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Australia: Day 18 – 29.11.18……..Reunited and it feels so good!

We traipsed around ‘The Rocks’ area of Sydney looking for the Kansas City Shuffle cafe where I think I may have left my hat on Tuesday morning. When I told the very nice lady in The Discovery Centre about my missing hat and where I may have lost it she looked up the address, showed it to us on the map, and although she did confuse us with her explanation we managed to find it fairly easily. It wasn’t far from the Shanghai-la hotel where it seems all roads lead to. Well joy o’ joy, there it was, my hat, hanging up on a peg inside the cafe waiting to be claimed. I couldn’t believe it, we were reunited after two days apart, my hat is now back for good, oh how we do like a happy ending!

Today was our last day in Sydney and we’d set ourselves a challenge. We were going to visit as many cultural establishments as we could possibly cram into the day. We were out of bed by 8am and straight into our yoga outfits for an early morning session, which according to Maice was only fifteen minutes long and called ‘easy breezy’. She assured me it was a gentle session, concentrating only on breathing, but oh how wrong she was. Trying to contort your body first thing in the morning is no easy feat and with our legs still stiff and aching from three days of walking there was lots of moaning and groaning as we tried to keep up. I can honestly say that was a very long fifteen minutes!

Having re-plastered and sorted out her blistered feet, surgically taping up not only her flip-flops but her camera (apparently a rubber bit fell off and left a sticky residue), we packed our kabooms into our backpacks just in case it rained later and ventured next door to Joe Blacks cafe for breakfast; smashed avocado on toast and a coffee. What a difference in the weather. Yesterday we were soaked when we entered the cafe, this morning we were just a bit wind swept. The weather today however was forecast to be warm and sunny. It was 9.45am when we finally started our challenge and we made our way to St Mary’s Cathedral which we’ve passed every day, for challenge No.1. For a Cathedral it’s fairly small and looks a bit like Notre Dame at the front but it’s not as foreboding inside or out. We wandered round and then both lit a candle before we left. First one completed....tick.

Just down the road from the Cathedral was our next stop The Barracks. We bought a museum pass here as it was cheaper to do that than pay in each one. The staff here were really helpful and very informative and we found the Barracks most interesting. This is where the convicts and immigrants were first brought when they arrived from England, a bit of a holding pen before they decided what and where to put them. Second one completed.....tick.

Next door to the Barracks was The Mint. It was a bit of a strange place this as it’s got nothing to do with money but back in the day it was called the ‘Rum Hospital’, financed from the proceeds of importing 45,000 gallons of rum and provided 200 beds for convict patients. On the way out we were amused by this little bird trying to open a sachet of sugar. We thought at first it was trying to take it off as nest material but as he kept stabbing at the sachet he started eating the sugar. Clever little birdie. Sorry Jane (H), it’ll be one sachet less for you!). Third one completed....tick.

Opposite the Intercontinental Sydney was the Museum of Sydney and in we went where we also pre-booked a guided tour of the Susanah Houses Museum which we were visiting later. Again, the staff were very informative and as we were looking around we found ourselves in the kiddies corner where they provide craft things for the kids to create something. Today it was to make a fish. So being the big kids that we are, we sat down and made our own fish. We wrote our names on them and stuck them on the wall with all the others! Fourth one completed.....tick.

From here we made our way past Circular Quay into The Rocks district and the Salvador Dali exhibition that was showing at one of the art galleries. It was mainly showcasing his sculptures and his iconic timepieces but there were a couple of his paintings too. A very interesting exhibition. Fifth one completed.....tick.

We then made our way to the Discovery Museum which was fairly small but the exhibits were very similar to what was in the Museum of Sydney so we didn’t stay there long. Sixth one completed.....tick.

Down the road to collect my hat.....also on today’s challenge, so seventh one completed.....a very big happy tick. By this time it was 2.20pm and we were feeling a bit peckish. But, we were on a mission. We had to continue with our challenge as we had a guided tour booked at Susannah Houses. This was a terrace of four very small houses, the oldest in The Rocks district that hadn’t been torn down. Con, our guide was very knowledgable and took us into parts of each house, showing us photos of the people who had lived there, where they were from, what they did and about the poverty in the area. People lived here with little or no plumbing or electricity and the last tenant moved out in 1991, living until that time with one electrical socket in the whole house and a makeshift shower in one of the rooms. The privy, was still outside! It was all very interesting and was our favourite museum. Seventh one completed....tick.

We wandered around some of the small art shops and Maice bought a really nice oil on canvas painting of the sails of the opera house. The Chinese shop owner who was ever so nice was telling us it was painted by his grandmother, the jewellery in there was made by his parents and he and his grandfather made bracelets made from the insides of watches. Quite fascinating and a true family business. In another art shop where the guy had only been open for a week he was selling artwork from an up and coming local artist called ‘Nessy’ so I purchased a really nice glass coaster of a brown bear on green background. I know the bear has nothing to do with Australia but the artist has. Pleased with both our purchases we regrouped to see where we were heading off next.

It was now 3.30pm. Could we fit in another visit. Of course we could. When we did the Bridge Climb, included in the price were tickets to the Pylon Lookout Tower, one of four towers at each end of the bridge. They don’t hold the bridge up or anything like that, they were built as a feature. We climbed the 200 steps to the top and walked out into the sunshine. What a view and what a glorious day it was today. Even my hat was enjoying the sunshine and the views, making the most of its new lease of life.

The pylon housed a small museum about the building of the bridge so here are some interesting facts and figures.....

Fact No.1: The massive Centre Pin was used to fasten the two half arches together. The Pilot Pin is about 25cm square in section. When the cables on both sides of the bridge were gradually released allowing the two half arches to come together, the pins on the south side slotted perfectly into opposing recesses on the north side. Civil engineering at its best!

Fact No.2: The Bridge is made of 52,000 tonnes of steel, 17,000 cubic metres of granite and 95,000 cubic metres of concrete.

Fact No.3: The Bridge was referred to as The Iron Lung because it kept the economy breathing during and after the Great Depression of 1928.

Fact No.4: A whole lot of white cats lived in a roof-top cattery on the bridge between 1948-1971. They even had their own cat merry-go-round and were very popular with the visiting public.

After finally watching a film-show capturing old photos of the bridge under construction, it’s hard to believe that of the 1,400+ men who worked on the bridge over a period of eight years there were only 16 fatalities. When you think that health and safety was non existent in those days that’s a very small number. We emerged from the museum at 4.50pm. Eighth one completed....tick.

Here’s another fact. Between us we’ve taken over 600 photos in the last two days due mainly to the fact that we were unable to take our cameras with us on the bridge so missed lots of opportunities and in Maice’s case she kept running out of camera battery!

We’d been on the go for seven hours and hadn’t stopped for lunch. We were starving, needed to rest our aching feet and felt the need to celebrate completing our challenge with a well deserved glass of wine. The next challenge was to choose a bar or cafe. There were so many to choose from but we eventually plumped for a Bierkeller with a happy hour and a miniature version of an oompah band, all two if them. Two glasses of wine and a pesto ravioli later and we felt so much better. We now had the energy to walk ourselves back to our hotel, pack and complete our second yoga challenge of the day, Yoga for the Brain. Now you’d think this would be quite light and relaxing but far from it. It involved lots of swinging your arms over your head and then down to the floor and up again and down again, at least twelve times in rapid sweeping movements. When you’ve had a few glasses of wine I can assure you this is not the best yoga challenge to be doing. We needed to lie down for at least half an hour to recover!

Packing finally done, we ate our kit-kat and got ready for bed. We balanced our spreadsheet, sorted out our photos and it was lights out at 10.30pm. It’s the end of another chapter and the beginning of a new one. We’re off to Melbourne in the morning for our final journey driving ourselves along the Great Ocean Road. How excited are we......!

Night all...

M&A xx

P.s. Well done to those of you who got the film correct. It was Four Weddings and a Funeral, although the Graham Norton/Hugh Grant was far funnier.....

Hugh Grant Re-Enacts Classic Four Weddings Scene - The Graham Norton Show

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