Alive! Around the World: Australia


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Letter From Australia  

Friends in Cool Places Down Under

Sydney Harbour, iconic Opera House.

For most tourists, a list of “must-sees” on a trip to Sydney, Australia, would include the world-famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, the iconic Opera House, and possibly a visit to the equally world-renowned Bondi Beach, a mere 4 miles from the center of Sydney. A climb up the Harbour Bridge is a memorable experience, and the 360-degree views are nothing short of magnificent. A short stroll from Circular Quay will take you to the historic Rocks area where you will find an abundance of restaurants and pubs, including the Fortune of War, the oldest pub in Sydney dating back to 1828. The Harbour View Hotel is a great pub where you can sit and have a drink with food and wave to the Bridge climbers as they descend. The Rocks is a beautiful part of Sydney with weekend markets that attract many locals and tourists; it’s very easy to spend a day exploring this area.

Sydney Ferry Terminal at Circular Quay.

From Circular Quay you can catch a ferry to the beautiful Taronga Zoo; it’s cleverly crafted into the sloping site to capture harbor views from all angles. Or a quick ferry ride will take you to a recently revamped area called Barangaroo, again with many restaurants and bars on offer and the magnificent Crown Casino Hotel. But be warned, if you’d like to stay there you can expect to pay more than $A900 ($600) per night.

A ferry ride not to miss is a 25-minute scenic journey to Manly, one of the most popular beaches in Sydney. The northern beaches’ Pacific Ocean coastline stretches some 18 miles and boasts more than 20 beaches. The Corso in Manly (named after Rome’s Via del Corso) is mostly a pedestrian mall 1,500 feet long connecting the harbor ferry wharf to the Manly Pacific Ocean side of the peninsula. Most restaurants, coffee shops and pubs in this area have outdoor areas taking advantage of the great Australian climate.

World famous Sydney Harbour Bridge.

People watching is as popular in Sydney as it is everywhere else. One great place to do this is from the balcony of the Four Pines Brewing Company, which originated in Manly in 2006. Their microbrewery overlooking Manly Cove is a very popular venue with great food and tasting racks if you’re unsure which beer to drink. A five-minute walk from here is the hugely popular 1875 Manly 16ft Skiff Club. The deck is built out over the harbor and offers uninterrupted views of boats coming and going, kayakers and paddle boarders (both of which can be hired at Manly Wharf) and ferries that are regularly arriving and departing. It’s the perfect spot to have a great drink with friends and watch the sun go down.

If you’re feeling energetic, you can explore one of the many parks in the area where you can see ancient Aboriginal rock engravings. There are also many bike paths and off-road trails. During May and November there are regular whale-watching cruises that take you from the harbor out through the heads to the Pacific Ocean. If you’re lucky, you might also see the Little Penguin colony at Sydney’s North Harbour, near Manly — they forage for food throughout Sydney Harbour and come to Manly each year to breed between May and February.

Surfing is a huge sport in Australia, and the dedicated are out there from dawn to dusk. Swimming in daylight was banned until 1903, and in that year Manly held the first demonstration of surf lifesaving methods. Following the deaths of 17 people, one of the world’s first surf lifesaving clubs was formed. In 1914 Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku arrived and popularized surfboard riding at both Manly and Freshwater beaches. A bronze statue of Duke stands on the northeastern side of the Freshwater Surf Club.

A Historical Note

When Britain was defeated by the American colonial rebels in 1783 (in America), Britain could no longer transport its convicted footpads, highwaymen and Ladies of the Night to North America as free labor. Hence Britain’s Secretary of State, Lord Sydney, established a penal colony in Sydney (named after him). He dispatched Capt. Arthur Phillip in 1788 with 1,400 convicts, soldiers and free people in 11 ships on a 252-day journey halfway around the world from Portsmouth, England, to Botany Bay. On arrival he established a convict settlement. While exploring local bays and coves around the settlement, the new governor discovered a group of indigenous men in canoes, and he was so impressed with their manly physique and behavior that he named the place Manly after them.

Visit friends and family while you can. No one is immortal.

The Captain