Oz: Boots on the Ground

I have two weeks in Australia and want to make sure that I see as much as I can while I am here. The day I landed it was cold and wet the whole day. Paula, one of my good friends, raved on and on about Sydney. I wasn’t impressed the first day but things were quickly going to change. This weekend was Australia Day. It’s somewhat like the Fourth of July in the States, but I didn’t find any celebrations going on. My hunch is Saturday and Sunday were the big parties and the holiday Monday was more chill.
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Atlassian is right in downtown Sydney. It’s the area called the central business district (CBD). My hotel was only a couple of blocks away. I didn’t have a car my entire time which was sort of nice. It was about a 10 minute walk through downtown to work. At night I had a bit of free time to go explore and find out what everyone was raving about.

One of the biggest things that stuck out to me was the Westfield tower. I had seen the logo at various malls in the United States but didn’t make the connection as to why the tower was here. It turns out simply that Westfield is a large multinational Australian company. My boss and I had a big laugh that the rundown mall in Joliet, Illinois was connected to this larger entity.
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My hotel is near Darling Harbor which is near the south side of the central business district. It seems to be a very new, touristy area but not overly done.
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The library has the old school architecture as well. Since I don’t take a lot of photos in cities it’s much harder for me to photograph buildings that I thought it would be.
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Mark was one of those truly awesome people you meet every once in a while in life.  We crossed paths a few weeks ago and met up when I was in town. It was great to get the dime tour of Sydney from a local. The Sydney Harbour Bridge connects the central business district with North Sydney. It’s their equivalent of the really cool bridge that everybody talks about downtown. Truth be told, I think San Francisco wins on that front. Both the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge I think are cooler 🙂
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We took a quick tour through the botanical gardens but we were losing sunlight rather quickly. Every so often the old British feel comes out. I wonder what really happened here in 1816.
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The city was beautiful at twilight.
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As we were rounding the bend I could see a large outdoor theater right next to the Sydney Opera House.

I really can’t put into words how I felt seeing that building.
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There was such a mix of emotions taking it in. Each year growing up in social studies we would read about Australia and the Sydney Opera House. It was this far away place that you never think you’re going to come in contact with. Seeing it there, it really hit me how far I had come and yet it was more awesome than I had ever expected it to be. When it comes to interesting architecture, this building trumps San Francisco. As you’ll see, I took a lot of photos of it.

Mark and I had dinner at the Opera House Café which sits right between the Opera House and the water.
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Having such cold and wet weather at home it was nice to be in full summer having a glass of wine next to the water.

What I didn’t know is that the Opera house is actually three distinct buildings. Inside there are a number of venues that may have different events going on at any given time. Somehow I had the impression it was just one venue. Up close, the architecture is a little strange but the further away you get from it the cooler it looks.
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The next night I decided to walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge to take some photos of the opera house at elevation.
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To get there I had to walk around a cool area called The Rocks. It was in all the rundown warehouse district in Sydney many years ago. The city cleaned it up and turn it into nice restaurants and upscale housing. The view of the Opera House across the water was awesome.
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It was surprisingly late when I got over there, about 10:30 PM. The bridge had security every few hundred feet. Sydney as a town appears to be much safer than most American cities with much less visible police presence. I’m sure bad things happen there, but it just doesn’t seem as in your face.

Both the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge were fun to photograph. The Sydney Opera House’s architecture very much is reflective of sailing. From different angles the metaphor comes out.
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I’m still struggling with this new SLR camera. It has very different settings that I’m used to so I was much less confident in my photography. As a use it in different settings, I become more confident but it seems like this camera struggles to focus more so than my point-and-shoot. Part of me wonders if that’s creative latitude rather than any particular malfunction in the camera or the lens.

One of the great things about North Sydney is a you get to see the bridge, the Opera House, and the skyline all in one view.
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Right on the north side of town is Luna Park. At this hour everything was closed but it was fun to take a peek inside.
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I didn’t get back to the hotel until just after midnight. After day two I agree with McDonald’s: “I’m lovin’ it”.

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