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A Blistering Day in Sydney

January 31, 2019

I don’t know when I’ve ever been hotter than I was today. Temps reached the mid-90s with scorching sun. Back on the Big Bus, I went to The Rocks to explore one of Sydney’s oldest neighborhoods, established shortly after Australia became a colony in the late 1700s. From the outset it was a slum, populated by convicts and frequented by sailors looking for prostitutes. Now it’s a vibrant dining and shopping area adjacent to Circular Quay, where sightseeing ferries ply the harbor and fast boats make the crossing to Manly.

This weekend Sydney will celebrate the Lunar New Year, so preparations are underway in the form of hanging Chinese lanterns and giant inflatable or metal pigs (2019 is the Year of the Pig).

red chinese lanterns

year of the pig

chinese lanterns

There’s an interesting little free museum showcasing artifacts from The Rocks’ early days. It includes implements from a London butcher who was packed off to the penal colony after stealing a £1 note. He married a fellow female convict (though he was already married) who left him a couple of years later when his wife arrived from London. He ditched her to take a third wife, and apparently made a decent living as a butcher in The Rocks before he died a few years later. Life was tough in The Rocks.

Continuing on the theme of convicts, I hopped on the Big Bus with a plan to visit the Hyde Park Barracks, where convicts were incarcerated upon arrival. Having read, years ago, The Fatal Shore, by Robert Hughes, an account of the deportation of convicts to Australia, I was looking forward to learning more about this fascinating part of Australia’s founding as a British colony. But alas, the museum is closed for a major refurbishment and won’t reopen until later this year.

So I sought the comforting shade of Hyde Park and the Archibald Fountain, erected to commemorate the alliance between France and Australia during WWI. Apollo stands in the center, flanked by Theseus slaying the Minotaur, Pan watching after the sheep, and Diana (ta-da!) bringing harmony to the world.


By this time my head was exploding from the heat, so (not without some difficulty) I found the Big Bus again to take me to Kings Cross, the closest stop to home.

My flat is on Womerah Street, a gentrifying part of Darlinghurst. While the building  is nothing special, there are several attractive single-family homes along the street that have been rehabbed, and a few more that are obviously works in progress. Charming.


I’m also thrilled with the abundance of dining options nearby. Last night on my way home from a day of adventure, I dropped into a cute little Italian place called à Tavola, where the charming Marco served me icy cold oysters with bloody Mary granita and the richest ricotta gnocchi, with roasted mushrooms, sage, pesto and Pecorino. Tonight was Lil Darlin, a happening place that offers a different deal from their regular menu every night. Tonight was pasta for $10 — that’s $7.50 US — for a generous plate of linguine and meatballs that were exceptionally good. I was intrigued by the Screaming Pig rosé, and it did not disappoint!


After the nearly unbearable heat the wind suddenly kicked up about 5:00 — crazy wind that rattled the windows of this Victorian building and brought half a tree down up the block. The gusts must have  been 40 mph. The good news is that the wind  brought relief — it dropped from 97 to 71 in about two hours!

All caught up for today…except for that pesky Bali blog that needs major attention. Stay tuned!

One Comment
  1. While you are sweltering, we are enduring -13º at the moment. I think you have the better option for exploring a new city!

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