P&O dawn: the view this morning Harbour Bridge Opera House 1 Opera House 2 Opera House 3 – with a pair of Asian hoodies echoing the building Opera House 4 Opera House 5: Japanese girl contemplates an icon Botanical Gardens 1: giant Ficus trees Botanical Gardens 2: graffiti in bamboo Botanical Gardens 3: Pan parties Botanical Gardens 4 Botanical Garden fruit bats/flying foxes: they’re killing trees and on the verge of being evicted Woolloomooloo/Finger Wharf 1 Woolloomooloo/Finger Wharf 2: Teddy Bear Woolloomooloo/Finger Wharf 3: Gallipoli Woolloomooloo/Finger Wharf 4: handkerchief Woolloomooloo/Finger Wharf 5 Woolloomooloo/Finger Wharf 6: Arrivals and Departures Woolloomooloo/Finger Wharf 7: Oldsmobile Wedding party at Circular Quay
Read much of William Gibson’s new book Zero History on the Qantas flights to Hong Kong and then on to Sydney, yesterday. History was all around, partly because I have been mugging up on the history of Qantas itself for a speech for the Qantas Foundation on Tuesday, and partly because Sydney brims over with history – both prior to discovery by Europeans and after.
Discovering a vast P&O liner moored across from our hotel this morning, I wondered what Captain James Cook would have made of its scale if it had come sailing out of the harbour towards him when he first arrived. It had rained heavily in the night and dense curtains of rain were visible early on, but the day cleared up later and eventually became distinctly summery. A lot more Chinese in the hotel and the streets than I remember from previous visits – and weddings of all denominations were everywhere to be seen across town today.
We walked around the wonderful Botanical Gardens, marvelling at the size of the Ficus trees – and at the number of the ibises. Elaine’s first time in Australia. Then a delightful lunch at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, where the treasures ranged from Aboriginal woven eel traps through to paintings by J.W. Waterhouse. Had a nice glass of white wine from the delightfully named Hay Shed Hill winery.
Then back down the hill to the harbour and to Woolloomooloo, where we walked along the waterfront. Here, on a previous visit with the Murray Edmonds tour, we had bumped into a bevy of very attractive Miss Earth contestants, enjoying a delightful exchange of views. (Oddly, a few weeks ago I had a request from California for a copy of one of my photos that appeared on this blog at the time, showing Bob Adams of IDEO gallantly engaging some of the Misses Earth.) See September 19 2006 entry, here.
Finger Wharf is dramatic, but tinged with the memories of all those who came and went through here, including immigrants arriving and soldiers leaving for two World Wars, including the Gallipoli disaster that helped forge Australia as a modern nation. Very struck by the etched glass panels in various parts of the building – and by the tribute set into the planked floor at one of the arrival gates, showing a man in uniform, a woman waving goodbye and a child holding a teddy bear.
A boy waving farewell to his father or older brother in WWI could so easily have ended up shipping out for WWII. This city wears its history well.
And now to finish preparing for the presentations I have to do here and in Melbourne, this week and next.