Archive for November, 2012

Day 19 – Sydney

Posted: November 20, 2012 in Travel

Starting at 8 am we headed off for an all day trip to the Blue Mountains. We had a beautiful walk through a deep valley, accessible only by train or cable car. Then, after lunch we headed for a Wild Life Park to see at close hand kangaroos, wallabies, emus, Tasmanian Devils, echidnas and, everyone’s favourites, koala bears. We got back into Sydney at 5 pm for a leisurely evening of doing not very much.


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Day 18 – Sydney

Posted: November 19, 2012 in Travel

We had a 3 hour City tour this morning, the weather was rather cloudy and it rained whilst we were at Bondi Beach most of the group is going on a Harbour cruise this afternoon, but I have splintered off with one other person who is currently doing the guided tour of the Opera House (which I have done before) where I am sitting to write this. Internet availability is getting worse, there is no wifi at all in the hotel here. The plan is that we will take the ferry to Manly, which will give us our Harbour cruise, have a meal there and return after dark, giving us the chance to see the Harbour by night.
The plan worked out but, unfortunately, whilst the weather remained clement in Sydney throughout, it was freezing, there was a gale blowing and it pored in Manly, omly 30 minues away.


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Day 17 – Canberra/Sydney

Posted: November 19, 2012 in Travel

The day began with a tour of the new Parliament building and then a longer visit to the very impressive War Memorial. Canberra is a beautifully designed city but rather sterile and I cannot imagine living there. I would die of boredom! Shortly after leaving Canberra, we stopped at a sheep farm, where we were given demonstrations of herding and shearing, followed by a barbecue lunch then the drive to Sydney, arriving at around 5.30.

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Day 16 – Melbourne/Canberra

Posted: November 17, 2012 in Travel

We set off at 7-30 am for the long journey to Canberra by road and, after a couple stops en route, arrived at around 4-30 pm. it was a pleasant journey through undulation countryside which reminded me of places in England such as the South Downs, apart from the dead kangaroos at the roadside. On arrival, we went straight to the National War Memorial in time for the daily closing ceremony. We then went to the top of Mount Ainslie for excellent panoramic views over the City. It is warmer here.

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I last saw this at the National Theatre in London in 2004 and remember laughing a lot but, this time round, somehow Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics seemed sharper, his tunes more melodic and I laughed even more. This pays tribute to a terrific company and demonstrates that Australia is a major player in musical theatre, on this evidence up there with the West End and Broadway. Of course, the show is broad comedy, uninterrupted daftness and stands or falls on the central comic performance, played here by Geoffrey Rush. His reputation preceded him but, internationally, it is a reputation built on mostly serious roles. The Australians regard him as their greatest living stage actor so maybe they knew that his versatility stretched to this. I had no idea. He proved to be a magnificent comic, timing every line to perfection, grimacing, falling about and writhing around, almost in constant motion and on stage for 90% of the show. He seemed to be a man who comes to life when he sets foot on a stage and his obvious joy infected the Australian audience who were almost literally rolling in the aisles throughout. An unforgetable trip to theatre Heaven!

Day 15 – Melbourne

Posted: November 15, 2012 in Travel

This was a leisurely day in Melbourne, rather chilly calling for a light sweater for the first time here. However, early rain cleared after breakfast and it stayed dry. I wandered into a couple of museums/galleries and sat for a while by the river. Some of the group visited the set of “Neighbours” but I was not tempted even slightly. In the evening, it was the theatre, preceded by a meal in an Italian restaurant in Lygon Street, Melbourne’s best area for dining.


Day 14 – Melbourne

Posted: November 15, 2012 in Travel

I’m loving Melbourne, particularly as I’ve just booked to see Sondheim’s “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” starring Geoffrey Rush no less. An unexpected bonus!
I walked around for almost 7 hours with only a couple of breaks, it’s a beautiful city for walking, everything is so accessible. Four major sporting venues – the MCG, Rod Laver arena, the Grand Prix circuit and an Aussie Rules stadium – are virtually next to each other, all close to the City centre; contrast this with the distance between, say, Wembley and Wimbledon in London. And there are lots of great bars and restaurants, but not cheap. What Melbourne lacks is the iconic buildings and views that its big rival Sydney has, which is probably why it has a lower profile for UK tourists. The weather is unusually cool (around 19 deg), but quite pleasant and the rain is holding off.
We ended the day with dinner on a specially converted Melbourne tram, travelling around the City at night. The wine flowed freely and the food was excellent. A good time was had by all!

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We rose at 4.30 and drove to watch the sunrise at Uluru and then to explore around the foot of the Rock. Then it was off to the airport for a 10-30 short flight to Alice Springs. I am now at Alice Springs airport enjoying the rare luxury of free wifi before boarding the flight to Melbourne.

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Day 12 – Uluru (Ayer’s Rock)

Posted: November 12, 2012 in Travel

Up at dawn to get ready for. 6 hour drive across the Outback to the Rock (Uluru).
We arrived in the early afternoon and went directly to explore some of the regions around the Rock. This included one particularly strenuous walk in 40 deg heat; I was proud to be one of only 6 to complete the walk. After checking into the hotel and freshening up, we proceeded to the Sounds of Silence dinner in the open within view of the Rock and the Olgas. This began well with abundant Australian “Champagne” as we watched the sun set. We then sat down for dinner and the evening descended gradually into chaos as we were invaded by thousands (maybe even millions) of insects, flying around us and covering the tables. To top everything, a waitress tipped a tray of Port over my trousers. An unforgetable evening, if not for all the right reasons.


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Day 11 – Alice Springs

Posted: November 12, 2012 in Travel

After visits to the Flying Doctor centre, the School of the Air, the Telegraph office and Anzac Hill (with views of the town) a few of us were deposited in the town and left to find our own way back to the hotel, alongside the “river” that has no water. Alice is quiet and unexciting, but at least it is relatively untouched by internationalism.

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