Saturday, 17 March 2018

Brisbane Trip Day 29: Newcastle -> Sydney

I wanted to make sure that I saw the girls and their Dad before they left for school and work so that I could say goodbye, so when I woke quite early I didn’t try to go back to sleep. I had enough time to go for a walk and this time went straight to the granny pool for a swim. The sky was grey and there was a light breeze blowing in from the ocean – the feel and smell of the air reminded me so much of swimming at Merewether Baths on a cloudy morning. The water was cool and refreshing and got to about chest deep near the gap in the wall, where the water flows in from the channel. I swam around for about 10 minutes then went back to the house to say goodbye and thanks for letting us stay.

After I’d had some breakfast I chatted to Tony for a while, then Caitlin said that the oldest cousin had missed her bus. I drove her to school (which also gave the girls a bit more time together) and then stopped at Woolworths on the way back to get some more bread and milk. The bridge was up again as we left Swansea. At home I was just about to start packing when Tony rang again, it was great to have a chat of more than a few minutes with him.

I didn’t start packing until 9.40, then had everything done, ready to go by 11.40 which I was very happy with.  I was hot and sweaty so had a cold shower and got changed, we checked that we had all our stuff and were on our way by just after 12.

We stopped for petrol at Doyalson – last year I’d bought a Pokemon DVD at this petrol station so Amelie wanted to see if they had more. There weren’t any DVDs that interested her, she and Liam bought some chocolate. The drive down to Sydney was fairly easy, there was a lot of traffic but it mainly kept moving. Getting through to Leichhardt had a few moments of tricky traffic with the trailer on, but we made it fine. As I approached our friends’ house I saw a parking spot about 2 ½ cars long, in front of a boat. It was long enough for me to drive into it, then reverse back at bit and wiggle back and forth to get the trailer fairly straight (and mainly off the cycle lane). It was only a few houses away from where we were staying so I was very pleased with the spot.

Our friends weren’t home until after work, so we had some lunch at the car, then walked down to the Light Rail station at Lilyfield. We stopped on the way to buy Opal cards, and I bought a scratchie as well which we did at the station – we didn’t win anything but the kids enjoyed scratching it. The train was very crowded and took a long time to get to Central. Once there we caught a regular train to Circular Quay – we sat upstairs which was exciting for kids used to Melbourne, single level, trains (and I always love catching Sydney trains). Getting off the train at Circular Quay we had a great view over the Quay, the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. We stood at the edge of the platform and looked at the view, and noticed a street artist down on the path below – he was completely dressed and painted in gold, and appeared to be hovering in mid air – he had one hand resting on top of a pole, and was sitting cross legged about a metre off the ground. We headed downstairs to see if we could see how he was doing it, but he was packing up by the time we got there. From what we could see, the pole was firmly anchored in a base plate, but there was no other support – so we think he was balancing just on the strength of his arm on the pole.

We wandered around to the Opera House, looking at the markers showing the 1788 waterline. We admired a street artist’s painting of the harbour and gave him some money. At the Opera House we sat on the ledge around the edge of the point and looked at the Bridge, the boats and ferries going past, and the sails of the Opera House. We walked across the base of the steps and went down to the pontoon at Man-of-war steps, Amelie didn’t like being on the moving pontoon, so she played with some soft, sparkly sand on the path back on dry land. Caitlin and Liam had a look around, then we walked back up the Opera Houses steps and sat on one of the sloping parts in front of a window. It was tempting to run up to the top of the slope but there was a sign saying not to, so we sat at the bottom and looked at all the different aspects of the sails that we could see from there. We went over and touched some of the tiles and looked at the different patterns and how different they looked from a distance compared to up close.

Amelie wanted to see the Botanic Gardens so we wandered over there and the kids played around a sculpture of mother earth, Caitlin climbed a fig tree, and we went to look at gazebo that was installed recently, which had lots of symbolism about the colonial impact of Governor Macquarie and his wife. It was a gorgeous sunny afternoon so the backdrop was incredible, with the harbour and boats and bridge always in sight.

We wandered back towards the station, stopping briefly to share a cup of delicious lemon sorbet. We got to the platform just in time to jump on a train – one of the newer ones that I don’t think I’ve been on before. We admired the old fashioned style of Museum station as we went through, then got off the train at Central. The light rail train was just pulling in as we arrived at the platform, we were able to get on and get seats this time. The trip back seemed much quicker, and we wandered up the hill in much cooler temperatures, just before sunset.

Our friends were sitting on the front steps waiting for us when we arrived. We had a drink of water then sat out the back for a while and the kids played tennis with small plastic rackets, until the mozzies got too bad. We had delicious pizza for dinner and all the kids got on well. (Our friends’ 2 kids and another friend of theirs who was sleeping over). The younger kids played with loom bands for a while and did some puzzles, Caitlin sat with the adults and we played a game called Love Letters. The boys played Uno then started to watch our game, and we switched out players so that everyone had a turn. My host and I had a cocktail and it was a fun night, full of laughter and catching up.

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