Blue Mountains, Pt. 2

Our second day in the Blue Mountains was sunny, but still cold. We checked out of our Backpackers’ Hostel and went to see the view at Sublime Point, and it was. Then we drove to the town of Blackheath and went to the Park Headquarters there. We visited the little museum and took the advice of a ranger there to go for a hike from the top of Govett’s Leap toward Pulpit Rock. Again, the views were glorious, but rather than into Jamison Valley we were looking into Grose Valley. Then we went and had some lunch in Blackheath. Afterwards we visited Evans Lookout for one last set of spectacular views of the Blue Mountains.

Here’s Charlie at couple places near Govett’s Leap…

Most of these pix are from the National Park Headquarters at Blackheath. Charles Darwin visited the area in 1836 (if I recollect), and Govett is the fellow with the big mutton chops. Other pix in this set are of trail markers, signs, warnings, and maps…

A few more pix near Pulpit Rock and at Evan’s Lookout…

Some clips from both Saturday and Sunday in the Blue Mountains…

 

Study Questions:

  1. What did Darwin learn when he was in Australia? One source. Another. And one more
  2. Did you ever take a vacation from your vacation? Explain. (This was one of ours.)

Blue Mountains, Pt. 1

For the last weekend in May we went to the Blue Mountains, one of the famous spots near Sydney (1.5 hours by car). Named for the mist that comes off the many eucalyptus trees, the Blue Mountains are known for their spectacular views. While the weather was cold, and a bit drizzly on Saturday morning, it was a great weekend.

This first set was a very cold Friday evening at Echo Point, the classic lookout the features the famous Three Sisters. Caught a beautiful sunset…

We had a great – and reasonably priced – time at the Katoomba Backpackers’ Hostel. They had a a pool table and foozball, not to mention the kitchen where we could heat up our own hot chocolate…

On Saturday we spent the whole day at Scenic World, a complex features three great rides: the Skyway, the Cableway, and the Railway – the world’s steepest. We rode them all numerous times. The Railway takes one down near the valley floor where there were three different walks to the Cableway that takes one back up to the rim. At the bottom there were several remnants of a time gone by – mining equipment and some of the earlier versions of the railways and cable cars…

A clip…

(Check out more clips in Blue Mountains, Pt. 2!)

The Skyway takes one across part of the valley from Scenic World to near Echo Point. Spectacular views of Katoomba Falls, the escarpment, and the Jamison Valley. Above the falls were the Katoomba cascades, and one could take the Prince Henry walk along the top of the cliffs…

More shots from various spots, including the Cableway, down in the rainforest, from the Railway, of the Skyway, etc…

OK, so I took a lot of pix. How could I not? We had another nice sunset, and here’s the view from the glass bottomed Skyway, and I’ve really learned to love the ancient and majestic rough tree fern. Check ’em out…

 

Study Questions:

  1. Research the Blue Mountains. Discuss the flora & fauna and/or the geology or the region.
  2. Research the Scenic World. What looks like fun to you?

Around Sydney, Pt. 5

As I’ve mentioned more than once, I love libraries, and the State Library of New South Wales in downtown Sydney is very lovable. In addition to the huge be-biblioed reading room and all the stuff of most libraries, it has an exhibition gallery.

Here’s the classic front of the old part, signage in front of the new part, a door of writers, and inscription, the reading room, some books, etc…

Most of these photos of photos were in the State Library, but some were in the Leichhardt Library in which I’ve also spent a few hours. There’s also a painting thrown in, a seat & sign, and the found art of a downtown window grate…

Downtown Sydney is a mix of the old and new. Here’s the old: the cathedral, the church of St. Andrew’s, the Victoria building, Sydney Town Hall, and some miscellany…

In back of town hall is a huge scale model of Sydney, and in Hyde park a sculpture and an explanation…

Here are more of the new buildings of Sydney (sorry I don’t know what they all are)…

 

Study Questions:

  1. Research the State Library of New South Wales. What’s unique?
  2. Research architecture, the old and the new. What do you prefer and why?

 

Around Sydney, Pt. 4

On Tuesday, May 24th, after the kids headed off to school, ML & I went to the 20th annual Biennale Art Festival at Cockatoo Island. There is art at several other venues, but Cockatoo Island is unique. It was first a prison for the famous convicts who populated Australia in the early days of European colonization, and the facility here was apparently for the worst of the worst. Then it became a ship yard for decades where large boats for shipping and warfare were built and launched. It was retired in the 1990’s and has since them become a camping spot, tourist destination, and art space in the large industrial buildings. This first set of pix shows how the rock was carved to create the functionality of the island, there are some buildings and fixtures, the prison buildings, etc…

Here are more pix of Cockatoo Island, including the camping tent area, various displays about the old days, some artwork depicting the former uses of the island, and the view from the tennis court adjacent to one of the houses here…

 

These pix show some of the Biennale art projects. One involved 3D video headset in a tunnel, various videos, large installations using clear plastic, a mylar zeppelin, black string, and myriad sculptures…

Here are more large installations involving video, diagrams, pendula (pendulums? one of my favs), and more sculptures…

On other days I’ve gone on some walks & runs. Here are some more examples of Sydney Street Art…

Finally, here’s another set from downtown Sydney. The train station in Circular Quay, the many buildings around Darling Harbor, and shots from the ferry…

 

Study Questions:

  1. Research Cockatoo Island and/or the Biennale Art Show (use links above). What is fun and interesting about the history and/or art of Sydney?
  2. Now go take some photographs and/or make some art and get ’em out there!

Around Sydney, Pt. 3

At this point, the kids have settled into the routine of going to school (Sydney Secondary College, Leichhardt Campus), and ML & I continue to explore the city. Every big city has its own version of “Skyscraper National Park,” here’s the one in downtown Sydney. Some old remnants, art deco, gleaming spires, etc…

The Writers’ Festival went from May 18th (or thereabouts) to the 22nd. I attended talks about journalism, philanthropy, the internet, creating imaginary worlds, and historical research. Here are some pix in and around the Walsh Bay wharves…

Walking back to Circular Quay from the Writers’ Festival, I again went through the Rocks and discovered the Discovery Museum. Here are some pix of the displays and the doings in the neighborhood, including a couple street musicians…

One Saturday, our families (w/o Greg) went on a bike ride from the house on Lincoln Street in Stanmore to Bicentennial Park and along the water almost to Darling Harbor. The blue trees was an art piece, as was a playground we stopped in, and most of this set of pix are of the Sydney Fish Market. There are also a few of the ANZAC Bridge which we rode over on our way home…

That Saturday evening we went to Scott & Helen Bradley’s house for dinner. It is lovely and has a spectacular view of Sydney. The kids had a wild Nerf-gun battle and the adults had nice conversation and good food. The trifle was awesome…

 

Study Questions:

  1. Research the links above. What did you learn about Sydney Secondary College, Leichhardt Campus?
  2. Write about The Writers’ Festival in Sydney (in verse).
  3. What did you discover about the Discovery Museum, or what did you catch at the Sydney Fish Market?

 

Around Sydney, Pt. 2

One day after dropping the kids off at school and spending a couple hours in the Balmain Library, I went to The Rocks, one of the oldest parts of downtown Sydney. I walked around and they over to Walsh Bay where there are some wharfs that have been converted into art spaces for music, dance, and the upcoming Sydney Writer’s Festival. Some of this jaunt involved a ferry ride from Balmain across the harbor and then back to Circular Quay. There are shots of Luna Park, the rock of The Rocks (now with buildings right up against it), some urban art, dancers in their studio, and more pix of the bridge, the opera house, and downtown…

First day of school (May 16, 2016). Charlie & Veronica might be playing off a little nervousness…

Another day after walking the kids to their bus stop to go to school, Mary Lynn and I went and did the coastal walk from Bondi Beach to Bronte Beach – but we went further, to Clovelly before taking the bus back…

That evening I crashed an event at the University of Sydney, recruiting students for post graduate programs there. Here are some pix of the old charming buildings on campus (and one that go thrown in of a botanical building downtown)…

Here are some pix of the Nicholson Museum on campus – these are some of the Greek, Roman, and Egyptian antiquities, including a lego diorama of Pompeii…

Some of the more contemporary (and perhaps scandalous) exhibits and artworks in the museum. Note the interesting juxtaposition of ancient artifacts and preserved body parts…

Finally, here a collection of miscellaneous pix. Interesting license plate, cool mini-Winnie, famous spiders, street art, and the Stanmore train station…

 

 

Study Questions:

  1. Research Bondi Beach and/or the coastal walk. What’s on?
  2. Research the University of Sydney and/or the Nicholson Museum. What’s on?
  3. Research The Rocks and/or the Writer’s Festival. What’s on?

 

Around Sydney, Pt. 1

The iconic image of Sydney is the Opera House, and thanks to free tickets being offered at Sasha & Maddie’s school, we were able to attend a performance of the Australian Chamber Orchestra. We weren’t allowed to photograph during the performance so here are some shots inside before hand (as well as outside before and after)…

And to give you a taste of our experience, here are some YouTube clips of the Australian Chamber Orchestra featuring Richard Tognetti…

One day before the kids started school we took the ferry to Manly Beach. Charming town, great beach, but you can’t see my long swim in the cool, clear waters (I can still)…

Our hosts are very involved with soccer. Greg coaches Jenny’s team, and these pix focus on her well-coached playing (plus sunset thru eucalyptus)…

As we’ve been known to do, we sought out one of the better playgrounds in Sydney. The new “Darling Quarter” is right next to Darling Harbor and has a great playground with structures, a zip line, and unique water features. On the way we looked into the ANZAC Memorial as well…

This miscellany shows a statue of Captain Cook, the Cook River, a bus ride, a sunset, street art repeats, a tile mural at the kids’ school, and a contact lens ad…

Just adjacent to Newtown is the Camperdown Cemetery, and inside the cemetery is St. Stephen’s Anglican Church. I went on a Sunday morning and the church was not well attended, the cemetery is the subject of has-been art project involving the “wrapping” of tombstones, and the entire place is surrounded by a graffiti covered wall (not great graffiti) as well as a kind of nice park beyond the wall. It was a reminder of Sydney’s history, what with the numerous old grave markers, and how things have changed not always for the best. In any case, it was an island, an enclave, a separate place within the trendy hipsterhood of Newtown. I love cemeteries, and a chance to share a tear with loved ones, loved by someones, some time ago…

 

Study Questions:

  1. Research the Sydney Opera House (official website). Discuss the basics, history, architecture, and acoustics.
  2. Research the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Just listen and emote, or just listen, for awhile.
  3. Research Australian soccer, or rugby, or cricket, or the Olympics, or some sort of sporting something. Why? How? Who? By how much?
  4. Research Darling Harbor. What, where, when, who, why, how? Or, what about James Cook?
  5. Research Camperdown Cemetery and St. Stephen’s Church (use links above). What of it? And/or discuss the history of religion in Australia.

 

Taronga Zoo

A visit to the Taronga Zoo (official website) is a must do in Sydney. The trip involves a ferry ride across the harbor and a gondola ride to the top of the hill (not to mention the train ride to get to the ferry).

In addition to a beautiful layout and lots of animals from around the world, the Taronga Zoo features the amazing fauna of Australia.  Known for cuteness (koalas & bilbies) and cool names (wombats, wallabies, bandicoots, etc.), Aussie critters are in fact some of the deadliest on earth (ie. the spiders & snakes we saw). And we learned that even koalas aren’t something you’d want to cuddle (and vice versa).

This first set of pix shows the ferry ride, the gondola ride, kangaroos, Tasmanian devils, baby wallabies, an emu, lemurs, the jungle walk/ropes course, a cool play structure, etc…

This set features meerkats, turtles, lizards, snakes, the bird show, and more. (Can you identify the species of turtles, lizards, and snakes?)

Two more shows we saw were about about seals & spiders – here they are, along with koi, koalas, gorillas, deer, and a kangaroo with a joey, etc…

The last batch shows the old sign above the lower entrance, a red panda, the seal tank, birds, a penguin, and some of the spectacular views of Sydney from the zoo…

 

Study Questions:

  1. Go back and research some of the links at the top. First discuss the history of the Taronga Zoo (which turned 100 years old in 2016).
  2. Go back and research some of the links again. Next discuss the fauna of Australia. What makes it so unique compared to other continents?
  3. Now research Marsupials. What makes them so unique compared to other mammals? Be specific about reproductive equipment, processes, timelines, etc.
  4. On your own research deadly animals. How many come from Australia? Which are the deadliest and how so, that is which one would be the worst way to die? I know that is a morbid question, but it’s very scientific!
  5. What’s your favorite animal at the Taronga Zoo and why?

Sydney Street Art

Australia, like Europe (in the cities), unlike Asia (at least where we were), seems to have a lot of graffiti. Unfortunately, most of it is just unsightly tagging, ugly vandalism. Some however, is interesting and has aesthetic value. In fact, here are a few websites about Street Art in Australia…

This first set of pix of street art that I like is mostly around our neighborhood, the suburb of Stanmore…

More famous for street art is the suburb of Newtown. (In fact check out this page!) This collection of pix is from Newtown and includes a few snippets of the sidewalk bronzes…

Here are more pix in and around Newtown, etc…

 

 

No Study Questions, but what will be your street art project…?

 

 

Australian Museum

Since it’s taken awhile to get the kids enrolled in school, we took them to the Australian Museum in downtown Sydney to get a bit of a science lesson as well as some local history (not all of it very nice). The Australian Museum is the oldest in Sydney with many interesting natural history exhibits. This first batch of pix shows a variety of skeletons, prehistoric & contemporary, as well as taxidermetologicial displays, Australian & otherwise…

There was a large exhibit dedicated to the indigenous Australians, referred to as “aboriginals.” This set of pix shows a variety of masks, shields, art artifacts, a couple maps, a video shot, the allegedly last native woman of Tasmania, and some gemstones, just part of the massive mineral wealth of this continent – that should belong to the original inhabitants of Australia. Oh, and there is a pic of an apology to the natives of Australia for how they were treated, a story that rivals what happened to Native Americans for cruelty, insensitivity, and political, sociological, and cultural hegemony.

There were wonderful displays of – whole rooms dedicated to – bugs & birds…