During the 4 1/2 hour flight from Darwin we had a stimulating and enjoyable conversation with a young man sitting beside us who was reading (and expounding on) the book, “Thinking Fast and Slow”, by Daniel Kahneman.
We arrived back in Sydney to relatively warm and sunny weather, much milder than it had been before we left. This temperature, around 18 degrees, we are told is more the norm for this time of year.
Our friend Isabel had offered us the use of her apartment while she was away, which we were pleased to accept. We were greeted at the building by Isabel’s friend Helena, with the keys and some homemade soup! 99 Bikes, which we can highly recommend, was close by. Lois wanted new cycle shoes, got helpful advice and the pair she ordered arrived the following day. She also got an adjustable handlebar fitting which one of the workers offered to install, while Paul had one of his disk brake rotors straightened. Everyone was very friendly and accommodating.
Before we had left for Uluru, we had reserved tickets for a performance of “Lucia di Lammermoor” by Donizetti, at the Sydney Opera House. We did not know the opera but it is a great, tragic story, based on one of Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley Novels. The star was surely Jessica Pratt as Lucia, one of the world’s top sopranos. She was born in the UK, but is now Australian and better known in Italy than here, and in fact was only now making her Australian debut. The concert hall is named after Joan Sutherland who was famous for her performances of the same role. The “mad scene” is and was memorable. The tenor Michael Fabiano, playing Edgardo, came a close second.
We did have another issue concerning our bike bags! We had planned to use DHL again, to deliver our bags to Brisbane and hold them until we get there. In preparation, we purchased some corrugated cardboard and packing tape to wrap up the bags from Kennards Self Storage, across the street from Isabel’s apartment. The day before DHL was to pick up the bags, we happened to discover that they do not have a “vacation hold” option in Australia and could only hold the bags for 2 days! We were now at the point of questioning whether we should abandon our bags! However, calmer minds prevailed and we decided to see whether Kennard’s might have some ideas. Indeed, they advised us that we could keep our bags in storage there while we were cycling (for only $47) and that we could arrange for them to picked up there. At their suggestion, we contacted “Pack & Send”. They will collect the bags from the storage locker (we share the combination lock number with them), wrap them and send them to Brisbane when we need them, for a third of DHL’s estimate!
On Friday, we cycled around the harbour and across the city to check back into Mrs. Banks hotel in Paddington. It was a bit of a shock to have to navigate through traffic and crowded sidewalks which are shared with pedestrians! Helen and Wayne arrived from Canada that evening via the UK and Dubai and we missed them when we went to meet them at the airport!
We spent the weekend talking, eating and drinking and doing a little sightseeing, including a trip out to Bondi beach, that stretch of white sand famous for surfing. The waves were not high but there were still many wetsuit-clad surfers out in the breakers, braving the brisk cool wind. On Sunday, we went to Barangaroo for a showcase of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander skills and traditions, as part of the national wide NAIDOC week which celebrates the history, culture and achievements of indigenous people. This years theme celebrates the essential role that women have played – and continue to play – as active and significant role models at the community, local, state and national levels. There were cooking demonstrations, workshops for basket weaving and shell making jewellery, plus shadow puppet making for children. It was very well attended and there was a relaxed, joyful feel about the event. We walked back to Circular Key through the revitalised waterfront and under the Harbour Bridge.