Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hop On and Off with me in Sydney, AU!



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!



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37 comments:

Theanne and Baron said...

Fantastic tour Pat! I've got to come back and go on it again...slowly so I can take time to really take in the photos and information! Australia is a place I once considered moving to...so have very much enjoyed touring Sydney with you!

pam said...

WOW...I'm laughing at the Wooloomooloo name....that's crazy to wrap your tongue around that one. The Queen Victoria Building is gorgeous...how wonderful that it was not lost to destruction. I'm loving my tour! And FLOWERS are next!!!!!

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

What a wonderful tour of Sydney! Thank you, Pat. They do make it easy to get around and sight see there. I loved seeing the Queen Victoria Building - how beautiful!

Ginny said...

So many beautiful and different things here to look at and learn about!! I would hev loved to get inside that church!The QVB is amazing, and I see in the collage there are a couple really amaingly different clocks in there, very huge ones!! I love the fountains, and that picture of the inside of the mall with the skylight is amazing!!! I'm exhausted by this tour now and need a cup of coffee. Can't wait to see the Botanical Gardens, I'm ALL about that!!!

podso said...

I enjoy your little videos--putting us right there with you. My that was a long traffic light!

Barbara F. said...

Pat....you are unbelievable. These photos are so professional and capture the essence of the city. As Theanne & Baron said, I have to go to these posts again in case I missed something! Any interesting food down under? Can't wait for the Botanic Gardens photos. xo

My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a beautiful city Pat. I love the idea of the bus where you can hop on and off. The Queen Victoria building is spectacular. Sounds like you had a fabulous time.
Sam

Old Kitty said...

Oh I can't see the clip of you on that fun and whacky bus!!! Nevermind!! It's a great tour though - you got to see so much and all the way to Bondi beach and back!!! Wow!!! Sydney really looks so amazing!! I love that QVB shopping area - it's a huge shopping area but has a fabulous history!! Imagine a library once lived there!! Wow! But the NSW Library is just as lovely too!!! Yay for Il Porcellino!!! LOL!!! And what a place to have this noble boar!! It's great that the hospital is still a hospital!

Glad the beach is looking good!! Wealthy but good! LOL!!! Well I felt I was on tour with you in that bus!! I love that although Sydney's a great big city, it's a city with it's own unique charm - with the added extra of that amazing beach!!! Oh yes, the beach sold this for me!!!

Thanks for an amazing tour!!!!!! I love your pics too!! Take care, Pat! x

Vee said...

You are an extraordinary visitor! I'd be reading in the hotel room waiting for my beloved to return, but not you! Off you go! I think that's fantastic. That's one colorful bus and oh that water and those beaches...beautiful. I enjoyed seeing the very elegant Queen Victoria Building, too.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

You have done as much research on these sights as if you were a native. I had no idea porcellino was there either! Looking forward to the botanic garden tour.

Donnie said...

You would make a fabulous tour guide there...lol...Thanks for taking me along.

Claudia said...

What an extraordinary city - I wanted to shop, read in the library and walk the streets. I did not want to climb the bridge! You have made it come wondrously alive for me!

steviewren said...

You really got your money's worth on that on and off bus. Could you have seen more in such a short time?

I'm so glad they didn't tear down the QVB. The architecture is a prize not to be lost. I'm fascinated by the pig statue. What a porker! Bondi Beach and the water are so pristine. The whole city seems really lovely. Too bad it is so pricey to live there.

Natasha said...

You have seen more of Sydney than I have-what an incredible tour! I want to go back down and visit after seeing your wonderful posts!

Best wishes always,
Natasha.

Carol said...

WOW, what a place! What a fantastic place! The pictures are incredible! The bus made me smile :) Love the idea of hop on and hop off!

Farmchick said...

This bus system sounds like the perfect way to see the city. Great photos! And, thanks for putting all of this on your blog for people like me to enjoy!

Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

Thanks for taking us on the "hop on, hop off" tour! All of your photos are beautiful, but the QVB and St. Mary's are just stunning!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I'm so glad you take great photos and give us so much info! And what a great wait to experience the city by taking these buses! I'm going to go back now and take my time reading your post! Thank you so much for sharing your travels with me! ♥

Sheila said...

Hop On Hop Off sounds like a wonderful way to see Sydney. I'm wondering if you take a notebook along with you Pat? It looks like the weather was beautiful for your bus tour.

Deanna said...

I loved my tour! I read it twice over and I swear that you have the best camera in all of blog land! I think I told you that a loooong time ago...lol!!

I can't wait for the Botanical Gardens..Yea!!

Deanna :D

Sue said...

What a wonderful tour! I almost feel as if I'd visited in person.

Thanks!

=)

Pondside said...

What a great way to see a city, Pat. I'd give the bridge climbing a pass, but I'd definitely head for the beach. I wonder just where you'll be rubbing noses with that boar next?

Ann said...

Does your husband travel a lot?

Next time, tell him to come to New Zealand.

diane b said...

You sure saw a lot in one day. You make it look an awesome city, which it is. My eldest daughter doesn't live far from where you took the shot at Dover heights except their apartment faces the other way looking out over the ocean. Sonya used to live about 200 metres from where you took the shot of Bondi Beach.
I haven't been in the OVB so I must do that next time I'm there. I'm looking forward to NY if meals are half the price as in Sydney.

weissenborn said...

If you were in Sydney, you can enjoy a lot as you forget the time running. It stops the clock when you are going into beautiful places there especially the the Sydney landmark architectural buildings.

Visit and enjoy... Caravan Parks Perth

Ola said...

It's pretty there...
I like the architecture of the QVB, I love the figure in front of the Library
and the beach with the bright sand is just great!

Grandmother said...

What a fabulous look at this wonderful city. I, too, like those jump off and on busses. The last one I took was in Paris- oo la la! Thanks for the grand tour.

Tracy said...

Sydney really looks a fantastic vacation destination! That Queen Victoria Building alone is breathtaking! Did you say Garden next?! I'm so there... ;o) Thanks for all the fun, Pat! Happy Weekend ((HUGS))

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

Pat, Sydney is even more beautiful than I had imagined. You are so right about the tour buses. They are always my first stop when we travel these days! Blessings ~ Tanna

Beverly said...

What a fun tour. We had watched a television feature of QVB at one time. What a beautiful place.

And, the beaches look gorgeous.

George said...

Thanks for taking us along on your tour of Sydney. I don't think I could pick a favorite site, although the QVB was beautifully impressive.
Thanks, too, for the birthday greetings.

Cindy said...

How very, very interesting! I loved the video and all of your great photos, wonderful!
Hugs, Cindy

Yvette said...

Again I say: WOW! This is superbly done, Pat. You should try and get it done up in bookform. A Brooklyn Girl in Sydney, something like that. I bet there'd be takers. I love your photos and comments! WOW! again to that shopping mall. It is breathtaking!

nanny said...

I knew there was a reason I wanted to go to Sydney.....it is gorgeous!!! How did you pull yourself away from QVB? And then it just got better on every stop. Wish I could have been there to hop on and off with you......

La said...

What strikes me about all your photos of this beautiful place is that it appears to be a very clean city.

Oliag said...

You managed to see so much during your stay in Australia! Wonderful post!

Jenny said...

From that first enchanting picture of the happy bus, I following along with you just like a shadow through this part of your trip! Love, love, love it! The mosaics are so wonderful! The descriptions. Wow.

I'm continuing my backward journey through your posts when I get home later in the morning.

Sooooo cool.