Keeping your eyes and ears firmly open and attentive when travelling is second nature, especially when it comes to being on the lookout for great travel tips and we got one from our host Scott in Melbourne. To avoid AUD13 per person fee at Sydney airport to connect to the metro system, we needed to walk to the first metro stop outside the airport and save ourselves some money, it turned out that the 20 mins walk laden with our backpacks saved us nearly AUD30 and that is definitely a few meals for the two of us! You can get the Opal travel card and use this on buses and the metro system, its straightforward to use with topping up and swiping but I think the minimum fare for a ride on the metro is AUD4 so if you end up with an odd amount on your card, use it up on the bus.
Famed for its Opera House, Sydney Harbour and Bridge, we were not disappointed with the fabulous views around the harbour area, even the weather played ball with us while we were in town. Eating and drinking out is expensive, but if you are earning rands or earning nothing, the free stuff is appealing and striking gold again, we found the free walking tours and the free bridge walk with the quite special views. There is even a AUD200 walk across the top of the bridge! Even touring the Opera House was about AUD40 so just the casual walk through and sightsee would do this time around. Outside and close up to the structure you can see that it is a myriad of off white ceramic tiles, mazed together, with no grout in between and discovering that the guy who designed it back in the early 70’s was fired before its late completion and over budget expenditure, he has never returned from his home country to Australia to see it.
The stunning Botanical Gardens and stories of the convicts arriving and Governor Mcquarie setting up real local laws and controls proved for a fascinating insight into some of the past of Sydney and also the rest of the country. I still kept looking for more about the Aboriginal History of Australia in both Melbourne and Sydney but found it sadly lacking.
Although the Aborigines have their own flag, in recognition of being indigenous to this land, this token gesture also creates a level of separation, when perhaps incorporating it into the current flag or designing a new flag would be just and right for people who were not even recognised as Australians until a few years back. But then again, what do the Aborigines need a flag for, this is surely a ‘European’ approach to advertise who somebody is and where they are from…there are many symbols in the world beyond a flag. Nearly 50% of Aborigines were wiped out by European plagues such as; the common cold and many left the fertile lands and moved inland leaving their homelands of 40,000 years, another tragic story for mankind.
Nevertheless, learning about explorers or circumnavigators such as, Matthew Flinders, James Cook and their exploits and also why convicts were sent here in the first place, brought back some vague memories of hearing this when I was a lad not really paying attention in history lessons at school.
222 is number of different crimes that were punishable by life imprisonment in London back in 1700’s and with no police force in operation, the prisons were full of petty criminals, in for life stretches. London, with a population of 4 million was buckling at the seams to cope and so, sending the criminals overseas was a great idea. America was out of the question, as it had fought its way to independence, so this land, Australia, so far away, that the convicts would never return to the mothership was a perfect plan….the birth of a nation of ‘immigrants’.
Migrants fled to Australia in the search of dreams during the gold rush, many fled to escape prejudices in their own countries and to this day many immigrants arrive in search of a better life. Australia is truly a population of diverse ethnic groups, they just speak with this peculiar twang, or maybe its just plain Mandarin.