[30 janvier 2016 – extraits de notes seulement]
Il est huit heures ce matin lorsque nous quittons la banlieue tranquille de Bateau Bay pour aller à Sydney, à quelques 100 kilomètres de là. Ou plus précisément à Manly pour Fay et Brian qui viennent soutenir leur fils Adam, capitaine de l’équipe de cricket régionale, pour le premier match du week-end. Fay et Brian sont vraiment très impliqués dans ce sport et suivent chacun des matchs de leur équipe, aux quatre coins de la Nouvelle Galles du Sud. De notre côté nous ne restons pas pour le match car Sydney nous attend.
Avant de prendre le ferry nous en profitons pour faire un petit tour à la fameuse plage de Manly Beach. Il y a beaucoup de surfeurs et de surfeuses dans l’eau, j’ai envie de les rejoindre. Tout le monde a l’air si cool ici. Notre été à nous dure deux mois mais pour tous les gens qui vivent ici près la côte, la plage, les activités nautiques et le surfs constituent leur quotidien pour au moins 6 mois de l’année… Après l’école qui termine à 14h ou 15h, les jeunes partent surfer. De quoi chambouler un peu nos neurones, nous qui nous estimons heureux de passer une semaine, peut-être deux à la plage par an.
Il est temps d’embarquer sur le ferry pour rejoindre le Circular Quay, le point central de Sydney. Ce trajet en ferry est considéré comme l’un des plus beaux de la baie par les locaux nous comprenons pourquoi ! La côte est franchement magnifique, de criques et de falaises… Mais le clou du spectacle reste bien entendu l’apparition de l’Opéra de Sydney et du fameux pont de Sydney sur fond de gratte-ciels « new-yorkais ». Effet wahou garanti ! Nous croisons des parachutes ascensionnels, un hydravion qui vient de décoler et déjà des dizaines et dizaines de voiliers qui parcourent la baie à la faveur d’une brise soutenue. Nous en prenons plein les yeux malgré les nuages !
Nous choisissons d’explorer The Rocks, ce quartier historique de Sydney où se dresse encore quelques vieux bâtiments construits au tout début de la colonisation. Dans l’un des musées nous en apprenons un peu plus sur les hommes et les femmes qui vivaient là, 50000 ans plus tôt.
Il est maintenant temps de partir à l’abordage du fameux pont de Sydney… Pour cela nous choisissons de le traverser en partie à pied et de monter dans l’un des pylones qui comprend un musée de la construction. Perchés à 90 mètres de haut nous jouissons d’une vue imprenable sur toute la baie. Sacré ouvrage que ce pont à charnière large de 7 voies ouvert en 1931 et dont la conception devait permettre de résister aux températures extrêmes de l’été. Nous apprenons également que les piliers en granite du pont n’étaient absolument pas nécessaires à sa stabilité ou à sa solidité du pont. Toutefois son concepteur John Bradfield pensait qu’ils donneraient un aspect plus grandiose à l’ouvrage. Si l’on regarde les photos, on voit des gens qui grimpent sur l’un des bords du pont. Nous aurions pu le faire également mais à 300 dollars le billet, ça nous a paru excessif, surtout qu’il est interdit d’y amener son propre appareil photo (pour le risque qu’il tombe sur les voitures en contrebas) et qu’il faut donc acheter les clichés officiels à la descente. Or de là où nous sommes nous avons une vue imprenable et nous nous en donnons à coeur joie pour mitrailler à 360°.
Musée d’art moderne… C’est incroyable le nombre de conneries qu’on essaye de nous faire passer pour de l’art et qui ne sont que des énormes foutages de gueule, tels le tableau blanc avec une croix grise, le mobile géant avec des tas d’objets ramassées à droite et à gauche dont des collants avec des bouteilles de Champagne dedans, etc…. Un jour je vais aussi créer de l' »art » et me faire exposer comme ça ! Heureusement certaines pièces sont vraiment chouettes et provoquent les séismes intimes auxquels on reconnaît l’art. L’un des tableaux en particulier retient mon attention : il résume en six dessins de plus en plus noirs toute l’histoire terrible des aborigènes… Mais nous en apprendrons un peu plus dans quelques jours.
Alors que la pluie se fait de plus en plus menaçante, nous rejoignons Circular Quay pour aller voir de plus près le fameux opéra de Sydney. Cette salle de concert et de spectacle a connu une histoire tumultueuse, tant et si bien que son architecte le danois Jorn Utzon finira par quitter le navire avant la fin de sa construction. Saviez-vous qu’il a fallu trois ans de recherche rien que pour mettre au point le bon design des tuiles ? Aujourd’hui personne ne remet en cause cet emblèmes de l’architecture mondiale. A notre tour nous nous émerveillons de ces voiles de bétons qui changent de couleurs de d’aspect avec la lumière du jour.
C’est le déluge sur la traversée du retour ! Heureusement que nous avons les ponchos que Fay et Brian nous ont passés. Merci ! 😉
[30th January 2016]
My cousin Adam is captain of the Randy Peters (Randwick Petersham) cricket team and this weekend they’re playing Manly in a two-day match. Fay and Brian are planning to watch both days and therefore kindly offer to take us with them to Manly so that we can take the ferry from there across to Sydney and visit a little before doing the same journey in reverse in the evening.
I’m quietly excited as I’ve never met Adam face to face either. It’s strange as I’ve always had family around as I’ve been growing up, but here’s a whole branch that I hardly know. Seems such a waste!
When we arrive in Manly Fay manages to get a space just in front of Manly Oval (the cricket ground) and we head in and meet Bea (Adam’s girlfriend) and a couple of other girls whose partners play in the Randy Peters team. Adam and the boys are already out on the grass in the sunshine warming up. Maybe we’ll get to meet him this evening instead.
We head down to the beach where all the beautiful people (and quite a few others) are. There are swimmers, surfers and sun-worshippers. The surfers are so numerous that they’re nearly decapitating each other as some of them catch the waves and the others are heading back out. We start to follow the path around to the right but, after quickly checking on his GPS, Stéphane points out that the Ferry terminal is actually behind us and this path, although pretty, will take us an hour or so to walk around the headland before taking us back to the ferry. We opt for the quicker route and, after a little hesitation as to whether our Opal cards will work on the Fast Ferry, we catch the normal-speed ferry.
About halfway between Manly and Sydney the ferry starts bouncing up and down over the swell coming in through the bay…it’s very choppy. The number of boats around the harbour and bay is impressive. It seems that everyone has their boat and, on Saturday, they all take them out!
As we pass between the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge we’re both zapping like crazy with our cameras. There is a HUGE cruise ship parked up nearby, the Voyager of the Seas, which towers over the small ferry boat as it moors up at Circular Quay.
We immediately head to The Rocks, where the first settlers and sailors built their houses when they landed in Sydney. There’s a walk described in the Lonely Planet and we decide to add a quick visit to the Bridge to this tour.
We’d been hesitating as to whether to do the Sydney Harbour Bridge Walk. It’s pretty expensive (and the prices go up even more at the weekends). At the information desk when we got off the boat they confirmed the price that Fay had already told us $293 (£147) each on a Saturday. So we decided not to bother…I’m sure we’ll have something better to spend that kind of money on later in Australia!
Our first stop was the oldest house in Sydney, the cottage of the guy who ran the docks. It looks a little like the cottage that I used to live in in Melin-Y-Grogue, but in the middle of a bustling city instead! After taking a photo or two we headed up to a museum that explains about the natives that were living in this area before the British arrived, how the locals and the British got on with each other at the start, but then how the relationships deteriorated. It’s in an old terraced house down a small alley and easy to miss if you’re not armed with some kind of tourist guide. There are plenty of stories to listen to and to read as you’re wandering around, but we were starting to get peckish.
We stopped for a quick lunch in the sunshine a little further up the hill, our first Australian sushi and not the best choice that we’ve ever made, but washed down with a rather delicious Ginger Beer. Yum!
After lunch we saw the different architecture around the area, old terraces, big old pubs, the YHA which has archaeological digs underneath it (though the ruins are a couple of hundred years old…nothing Roman or such not like in Worcester or Cumbria 😉 ).
Instead of the Bridge walk we did walk along the bridge a little bit and at one of the bridge’s pillars there is a visitor centre up some stairs inside the pillar. You can even head up to the top of the pillar where there are great views out over the bay and over the bridge (and you can see the bridge climbers as they work their way up the metal frame at the start of their tour, in their blue overalls and attached to the bridge). That was another thing that made us hesitate about the climb…you’re not allowed to take any possessions with you…which means no camera…so no photos!! Impossible!
As we were wandering the streets afterwards we passed a beautiful little café with gorgeous Georgian bay windows behind which were the most AMAZING cakes I have ever seen. A lemon meringue pie where the meringue was about 25cm tall…HUGE! There was a scrumptious looking chocolate mousse cheesecake too…when Stéphane proposed that we share a slice I was more than happy to agree!
We took a table outside and ordered the chocolate one and a couple of espressos. The photo speaks for itself…no more words are needed!
At the end of the walking tour we headed to the Museum of Contemporary Art where we were, as usual, baffled by what some people call art (one room filled by a lot of different colour pieces of material sown together, held together by stretched out pairs of tights, one of which contained a champagne bottle in its foot…and the guard happily informed us that this was “one of the few pieces of art that you can walk inside”…we walked out of the room and onto the rest instead!) and impressed or hypnotised by other items on display.
It was starting to get late and so we decided to have a wander around the Sydney Opera House before catching the 17:00 ferry back to Manly. From close-up you can see the different textures of tiles used on the Opera House roofs. This is what makes it look different depending on the light and the time of day. I really like this building and have taken far too many photos!
On the way back to the ferry terminal we pass in front of bars full of people having a glass of wine or beer to start their Saturday evening’s off, whilst gazing up at the Opera House or out to the Bridge, but it’s now starting to rain so we start to walk more quickly!
Under the train station in front of the ferry terminal there are groups of people ready to display their talents to the few onlookers. One group have three BMXs. Stéphane is tempted, but they’re not yet ready to start their “show” and our ferry is just about to leave. As we run through the barriers and onto the boat the heavens open and the sky darkens.
Sailing past, the waterfront bars below the Opera House are now deserted, I can’t help but wonder if there are people still walking on the bridge in this weather…I hope not, for their sake!!
Once back at Manly we don the ponchos that Fay and Brian had kindly lent us…extremely grateful as it is pouring it down. People are hovering inside the station waiting for it to let up, but it doesn’t seem that it will.
We walk back to the cricket ground. The stands are pretty empty and the covers are on. As we chat with Fay and Brian and tell them about our day it stops raining. The captains and umpires head back out onto the pitch. I can see one of the guys sweeping the pools of water away with his feet and, despite everything, they decide to head back out and carry on batting! Cool, we’d get to see a bit of cricket!
Brian carries on trying to explain the rules to Stéphane, who has never seen a match in his life. Stéphane’s confused as to why the fast bowler is running from so far back in order to “throw” the ball. 😉
At 6:30pm they decide to stop the match and we get to meet Adam. Briefly.
Time to head back home and have a lovely dinner and a chat until late! It’s going to be hard to get up and leave again early tomorrow morning!
[31 janvier 2016]
[…] Jusqu’au musée de Hyde Park Barracks, un endroit emblématique de la ville qui a vu défiler près de 50 000 des 166 000 prisonniers ayant peuplé les débuts de l’Australie coloniale. C’est un musée particulièrement intéressant où nous apprenons l’histoire antique de la colonie, audio-guide à la main. […] Une expérience unique de créer une nation à l’aide de criminels qui a finalement réussi. […] La vie dans ce baraquement était loin d’être simple ou confortable et nous découvrons également les histoires des migrants (non criminels) en provenance de l’Irlande à cause de la pauvreté et du manque de travail, parmi lesquels de nombreuses femmes. Apparemment l’Australie a toujours eu honte de ce passé de criminels mais le redécouvre maintenant avec une certaine fierté. […]
Autres visites (pas le temps de mettre mes notes au propre, désolé 🙁 ) :
- La tour de Sydney
- Le jardin chinois créé en 1977
- Les cathédrales Saint-Andrews et Sainte-Marie
- La galerie d’art aborigène
- Le jardin botanique
[31st January 2016]
Once again we went as far as Manly Oval with Fay and Brian before heading to the ferry terminal to catch the boat into Sydney. This time we headed on foot through the business area of the town, unsurprisingly deserted on a Sunday morning. We passed the Sydney Museum and hesitated before carrying on to the Hyde Park Barracks.
The barracks building has had several uses throughout the years, originally being built to house criminals, then as an immigration depot for single female immigrants looking for work or waiting for their families to come and collect them, after that it was a female asylum before becoming some kind of courthouse.
Now it’s red brick, simple structure, contains a very interesting exhibition. Some of the floors and walls have been removed in order to show the visitors the past that occurred within the walls. The different layers of paint, the objects that have been found under the floorboards having been dropped through the cracks or taken by rats and mice when making their nests, etc.
We listened to the audio guide as we wandered round and listened to the stories (for example, about a 9-year old boy who was sent to Australia for stealing and ended up here, where he tried escaping on several occasions. The boy ended up dead at 13 years-old. Not a happy ending!).
After a quick walk in the sunshine around the top of St James’ park, we pass in front of the Sydney Tower Eye in search of a place for lunch. As we were tucking into our salads in a downstairs restaurant in the Westfield Arcade shopping mall Stéphane connects to the Tower Eye website and reserves us a couple of tickets for in a couple of hours’ time…cool!!
We headed to the Chinese Friendship garden where we were reminded a little of Japan, the beautiful Asian-style gardens with the huge, modern tower-blocks overshadowing them from behind. On the way to and from the gardens we pass in front of the Town Hall, the St James Cathedral, Chinatown, the Queen Victoria building. There is so much to do and this is just a tiny part of the city.
Once we’d found the lifts to take us up to the Tower we headed on up and took in the view. The amount of water around Sydney is impressive and it’s interesting to see the islands and coastal shapes. I’d have loved to have had Brian and Fay with us to point out where their place is in relation to here as I’m totally lost when it comes to the geography of this town and its surrounding areas!!
Our next destination was the Art Gallery of New South Wales and to get there we crossed over St James park, stopping briefly on the way at the Saint Mary’s church. It was a lovely church, but we had a mission and so literally went in on one side and out of the other a couple of photos later.
The park just outside the Art Gallery did its best to tempt us into an afternoon siesta under the shade of its trees, but we bravely ploughed on to discover the works made by European artists after their arrival in Australia, Australian artists (though stupidly we missed the largest part of the Aboriginal exhibitions!!) and a lot of modern day rubbish art, sorry, Freudian slip! Special mention for the stuffed seagull in a colourful knitted outfit, Robert Hunter’s Untitled White #6 and Ian Burn’s Blue Reflex (Blue Reflex is both a culmination of Burn’s earlier investigations in colour field painting and a starting point for his subsequent work with mirrors and glass. Made from a standard-sized piece of plywood instead of canvas, with epoxy resin as a ground and auto lacquer applied with an airgun, the work eliminates any sign of ”˜the artist’s hand’. ”˜Reflex blue’ is a standard colour in printing and suggests the reproducibility of this kind of work. At the same time, the reflective surface thwarts the possibility of looking at the work without being distracted by your own reflection”. The sign carries on, but I think you, the readers, have by now got as bored as I did reading it!!). Oh well, it’s art, it’s in a gallery, it’s official!
Stéphane leaves the gallery saying that he would like to spend some time creating something and see if someone, somewhere, will stick it in a gallery. I think that would be quick an interesting experiment….what do you need to do to have a spot in a gallery??
After the gallery closed and kicked us out we headed back to the Circular Quays and got on a ferry back to Manly. I was a little worried that the match may have finished a long time ago, but as we arrived back at the grounds the Randy Peters were still hanging around having a celebratory drink (as they’d beaten the Manly team J). Fay had gone off to get the car.
We watched as a few of the drivers tried to reverse their cars around the edge of the oval to get them out of the car park. It seems that they found it harder than they should have…maybe Australians reverse less than we Europeans and aren’t used to it. Or maybe there is something uncannily difficult in reversing around an Oval! ^_^ Fay kindly stood behind one of them and helped him get out though…braver lady than I!
Once back in Bateau Bay we were all pretty beat, but raised a celebratory glass of wine over dinner to the Randy Petes and their victory. Tomorrow we can have a lie-in as we’re heading to the Hunter Valley to taste some more Australian wine, but this time at the source! Can’t wait!
[1 février 2016]
Après une nouvelle grasse matinée, nous partons aujourd’hui faire un tour dans la région de l’Hunter Valley, une région très connue d’Australie pour ses quelques 140 vignobles ! Très belle régions viticole et valonnée mais une région également menacée par les exploitants de mines de charbon qui aimeraient étendre leurs territoire de mines à ciel ouvert… Ce qui dévasterait la région complètement. Or le lobby du charbon, dont l’Australie tire plus des trois quarts de son énergie est très puissant… En route nous découvrons un panorama de vignes, de collines boisées, de lacs, de chevaux, etc. C’est très relaxant.
Fay et Brian nous propose de nous arrêter dans la propriété Tyrell’s où nous dégustons 4 vins différents et notamment des sémillons, chardonnays de différentes années. Dégustation suivie d’un pique-nique à la propriété dominant la vallée.
Puis nous faisons route vers le vignoble Tamburlaine, l’un des 3 vignobles bio de toute l’Australie. Nous sommes accueillis chaleureusement par une très belle jeune femme qui plus est et nous y dégustons pas moins de 8 vins parmi lesquels des pétillants, dont un avec du jus de framboise, des semillons, des chardonnays, des assemblages granache / syrah / merlot, des sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, riesling et un rare cépage Chambourcin dont je n’avais jamais entendu parler. Ouf !
Sur le chemin du retour, Fay qui s’est gentiment proposée pour être notre conductrice sobre pour la journée, nous arrête dans une gigantesque fabrique de sucrerie / chocolaterie, histoire de finir sur une note bien sucrée 😉
Encore une journée sans l’once d’un souci, mis à part celui de profiter de ces instants d’oisiveté gourmands…
[1st February 2016]
We didn’t set an alarm today and had a lovely lie in…one of the few that we’ve had in more than four months travelling! It was very nice!
When I emerged from our room Stéphane told me that Fay had had an accident this morning and cut her head open. She was no-where to be seen and so I presumed that she was in bed but no! It would take more than that to stop Fay! She’d gone to the supermarket to buy us some food for lunch…what a dynamo! As we were finishing off our breakfast (toast and yummy Brian-made honey…well as much as honey can be “made” by a human ^_^) Fay arrived back and Brian put together some sandwiches for a picnic at one of the vineyards later on.
The Hunter Valley is about an hour’s drive from Fay and Brian’s and we quickly arrived at our first stop, Tylers Winery. Walking into the tasting room we were shown the price list and asked what we fancied tasting…I had no idea…a little bit of everything maybe? And in actual fact that’s nearly what we did!!!
A couple of Semillons, a couple of Chardonnays and then onto some Pinot Noir. After a while we bought a couple of bottles for Brian and Fay as a thank you present (and to restock the wines that we’d drunk since our arrival!) and we headed outside to the picnic table overlooking the nearby grapevines and the view over the valley below. During the tasting the lady had shown us an aerial photo of the property and you could see that the land is a mix of texures as there is a large wave of limestone running through across the middle of the property. This is why they plant several different types of grape and can make several different types of wine. Not all wineries can boast the same “luck”.
After our rolls and beer we had some Anzac biscuits. They’re a little like cookie-shaped flapjacks. Very nice, sweet oatmealy type biscuits. Stéphane had FIVE!!! Greedy guts! ^_-
Unfortunately during lunch I noticed a funny looking fly hovering around my legs and feet (it had a bright green head). It actually bit me twice too…though the second time I killed him. These bites really itched and were far worse than my usual mosquito bites…having looked it up on the internet it turns out that it’s a horsefly and they rip flesh rather than biting….nice!
Anyway, the thing to remember is not the fly it’s that the wine had been delicious and the picnic was pretty damn tasty too!!
With a change of drivers (Fay was very kindly being Des today) we now headed to the Tamburlaine Winery. Tamburlaine are one of the rare Organic Wines makers of the Hunter Valley and there we tried a LOT of their creations:
- Sparkling vintage blanc de blanc (Chardonnay)
- Scarlett bubbles (with raspberry)…tasty, good for an apero on a sunny day
- Orange Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon
- 2014 Hunter Valley Semillon
- 2002 Merlot Cabinet Sauvignon
- 2003 Hunter valley Chambourcin (never heard of it before) very smokey flavours
- 2014 GSM (Grenache/Shiraz/Merlot) — very nice
- Syrah (reserve reds)
- Cabinet Sauvignon (reserve reds)
- S&S only — late harvest Riesling
- Luckily for us the girl didn’t give us big servings of each, but I admit we did use the spittoons in this tasting!
Once back at Bateau Bay we played a bit of pool and chatted again until late…it’s been lovely getting to know Brian and Fay (and Kooper) more and meeting Adam. Glad that we’ll be coming back before the end of our Australia trip too in order to spend more time with them all.