We Live To Travel

Sydney Museums

January 25, 2011

Senne’s Summary: On Monday we walked to Darling Harbour, went on a giant ferris wheel, played in the fountains, went up a lighthouse and went to the Maritime Museum. On Tuesday we saw the “First Emperor” Exhibit at the Art Gallery.

Monday Jan 24, 2011

Well on our first day in Sydney I woke up to discover that I did in fact have a cold. Now, I’m not complaining, colds are a little easier to deal with when you’re on vacation… but it did slow me down a bit. We slept in a bit, rested and then used our “finally strong Internet signal” to phone our parents.

By the time we got moving outside our hotel it was time for lunch. We found a pub close to our hotel that advertised more reasonable prices than we expected and stopped in for lunch. The inside looked a bit sketchy (dark, lots of drinkers and horse betting at lunch time in the middle of the week), but the food was tasty and reasonably priced. Plus we got lots of people watching in… if you’re betting and drinking at lunchtime you’re just interesting to watch 🙂

We had picked up a map at our hotel (so we knew how to get back) and decided to head down to Darling Harbor. When we first arrived we seemed to be in some sort of area with a lot of fountains.

#1 of 2 bajillion fountains

#1 of 2 bajillion fountains

We saw some more of those long-beaked birds that we keep seeing so we took a picture to see if anyone can identify them for us.

What are these birds?

What are these birds?

In the park was a GIANT Ferris Wheel. Steve took a picture of me standing in front so you could see how big it was. (I’m the teeny orange dot at the bottom.)

Can you see me?

Can you see me?

We figured I probably wouldn’t be scared on this Ferris Wheel because it goes slow and the cars are enclosed. Ha! We were wrong. Apparently, it’s definitely the heights I’m afraid of 🙂 This has clarified for us, that the hot air balloon ride we were planning to do in Turkey is most likely a very bad idea! We thought we might see the Harbour Bridge or the Opera House from the top of the Ferris Wheel, but there were too many buildings in the way. We did, however, enjoy the view even though my heart was racing and I was sweating. 🙂

View from the ferris wheel

View from the ferris wheel

After the Ferris Wheel, we continued through the “area of many fountains”.

Yep, the kids were swimming in here too

Yep, the kids were swimming in here too

There were so many different fountains and lots of kids were playing in them. I guess in Australia you are allowed to swim in the fountains!

Steve making friends in the fountain

Steve making friends in the fountain

We finally made our way down to the harbour and stopped for a little ice cream. They even had my favourite — Rocher ice cream!

Ice cream break

Ice cream break

After we’d cooled off a little we kept walking. We saw a lighthouse and decided to go check it out. We were just in time, the lighthouse was closing at 3, so we were the last people of the day able to climb up the stairs and ladder to get to the top. I’ve never been in a lighthouse before (well if I’ve been in a lighthouse before I don’t remember it :)) so of course it was interesting.

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The guy working in the lighthouse recommended we go to the Maritime Museum next. He said it was free because we’d been in the lighthouse, but I think it was free for everyone. Who doesn’t want to go to places that are free? Steve had wanted to go into the museum anyways because they had a shark exhibit!

We looked at two exhibits in the museum. The first was about Britain’s Migrant Children. I knew that during WWII many British children were sent to Canada without their families to get them to a safe place, but I didn’t realize that Britain had a history of sending their children to other countries (including Australia and Canada) for 100’s of years. Children who were orphans or lived with their poor families who just couldn’t take care of them were shipped off to other countries for “a better life”. What the “better life” often ended up being was working as labour in the fields or living in places with lots of other children…like an orphanage. The children were often told their parents had died even when that wasn’t true.

Well some of us don't...

Well some of us don’t…

It was a sad, but fascinating exhibit. At one point we saw a sign and some photos of British Children who were sent to Duncan on Vancouver Island. Who knew we’d come all the way to Australia to see our own Island in a museum?

Next we looked at the Shark Exhibit. Steve found this one very exciting! There were lots of shark teeth, models, videos, equipment examples and interesting facts. Did you know that sharks were around before the dinosaurs? I didn’t.

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After two exhibits we decided we were “museumed out”, even though there was more you could see. We decided to head back to our hotel as my cold was telling me it was time to take a rest. Steve let me use the map, and I was able to get us back to our hotel in no time at all 🙂 I still can’t tell the difference between my right and left… but at least I can use a map now!

Tuesday Jan. 25, 2011

One of the other things on my list of things to do in Sydney was go to the New South Wales Art Gallery.

New South Wales Art Gallery

Art Gallery of New South Wales

They have a temporary exhibit of the Terra Cotta Warriors. Steve has been very interested in the Terra Cotta Warriors for quite a while. We had thought we might be able to head into China to see the actual place on this trip but it just didn’t work out. Seeing an exhibit in a museum will tie Steve over until he gets to see the real thing one day. (Mental note: Add China to my ever-growing list of places to visit!)

We got another late start (still not feeling great) and headed out on a walk in the direction of the Art Gallery. We passed by Hyde Park, where people were preparing for the Australia Day festivities tomorrow.

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OH look! More fountains!

I’m sure Australia Day will be interesting as pretty much everywhere we’ve walked people are setting up venues for shows and activities.

…and another fountain

…and another fountain

The exhibit was terrific. They had a lot of things that have been excavated from the site that were over 2000 years old. Mostly vessels, bells, and cauldrons that were used during that time.

Side note: If you don’t know what the Terra Cotta Warriors are (and I wouldn’t have if Steve didn’t tell me endless amounts of things about them… once he even brought a book home from the library for me to read about it 🙂 )… it is an underground Terra Cotta army that the First Emperor of China Qin Shihuang built as his “burial army”. He built an elaborate mausoleum for himself and this Terra Cotta Army to guard and secure it. The amazing thing was that this giant army wasn’t actually unearthed until 1974! The burial complex covers 56 square kilometers! There are four pits containing this terra cotta army which is thought to contain 8000 life-size soldiers, 140 chariots, 560 chariot horses and 116 cavalry horses. So far about 1900 soldiers have been unearthed and over 40,000 weapons (many still razor-sharp!).

The highlight of course, was the section of the exhibit where they had some of the actual Terra Cotta Warriors on display. (Steve was disappointed that we weren’t allowed to take photos… but he did manage to follow the rule!) There was an armoured general, some other soldiers, and some horses. It was pretty amazing to imagine this Emperor, at the age of 13 years, getting over 700,000 conscripts to build this elaborate burial city for himself. He must have REALLY wanted to secure his spot in the afterlife! When you looked at the pieces on display it was amazing to see the work that went into each life-sized piece (apparently no two soldiers even have the same face).

We both enjoyed the exhibit very much, and can’t wait to see the real thing one day!

The walk home

The walk home

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