While my husband worked on his international business audit in the big blue glassed building along the Circular Quay in Sydney, Australia, located on the left on the photo above ......
.....I was lucky to be able to explore some of Sydney on my own by means of the "Hop On Hop Off" City Sightseeing Sydney buses! These chains of sightseeing buses are located in many cities around the world, including here in New York City. I find them an excellent way to learn about the city I am visiting from either the narration of the bus driver, or a recorded narration that plays while the bus goes around its route. I usually take the bus around one entire loop and then repeat it, getting on and off at the places that most interested me. Usually another bus comes along every 15 -20 minutes so it is very convenient. (All photos can be clicked on once and then clicked on again when they re-open to enlarge them.)
I always sit on the top of the bus where the view is the best -- I picked up the bus at the first stop on the Circular Quay and here we are driving down George Street, which is a mixed business and shopping area.
One of the fist sights I got off the bus to see was the Queen Victoria Building (QVB), a shopping center which fills an entire city block bound by George, Market, York and Druitt Streets. The QVB web site states: "The Queen Victoria Building, now affectionately known as the QVB, was designed by George McRae and completed in 1898, replacing the original Sydney markets on the site. Built as a monument to the long reigning monarch, construction took place in dire times, as Sydney was in a severe recession. The elaborate Romanesque architecture was specially planned for the grand building so the Government could employ many out-of-work craftsmen - stonemasons, plasterers, and stained window artists - in a worthwhile project. Originally, a concert hall, coffee shops, offices, showrooms, warehouses and a wide variety of tradespeople, such as tailors, mercers, hairdressers and florists, were accommodated."
"Over many decades, change saw the concert hall become the city library, offices proliferate and more tenants move in, including piano tuners, palmists and clairvoyants. Drastic 'remodelling' occurred during the austere 1930s and the main occupant was the Sydney City Council. As recently as 1959 the Queen Victoria Building was threatened with demolition. As it stands now, in all its glory. It is testimony to the original vision for the building and the superb craftsmanship of the artisans who put it all back together again."
It is now a magnificent three tiered shopping mall filled with beautiful tile floors, stained glass, a central glass dome skylight and Royal Clocks which chime the hours and display scenes from the lives of English kings and queens. I really wished I had more time to shop as there were many enticing stores in the QVB!
Another fascinating place to visit on the bus route is the New South Whales State Library, which is internationally renowned and one of Australia’s leading libraries. The State Library's major subject strengths are Australian history, culture and literature, including Aboriginal studies, Antarctic exploration, family history and genealogy, business and management, social sciences, applied science, biography, health and law.
Of course I had to get off the bus to rub the nose of the "Il Porcellino" statue for good luck, which is located in front of the original Sydney Hospital. It is the oldest hospital in Australia, dating back to 1788, and at its current location since 1811. It first attained the name Sydney Hospital in 1881. The original Il Porcellino statue is estimated to be over 500 years old, and was unearthed in Rome after having stood for over 100 years in the Uffizi Galleries in Florence. The Sydney Hospital and Sydney Eye Hospital Il Porcellino, which is a copy of the original, was presented to the hospital in l968 by the Marchessa Clarissa Torrigiani in memory of her father and brother – Dr Thomas Fiaschi who died in 1928 and Dr Piero Fiaschi who died in 1948. Both had been renowned surgeons at the hospital.
For some reason I seem to keep running into Il Porcellino in many places in the world. A copy of Il Pocellino also stands in a market in Florence, Italy, and I have been able to rub its nose there in the past on two occasions. Another copy stands at a winery in Sonoma Valley, Ferrai Carano, where I was also able to rub its nose, as you can see on this post! I wonder where it will next show up in my travels?
I passed many more interesting historical buildings, museums and monuments on my hop on and off trip along Sydney. In the photo collage above you can see Sydney Mint Museum on the left, is the oldest public building in the Sydney Central Business District. The Hyde Park Barracks Museum in the photo top middle was built in 1819 to house, clothe and feed convict men and boys as Sydney began as a forced transportation Penal Colony of Great Britain. The Sydney Tower in the photo upper right looms over the city skyline and has a restaurant and observation areas. In the lower left photo you can see the beautiful Archibald Fountain in Hyde Park, built in 1932. In the middle photo is the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park, which is the principal State War Memorial to all Australians who serve their country in war. The Australian Museum in the lower right photo is the oldest museum in Australia, with an international reputation in the fields of natural and anthropology.
This is Sydney City Hall, a beautiful Victorian/Beaux-Arts building built over 120 years ago. It remains the only non-religious city building from the era to retain its original function and interior. The building houses the Sydney City Council Chamber, reception rooms, the Centennial Hall and offices for the Lord Mayor, and elected councillors.
You can hear the "Hop On and Off" bus commentary, read by an Australian television and radio personality, about these two buildings on the You tube video I took with my Flip camera below:
As you can see, the bus drives along quickly with the traffic, so it pays to get off the bus to see a sight more closely if it is of interest.
The bus also took us into the inner city and more "colorful" red light areas of Sydney in Kings Cross along Darlinghurst Road. I passed on getting off the bus in this area, although truthfully I've seen a lot worse neighborhoods in other large cities.
We were now on the outskirts of city and I enjoyed seeing the skyline from this perspective.
We arrived in Wooloomooloo -- a suburb located in a low-lying, former docklands area at the head of Woolloomooloo Bay, on Sydney Harbour. In the collage above you can see the Finger Wharf Building, completed in 1915, which is considered the largest timbered-piled wooden structure in the world! Today it has been redeveloped as a fashionable complex housing a hotel, restaurants and residential apartments. Wikipedia states that "film actor Russel Crowe lives in a $14 million penthouse at Finger Wharf, which as a result has become famous in Australia and abroad and as well as one of the most expensive and sought after places in the country." There is also an Australian naval Dockyard located at Wooloomooloo.
I transferred onto the Bondi and Bays Explorer Hop On and Off bus, which was also included in the all inclusive 24 hour bus fare, to see the suburbs of Sydney and the famous Bondi Beach.
Bondi Beach is one of Australia's most famous beaches and among the world's most well-known beaches. The beach is roughly a kilometer long and is patrolled by lifesavers who make swimmers stay between the yellow and red flags where it is safe to swim.
Bondi Beach is composed of bright white sands and warm turquoise blue waters. Surfing is popular on the south end of the beach. An underwate shark net is shared, during the summer months, with other beaches along the southern part of the coast.
A pretty view of the Sydney Skyline, the Opera House and the harbor Bridge from Dover Heights.
Some beautiful homes looking out at the exclusive suburb of Double Bay.
The coves and bays of the Sydney suburbs were all beautiful.
This web site states that housing in Sydney is more expensive than the average home in London and New York, according to a comparison of real estate prices in the biggest cities around the world. Dollar for dollar the USA dollar matches the Sydney dollar at this time and I did notice that many items were almost double the price of what I would spend for an item in New York. Restaurant meals were especially expensive in the city of Sydney!
I returned to the Sydney loop of the "hop on and off bus" to see more of the sights of the city. The photo upper right is the entrance walkway to Darling Harbor and the photo middle left of the above collage is the Harborside Shopping Center. I'll be showing more of this pretty area on another post. In the middle photo is the Star City Hotel and Casino, which is the second largest Casino in Australia and the only legal casino in Sydney. In the middle right photo is the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Center. Bottom left is the LG IMAX Theatre which is the world's largest screen at eight stories high! The middle bottom photo is of the Australian Broadcasting Company, ABC, the corporation provides television, radio, online and mobile services throughout metropolitan and regional Australia. The last photo on the lower right shows some Victorian row terrace houses which are being preserved.
My "hop on and off" adventure was coming to an end as we swung around Dawes Point and under the iconic Harbor Bridge. The Harbor Bridge is a steel through arch bridge across Sydney Harbor that carries rail, vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian traffic between the Sydney Central Business District and the North Shore. The bridge is locally nicknamed "The Coat Hanger" because of its arch-based design. It was opened on March 19th 1932 by Premier Jack Lang.
If you double click on the photo above to enlarge it you can see some people climbing on the top of the bridge in the middle left photo. Tourists and locals can do a bridge climb for around $200 fee. For safety you are required to wear a special provided jumpsuit and no cameras or anything handheld are allowed. Souvenir photos are taken by staff that you can purchase at the end of the climb. I thought about doing the climb but decided instead to wait till the last day that we were in Sydney to go up on the Sydney Tower for that view, as it would be faster, and my husband would be able to come along.
I departed the "hop on and off bus" at The Opera House as my hotel was located nearby (see this post for more about the Sydney Opera House.) It was a very full and fun day!
My next post will be about the Royal Botanical Gardens -- they are extraordinary, in more ways than one, and you'll be surprised to see (and hear) why!