Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Summer in Sydney

It’s no secret I love the New York Times. It’s a less known fact that the Times loves me. A prime example being the time the food section provided a pinup of supernatural brownies. This weekend the NYT did a travel feature on rock pools at Sydney beaches. How convenient.

Back in the day, aristocrats and convicts alike created baths by enclosing corners of the beach with rocks. The writer called them the “original infinity pools.” People swim in them for the scenery and feel of the ocean without the threat of sharks or rough surf. There are lap pools you usually have to pay for or be a member of to use, like Wylies Baths at the south end of Coogee, but I took a dip at Giles Baths, which was at the opposite edge and free.

The baths were first known as the Bogey Hole. From the 1850s and into the early 1900s, men swam at the north end of the beach, and women kept to the south.

Apparently five years ago some people thought they saw the Virgin Mary in shadows on the cliff and it became a pilgrimage site for a while. I didn’t see her, but I thought it was cool the clouds seemed to imitate the rocks.

That same year, the northern headland was renamed Dolphin Point to honor the six members of the Coogee Dolphins rugby team, who died in a bombing in Bali in 2002. A sculpture serves as a memorial for the 91 Australian victims in the attack.

Of course, I wouldn’t have known all this if it weren’t for the good ol’ Times.

The Seagull Obsession Continues

This guy finally held still long enough for me to get his picture the other night in Darling Harbour.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Fun with macro-mode in the Botanical Gardens

As noted earlier, the Botanical Gardens are one of my favorite things in Sydney. Anyone who knows how much I love the greenhouse at Mizzou, wouldn’t be surprised to know I went to the gardens twice in a few days. There are still areas I haven’t seen.

The cool thing about gardens is the fluidity. Every time you go, something new has bloomed.

That flower is kinda funky, but not as strange as these.

They grow in the water and look like something out of Alice and Wonderland. The way they blossom makes me think of one of those toys you push Play-Doh through to make little florets.

Once they flower though, they’re really pretty.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

For the Birds

During our orientation on the Mornington Peninsula (the Aussies pronounce it, “peninshula”), we took a small boat ride across the water. We got a glimpse of a few dolphins and saw a colony of seals, but another highlight was the seagulls, which I’m obsessed with because of Finding Nemo.

We thought we’d be going for dinner at a restaurant at the other end of the bay, Instead, our guides wrapped our meals in paper and served us soggy fish and chips right on the boat. Appetizing, right? It wasn’t so bad once the salt and ketchup made it to where I was sitting on the second level. (Aussie Fun Fact #2: they call ketchup, “tomato sauce,” prompting the inevitable question, “Then, what do they call tomato sauce?” So far, I’ve just heard tomato sauce, but my guess would be pasta sauce. I’ll have to go to a grocery store or Italian restaurant to investigate.)

Anyway, my friend Bianca was less than thrilled with her supper so, to the delight of the flock around us, she chucked most of her fries overboard.

This one bird was particularly adept at catching the chips midair.

Going Green

My favorite thing about Sydney so far is all the green space. I’d been looking forward to it since I Google Earthed the city a month ago, and haven’t been disappointed. You’re always a few blocks’ walk from a park. Victoria Park borders the University of Sydney so it was the first one I went to. I’ve already been to The Domain and the Royal Botanical Gardens twice. Yesterday I saw Hyde Park and today we visited Argyle Park on Observatory Hill.

I just want to lie in the grass, have a picnic, go on a run, read a book, take a picture in every spot.

Then I remember, I have nearly five months to do all of that.

However often I want.

I've seen roo poo. Have you?

Straight from the Melbourne airport, jetlagged and stiff from a 15+ hour flight, our study abroad group went to an area where kangaroos live in the wild. Our three groups of 20 were hardly inconspicuous, but we managed to get fairly close to several gangs of kangaroo. Being in front, I snuck within 10 yards of that one before he hopped away.

We saw some joeys, but none in a mother's pouch unfortunately.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Let's get lost

I love to explore. It’s part journalistic intrigue and part kindergarten-like fascination, but I really get a kick out of discovering the world around me. And the best way to find things is to get lost.

There was the time I wandered off the hiking path and found a tree denoting the Exact Center of Los Angeles. In New England, some friends and I got off at the wrong bus stop, traveled down Purgatory Chasm Road, and found ourselves at Flo’s Clam Shack. Last year I took an aimless walk in Missouri, found a dry creek bed, collected seashells and hitched a ride back on a mule-led carriage.

Now I’m off to Australia. I’ll stay a few days in Melbourne, then study at the University of Sydney until the end of June with some trips around the continent in between. Don’t worry, I’m not planning to get call-the-consulate lost. I just want to see new things and meet interesting people.

I’ll use this space to write about my explorations, whether they culminate in the discovery of some great spot in the city or just an amusing story. I’m bound to make up some words in the process.