Bikes, Bridges & Bright Lights   Leave a comment

Saturday, 24 May, 2014

Cycle Tour

Sometime last year I was using Trip Adviser to check up on a hotel in Sydney or something like that, when I came across a Top Things to Do in Sydney list. High up on the list was a Cycle Tour around the CBD which promised to show the tourist parts of Sydney that most people don’t know about. After reading some of the many positive reviews, I promised myself that I would give it a go one of these days. Normally, whenever I’m up in Sydney, I’ve come up for something specific and don’t have a spare six hours or so to come all the way into the centre of town and partake in a cycle tour. However, this weekend the time gods were on my side and I managed to book myself onto ‘The Sydney Secrets Big Spin’ guided tour with Bike Buffs, Sydney Bike Tours.

Before I tell you about the tour and the rest of the day in Sydney, let me paint a picture of what I was supposed to be doing. I found out ages ago that Lawrence and Barbara’s daughter, Lauren, was expecting a baby sometime in May. I had always told them both that I would be expecting a phone call when the baby had arrived, so that I could come up and greet the new arrival. Also this weekend marks the start of the Vivid Festival, where many of Sydney’s iconic buildings have light projections cast upon them. You may remember that this time last year Barbara, Lawrence and I experienced the Vivid Festival from the comfort of a Sydney Showboat dinner cruise around the harbour. So, when I received a call from Barbara earlier in the week to tell me that the baby was imminent, I told her that I would come down at the weekend to A) see the baby and B) go with them to see Vivid from the water or any other way they wanted too.

Well, best laid plans and all that. Turned out that Barbara and Lawrence didn’t fancy going to the Vivid Festival again, ‘been there, done that’ came to mind and it seemed that the baby wasn’t quite playing ball and didn’t make an appearance until Friday afternoon, meaning that Lauren was either going to still be in hospital when I arrived or would be just arriving back home after a short stay and therefore not in a position to accept non family visitors, like me. So plan B was invoked

So, after a couple of phone calls and a flurry of emails, I found myself standing on the corner of Argyle and Lower Fort Streets in the Rocks at 10:15 this morning waiting for Graeme from Bike Buffs to make an appearance. Sure enough, a white pick-up with a load of bikes on the back rolls up and I’m soon being fitted out with a bike, helmet etc. ready for the start of the tour. Not long after I start to get ready, Jack and Mary Lou turn up and the four of us are soon chatting away like old friends. Graeme, our tour guide tells us that he was an antiques collector/trader until ten years ago, when he suddenly decided to change direction completely and setup Bike Buffs. It turns out that Jack and Mary Lou are from Minneapolis and are in Australia to attend a Sales conference related to Jack’s work. Jack had been on the same gig a couple of years ago and had done the tour with Graeme then, so had brought Mary Low along this time to experience the adventure.

As it was just the four of us today, we were soon on our way and the first stop was the church on the corner where I was standing earlier, Holy Trinity Anglican Church Millers Point. Inside, Graeme gave us a history or the church itself and the Rocks area in general and then we were off up the hill to the highest point in the Sydney CBD, Sydney Observatory from which you get great view of the Harbour Bridge, darling Harbour and a lot more besides. We then crossed the Harbour Bridge on the dedicated cycle path and dropped into the famous Kirribilli Market on the north side of the harbour. This was our first pit stop, where we grabbed a coffee and a slice of cake and sat watching the world go by. Our next stop off point was under the bridge where we took pictures from the fantastic lookout point which overlooked the Opera House and South Sydney skyline. Riding back under the bridge, we took a stop at Luna Park, which is an amusement park built as a thankyou to the people of Sydney from the people who built the Harbour Bridge back in the 30’s. From here we rode around the corner into lavender Bay where we visited Wendy Whiteleys’s secret garden. This oasis has been created out of an old rail shunting yard by this lady over the last twenty years and was a perfect place for us to take lunch sat under one of the pagodas.

We crossed the harbour by ferry, which took us into Circular Quay and from here we rode round the quay and Opera House (not strictly legal!) and into the Royal Botanic Gardens for look around. An obvious place to stop, for that Kodak moment and the history was Mrs MacQuarie’s chair. Out of the gardens, past the Art Gallery of NSW and into Hyde Park we were enchanted with the sight of a young boy busking at the side of the fountain right in the middle of the park. After dragging ourselves away, Graeme took us down through the heart of central Sydney and across the Pyrmont Bridge into Darling Harbour. After a quick tour of the area, we were soon riding past the newly developed King Street Wharf and into the soon to be developed Barangaroo shorefront. The last part of our tour took us into and around the Walsh bay piers, which have been developed into some very high end apartments, studios, restaurants and bars. The only thing left to do with to ride up the steep hill from the water’s edge to our starting point at the church. Wow, what a trip, fantastic and I would recommend anybody visiting Sydney to check it out (providing you got a space six hours or so!).

After a couple of last photographs, packing our stuff away and saying goodbye to Graeme. Mary Lou, Jack and I took a short walk over the road to the Lord Nelson Pub/Brewery where we sampled one of their on-site brewed ales. They had to shot off for a dinner appointment and left me to finish off my beer and write a quick post on my Facebook page. As I was about to leave, I took a call from Barry, who was in town to catch the Pixies at the opera House later in the evening, so I invited him over for a beer or two before the concert.

Vivid

Well you know how one or two stretches into three or four and beyond, as we sat and chatted about our respective days in Sydney. In the end I had to buy some food from the bar and get changed into a pair of jeans and jumper that I had brought along for the evening’s entertainment, which in my case was supposed to be an evening walking around the various Vivid installations in Darling Harbour and Circular Quay. However, by the time we came out of the bar, it was well gone seven and any plans of me strolling along the water’s edge in Darling Harbour were out of the window, as I think I would have fallen in! I decided to ‘escort’ Barry to the Opera House, so that I could at least get some pictures of the various building located around Circular Quay that would be lit up by the big projections. In the end, due to the crowds around the quays, Barry had to shot off in an attempt to skirt round the hordes in order get to his concert in time. This left me to struggle through to the various vantages points where I took the pictures below. I think the amount of beer consumed earlier and the fact that it had been a long day affected the quality of the photographs I was taking and I decided to bail out at around ten O’clock, instead of staying on until late into the night.

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Posted May 24, 2014 by yermandownunder in Observations, Out and about, Travels

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yermandownunder

A Blog about Mario's life down under!

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