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Category Archives: Australia

Markets

The fish market, Sydney, Australia

Besides its animated center Sydney has several quaint neighborhoods with a laid back atmosphere in the spirit of Australia. Glebe is one of them with quiet alleys aligned with attached smaller houses and an intellectual feel given by the many bookstores. In Glebe live a lot of students that go to the close by University of Sydney. But to get there you pass by the spectacular fish market full of displays of fish and all sorts of marine life.

Anzac Bridge, Sydney, Australia

The market is right on the water and has a harbor of boats that come early in the morning with the catch of the day right near Anzac Bridge.

Victoria Building Gallery, Sydney, Australia

On a different note as the fish market are the covered city galleries, actual passages through buildings full of shops and restaurants, that crisscross many blocks in the center town. The most famous mall is the classy Queen Victoria building raised at the end of the 19th century whose through access is open all night in spite of the shops being closed. From its third floor is a impressive view of the the hustle and bustle that happen on the lower floors.

Victoria Building Gallery, Sydney, Australia

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Posted by on April 17, 2018 in Australia, Blog

 

Sydney’s islands

Surfers on Manly Beach, Sydney, Australia

For Aussies the beach is the haven and each and every time when they have a moment they go out to them. This in spite of the fact that the ozone layer, they say, is nonexistent in their part of the world and the skin cancer is more widespread that anywhere else. The beaches around Sydney are packed with all walks of lives. It is nice to see a group of small kids or pre-teens who all come by themselves and hang out at the beach or swim joyfully in the green seas. A short boat ride outside of Sydney is Manly Beach full of surfers of various ages.

To Sherry Beach, Manly, Sydney, Australia

If you walk out of the Corso, the main street full of stores, towards the main beach and start walking to Sherry Beach you may encounter penguins on the cliffs not bothered by the snorkelers who come close to them.

Manly Beach, Sydney, Australia

Another boat hop from Sydney is Cockatoo Island, once a penal colony. The old convicts’ barracks and the isolation rooms can be visited also. But what makes for a spectacular visit is the post industrial landscape left behind by the old dockyard. After it was used as a penal colony the island became the main shipyard of Sydney and operated this way till 1991 when it was closed. Since than the island was left in disuse with large buildings full of equipment, with electric panels in place, large cranes, and presses, all looking that were shut down just very recently.

Cockatoo Island was the old shipyard of Sydney

This year the Cockatoo Island buildings were commissioned to host large works of art from the Sydney Biennial. The settings for such an event could not find a more spectacular venue that the post industrial landscape of the island.

Biennial at the Cockatoo Island, Sydney, Australia

A large raft holding immigrants was displayed in one of the building in the part of the exhibit dedicated to migration. In another building surrounded by electrical panels looking almost ready to be turned on, on a screen was projected a video containing a huge eye in whose iris you could see images of bombing and nuclear explosion while in the adjacent room, that used to be probably welding place, a copy of the Big Boy, the atomic bomb deployed over Hiroshima, hanged from the ceiling looking like it was just finished to be crafted.

Cockatoo Island, Sydney, Australia

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2018 in Australia, Blog

 

The Opera

Sydney Opera

When genius crosses path with a visionary politician miracles happen. This was in a way the story of Sydney Opera, whose architectural competition was started by the city’s mayor in 1956 following long debates in the city council for developing the harbor. The project proposed by an young Dane almost unknown was not even taken in consideration. But his luck turned when the famous architect Eero Saarinen joined the commission and his eyes fell on this overseen project. His insistence changed in a way the fate of a city and of the country when the architectural project of the Opera house was awarded to Join Utzon, the 38 year old from Denmark.

Sydney Opera

No matter how many images, videos, documentaries or features you may have seen about this impressive building it is a treat to be right near it and to walk around its platform following with your eyes the shapes of its shells profiled on the blue or dark sky.

Sydney Opera

It was for sure obvious for Saarinen who influenced the commission to chose this project that this building was way beyond its time when what was expected was practically a large beautiful box. In a way I parallel Utzon’s ideas with Gaudi’ Sagrada Familia and his concepts of architecture that were way beyond his time for the beginning of the 29th century.

The Opera’s shells

But the project implementation was a nightmare for the structural engineers as long as no real structural solution was offered. The debates kept going on and stalled the project till, again, Utzon’s genius came up with a partial spherical rib that would be manufactured off site as independent elements and assembled on site. The elements had a steel cable inside that would be tensed in location holding in the air the shells. These elements were meant to be left visible and create a rib structure that can be followed with the eyes till the top of the building offering a very pleasant look, in spite being made out of uncovered concrete.

Harbor Bridge, Sydney, Australia

The entire complex, the youngest building to be added to the UNESCO list of world heritage monument, is composed of three theaters and one opera house. The opera does not have indoor performances in the summer/fall but a special performance, this year of “La Boheme”, is staged right across the harbor, on a stage by the water that has in its background the Opera house and the Harbor Bridge. And for the show to be complete the performance is augmented by fireworks continued in the intermission over this spectacular background every night.

The fireworks, Sydney, Australia

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2018 in Australia, Blog

 

Triennial

Yara River, Melbourne, Australia

The day was supposed to be rainy and it started already in the evening to be quite chilly. I was driven close to Melbourne by one of the friends and from there I took a commuter train, using my MyKy card, the card that gives you access to all transportation around Melbourne. The train ride and the look of the train stations reminded me of the London suburbs that I discovered way too many years ago. In a sense Australia preserves a reminiscence of Britain that you can see mainly in its suburbs but also in the way people act and dress in cities. The train chugged along and left me in Southern Cross station in Melbourne where for the second time in the entire trip I had to get cash in order to be able to store my luggage in the station’s lockers.

Triennial at the NGV, Melbourne, Australia

The Triennial at the National Gallery of Victoria, the prime museum of contemporary art is a remarkable event that take advantage of the large spaces of the NGV building. Large spaces in the building accommodate large works of art that are mixed with videos, mixed media and interactive works.

Triennial at the NGV, Melbourne, Australia

Coming a little bit late and having to catch a flight to Sydney in the evening I did not have too much time to spend in the city but I still was able to take a quick tour through some landmarks that I missed the first day.

State Library, Melbourne, Australia

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2018 in Australia, Blog

 

Skirting around the ocean

The Twelve Apostles, Victoria, Australia

The twelve apostles were actually only seven. But they stood strong in the gale of Victoria’s southern ocean guarded by a impressively tall bluff  probably more than 50 meters.We got here after about 3 hours of straight drive from Melbourne with a friend who lives there and wanted to show me the coast.

Twelve apostles, Victoria, Australia

Great Ocean Road is considered one of the best, if not the best, drive in Australia. It is relatively close to Melbourne, and it follows a V on the southern coast. But it is actually a long and arduous drive, especially if done in the same day. I wanted to rent a car and do the drive myself but my friend offered to take me there and we had a long catch up chat on the way. We started driving earlier than 7 AM and got to the spectaculars rocks where we were surrounded by large groups of Chinese each one of them having having at least one selfie stick.

Bell beach full of surfers, Victoria, Australia

From the Twelve Apostles the road returns following the coast overlooking the sea that many times reaches close to the road. Several resorts are aligned on the way, charming closing gulfs with large beaches, or spectacular heights from where you can see all the way down the green ocean. We drove for more than 5 hours on the road and stopped on the way at several lookouts. One of them is over the Bell Beach, the main beach in Australia for surfing competition.

Surfers at Bell Beach, Victoria, Australia

As the day was inching to the sunset we took the ferry from Queenscliff and cross into the Mornington peninsula at Sorento and drove through signs of jumping kangaroos – none showed up, though and I will leave Australia without seeing the most endemic animal of the continent – to my friend’s house and from there to some of his friends for a delightful dinner in a warm and friendly, typical Australian, atmosphere.

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2018 in Australia, Blog

 

Melbourne

St Kilda Pier, Melbourne, Australia

What strikes you first when coming to Melbourne is how relaxed look to be its inhabitants, an atmosphere that becomes imprinted upon the city itself. It’s true that this is prevalent in the entire Australia – more to talk about this later on – but when you are in a vibrant city you expect a little of, you know, the craziness associated with the large cities that we are way too familiar in New York.

Melbourne skyline from St Kilda

And probably to make sure that I stayed in this relaxed spirit I hopped a tram in the morning and got in St Kilda, the sea side neighborhood full of interesting people drinking their coffee and reading their books like is nothing else to be done in the day, in cool cafes that align the main road.

Hugo is a rakali, native water rat, that is coming for food on the pier

St Kilda Pier is the place to be and you are there together with the penguins who come on the rocks in the evenings and with ratali, a species of native rats that come out all day if you know how to call them …and of course feed them.

The circular tram of Melbourne

Melbourne is a city with a vibrant cultural life, ease of moving around by bikes or public transportation, and lots of pockets of free Internet; a city full of cafes and bars that look to be filling to the brim in late afternoon by people coming out from work. It has a remarkable tram system that runs extremely often on most of the main streets that you can hop on free of charge if you go in a large swath of town that encompass the entire city center.

St Peter Catholic Cathedral, Melbourne, Australia

From St Kilda I hopped in the tram and went all the way to Fitzroy and Collingwood, with its edgy look, a larger immigration population, many beautiful and creative cafes and lots of antique and vintage clothing shops. All are aligned around Brunswick and Smith Streets that represent the main thoroughfare of the two districts.

Concert in Federation Square, Melbourne, Australia

It is a lot to see in Melbourne and not having enough time – time is always too short when you travel – I started to do a tour through alleys and streets in the relaxed style that characterizes the locals. From Federation Square, an interesting concoction of metal and glass cubes in whose main square was happening an open air concert, to Hosier Lane covered in graffiti, to the two cathedrals, one catholic one Anglican. Talking about the Anglican church, that guy Henry the Eight was quite a character if you think, not of what he did in his lifetime but for the heritage that he left behind, a sort of Brexit way before his time.

Hosier Lane is the graffiti Lane in Melbourne, Australia

We continued through the connected inside galleries full of glitzy shops connected to the outside one full of restaurants conduits of accessibility that let cross the entire city following their path.

Royal Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

I ended up where I started on the shores of the Yara river guarded day and night by the Melbourne high rises, an iconic image of the city.

Downtown Melbourne by the Yara River by day…

…and by night.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2018 in Australia, Blog

 

Rain Forest

Alexandra’s Point, Daintree Rainforest, Queensland, Australia

In the early morning we could not tell if the ferry got fixed. It was too late in the night for Fiona to call, the owner of the Pink Flamingo, the charming place we stayed in Port Douglas but she guaranteed that it will be running in the morning. This is the only way to connect the upper part of the coast to the towns down south and a lot of people depend on this ferry. On the past day crocodile tour the guide made an entire case for not building a bridge that may bring factories and development destroying the rain forest in the process, “and it if gets destroyed, is no reason for you to be here”

Watch for crocodiles….

And the predictions about the ferry went true so we zipped in no time over the river and started to drive in a tunnel of vegetation sometimes completely obliterating the sky. We stopped on the way at majestic beaches with the rain forest coming all the way to their virgin sand, with large palm trees leaning tempting to offer a touch of shade, with gulfs that were curving in front of us for more than a mile that held in them a crystal clean green water. And it was no soul in place and so we just found out that the beaches cannot be used because the crocodiles are of salt water type, the same we saw yesterday, and no matter that they prefer the river that has a lower salinity, they swim from one river to the other through the ocean and is advisable not to be in their way. More than that we were told that we better stay at least 10 feet from the ocean to make sure that a jumpy croc would not try a quick one on us.

…and jellyfish

But if somehow you escape the crocs, in the summer month the jelly fish are the ones that may send you to the pool. Each jelly fish station has a bottle of vinegar that may alleviate the stings but if you got touched by their tentacles you still have to pack and go to a hospital. So not too much fun in the water here on the Queensland coast.

Dubuji walk in the Cape Tribulation Rainforest

So we settled for some hikes into the rain forest and drove all the the way to Cape Tribulation where the resort’s huts where in the midst of the jungle and long monitor lizards were racing on the boardwalks. However we were wandering what the people who decided to stay there do if they cannot come close to the ocean.

Dubuji walk in the Cape Tribulation Rainforest

But we just found out that close by is a spectacular walk named Dubuji, a meandering boardwalk through various types of vegetation, all luxuriant, with large leaves covering our heads and mangroves large as a huge tree. It was a different forest than the one in Mossman Gorge and way more interesting.

Dubuji walk in the Cape Tribulation Rainforest

The sun’s light was filtered through the canopy giving special colors to the water at the base of the mangrove. The vines were climbing on the trees with extended roots to increase their stability. Beside Dubuji Walk there was also another walk through a mangrove forest that we skipped. We had to make it to Cairns to board a plane and we were concerned about the ferry’s possible delays. Besides from Cape Trib the drive to Cairns takes about 3 hours.

Rex Overlook on the way to Cairns

So the only stop on the way back was at Daintree Ice Cream, an institution in the forest that I think that is visited by everybody who comes this way. They serve a pre-packed 4 scoop ice cream from four exotic fruits they grow on their property but they accept only cash. It was the first time in 10 days when we used cash in Australia.

Cairns, Queensland, Australia

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2018 in Australia, Blog