That Gum You Like

In Which Dave Goes Explorin’

Posted in Sydney by Dave on September 16, 2009

DAY 3

After a quick breakfast this morning, I headed off into Sydney, to see what kind of wandering I could get done by myself. Without a guide, I expected to get lost, and as soon as I got off the train in Town Hall, this expectation was met handily. As I tried to make my way to Circular Quay, the area Sarah had showed me around the day before, I walked in the exact opposite direction, ending up on a different part of the bay. After futilely trying to figure out the way back to Circular Quay by myself, I buckled down and asked for directions. Now, I’m certainly familiar with how difficult it is to give directions to tourists, but after five sets of conflicting instructions from storeowners, (including one dude who started to list streets and then laughed at my baffled expression and offered to call me a cab), I decided my best bet was to buy one of the incredibly overpriced maps sold at the little news kiosks, which finally got me on the right track back towards Circular Quay.
En route to the Quay I stumbled across the Art Gallery of New South Wales, probably my best find on the trip so far. This museum, like the Museum of Contemporary Art the day before, was completely free. I spent a few hours wandering around it’s three floors, checking out its incredibly varied and satisfying collection. Although I suppose the museum is particularly focused on Australian and Aboriginal art, it had a great collection of 20th and 21st century works.
The highlight of which was Study for a Self-Portrait by Francis Bacon, tucked away in a little corner of the 2nd level. I don’t profess to know a whole lot about art in general, but Francis Bacon is somebody that I’ve been geeking out over this summer, after I read some interview with David Lynch where he said Bacon was his favorite painter. So after spending a few months looking at the google image versions of Bacon’s work, it was a really awesome surprise to walk around the corner and stumble across this:

Forgive the glare

Forgive the glare

Other highlights:

No Joke. Gold.

No Joke. Gold.

Hotties.

Hotties.

Nip Slip.

Nip Slip.

Cool Falcon, Bro.

Cool Falcon, Bro.

Lol.

Lol.

Shapes FTW.

Shapes FTW.

After leaving the museum, I spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the bay, getting a few shots off on my little digital point and shoot and lusting over all the tourists with their fancy SLR’s and 35mm cameras. Anyway, here’s the obligatory Sydney Opera House Pic:

Had to do it.

Had to do it.

The bay is really an incredible spot, edged by the gorgeous botanical garden, and with incredible views of the surrounding city. Spending the afternoon amongst thousands of other tourists was actually surprisingly comfortable, a reminder that as much as I might feel like a weirdo american most of the time, there are plenty of people in my same shoes.

DAY 4

Spent most of today driving around Ku-Ring-Gai national park with Margaret and her daughter Barbara. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, so I can’t share with you the incredible flowers and aboriginal carvings I saw, or the awesome view from Barrenjoey lighthouse. Suffice to say, they were pretty awesome. No wildlife so far, although I was assured there were Kangaroos and Wallabies (which are apparently basically the same thing…) just around every curve. Still waiting on those. But, despite the foggy weather, had a great day cruising around the wilder side of Sydney.

DAY 5

Today, Margaret’s son Andrew took Margaret, her sister Jean, and myself out on his vintage motor-yacht. It really is a pretty awesome boat. We took the day to motor around the rivers that run through Ku-Ring-Gai, the park I had driven through the day before. Very cool to see it from the water, and what the landscape looked like on a larger scale. Took a few opportunities to row ashore, and saw my first real Australian wildlife (okay, aside from the birds, but really, who cares):

Dragon?

Dragon?

**Shudder**

**Shudder**

Apparently these creepy things are known as Goannas, which if you’ve seen Rescuers Down Under, you should have repressed memories of. I also was told to be careful swimming, as there was a pretty solid chance of Bull sharks in the water. Sharks are definitely my one true phobia, so when I did go swimming, I went from the beach, and was barely in enough to get my head wet. After lunch we motored over to a waterfall, which was a good opportunity to try out my Super 8, which I’ve almost completed one roll of so far. Not going to know what it really looks like for a while, but I bought about 8 rolls of film, so something interesting should come of it, I hope…

DAY 6

Today I went into Gordon and ran some errands, which pretty much brings us up to know, where I’m sitting in a coffee shop and typing this post. No internet though, so I think I’m going to sneak into the McDonalds and upload everything. This afternoon I leave for Roma, Queensland, where I begin the first true leg of my stay here, working on a cattle ranch belonging to a dude named Simon Body. I don’t know a goddamn thing about this place, except that every Aussie I’ve mentioned this to so far has laughed at me and told me I’m a moron. Should be GREAT!!

Hugs, Kisses,

–D

Some tunes for YOU!

Country tinged genius pop from former underground disco phenom:

Arthur Russell – I Couldn’t Say It To Your Face

John Dwyer (Thee Oh Sees, The Hospitals, etc…) runs on premium. Super high-octane head bangin’ :

Coachwhips – Dance Floor Bathroom

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Automobile–>Plane–>Train–>Automobile–>Sydney (Days 1-2)

Posted in Sydney by Dave on September 13, 2009

Well guys, I made it. The journey itself was actually reasonably painless, all things considered. Left my house around 12:30 on Wednesday afternoon, got to JFK at four, flight to LAX left at six. The flight out to L.A. was pretty straightforward, sat in the window seat next to two old ladies, one of whom promptly fell asleep and only woke up once we arrived in L.A., and one who spent her whole time pretending to sleep, but apparently was just watching the X-Files with me the whole time, because I caught her gasping whenever something scary happened… Pretty hilarious actually, every time she did it I would look at her and smile, but she continued to pretend to be asleep. But yeah, I watched the X-files until my computer ran out of battery, then I just read a little bit and stared out the window. It was obviously dark by this point, but I always really like looking out at the lights on the ground. Real pretty. Got into LAX, ate some Mcdonalds, charged my computer enough for two more episodes of the X-Files and got on the plane for Sydney, which left at about 11pm.

Huge, huge plane, even had a second floor! Also generally pretty nice, the first class area looked like a freaking spaceship, and business class was only marginally worse. Gargantuan seats, loads of footroom, etc. But I wasn’t too jealous, as I had an entire row to myself. It actually totally blew my mind, I haven’t been on a plane that wasn’t almost entirely sold out in a really long time. So having the whole row was an incredibly pleasant surprise. I promptly took advantage of it, making a little nest out of the three pillow and blanket sets they gave me, and passed out for the first chunk of the flight. When I woke up, I guess a pretty considerable amount of time had gone by, because the rest of the flight really passed pretty quickly, I watched some of the inflight movies (caught about half of the new Star Trek without sound and checked in for a little bit of Monsters vs. Aliens (which was pretty terrible except for a character voiced by Will Arnett, who was obviously hilarious)), read a little, listened to some music, and yes, watched some more X-Files. You guys, the X-Files is awesome. Very consistently entertaining, and an incredibly satisfying overarching plotline that seriously tickles my inner sci-fi nerd. Also, this:

Gillian Anderson + Hilarious Outfit = Multiple Levels of Win

Gillian Anderson + Hilarious Outfit = Multiple Levels of Win

I landed in Sydney around 6am, had some pretty painless dealings with Customs and Quarantine (which included me awkwardly explaining to the Quarantine officer what a Jolly Rancher was), and hopped on the train out to Gordon, a suburb of Sydney and the home Margaret Tink, my host for my initial stay here. The Sydney public transportation system is dominated by Cityrail, a train system similar to the BART, but obviously, as this isn’t America, it’s infinitely better. It’s a very clean, cheap, quiet, and quick way to cruise around the city and the surrounding area. We suck at getting people around.
Margaret picked me up at the station and took me to her house, where I spent most of the rest of the day sitting on her porch, feeling jet-lagged and confused by the constant chattering of the local birds, a constant reminder that I’m over 11,000 miles away from home. Seriously you guys, these things just spend all day making the noises that Hollywood has taught us are the sounds of the “jungle.” It’s bizarre seeing cockatoos and kookaburras just cruising overhead like they’re seagulls or something. After a run and some dinner I went right to sleep at about 8pm, which felt fantastic.
I woke up this morning, had some breakfast and headed into the city, where Margaret’s granddaughter Sarah, a student at University of Sydney, met me, having agreed to show me around for the day. I had a fantastic day touristing around with Sarah, making the obligatory Opera House visit, checking out the Museum of Contemporary Art and cruising around the area surrounding the University. The Opera House, despite being the world’s most stereotypical tourist destination, really was pretty awesome. I’m not even sure I like the design, but there’s something pretty cool about hanging out under those shells and looking out over the water. The Museum was aggressively contemporary, some of it interesting, some of it not so much. The dominant aesthetic was a bit Oberlin-esque actually, a few of the exhibits reminded me of something I might see at a Senior show. I really like the area around the university, very college-y, we stopped in at a few used bookstores and the like, one of which enormous and unorganized where I could have spent about a year, but today I only came out with Robert Lowell’s Life Studies.
Thus far though, I’m finding Sydney to be pretty incredible. I didn’t get a chance to take any pictures, which is a shame, it’s a very photogenic city, a lot of big, old buildings mixed in with a very tropical landscape. I’m probably going to head back in tomorrow, so I’ll make sure to get some pix of it then for my next update. Until then…

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