Day 139: First Tour Of The Day

Sat. 30th December 2012

Ferry approaching our stopWe set off early (for us!) to get some sightseeing in before being collected at 3pm to visit Steve who worked at RM over 25 years ago before he emigrated to Australia. It is strange to walk down to the jetty (all 80 odd steps) and just hop onto a ferry for a crossing of less than 10 minutes. However the journey is exhilarating, crossing the river into the centre of Sydney in a matter of minutes whilst watching the Opera House and Harbour Bridge go past.

Government HouseThis morning’s itinerary is to head off to the Botanical Gardens and Government House. Having swotted up using the Trip Advisor for Sydney app on my phone, the Government House had good reviews of their free 45 minute guided tours. I do not think we would not have gone past the security guards and workmen setting up tents for the NYE celebrations and in through the impressive gates to find the tours, if we had not read Trip Advisor first. We were actually there in time for the first tour of the day (most unlike us!), which comprised 12 Japanese and 3 others. I do like that we are back in a country where English is the main language spoken.

Government House gardensGovernment House is still very much in use for official occasions and regular meetings of the governor with politicians, so the public tours are only on Fridays to Sundays excluding any public events.  It was a very interesting tour through the downstairs rooms including the ornate dining room and impressive ballroom. The front has been extended and the porch built to enclose the entrance. The original architect was a Edward Blore, an architect favoured by Queen Victoria, who had never been to Australia and had not taken into account that a south facing front would be bad news in rain and wind – and he calls himself a Brit??

Big Fig tree and little me!The gardens are full of trees planted by visiting monarchs including one planted by HRH the Queen in 1954. At the side of the house is this enormous Moreton Bay Fig tree thought to have been planted when the house was built around 1845.

Just a numberThere are also tameish birds around the gardens, some tagged with a number  – more practicing with the cameras and debating if I needed a better quality one, as my pictures are just not as vivid colours and sharp as Dave’s and I am sure it is just not an incompetent operator!

Preparing for NYEWalking around the gardens there was great activity preparing for a NYE party/concert. Lavish decorations and face painting stands, and we speculate as to how long the event has been sold out and what the ticket price would have been.

The path took us back past the Opera House and round to Circular Quay where the ferries depart from and we headed back to apartment for lunch. Armed with daypack Dave walked up the hill to the shops about 15 minutes away (will we need a car when we get home?), to stock up on gifts of wine.

As ever, it is a last minute rush to be ready on time.Steve had kindly offered to collect us from our apartment (despite our protestations that we were now competent on public transport). So we were waiting outstide the apartment when a car drove up. There was almost instantaneous mutual recognition – though tis might just have been a male pact to disregard 25 years of aging in the interim! En route to his house (and family) in Mona Vale, Steve took us on a quick tour of some of the North beaches. Again we wished we had more time to stop and enjoy them.

Dave and Steve We had an excellent afternoon/evening sitting and chatting with Steve and Dee. We experienced the best of both British and Aussie hospitality and shared stories as to what had happened to us since those early days with RM in Mill Street in the centre of Oxford. We nearly experienced a good old Aussie BBQ but the gas ran out! After a quick dash into the oven we soon sat down to some lovely tasty lamb with salad. the only thing that seemed strangely out of place were the Christmas lights on the patio on a summer evening.

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