Archives for posts with tag: visiting sydney

Sydney Harbour is without a doubt beautiful. Us Sydneysiders are quite lucky to have at the heart of our city this maritime masterpiece. Multiple levels of government have been making quite a bit of effort over the last few years to make the harbour foreshore accessible to people. I think that there is also a master plan to connect a continuous stretch of foreshore from Woolloomooloo (East of the Opera House – and yes I spelt that suburb correctly) all the way through to Balmain. So when the plans to redevelop the Western maritime shoreline of the Sydney CBD began, the opportunity to redefine the shoreline and reconnect a previously inaccessible strip of land arose. This part of my city is named Barangaroo.

Barangaroo was the name of the wife of one of Australia’s most famous indigenous Australians – Bennelong. She was a powerful woman from the Aboriginal clan of Cammeraygal, being a key figure in the local community.

After decades of construction and harbour reclamation, the original shape of the shoreline had been lost to the square shape of concrete docks. The plan to introduce a public park on the Barangoo shoreline was opened up to a design competition, and the winning design was a beautiful landscape proposal that returns the shape of the original shoreline. The driving force for the introduction of this park was Australia’s greatest Prime Minister from the few decades – Paul Keating. And we can now enjoy the fruits of the labour of the architects, landscapers, and builders who gave us this new park – and cycleway too 🙂

C’mon, you knew that I would throw my two wheel endeavours into this.

So we took off on our bikes as a family, me riding alongside the Pok on his bike and my wife riding her bike with our Chariot trailer in tow shuttling Kiki. The distance from our place to the Barangaroo headland is just shy of 6km, a big distance for my little guy. But the reward was this:

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The shoreline has been recreated with large hewn sandstone blocks. The stone that submerges with the tide has already taken to the green aquatic colours. There are two tracks the follow the shoreline. One which is composed of compacted earth for walkers, and a second asphalted path for two wheel steeds and runners. The views out over the harbour are great, and uninterrupted out to the inner West and the ANZAC Bridge.

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The sandstone blocks are quite large, but not off-limits to walk on. Though the blocks do make you feel kinda small, but at the same time Balmain seems strangely within arms reach.

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At the Northern most point of the headline was the opportune time for a refuelling pit-stop.

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This gave me a chance to explore the park a bit more while the kids snacked. I rode up the hill to get a better view of the landscape of the park. The trees that have been planted have not matured yet, so hopefully in a few more years the shade will be more prominent.

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My little Kiki was asleep the whole way to the park until we stopped. She was pleasantly surprised when we she woke up.

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The view from the headland to the Sydney Harbour Bridge is pretty spectacular too, and the elevation provides a unique perspective. The short climb is fun to ride up.

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The old maritime control tower which directed shipping is still in place and presides over the entire park.

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Some of the sculpture pieces are pretty cool. This mini “stonehenge” from sandstone blocks was the site of a little game of hide and seek between The Pok, Kiki, and myself.

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And I can never get enough of taking photos of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but it is the colours in the stone that are a highlight to me.

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We took the opportunity to have a few race sprints between The Pok and myself. My little man is turning into a bit of a speed demon on the wheels, hitting over 20kph in a burst of speed. Not bad for a five year old. But all that energy output lead to more refueling for the boy – a hot chocolate did the trick.

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All up a great family ride and what turned out to be the longest ride that my little man has done – 13km! He loved it as did my wife and little girl. And we are lucky to have a new addition to our harbour front.

The Easter long weekend has come and gone in Sydney. While I did not spend as much time on the bike as I wanted to (though I did get to spend some quality time with my wife and son), I was able to plan a ride that I have been itching to do for some time now – West Head and Akuna Bay. Ever since I had the opportunity to ride up at Bobbin Head the other cyclists in the office have been telling me about West Head and Akuna Bay. What surprised me about this route was that I had no idea where it was. I have lived in Sydney most of my life, but I really had no idea where this ride was.

I spent the week leading up to the weekend scouring Google maps and finding the best place to kick off the ride. I used Mapmyride to check out the route that we would do, out from Terrey Hills to the West Head and then back with a detour via Akuna Bay back to Terrey Hills. This whole ride would be pretty much within the Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park in Sydney’s Northern Suburbs. The route wasn’t long, but the vertical climbing was racking up. But I have been caught up before by Mapmyride and its false gradients. The gradients tend to be very undercooked, especially when you lengthen out your ride route. So I took it with a pinch of salt knowing that it was going to be tougher than what the software indicated. On a side note – unless Mapmyride fixes this and a few other niggles I struggle to see why I would use this website over say Garmin Connect or Strava.

So I picked up my riding buddy AC at 4:30am, strapped the bikes on the roof, and headed off to Terrey Hills. We were on the saddle ready to roll by 5:20am, and headed out to the West Head. What greeted us was the best ever tarmac that I have ever ridden on. It was smooth as a baby’s rear end and perfectly laid. Diving down into McCarrs Creek gave an indication that we would be doing some climbing – again contrary to the Mapmyride ride profile. Once you climb back up out of it, then we found ourselves rolling up and down over some quite steep gradients while not ever climbing more than 30-40m at the most. But the fun part of this ride is the high speed descents that you get to enjoy off the back of each of the climbs. I was struggling a bit, with AC powering on, but boy did I have a grin on my face.

The total distance that we would cover would not be more than 45km, so getting to West Head from Terrey Hills was only some 18km out to the head. But boy what a reward! The view of the mouth of the Hawkesbury River was epic. We had to stop and take pics. Here is the panorama shot of the view, with my camera phone not doing justice to the wow factor. And yes the Southern Head on the right is Barrenjoey Head at the end of Palm Beach (or for people who watch the awful soap opera Home and Away – it is Summer Bay)

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Returning back proved just as challenging, but my lungs had opened up a bit more and the rising sun had taken the edge off the air. Getting back to the intersection that pointed us to Akuna Bay, we relished the opportunity to dive down into Akuna Bay. The road surface got a little rougher, but still way better than Bobbin Head, Berowra Waters, or Galston Gorge. Akuna Bay itself is magic with a brief but heavenly route hugging the water. The route takes you past the massive but secluded d’Alboro Marina. I could have stopped again to take another photo, but we were powering on. Being right at sea level meant that we would have to climb back up out of Akuna Bay back to Terrey Hills. The climb is a good one – 3 km long at a 7% gradient, never really peaking above 10-11%. In the sun and amongst the trees in the National Park, while tough and challenging, it was fun riding this climb.

By the time we got back to the car (for the record, AC kicked my butt) we both had huge smiles beaming on our face. Without conferring with each other we both reached the conclusion that this was quite possibly the best ride in Sydney. Here is the map of the ride and elevation profile of the ride from Strava (a lot more accurate than Mapmyride):

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I can’t wait to do this ride again, and if any other Sydney riders have a different opinion I would love to know. This is not an easy ride, and you really need a good fast road steed to enjoy it, but I reckon West Head – Akuna Bay is the best ride in Sydney.

OK – so this post may make some of my fellow Northern hemisphere bloggers slightly jealous, but sorry I am in the “back to work” doldrums. My Christmas Summer holidays are over and it is back to the desk in the middle of a Sydney Summer. It seemed like it went so quick! Christmas day was very wet, we belted the poms in the cricket to win back the little urn and restore balance to the force (for non-Aussies I will not translate this), and I got to take my family to the beach – several times!

We are lucky in Sydney that we have a great selection of beaches to choose from. My favourite surf beach is Maroubra because it is not full of tourists, but with a 3 year old in tow our favourite beach would have to be Balmoral within Sydney Harbour. It is family friendly with minimal surf and easy to get to, the only downside being the limited parking (which may also be the blessing to stop it from getting overcrowded).

And our boy loves it too! Whether he is pretending to be a starfish in the sand.

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Or jumping over the sinkholes that we have dug in the beach.

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Balmoral is a very nice stretch of sand and is very welcoming. Even for fellow beach goers trying to signal planes flying overhead with sand bucket writing.

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And camping out under the sun tent is the ideal location to get stuck into the snacks that would otherwise not be allowed at home.

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I have one more long weekend at the beach booked at the end of January, so hopefully looking forward to some more beach fun. It is the little travel trips that sometimes provide the best enjoyment.

Christmas is over for another year and we had a stuffy Christmas Eve full of food and drink, rain all of Christmas Day (both presents for the Pok and the water kind), and Boxing Day was bright and sunny. But one of the most distinct traditions we have in an Australian Summer Christmas is a night raid of the Sydney Fish Markets. The markets are open for 36 hours straight and even at 11:30PM on the 23rd of December it was heaving.

The usual suspects headed out for the raid (i.e. my wife, brother and his wife), with cool bags in tow.

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The Police were alerted to our presence and were out in full force to placate the natives for our arrival (we walk there, while others join the massive traffic jam to enter the car park marshaled by the cops).

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The prawns were overflowing with multiple hands at work to dish them out. Our raid involve acquiring a few kilograms of this stuff.

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Crustaceans of all shapes, kinds and colours were on their best display for the evening. Even with the fake camouflage they couldn’t hide.

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Some fish were feeling special too…

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Mrs Clause couldn’t help but partake in some oyster shucking.

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And to think that this row of ocean fruit would all be gone in probably a couple of hours, replaced by the next batch.

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It wasn’t just seafood on sale, the deli was flogging off its fromage.

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And they also stocked all the colours of the rainbow of bottled goodness.

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The sushi reindeer were working overtime.

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And some of the salmon sold were longer than my arm.

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Hope you all had a good Christmas!

The International Fleet Review being hosted in Sydney, Australia, is being held to commemorate the centenary of the first entry of the Royal Australian Navy’s Fleet into Sydney. It is to come to an end tomorrow, but in that time we have been greeted to a host of naval festivities around Sydney Harbour including plenty of cool Navy ships playing and strutting their stuff. On the weekend there was a great aerial display followed up the Royal Australian Navy going for a bit of a sail. From my vantage point West of the Sydney Harbour Bridge here is what I was able to shoot, though I wish I had an extra 100mm of focal range on my camera lens. As usual, all the images link through to my larger photos on my Flickr account.

First through the bridge were a couple of the smaller ships in the RAN fleet, the patrol boat HMAS Broome:

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Followed by the minehunter HMAS Gascoyne:

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Then the birds flew over! My boy, The Pok, got quite excited particularly when the large flock of helicopters flew past. I must admit, this was the largest number of helicopters that I have ever seen in the sky at one time. First were the jets, Hornets and Hawks flying formation:

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Then the submarine hunters, the Orions:

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Then the whirly-birds, of all shapes and sizes. There were Seahawks, Squirrels, and MRH90s:

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The RAN’s big boys came through next, with the Guided Missile Frigates HMAS Sydney and HMAS Darwin. HMAS Darwin’s resident Seahawk chopper peeled off and landed on deck, but I was at the wrong vantage point to capture it landing.

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With all this heavy naval metal, maritime security on the harbour was tight. I reckon that this police man on the jet ski has one of the most fun jobs in the world:

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The ship that missed out on all the fun and games was the RAN ship – ADV Ocean Shield, got relegated to hiding in Blackwattle Bay. But with all of its capabilities, I reckon that this is the coolest ship of all of them.

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Two days after all these games we got to go onto the ships that were docked at Garden Island, which was real fun. But that is for a later post.

 

Returning from my morning bike ride the other week I took the Oxford Street bus lane express back home. This is surprisingly quick, with the only danger being overtaking a parked bus picking up passengers. But I noticed to my left that the Paddington Reservoir Gardens was open (at 7:30 in the morning). I had first discovered this through the website inhabitat.com and this article: Sydney Transforms Waterworks Ruins into Incredible Public Park. I was a bit embarrassed to discover this on an American website given that the site is less than 5km as the crow flies from where I lived. It became a mission of mine to photograph this park.

What I found was a stunning example of urban rehabilitation and a small oasis in what is quite a ‘citified’ area of Sydney. It is one whole storey below street level and once you descend you forget that you have just left the bustling city. The architectural design is tranquil and uses the old structures as a skeleton to lay out a modern garden both at street level and on the subterranean level. As an amateur photography who loves buildings, design and architecture, I got a feeling of giddy excitement as I viewed all the lines and patterns. Below are some of the shots. As usual, the images click onto my larger images hosted on Flickr.

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I would love to go back and shoot this location again. Since I was last there I have acquired my one and only Canon L series lens. I was a bit disappointed with the light for this shoot too. But as with all photographers, I am always trying to acquire the perfect shot. If you ever visit Sydney, you can find the gardens at this location on Google Maps below:

Google Maps - Paddington Reservoir Gardens

 

Christmas Eve is upon us here in Sydney, and one of the unique Aussie traditions – a visit to the Sydney Fish Markets. Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere is in the middle of summer, and instead of Turkey many of us have prawns (and lobster, crab, Balmain bugs, oysters, salmon, along with anything else that swims or drinks salt water) for Christmas dinner. So the Sydney Fish Markets are open for 36 hours straight from 6am on the 23rd of December until 6pm on Christmas Eve. It is pandemonium and the busiest day of the year for the fishmongers. The queuing is so big going into the markets that the police manage the traffic into and out of the parking lots. We are fortunate in that we are less than a 5 minute walk to the markets, and observe all the mayhem with some amusement. Normally we go to pick up our seafood at 2am on Christmas Eve, but as we were still down in Melbourne at that time we had to delay our trip to 10:30am. It was very busy at that time, with some of the fishmongers having queues 3 deep from the stalls. Many fish lovers were walking around with esky sized boxes filled to the brim with seafood and ice. I had the Pok on my shoulders, and from his vantage point he was happily eyeing up the large selection of prawns on offer. One of the blokes even indulged him and gave him a king prawn to munch one – to which he shoved the whole thing in his mouth at once, grinning from ear to ear. Here are some of the photos I shot, with him sitting on my shoulders the whole time. It brings a whole new meaning to balance and stability for your shot.

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Now I am going to finish enjoying the rum that I have in my hand, and look forward to more mayhem tomorrow morning as my son tears into the presents delivered by Father Christmas. Merry Christmas to all, and peace to all men. Joyeux Noël.

So my 2 year old son, AKA “The Pok”, is singing Jingle Bells every morning and night now. I suppose I had something to do with this, as I have been playing Diana Krall’s rendition of the carol every day for the last couple of weeks.

It is very funny listening to him try to wrap his mouth around the verses. I also use this song to have him open his mouth so I can brush his teeth – parenting.

As a follow up to my earlier post, Christmas in Sydney, I wanted to shoot some more Christmas photos but this time at night. I brought in the tripod to run around one evening after work. For me the Christmas spirit truly comes alive at night. There is absolutely no chance of snow in Sydney, but nevertheless we decorate as if we were in the Northern Hemisphere. The City of Sydney have done a cool job this year of decorating the town, with the only downer being the scaffolding covering the works on the Sydney Town Hall – which is being illuminated.

Joy to the World!

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A couple of months ago I rode with a couple of mates in the Sydney Ride to Conquer Cancer. It was a two day, 200km ride to raise funds in support of the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Camperdown, NSW. The Lifehouse is the vision of  oncologist Professor Chris O’Brien, and it aims to transform cancer treatment for Australians in an environment thriving on discovery, research and uncompromising care. Unfortunately Chris O’Brien also lost his battle to cancer, but his legacy lives on. In total we were all able to raise $5.8 million, which has gone a long way to funding construction of the new facilities – which are still under construction. This was the best organised ride that I have ever done, and it had a really good vibe.

Today the organisers of the ride got a few of us together again this morning for a celebratory ride, as a thank you for our combined efforts. It was a good opportunity to catch up with my fellow riding mates doing some of what we love – two wheel travelling. JE, one of my former work colleagues, joined me this morning at my house on the way to Centennial Park where we were going to go cruising. Both of us have young 2 year olds, and we were both yawning as we rode to the start area. The weather was looking dodgy, but with a few snacks in a belly JE and I set off with the rest of the group.

CY and JE riding to celebrate Conquer Cancer

For the ride’s journey out, we followed the road down to La Perouse that GE and I rode on Thursday morning. What greeted us was a pretty mean head wind sent in our direction courtesy of the regular Sydney Southerly.  On the return we took a detour over to the shipping docks and container yards. This was a cool little detour, but I reckon it would be busy to ride during the week through that area. By the time we returned to Centennial Park, we  hadn’t quite racked up the 50km. We decided to ride back home rather than have Pok and his Mummy come and pick us up. This choice rewarded us with some sunny skies and the opportunity to spin by the shores of Sydney Harbour. I realise I am pretty lucky to have  Sydney Harbour as my local riding area. It was a good morning riding all round, with a reasonable amount of climbing (446m). Here is the link to the Strava ride that I uploaded from the GPS if anyone is interested in the route.

What surprised me when I uploaded the ride from the Garmin was how my trip computer appeared to be suffering from a hangover. See the arrows against the route mapped out below – too funny.

Is my Garmin drunk?Truth be told, all those areas are surrounded by high rise buildings in the Sydney CBD. So I imagine that the GPS was probably picking up some reflected signals from the buildings. Nonetheless it looks funny, and this is the first time that I have seen this on a route recorded on my Garmin.

Good times, Summer has now officially arrived in Sydney. I look forward to having a hot one, though not sure I could handle day after day of yesterday’s 35+ degree heat – too stifling to ride.

The Christmas spirit has well and truly arrived in Sydney. Everyday walking home I see a steady stream of people dressed for the silly season, and it looks fun. It was looking like a bright clear day in the morning, so I decided to bring the SLR out and see if I could capture a few shots. Some people don’t like the tackiness of Christmas decorations, but I love the colour and vibrant displays. I think this will be the first of a series of posts as I get the opportunity to take some more shots of the Christmas festivities in and around Sydney. Good will to all men – enjoy!

Sydney Christmas 2012 - Pyrmont Tree Star

Sydney Christmas 2012 - The Strand

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Sydney Christmas 2012 - Martin Place

Sydney Christmas 2012 - QVB Tree

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Leave me a comment if you would like to know where these shots were taken.

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