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Sydney Blue Mountains

10th March 2012

A Cruise Around the Harbour Discovering Where the Other Half Live - A Far Cry From the Early Settlers

Tibetan Meeting
    I spent the first few hours of the day trying to catch up on my blog, but seeing it was sunny outside, I decided to postpone my blog and head down town instead.
    Taking a different route, I passed through Martin Place, where an audience was gathered around a young Tibetan woman standing up for the rights of Tibet. Many of the assembled crowd had Tibetan flags wrapped around them, probably expatriates, but there was a substantial number of non-Asians listening attentively to what she had to say.
    Continuing on my way, I eventually reached Circular Quay, where I scoured the information boards for harbour cruises. I wanted to take in a harbour cruise in order to see more of the city's suburbs from a seaborne perspective.
Government House
Mrs Macquarie's Chair
    I found a suitable trip, and with time to spare before departure, I took a walk across the Royal Botanical Gardens. The tropical Royal Botanic Gardens form an elegant sweeping green curve from the Opera House to Woolloomooloo Bay; what a wonderful name that is. When teaching 8 year olds how to spell that name, they tell the kids to think of "sheep, toilet, cow, toilet". The gardens boasted unique flora and fauna, countless fruitbats swung from the trees, a problem since they are causing many of the trees to die, and numerous ibis padded around. I popped my head in to see Government House as I walked by.
Looking Across to Woolloomooloo Bay      (please use scroll bar)

Circular Quay Where Ferries, Trains and Busses All Meet, and People of Course
    Adjacent to the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Domain lay as a most beautiful public space affording stunning views across the water. In colonial times this land served as a buffer between the penal colony and the governor's home. It used to be Governor Macquarie's private park. His wife, Elizabeth, loved to haunt the tip of the Domain, and to mark the spot, a seat has been carved into the rock there; Mrs Macquarie's Chair.
    On the part of the Domain skirting Farm Cove, a construction was starting to take shape for an open-air opera production; La Traviata. This will be the first open-air opera Sydney will have run. I gathered it was costing a mere $14M to set up. Sydney has been running open-air cinema on the Domain for years. Now all this seems to be a splendid idea, it should also be remembered that Sydney can experience wet summers. In the event of hail or lightening, the events during those hazards are called off for safety reasons. If it is just solid rain, the events carry on with the audience floating in their individual puddles.
    I headed back for my harbour cruise, and soon I was bobbing about on the harbour. It was a splendid cruise all the way around the vast shorelines to Spit Bridge in Middle Harbour. A lady gave an excellent commentary all the way, sprinkling the Aussie sense of humour into it as we proceeded. She described the various bays, their histories and how their names were derived. The exceedingly affluent areas along the harbour were also pointed out to us, with some properties being worth around $80M, or should I say selling for that amount. However, the tone of some of these affluent neighbourhoods was being eroded somewhat by folk hanging washing out on lines. That activity must reduce the average value by the odd $10M or so.
Boats Out in Middle Harbour - Notice the Moth on the Right Sitting Completely Out of the Water
No Change Out of $40M for This One
    Once we were way out in Middle Harbour, home to some exclusive yacht clubs, the waters became alive with yachts of many classes, all competing in weekend races.
    Our commentator was good, and she skilfully weaved some historical tales into her story. Two hours later we were returning back to circular quay, and the numerous weddings and corresponding photo sessions that take place around Dawes Point were pointed out to us.
    It was only when we had docked that I discovered that the two old dears who had sat near me, and had occasionally chatted with, came from up the road in Suffolk, the county where I live. They had flown to Hong Kong, and taken a cruise ship from there to Sydney. They were going to fly to Perth to visit relatives before returning home. Good for them, they still had the spirit of adventure in them.
    I took a long walk past the Rocks, under the Harbour Bridge, and along Walsh Wharves, where even more wedding receptions were taking place. These once working wharves were now exclusive properties, the most expensive per captita units in Australia. A two-bedroom unit could set you back $8M.
Returning to Middle Harbour - CBD in the Distance      (please use scroll bar)

The Hire Company Won't Be Happy With This
    As I walked through the Rocks area, a negative relief sculpture carved in sandstone told the story of the three human elements that kick-started this country: settlers, soldiers and convicts.
    Governor Phillip was given the power to grant land in small parcels to ex-convicts. His instructions also suggested that "every reasonable encouragement" be given to soldiers and other free persons wanting to settle. In 1789 James Ruse was given a free pardon, supplied with seed, livestock, farm implements, convict labour and a few acres at Rose Hill and thus became Australia's first settler.
    Australia's first 11 free immigrants landed in Sydney in 1793 in response to repeated requests for experienced farmers, mechanics and convict supervisors. 63,000 convicts and 14,000 free immigrants arrived in Australia between 1788 and 1830. Land grants were abolished in 1831. Thereafter Crown land was sold at fixed prices with the income going to England to subsidise schemes of free or inexpensive immigration.
Walkway to Tumbalong Park
    Between 1830 and 1850, 83,000 convicts and 173,000 free settlers arrived bringing Australia's population to 400,000. At this time there were only 7 women for each 10 men, with most people living outside the towns and engaged in some form of primary production. The 1850-60 Gold Rush period swelled the population to 1,145,000, established a decentralised pattern of inland towns and signalled the beginning of the immigration of the diverse range of nationalities that make up today's Australia.
    The First Fleet arrived with 211 Marines whose primary duties were to protect the settlement and to preserve good order among the convicts. Recognising the need for a permanent body of troops adaptable to the conditions of the new penal colony, the British Government raised the NSW Corps of which the first 100 strong detachment arrived with the Second Fleet in June 1790.
    The "Rum Corps", as they later came to be known, and their commanders administered the settlement between Governor Phillip's departure (1792) and Governor Hunter's arrival (1795). Shortly thereafter the colony achieved self-sufficiency in its grain production.
    The Corps members embodied the first cohesive, large group of freely come settlers with the rights, privileges and duties of British citizens not limited by criminal conviction or exile. They strongly influenced the colony's political development asserting their rights as both soldiers and citizens.
    27 British line regiments served in Australia between 1810 and their complete withdrawal in 1870. The original George Street Barracks were the largest Army barracks in the British colonial empire at that time. All governors between Captain Phillip (1788) and Major-General Bourke (1837) were of a Naval or Military background.
The Negative Relief Sculpture of Settlers, Soldier and Convict
    The disposal of British criminals became a major problem after the loss (1783) of the American colonies. The jails were full of poachers, pick-pockets, forgers, highwaymen, and petty thieves. In lieu of the death penalty English magistrates often handed down sentences of transportation for 7 years. The 11 ships of the First Fleet sailed into Sydney Cove in January 1788 with about 1,500 people of whom about 780 were convicts. The first task, the land on which in the Rocks area was built, was cleared and in doing so a new nation was established.
    The earliest convicts were worked and treated like animals. They laboured and slept in whatever they had on their backs when they arrived. Around 1820 the Government issued prisoners yellow duck trousers and shirts stamped with the familiar broad arrow prisoner sign. This clothing was handed out twice a year and included hats of varying styles.
    Convict labour was used to clear land, construct roads (Argyle Cut) and shape sandstone for building purposes. Only the most troublesome prisoners were made to wear leg irons. The chain was held up by a short length of rope when they walked.
    In 1820 the official daily ration for a male convict consisted of: 12 oz. wheat bread, 8 oz. maize meal, 1 ld. beef, 1/2 oz. salt, 12 oz. maize/barley bread, 1 oz. brown sugar and 1/4 oz. yellow soap.
Cockle Bay      (please use scroll bar)

    On my journey, I walked around Darling Harbour and Cockle Bay, watching a very clever and very, very funny street performer en route. Basically I was hanging around the waterfront areas so that I could take in the harbour at night. The lighting around the water's edge and across the city was quite tasteful, not at all like a fairground. What interested me was how the Sydney Opera House was lit. It was not subject to harsh, strong lights, but gentle lighting, just enough to show it off against the night sky. The subtle aspect to its lighting was how light had been directed onto it. There was sufficient directionality to clearly show the 3D-form of the graceful curves; very cleverly done.
    The night was warm and humid. I took refuge in a bar with a cool beer and a rugby match on the sports channel. Both New Zealand and Australia have screens seemingly permanently switched to rugby, primarily rugby league in Australia. I wasn't complaining.
    It was a nice way to end the evening. Some company would have made it more enjoyable, but I will have to wait another five days before I find a firmer footing with the human race again.

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Sydney Blue Mountains

Uploaded from Sydney Airport on 15th March at 13:25

Last updated 15.3.2012