Yesterday was a chance to dip feet into the water at Dee Why. Today was to see the many different faces of Sydney from the water. Avis and I were going to try out the Sydney Ferry network aboard its River Cats.
We set out for Parramatta in the western suburbs. That was the terminus for the longest of 6 ferry services serving Sydney. The journey is mainly along Parramatta River meandering past points like the Olympic Park before emptying into Sydney Harbour. All ferries finish at Circular Quay, situated after Darling Harbour to the west, Harbour Bridge to the north-west and Opera House to the east.
Like Brisbane, the Parramatta service is used by commuters during peak hours, with mainly tourists, sightseers and revellers using it at other times. The same cannot be said for some of the other services. In those cases, due to the sheer size of Sydney Harbour, the ferry really is the only sensible way to cross the water. The journey to the Quay took just under an hour. It was a comfortable day; bit of cloud, fresh breeze yet warm and sunny.
As we approached the Sydney skyline with its many famous landmarks, it soon became evident that most passengers were tourists; each clamouring for a better view from the front of the boat with excited fingers pointing at various sites. Passing under Harbour Bridge with the Circular Quay River Station ahead, Arcadia, an ocean liner operated by P&O Cruises, towered into view, docked at the Quay. Seeing such a huge liner at close quarters takes your breath away for its sheer size, width and height. It really is quite a spectacle. I later discovered that this was her maiden world tour; she arrived in Sydney when we were on our harbour cruise a couple of days ago and would leave tomorrow night for Brisbane. Enough about fancy cruises; we had our own river cruise to enjoy.
We strolled off the boat at the Quay and turned right, past Arcadia and to the gardens on the west towards the sound of a didgeridoo playing. We stopped to listen to a player from a Sydney based collective of musicians, dancers and visual artists. He was playing tracks from their latest album, Transmutation, under the Animistix banner. He wasn't just playing the tracks though. Between each track, he was running a Masterclass on how the instrument works. A didgeridoo is not as easy as first appears to a casual observer. I bought signed copies of Transmutation as well as their previous album, Spirit of the Land. I have since sought and been given permission by the band to use soundtracks from both albums as supporting material for my You Tube clips. Regular readers of this diary will be familiar with the sounds - they have accompanied most clips since I left Adelaide.
There are two clips for the journeys aboard Sydney Ferries. The first, titled Parramatta to Sydney on River Cat, features a live rendition of Touching the Sun, also used as supporting audio for the remainder of the clip.
After listening to Animistix, we headed back to the station, meaning to hop aboard the ferry to Manly, a resort on the Pacific and at the entrance to Sydney Harbour. However, we were too late; gates close a few minutes prior to departure. So we continued walking, this time to the east to Opera Quays towards the Opera House.
Walking along the Quay on the way to the steps of the Opera House, I noticed Lindt's Chocolat Cafe. Avis explained that such bars are the rage in Sydney; I do not know any in the UK. We were running short of time and made a note to try some out later. At that point, I also noticed a street performer in stilts, reminding me of Newsvine's own Winsomecowboy. He was in between acts and I intended to capture some footage on the way back. Alas, it wasn't to be. He simply wasn't there.
The time on the steps of the Opera House was taken up with some snaps for the family album. It really is a unique place, with the sight of the Sydney skyline on the other side of Circular Quay, the Harbour Bridge, and especially the imposing spectacle of the Arcadia. Like so many of Sydney's attractions, one really has to get close to the Opera House to understand the splendour. No wonder it is a wonder of the world.
But time would not stand still for too long. We stilll had that Manly ferry to catch so we retraced our steps to the gates. Only to miss the ferry yet again by minutes! We made a detour towards The Rocks, Sydney's oldest suburb. Qaint and reminscent of the city's origins, ours was a brief and very quick walk through the main street there. I noticed more examples of Chocolate Cafes there. However, we were determined not to miss our Manly Ferry- we still had to return in time for the penultimate ferry to Parramatta.
This time, we did board the Manly Ferry. And now, we were heading away from the city towards the open sea. Sydney Heads is a natural opening in the Harbour with Manly to the north. Manly itself comprises a thin wedge of land, one facing the harbour and the other facing the ocean. The ferry docks on the harbour side; all it takes is a short walk through one connecting street to the beach on the other side. Larger than Dee Why (but not as wide and deep as Bondi), Manly is yet another face of Sydney. Following a walk along the beach, some more dipping of feet and the customary signpost on the beach, we made our way back to the ferry terminal for the return journey. Exactly as we'd come.
The second You Tube clip, titled Ferry to Manly, has mostly still images. I was concious of not running out of juice on the battery and therefore avoided switching much to video mode. Of note in the stills is an image of Luna Park on the return journey on the other side of Harbour Bridge. It's where people rush to for thrill rides; I resisted the temptation to be a kid again. Soundtrack on the video clip is Part V, used with permission of Blind Hot Gems.
If are new to this series, welcome. It is a diary of my recent travels to India and Australia. If you are interested in reading earlier episodes, please click this link - Intrepid Traveller.