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Darling Harbour

Sydney, Australia

I spent the day intending to visit a couple of museums. In reality I only had time for one, but boy what a good time. I’ll wait to see the rest on my next visit.

My day began once again with a train ride to Town Hall station. This seems like a good time to mention that the Sydney trains appear to be based on the London metro system. The fare depends on the distance traveled, trains have two levels, and stations are not all connected so one may have to exit and re-enter at a different location to reach a destination. I would say the NYC subway system is more convenient in that it is both cheaper and better interconnected, but at the same time the double decker trains and smaller Sydney population makes for a fairly comfortable train experience even during the rush hour. Moving on … from Town Hall station I walked over to Darling Harbour. At this point, as is evidently the norm in Australia (at least in Melbourne and Sydney), the frigid morning started to turn into beautiful, sunny t-shirt weather, making for a lovely, overdressed walk along the harbor and to the Australian National Maritime Museum.

At the Australian National Maritime Museum I made my way onto two sail ships – first, a restored trading vessel from the 19th century, the James Craig, and then the HMB Endeavour, a replica of the ship by the same name sailed by James Cook in the 18th century. Both are manned and sailed by volunteers from time to time. Next, I went down into an Australian submarine, the HMAS Onslow, commissioned in 1968 and operating until 1999. There are so many dials and sensors inside that it amazes me that humans are capable of creating, operating, and maintaining such a thing. But then I think the same of airplanes. After the submarine I made my way to the HMAS Vampire, a massive destroyer class ship commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy in 1959. What can I say, it fit three school groups simultaneously with myself and other visitors and still felt spacious. This is a good time to mention another observation I’ve been meaning to write down. School kids in Australia (again, at least in Melbourne and Sydney) all wear uniforms specific to their school. I have yet to see a student group without one, and I’ve encountered multiple such groups at the aquarium and the zoo as well.

After touring of all these ships I went into the main building which held an assortment of paintings of famous ships, gadgets used for navigation, ship engines, and other such things. In the same building there were two other, completely unrelated exhibits – the Wildlife Photography exhibit and the Pompeii exhibit. The Pompeii exhibit was fine, but I wasn’t particularly in the mood for a dose of Roman history. The wildlife photography was far more interesting. Sadly I was unable to take photographs due to copyright, but I saw a video of the 2015 finalists and winner, and looked at photos on display for 2016 finalists. If anyone keeps track of the wildlife photographer of the year awards each year, know that I placed a vote for my 2016 favorite. The photos blew my mind – amazing captures and artistic interpretations. Perhaps one day I will put in a submission. Wouldn’t that be nice.

I left the museum, and checked my watch to realize that I would not have time to make it to the other museums, but the day was beautiful and I loved walking around the harbor, so it all worked out just fine. Instead, I took a stroll and enjoyed the sun and the water. Eventually I found a ticket stand and had to make a decision on whether to visit the Sea Life Aquarium, the Wild Life Zoo, or Madame Tussauds. The last option is available in most major cities, and the idea of taking selfies with a collection of wax statues seemed silly, so really it came down to the aquarium or the zoo – both things I had already done in Melbourne. Based on the cashier’s recommendation and my desire to hold a python I decided on the zoo. Sadly, or perhaps happily for my parents, I was informed that the visitors could no longer hold the python because it had stressed the snake out. This was a small indoor zoo and focused entirely on Australian wildlife. Once again I saw wallabies, kangaroos, Tasmanian devils, and platypuses. There were a few new animals I had not seen before or even heard about, like the quokka and the quoll. I also had a lot of fun looking at the tadpole tank. I’m just about done with the Australian wildlife for now, although there may be some more tomorrow. One more day in Sydney and then I am off to my final destination, hitting the beach and taking a vacation from my vacation before returning to real life.


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