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.

(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

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