On a boat bobbing we listened to a man talk about the historical significance of all sorts of things around Sydney Harbour. We made fun of some of his inflections (and his accent as us who talk American instead of Australian sometimes do) at he stressed the “really interesting” and “controversial” things he was showing off about the harbour, but he was a pretty good tour guide. We spent the first half of the trip outside on the bow where his voice was a bit more of a background murmur you had to pay attention to hear, which was about perfect. You didn’t feel like you were interrupting if you wanted to talk about something but new information was steadily going on in the background. We learned about Shark Island, which used to be an animal quarantine station, and about the gallows where the colony’s first murderer was hung in a cage for weeks covered in tar, and about how they shipped all the animals to the Taronga Zoo on barges because the former zoo had been in Sydney and the new one
Interestingly, there was barely any mention of any aboriginal history. That’s interesting because places here tend to make more acknowledgement of the traditional lands events happen on. Yes, it’s just lip service and doesn’t change any poor treatment, but now I miss it when someone doesn’t at least make the ritual pronouncement.
We also went to see some contemporary art at a free gallery, which I really enjoyed and had a pancake lunch which I enjoyed at the time but my guts decided to make me regret afterwards. We also met a woman who was selling some sort of medicinal goop and jewellery made from broken plates, and heard her speak at length about different schools of Buddhism (I was wearing my prayer beads but quickly tried to make it clear I’m not actually Buddhist). Holly and I were ready for me to get reprimanded for wearing symbols I didn’t understand, but she didn’t seem too frustrated with us. She kept on making references to toking up in the 60s and decided Holly was a child of those days in spirit.
We also spent some time listening to a pretty excellent busker, Mark Wilkinson. Holly’d heard him while we were talking to the Buddhist woman and wanted to find him and sit and listen. Sadly, there weren’t any free tables at the cafes right there, so we sat on planters to listen. He did an excellent version of Hallelujah but his songs were also good. We got EPs.
I always forget when I’ve been off a bicycle for a while how much I love the bicycle as a transportation method. We rode to Circular Quay through the CBD and even though I cursed at Javier’s bike when it slipped gears on me (oh for my bicycle in its storage locker back in Vancouver) I loved being on a bicycle again. I know Vancouver January biking won’t be this pleasant, but I’m looking forward to it. This morning we were talking about long-distance biking and I would like to do that someday. Do a real trip on a bicycle. Probably not over the rockies, I’m not that hardcore, but maybe heading down the coast a ways would work. I don’t know if my bike would be the best choice, being an urban single-speed, but someday I want to do that.
And the day began with reading Murakami (contented sigh) and blueberry muffins. Holly makes them in torn-in-half diet coke cans, because we don’t have muffin tins and because she is awesome and resourceful.1960s 1q84 aboriginal accent americans art barges bicycle blueberry buddhist canadians cbd circular quay coke cans colonial drugs english haruki murakami history holly javier jewellery language long distance mark wilkinson medicinal goop muffins pancakes prayer beads quarantine ritual shark island sydney sydney harbour symbols taronga zoo tour