tails in 2 cities

February 26, 2009

Brisbane – Sydney 23rd – 27th February

Brisbane 23rd-24th
Brisbane schools returned from their summer break today…we could hear the cheering and orchestrated chanting as the one school met their teachers again.; a High school celebrated with a swimming meet and we met another group in the art gallery where I had an awkward moment when a pupil called for “Miss!” and I turned to answer!

Brisbane was far too hot and we hid in the gallery enjoying aboriginal art and in the library investigating travel books until it was cool enough to explore the botanical gardens. We were a little under whelmed by Brisbane (I suspect the heat) so we spent our second day at Steve Irwin‘s Australia Zoo. The Irwin Family appear to be national icons – there was a memorial shrine of Steve’s signature khaki shirts which had all been signed by sympathetic people and the children feature in animal videos shown all over the place as well as lots of merchandise. However, it’s obvious that the man did an awful lot and there was a very strong educational conservational theme to all aspects of the zoo. It was beautifully laid out; there were scores of rangers wandering round with pythons, wombats, birds, dingoes, koalas etc for anyone to stroke, touch etc and they gave out lots of information(did you know that snakeskin is made of the same material as our nails?); we saw 4 of the 5 most venomous snakes in the world (did you know that the top 4 all lived in Australia?) , we fed elephants (did you know that they get really bored?), stroked giant tortoises (did you know that their necks were more wrinkled than mine?) and kangaroos (did you know one of them tried to box Eddie?) and kept a respectful distance from the many seriously scary crocs and the cassowaries (did you know they can ‘unzip‘ a person with their claws?) …but the very best bit was the tigers. After the concern about how the big cats were kept caged in Beijing we sat for ages watching 2 massive teenage tigers playing with their trainer in a pool. Imagine 2 kittens playing with a ball of string….that total focus and athletic grace…now multiply the size and potential ferocity many, many times and imagine these tigers jumping after a blow up ball trapped inside a blue plastic milk crate….it was a glorious hour.

Sydney 24th-26thEasy flight…booked a cheap last minute.com surprise hotel (where you don’t know which hotel you will end up in) and found ourselves in an Ibis on Darling Harbour – we are still lucky!

Sydney is cool – literally and metaphorically – it’s cloudier, there’s a breeze and the temperature has dropped – which makes a pleasant change. Eddie was poisoned by a prawn which limited us a little but we still managed a day and a half’s frantic activity;-

We discovered a new artist at the Museum of Modern Art – Yayoi Kamura – mirror sculptures; soft cloud installation; hypnotic patterns. We were shut in a small cupboard with tiny lights and water reflecting my claustrophobia!

We travelled on the ferry and saw boats of all shapes and sizes, including war ships, submarines, tall ships and even the Queen Mary 2 which most of Sydney turned out to see (it is really huge).

We craned our necks to see the Coat hanger (the Harbour Bridge) and the plaque underneath ; “Pauline and Garth Clayton climbed here” – we envied them the experience!

We took photos of the Opera House and appreciated the shape and colour until we realized that this was where those dreadful tiles from the Arndale Centre ended up.

We wandered the Botanical Gardens reading the signs urging us to hug a tree…..and we heard more screeching Grey Headed Flying Foxes as they waited for dusk. The Botanical Society is trying out “humane ways of discouraging these massive bats” because while they help pollination, there are too many of them. Eddie suggested they play them the new Lily Allen song.

We walked through Victorian arcades which were far more beautiful than the contents of the designer shops where they celebrated Barbie Day by doing ‘professionals will make you up to look like Barbie’ sessions – a snip at $99.

We loved the intimacy of the harbour area…the old and modern buildings are jam packed together to create a perfect harmony – so much is going on, the people are vibrant/ energetic – it has a real buzz.

We watched TV news which showed a Great White Shark caught in Sydney Harbour – presumably the one which bit off someone’s finger last week. I also caught only 30 silent seconds of Neighbours so I can‘t provide any spoilers but I am reliably informed that the UK now knows that Bridget is pregnant . I am profoundly shocked by this news so when we finally get to Melbourne I will be applying for a Sex and Relationship Education post at Erinsborough High – the teenage Neighbours clearly need advice about safe sex.





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