress reports from boot camp, letters to family, and more.  Unlike museums that tend to give the facts and figures of war history, the exhibit focused primarily on first-hand accounts.

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Across the river from Brisbane’s CBD is Southbank, home to Streets Beach.  Since the city is located inland, there is no beach access; and there is too much river traffic to allow for swimming.  Rather than forcing city-dwellers to go coastal, the city brought the beach to the dwellers.  Located just off Stanley Street (hence the name), in the Parklands, is a man-made beach, equipped with sand, palm trees, and lifeguards.  People of all ages congregate at the riverside pool to bask in the beauty that is the Australian Sunshine State, whether catching rays or enjoying a dip.

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On Sundays, Southbank’s Parklands hosts a market.  Vending includes:  corn on a stick (a popular snack in Australia, it seems); hand-made jewelry, handbags, artwork, and bath soaps; back massages; and much more.

After a browse through the market square, a narrated ride on the Wheel of Brisbane, a smaller-scale London Eye or Las Vegas High Roller, gives a bird’s eye view of the city and its surrounding landmarks.

Four days is just enough time to see and enjoy Brisbane, but makes it incredibly hard to say goodbye to the ideal weather.  Thanks for a last Sunshine State hoorah, Brissy!

xo

Talk Nerdy to Me

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While travelling to the destination (Melbourne Museum) of, yet another, solo Sunday exploration, I cut through the Carlton Gardens, home of the immaculate Royal Exhibition Building.  The Building hosts many events throughout the year, including but not limited to:  university exams (BOO!), bridal expos, design fairs, and car shows.  It can be toured (a fact I was unaware of until after planning my day) and you can bet it will be toured, so stay tuned…

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The Darwin (#mancrusheveryday) to DNA exhibit is only a small portion of the Melbourne Museum which is home to approximately six permanent galleries, each comprised of up to five sub-galleries, three changing galleries, an IMAX theater, and an amphitheater.  The Melbourne Museum is equivalent to the Museum of Natural History in NYC, although, I’m convinced its number of specimens trumps New York’s…easily.

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I have never seen as many nor as perfectly preserved insect specimens as I did in the Bugs Alive! exhibit.  The exhibit had displays of beetles, butterflies, spiders, ants, and more displayed in shadow boxes standing well over two meters tall.  It was an entomologist’s dream come true, to say the least.

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While there were no aquariums housing live marine fauna, the preserved animals found in jars and tanks around the Marine Life exhibit offered easier observation of past and present species.  Museum guests could approach and get an up-close-and-personal view of a giant squid, Australia’s infamous blue-ringed octopus, a blobfish, and dragon kin (seahorses and pipefishes).  My marine biology-loving nerd flourished in this particular section, as I was able to see anglers and other deep sea species that are typically not present in other museums or aquariums.

“Try not to have a good time…this is supposed to be educational.” –Charles M. Schultz

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The Melbourne Museum caters to the entomologists, marine biologists, environmentalists, and Norman Bates’s of the world.  The Wild exhibit is floor to ceiling, 270-degrees taxidermy heaven.  Everything from birds to monkeys to large felines to rhinoceroses (well rhinoceros, but yes, there is one!).  It is quite possibly the coolest, most disturbing exhibit I have ever experienced.  The Museum has placed several touch screen monitors around the exhibit, on which guests can select animals from an identical image of the wall, and the image of the animal of interest will enlarge with both the scientific and common names.

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The Mind and Body Gallery included a look into the anatomy and physiology of the human body, as well as the workings of the human mind.  Among other things, interactive exhibits exemplify how the brain varies between mentally healthy and unhealthy individuals, how the brain works to memorize and analyze inputs, and how generations have contributed to the ability to study such instances.

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It would not be a trip to the Melbourne Museum without a tribute to the aforementioned city.  The Melbourne Gallery gives a brief history lesson from the 1890’s to present-day.  More than 1200 collection objects tell the Melbourne Story, including artifacts from the first derby days, Cole’s Book Arcade, and, Australian hard rock band, AC/DC.

xo

Books, Badges, and Botany

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I never had to exercise such self-restraint as when I went to the Book Market at, you guessed it, Federation Square.  Every Saturday, bibliophiles gather to sell, buy, and swap new and old titles.  Vendors line the Atrium with an array of titles, varying in genre from Russian literature to romance to children’s books, for prices that would even give Amazon a run for its money.

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After convincing myself that lugging ten kilos of literature around Melbourne would not be my smartest decision (or the easiest task), I strolled down St. Kilda Road to the Shrine of Remembrance.  The Shrine was dedicated in 1934 to the 114,000 Victorians–men and women alike–that served in the Great War (1914-1918).  During the war, not all the bodies of dead soldiers made it back to Australia for a proper burial, so the Shrine was erected to provide acknowledgement, honor, and closure for the families of the deceased.

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Spanning the entry wall to the Visitor Centre is a display case containing 4,000 medals presented to Australian military personnel during times of war and peacekeeping.  These medals reflect the honors of 106 Victorians.

The Visitor Centre houses a museum of war relics–uniforms, letters, weaponry, etc.–from the establishment of the colony, Victoria, to present day efforts in Afghanistan.

Throughout the day, a remembrance ceremony is conducted in the Sanctuary of the Shrine around the Stone of Remembrance.  Engraved on the Stone is “Greater love hath no man.”  The Sanctuary is constructed with a glass roof allowing the sunlight to rest upon the word ‘LOVE’.

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Underneath the Sanctuary is the Crypt, a holy room in honor of the sacrifices made by all the Victorian men and women who have served the Australian military and lost their lives.

Across the street from the Shrine of Remembrance is the main entrance to the Royal Botanical Gardens.  Like a lush Central Park, the Gardens provide a beautiful backdrop for families to picnic, play soccer, and soak up some vitamin D.

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Within the Gardens, the National Herbarium of Victoria is located.  The Herbarium conducts research on over 35,000 specimens of Australian plants, fungi, and algae; as well as some non-Australian collections.  Researchers focus on the taxonomy and systematics of Victorian flora.

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Lastly, I finished my day of solo explorations with lunch in yet another Melbourne alleyway, musical entertainment free of charge.

xo

Never Judge a Book by its Movie

Another Sunday morning of solo-exploring led me to the State Library of Victoria, one of the first three public libraries in the world.  The State Library was established in 1854 and is comprised of several reading rooms and galleries housing books, magazines, historical archives and artifacts, and artwork.

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The La Trobe Reading Room is situated under the largest dome of its kind.  The room spans 35 m (115 ft) in height and diameter with enough space for over one million books and 600 readers.

Along the perimeter of the dome, on levels five and six, were exhibits.  The first exhibit was a walk through Victoria’s history; it contained artifacts and historic information pertaining to the establishment of the English colony, the infamous Ned Kelly, ANZAC involvement in WWII, and the first Australian made car.

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The newly formed Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) was sent to the Gallipoli peninsula in April 1915 to assist in the demise of Turkish troops.  Although the campaign was a failure, ANZAC endured primitive conditions and plagues (lice and dysentery), earning their countries’ respects.  Alongside propaganda, the courage, ingenuity, and self-sacrifice to withstand such terrible conditions aided in the recruitment of new soldiers who would step on the battlefield during WWII.

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Holden was a saddlery manufacturer founded by James Alexander Holden in 1856, until Edward Holden converted the company into the automotive field in 1908.  In 1919, they began specializing in completely Australian made car bodies before being subsidized in 1931 by U.S.-based General Motors.

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The second exhibit displayed many works (writings, paintings, sketches) regarding natural history.  Joannes Jonstonus was a Polish natural historian and physician whose goal was “to make young men delight in natural history” by illustrating real and imaginary sea creatures in his notes.  Francois Le Vaillant was a French explorer and ornithologist.  Unfortunately, he was not credited for many of his ornithological discoveries because he preferred to use his own descriptive names, rather than the standard Linnean nomenclature.

[ATTENTION:  If you do not know what Linnean nomenclature is, do not ask me, as my biology-loving heart will shatter into a million pieces.  I suggest you do a quick Google search and educate yourself.  That is all.]

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A stereograph is formed by posting two images, taken from slightly different perspectives, next to each other on a cardboard mount.  When viewed through a stereoscope, they create a three-dimensional single image.  There is a large collection of stereographs at the State Library, most of which depicting the interior architecture of the Library, as well as its galleries and exhibits.

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After wandering the Library for three hours (and I am still convinced I missed things), I met with a friend to attend the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF).  I am no film critic, but when in Melbs, right?  We viewed a compilation of shorts directed by aspiring Australian and New Zealand filmmakers.  Prior to the viewing, each director gave a short speech thanking their cast, crews, and family–a practice run for their potential Oscar-winning speeches.  That’s right; some of the shorts are being considered for 2016 Oscar nominations.  How cool!  While there were a couple shorts that I did not quite understand, others were great and took a new or different approach than anything I had seen before (again, personal preference, not a film critic).  Just another thing I can say I did while on my Australian adventure.

xo