Sep 17 2013

Sydney is a work in progress

Hoarding around Sydney Opera HouseSometimes I think Sydney is a work-in-progress. Everywhere I go there are construction sites with their cyclone fencing, shadecloth, hoarding, cranes, jackhammers, big trucks and men in hard hats and fluoro vests.

And what’s not under constructions seems to be closed off for the ‘elite’.

Not really knowing what to do for the day, despite having asked at the tourist information kiosk, I decided to walk to the Art Gallery, where I could spend the day indoors. It’s a nice walk via the Opera House and Botanic Gardens and it has one of the best collections of Aboriginal art around.

My-friand-has-been-attacked-by-a-seagullBut first stop – coffee at the Quay where, despite being attacked by a seagull after my friand, I had a very good coffee.

But I couldn’t linger forever, so taking a deep breath, I picked up my camera bag and walked towards the Opera House.

I know it’s almost sacrilegious to say it, but I’m over the Opera House. Yes, it’s a beautiful building and yes it’s right on a beautiful harbour with views over a magnificent bridge. But they’re coasting. The forecourt has been surrounded by hoarding for what seems to be forever, and the times I’ve been to shows there the drink prices have been exorbitant, with decent sparkling wine served in plastic. Plastic! At the Opera House!

So the plan was for a quick walk around, take a few photos, and keep going towards the Art Gallery.

I walked along East Circular Quay, along the writer’s walk, past all the cafes & restaurants, down the escalator, and out onto the promenade at the Opera House.

The-promenadeIt’s hard for even the most jaded traveller not to draw an involuntary breath when faced with that view. The sails of the Opera House, the arch of the Harbour Bridge, and the blue of Sydney Harbour glistening in the sun that had just that moment chosen to peep out from behind the clouds.

Magnificent. It’s no wonder it’s our top tourist attraction.

Of course, then I really had no choice but to sit with a glass of beautiful Australian sauvignon blanc, soak up the sun and the view, and watch the passing parade. And the attacking seagulls.

Like,-well,-seagulls-fighting-over-a-chipA tip – when signs in Australia say “don’t feed the birds” take note. They can get very aggressive!

Eventually it was time to move on, and as I walked around the front of the building my cynicism once more came to the fore. There, in prime position, was a marquee with a roped off area reserved for Ferrari and their invited guests. Now I’m only guessing here, but those invited guests would all be rich. I doubt the hoi polloi get many invitations to private functions at the Opera House!

And then it happened again at the Botanic Gardens. A large part of the harbourside walk is closed off for repair to the seawall. I know all this maintenance has to be done, but sometimes is seems incessant.

closed-off-for-FerrariTo add to it, the Museum of Contemporary Art opposite the Opera House on the other side of the Quay is also covered in scaffolding, though that could be an art installation for all I know. An ironic take on “Sydney as a work in progress” perhaps?

But just inside the gardens is Government House, a beautiful old colonial sandstone building, and right there on the fence was a sign “Government House Open: Free Admission”. It seemed to be a metaphorical as well as a physical sign. Unfortunately when I got around to the gate there was a line up of cars, and security guards. Yes, you guessed it, it was closed for a private function. For three days!! The least they could have done was change the signs on the fence.

I was starting to feel really left out of my own city.

But the gardens were in flower. Well, apart from the tropical centre which was closed for a few months for renovation. Are you starting to see a pattern?

Feeling a bit dejected I walked on, until the smell of wisteria made me look up. I took a deep breath, felt the sun on my face and smiled. It really was a beautiful day.

Wisteria-at-the-Gardens

 

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