Sydney – 2nd / 3rd May
I arrived in Sydney before the check-in-time for the hostel, but I was welcome anyway and they even checked me in immediately. I stayed in a YHA-hostel again, exactly at the YHA Railway Square because I had to go further early by train the following morning. The assistant in the office was keen to find a lower bed for me and also gave me an upgrade to a 4-share room for the same price as the multi-share room.
I did not waste any time to see Sydney. Additionally my goal was the YHA Sydney Harbour, because when I will come back to Sydney I will e.g. attend a backstage tour at the Sydney Opera at 7am and want be sure, I will be there in time. I did not have a hurry, therefore it did not bother me, that I first was walking in the wrong direction again. I was first strolling through the market, which was still in the right direction, but ended up at the Powerhouse Museum, which is at the end of the street for Darling Harbour. Nonetheless I walked back to the market and soon I also found the main-street, called St. George Street. This one goes all the way to Sydney harbour.
The first I saw was the Harbour Bridge and, when I was going closer to the bridge, I also have seen the Opera house. It was an amazing moment, being so close to a building I have seen so many times on TV and was so far away from home. To see the Opera House is really a milestone on my travels! I took lots of photographs, walked around in the area and took more as well as I was walking around in the area called “the Rocks” looking for the YHA Sydney Harbour hostel. Unfortunately I had a very bad map as well as I neither have seen the stairs up to the hostel nor some signs for it. Therefore it took a while, before I finally found it. Would there have been mentioned, that I only had to follow the signs for the “Big Dig”, it would have been very simple to find the hostel, too, because the hostel is build on the “Big Dig”! “Big Dig” is the archaeological work called, which is done in the area, where the hostel later was built. Still are people volunteering to find more items in the ground.
The hostel was as modern and clean as the other YHA-hostels I have visited in Australia and therefore I decided to book three nights, which I immediately did. I was surprised about the price. The cheapest beds were in 6-bed-dorms. The price for three nights was 146 AUD (105 USD / 94 EUR / 876 SEK). When I questioned the price, because in the other hostels I paid much less, the assistant explained, that it depends on the location and that I booked for a weekend. By the way Sydney is in any case a very expensive city. All the prices are higher here than in the rest of Australia, even Melbourne was cheaper.
At least I bought a sandwich and apple juice in a convenience shop and had a rest with a view on the Opera House. At this time it was already dark, but it was not later than 6pm. Afterwards I had a quick walk back to the YHA Railway Square hostel, because it became really chilly and I won’t freeze – I was sweat instead when I arrived there. In the dorm I share, a nice woman in her fifties was reading a book in her bed, but we started immediately to chat. She told about her travels, but was now working for a period and decided to move home to Melbourne at the weekend. She told me, that she never have had the same job for more than a year and I thought, she is worse as I have been. I slept well that night, too, but it was interrupted around 2am for a visit of the restroom. Anyway I had to awake early the next morning, but my room-mate was earlier than me.
Sydney to – Warialda via Muswellbrook – 3rd May 2016
My new and last host for Australia, Laurie (a fifty year old man), agreed with me to meet him in Muswellbrook, because he was there for model flights and it would save me some money, too. He had also told me to be early, that there is no need for him to drive in the dark. There are lots of Kangaroos in his area and they would damage his car if he would clash them. My train from Sydney was for 9:30am, therefore I had my alarm clock on 6:30am. I am always afraid to miss trains or buses. Anyway I was ready too early, but was going to the train station. The train was already there, when I arrived, but we were not allowed to enter. Finally it was time to take a seat and I was happy over the window seat. It was raining off and on this morning, but this did not matter for me. I enjoyed the view anyway, especially the mountain range called the “Great Dividing Range”. Laurie told me later, that it stretches from Victoria to Queensland.
Laurie was waiting for me at the railway station in Muswellbrook. He looked like a real Australian farmer (what he also is) leaning at a doorpost with his Akubra hat. He was from the first minute a gentleman, too. He also asked me, if I have had lunch at the train, what I have not had. Though we were going to a restaurant close to the railway station for lunch. I paid my own, because I thought it would be unfair against him to let him pay, when I have had the opportunity to eat already at the train as well as I have not helped him with anything. Directly after the meal we were going by his car all the way to the north for Warialda. We stopped in Tamworth, the Australian capital of country music and he showed me the big guitar. It became dark before we arrived at his home called “Sonoma”, outside Warialda.
Warialda – 3rd until 13th May 2016
Laurie lives on a farm and has livestock cattle. He was really special and very kind. I had a cosy bed and I did not freeze in the mornings either, when I left the bed. It was much warmer in NSW than in Victoria. The temperatures were never under +10°C during the night and around +20°C during daytime. He warmed a meal from frozen in the microwave. It consisted sausage, vegetables (carrot, peas and something more) and rice.
He seemed to be more interested in giving me joy and bright experiences than about the work I can do for him. He gave me the first day off, though we could get to know each other. He showed me his farm, that means the buildings, the cattle and the paddocks. He explained to me how he does to separate the calfs from the cows for castrating the first named. He told me, that a castrated bull is a steer och a cow, which has not had a calf is a heifer. How he marks his cattle and that he sells his cattle, when they are one year old. The buyers often feed them with protein for getting them fat quickly and sell them to China. We were also looking at the horizon and he told me, that the mountain on the left is Mt. Rodd and the one straight behind the farm is called the Rocky mountain.
Furthermore he asked me to choose, what I will do, but sometimes he asked me for help with things he was working with. I decided to clean as much as possible. Obvious I made the dishes as often as he allowed me. He’s home was not especially dirty, but there are always things to do, people do not realise, like door frames and light switches. I have been in many clean and pretty houses, but door frames and light switches were somewhat dirty. Laurie was so thankful for my help with that cleaning. He has had lots of helpx-helpers before, but none had cleaned inside his house. In addition to that we cleaned one of his sheds, but he asked me only for giving a hand, he swept the floor by his own. He want not have me in the dust. Furthermore we made the washing together. He used an old washing machine and asked me therefore only for hanging (and taking down) the clothes on the cloth lines. He explained, that he use that old machine, even he has a newer one, because it does not take so much water. He recycles the water, too. Some evenings I was allowed to make the dinner.
All other time he let me help him with work, which actually either was really necessary – like feeding his cows with hay – or having me fun – like chasing the cows into the right paddock by using a quad. We also inspected the creek together, what was more to teach me something, than I had to do some work. For explaining the history of Australia and the Aboriginals he used two movies on DVD “Australia” (which I have seen the trailer of before, but did not have the opportunity to see) and “Rabbit Proof Fence”. I have heard before, about how the settlers treated the Aboriginals, but the movies added new knowledge. One day I felt dizzy, when I awoke and had a headache, though Laurie cooked coffee for me, but I had not asked him for that.
He went with me to Bingara, let me drive his car on the dirty road, where we met a snake (what was not dangerous at all, because we were in the car) and showed me an outlook, for which he had to drive up on a very steep road as well as he showed me the house, his mother was born in. We stopped even at a stone crusher from the gold mining area and finally the Gwydir river and the horse riding track. By the way, the view from the outlook was great. Before we left the town, we were shopping at the supermarket and he told me to choose the food I like.
Another day we went to the Warialda show, where farmers show and sell their cattle, sheep etc. and companies try to sell their big tractors and other machines. We first watched a competition for sheep dogs. Later he asked someone, though I could sit in a very big, very new tractor and see, that they nowadays have computers inside for all the functions they have. One needs a course to learn to use this machines. Even I have a driver’s license for tractors, I could not use the new ones without learning how their computer works. We listened to the army band, looked at the cattle for sale and – at the end of the show – a parade where the band played (in their working uniforms) and companies as well as farmers showed their products. Afterwards he drove with me to the “Cranky Rock” and took special photographs of me (he was the initiator).
Over the weekend we were in Moree. We stayed with his mother, but were all together to the hot pools (Artesian well) after a sightseeing of the little place and the other day to a cotton gin (gin comes from engine – a cotton gin is a cotton factory) as well as Laurie showed us the sale-yards, where he and lots of other farmers sell their cattle. His mother invited us for lunch both days, the last one at the Victoria Hotel Restaurant. I had ordered a “Mediterranean Lamb Salad”, which came in such a big portion, that I took home the rest in a doggie bag and ate it another day. By the way, Laurie and me where one more time to the hot pools. These were great days!
A totally other experience was to sew with his sewing machine, an old – but already electrical – singer, but with the spool on the left side of the needle. Laurie repaired the cable and I helped him then with a simple sewing. One of the days with him his neighbour Gerry visited us. Another day we visited him, but only for picking up some iron poles. Before we had left trash at the dump. Even it was a very simple one, there were a kind of sorting for the recycling: Metallic items, mattresses, wood, paper and residual waste. It became late that evening and after have been shopping at the supermarket, we had chicken and chips for dinner. I also helped him with moving iron poles from his trailer to a place for keeping the other day.
Laurie also gave me the opportunity for horse riding at a horse riding school. I paid for the lesson, of course. The nearly 2h-trip was also throughout the Gwydir river. Unfortunately it was not warm enough for a swim.
At the end of my stay he drove me to an art gallery with a bush walk. It is an American, Kerry, who opened the gallery years ago. He make mostly sculptures, but shows in his gallery also paintings from other artists. Most of his sculptures are placed outside his galleries e.g. at the bush walk. The artist also showed me his new project as well as the one, he made before. His newest project is about Africa. He made an open body for that and will put in kidneys, hearts etc – he also has made lots of kidneys. His sculptures are made in bronze, but he makes only the form for the perfusions.
Laurie is also a good teacher about Australia and especially about the area he lives. The last evening we were looking at the stars. With an app we could exactly see, which star signs we had around us. By this, we get to know, that we both were born in the sign “Libra”, but he on a 13th October instead of me, who was born a 12th October. This was very unexpected. By the way the sky often was totally clear, because on this remote place no lights lighted up the sky. Last but not least I have not to forget all the wild Kangaroos we have seen on the farm. Every-time we left the farm and even often we came back, we could see them in the grass. When we were at the creek I saw a Kangaroo jumping in front of me and close to the “Cranky Rock” we saw a Kangaroo with it`s Joe.
At the day of leaving I saw a sunrise, because I had to be up early for the bus. Leaving his farm felt a little wistful.
Warialda to Sydney – 13th May 2016
I was up very early this day, because the bus was 7:30am from Warialda and it takes around an hour to go there by car from Laurie’s farm. We arrived at the bus stop in good time, actually half an hour before the bus schedule. It was still cold and we had to walk off and on for being somewhat warm. If I remember right it was only around +5 degree C. Fortunately the bus was in time, but I had to change to a train in Tamworth. The train was not in time – it was 1:40h late, because it had hit a car at its first station. The driver of the car was very fortunate, only the car was hit. We have got good information at the railway station, but not the reason for the late train. The reason were never told, but by the conductor, when he asked the usual question “How are you?” and I answered “not so good, because the train is late.”
Sydney – 13th to 16th May 2016
Back in Sydney I asked for the amount on the “Opal card” I had got of Irene in Woodend. I thought, If it is high enough, I do not need to walk all the way to the hostel with my backpack. I did not! On the card were still 18 AUD left. A trip on the city circle was for 2,36 AUD. I was happy and asked for the line. Soon afterwards I was at the harbour and walked up for the Essex Street for coming to the hostel at Cumberland Street. There are shorter ways, but they all have stairs. To pull the backpack the Essex Street up was very heavy, but I did it and on the Cumberland Street it was no problem. I had been the whole day on public transport and was tired, though I fell asleep early that night. The hostel was calm and not noisy at all, which helped me.
The next day I was going to Mainly by ferry throughout the Sydney harbour. I used the Opal card for that and the amount was high enough for the return ticket. I did not have a map for that suburb, but a feeling for, where the beach is situated and it was my goal. I have got help of signs close to the harbour. In addition to the signs I saw an Aldi supermarket and decided to buy some food there, for eating out in Sydney is very expensive. I spent many hours at the beach. I had taken off my shoes and socks and was walking at the beach, because the sand was very good. Sometimes the wave came so high up, that my trousers got wet, even I had taken off the parts, longest down. I remembered to buy food at Aldi on my way home, but did not find any yogurt and only big boxes with cereals. Though I decided to buy the breakfasts at the hostel anyway.
When I had left the ferry, I tried to find a good place, where I could take photographs of the Harbour bridge as well as the Opera house on the same one. I did not find it, but discovered a “Writers walk”, that the government of Sydney had initiated to honour the writers with connections to Sydney. The walk started close to the Opera house and ended close to the Harbour bridge. Names and facts about the writers were exposed on a kind of medals. It was very interesting and I read everyone of them as well as I took photographs of lots of them. It became dark before I was back at the hostel.
On Sunday I was up already at 5:30am, because I had booked a backstage tour at the Sydney Opera House. I decided to book the tour, because no opera was played meanwhile I was in Sydney. During the tour I also heard more about it by the explanation, that there always are four month with operas and six weeks ballet. I arrived at the Opera House half an hour early and afterwards I was happy about that, because I was first waiting at the wrong place – at the place for the other tours. The Backstage tour starts at the stage door. Happily I checked my email from the booking and read, that I had to find the Stage Door, which I did after I had looked for all the doors around the Opera House and at the end asked a security guy. I was in time and the first one of our group, only a couple came in time, too. Just this day was a half-marathon for runners in town and the streets around the Opera House were closed as well as other streets. Some people came late and was let in as well, two people did not make it.
The tour was interesting, even I did not feel, that we were using 300 stairs as it is written in the description for the tours. That was only positive! We were shown all the stages, there are five on one side and on the other side is only the concert hall. We were also told the history of the house. It was planned by an Danish architect Lutzon. He started even with the building, but it took much longer to built it as scheduled. During the process a new party entered the parliament and they were not really interested in an Opera House, they were more interested in a hall for representation. They did not pay the architect and he resigned after a while. An Australian architect was hired. All material used for the building should be Australian and nearly it is, only the tiles are from Sweden – from the Höganäs factory – and the glass was surprisingly coming from France. The new architect followed the advice from the parliament and switched the rooms in the building, therefore the opera only has between 2000 and 3000 seats, but the concert hall more than 4000. One of the stages was built in the area, where a big elevator for the opera scene should have been and the opera has, in addition to an elevator also steep stairs with a suicide door, that means, the door is going nowhere. If one would go through it, one would fall onto the ground of the big hall with the elevator, around 10 meters down. The costs for the Opera House was calculated to 7 million AUD, but were at the end 102 million AUD and that in the 1960ss/1970s. More facts you can find in the English Telegraph.
In the high price for the tour was also a cheap breakfast included. Before the tour started, we had to fill in a form, what we would have and I did not fully understand the form, so I ordered only something to drink (coffee, apple juice and English breakfast [tea]) because I thought I had ordered English breakfast. Instead of a real English breakfast there were Hamburgers to get. Luckily I have got a Hamburger anyway.
After the tour I was walking to the Town hall to attend a “Free tour”, sightseeing for free, but that is not the whole truth, because the guides live of the tips, they get. I was a little early and waited patiently until the tour started. One of the first things our guide told us was, that a usual tour was for around 40 CAD. He was fantastic. He had a strong voice and it seemed, he loved to tell us facts about Sydney. There were so many facts, that I do not remember all of them, but the space, where the Town hall is situated was used for trash – there were all dumped one could think about. The smell was horrible, of course, though were it for the health. Before the Town hall was built, the area was covered with soil. By the way, the church at the side of the Town hall was the first church in Sydney and is very old compared with the other churches in Canada or almost Sydney. Other interesting facts is the Sydney hospital also known by the name “Rum Hospital”. The hospital was built from money the builders earned by import and sale of rum. The hospital has two wings and the main building. One of the parts of the building became the Legislative Council Chambers – no wonder that the politic is the way it is. The Legislative Council Chambers is nowadays in another building, what does not say anything about the politics. Close to the hospital one also can find the Hyde Park Barracks. Actually they are not real barracks – they were not used by the army, they were instead built of the convicts from England, who was sent to Australia. They had to build them by their own and gave them shelter during the night – the barracks was not a jail, because Australia was jail enough. Even the Harbour Bridge has an interesting history. One of the important man of Sydney decided to build this bridge. The thing was, that there were no knowledge at that time, who to fulfill. Furthermore there was no money for such a big project. The Sydney Harbour is very deep, because the shoreline was moved by filling with trash for giving big ships the possibility to sail the whole way to the shore for unloading of gods and passengers. Building the bridge was done with excellence, but the money, the crown had paid for building the bridge was not used for it, though Sydney had horrible with debts, when the bridge was finished. The late prime minister was leaving the parliament and took the money from the crown with him. Furthermore a parliament decided, that the Queen Victoria building should make space for a car park, but the builders were against the demolition as they were against demolitions of buildings in the area “the Rock”. Another building with a long history is the GPO (General Post Office). Here the soldiers for WWI enrolled and the tower was taken down during the war, though it was not so easy to find as a goal for air raids.
After this rewarding tour I decided to follow the evening free tour for the rocks, but I took a detour throughout the Botanic Garden for taking that special photography from the Opera House in front of the Harbour Bridge. I was really lucky to have the sunset at the same time.
When I was back at the hostel I decided to leave the evening tour for the next time in Sydney. I did not really manage to write my blog, I was so tired, that I was to bed at 9pm. That was good, because I had to wake up early the next day for going to the airport. I had booked a shuttle to the airport, because it was cheaper and faster than the tram and I did not have money left on the Opal card but 1,30. Not enough for any ride and the ride to the airport was for 17,80 AUD – the shuttle for 15 AUD, but that I had to pay cash to the hostel. The driver of the shuttle was very friendly and had a sense of humor. From the hostel was two more women going with this shuttle, the one with quite a little backpack and we talked about, that it is not necessary to have a lot of clothes even for a long trip. The driver picked up a couple at a hostel and two guys from a backpackers hostel. We were in good time at the airport, but the driver told us, we have to check in at area K and left us there, but that was not right. We had to go to area A for the check in. Nonetheless it was a helpful mistake, because in the area K there was a post office. Though I posted my cotton from the cotton gin and a gift for my son Samuel and his family as well as the granulated sugar to my first host Elisia and the adapters for NZ / AU to the sister of my friend from Vienna, because she will have use for them but me anymore.
I was still in time at the right check in counter and asked for the cooling av my medicine. The staff told me, that I have to bring my medicine by my own to the plane and then ask one of the stewardess for help. So I did, but it was not the easiest at the customs to get it through, because the freezer pack. I was surprised, that I was allowed at all, to take it on the plane.
Leaving Australia and the Flight to Canada – 16th and 17th May 2016
Even I was very happy, that the time finally had come, where I will go to Canada, the most country of my dreams, it was a little sadly to leave Australia, especially because I only have seen such a small part of the big country, but I plan to come back here after I have travelled Asia.
I had booked by “Skyscanner” for Etihad. The flight started in time and I was very surprised about the comfort, which was waiting me at the plane. It was a very big plane, but on every seat there were a little package with a blanket, headphones, socks!, an eye-mask and a pillow. Soon I became aware, that we will get enough to drink and eat. The choice of the beverage was unexpectedly wide, the meals were healthy with salads as a starter, meat, potatoes or rice and vegetables. We even got desserts for lunch and dinner. The entertainment one could choose from a wide range and it was possible to decide by our own if we want to have the windows open or not. The flight attendants were professional and cared very well about my medicine. Unfortunately there is no freezer on board for my freezer pack, but I think it is none on any plane.
The first 14 hours became 13 only, but I could not get any sleep. The transfer was very smoothly. The next flight started one hour late because all the paperwork for the Canadian authority and the flight took the earlier announced time. Unfortunately there were lots of babies and toddlers on the plane and two of them were screaming nearly all the time. When the one of them fell asleep the other one screamed anyway. I only have had two (2) hours of sleep during the second flight. I was in good shape when landing, I think it was because the anticipation for Canada.
To read about my adventures in Canada, please follow this link.