On your bike

It’s Spring, so it must be time for the Sydney Rides Festival!

In addition to the annual events we’ve come to know and love (the Spring Cycle, the Bicycle Film Festival and Ride to Work Day), there are some fabulous workshops coming up this weekend to help you get your bike road-safe and looking sweet:

Sydney fireworks


Fireworks

Nothing beats the New Year’s Eve fireworks on Sydney harbour. But that’s a long time between bangs. (*snort*)

If you fancy a more frequent fireworks fix, the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority puts on a show at Darling Harbour every couple of weeks. Mostly on a Saturday night, but sometimes Sunday or Monday – always from 9pm. The schedule until mid-2011 is below. Keep an eye on the Darling Harbour website for further dates.

  • Saturday 5th March
  • Saturday 19th March
  • Saturday 2nd April
  • Saturday 9th April
  • Saturday 16th April
  • Saturday 23rd April
  • Saturday 30th April
  • Saturday 7th May
  • Saturday 14th May
  • Sunday 21st May
  • Saturday 28th May
  • Sunday 12th June
  • Monday 13th June
  • Saturday 18th June

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010

(Not me, obviously!)

After a scrummy lunch with friends at Sailors Thai in the Rocks, we toddled up to College Street to see the annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Australian Museum. It’s always great to see these extraordinary photos. I love the ones that remind me of the old Curiosity Show segment “here’s a familiar object seen from an unfamiliar angle”, but the shots that really amaze me are from the young photographers (10 years and under, 11-14 years and 15-17 years).

This year, the Museum has very cleverly included a hands-on component called “My Photo Studio”. It’s great for engaging the younger visitors, but as you can see from the picture above, the grown-ups got to have a play as well.

There’s just over two weeks left. (Don’t forget that the over-18s can also visit the Wildlife Photographer exhibition on Tuesday evenings with a Jurassic Lounge ticket.)

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010
14th December 2010 – 13th March 2011
Australian Museum
6 College Street, Sydney

Shakespeare by the Sea

Shakespeare by the Sea - Comedy of Errors

This is the 25th season of Shakespeare by the Sea at the Balmoral Beach Rotunda. For the last quarter of a century, David Finlayson MacSwan and his troupe of actors have put on two Shakespeare plays each Summer.

I went to the first season, and several after that, but haven’t been for many years. And then this year a number of things pointed me to the fact that I was overdue for another visit. Firstly, I read that it was the 25th and final season. Then my teenage daughter’s English teacher told her to go see one of this year’s plays. And then – so sad – I heard that Dr Finlayson McSwan had passed away suddenly as the season was due to start.

The company bravely decided to go ahead as planned, and to dedicate the final season to the memory of their director, producer and friend. And what a fitting tribute it is.

We went down to the beach tonight to see A Comedy of Errors. They had moved the play to 1984, and populated it with a band of big-haired, Wham-loving, sharp-suit-wearing smooth operators. What fun! We laughed out loud all the way through, and even our eleven year old kept up with the twists and turns in the plot.

There are a few weeks left in this farewell season, so do yourself a favour and head to Balmoral to see either Comedy of Errors or A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s your last chance to experience this uniquely-Sydney event: Shakespeare with a soundtrack of lapping waves and chattering flying-foxes. Take a picnic, a bottle of bubbles and a bunch of friends.

Shakespeare By The Sea
8pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights until 6th March
The Rotunda, Balmoral Beach
By donation (at least $20 each recommended)

ArtExpress

ArtExpress, the exhibition of selected major works from HSC Visual Arts students, has been around for years. It was an annual affair even before I finished high school, which is a Very Long Time Ago Indeed. Since then it’s grown into a series of local and regional shows, across eleven venues.

In Sydney this year, you can visit ArtExpress at:

The small sampling that’s available online looks amazing. Every year I’m blown away with the level of maturity in these works.

Going batty

Gordon Flying Fox CampThe Gordon Flying-Fox Camp is one of Sydney’s secret treats. Every night between October and March, the bats from this site head out en masse for their evening jaunt. In their ten-thousands. That’s a lot of bats.

Wait on the Rosedale Road bridge, and about 20 minutes after sunset your patience will be rewarded. First you’ll spot a few loners taking flight in the distance, and before you know it, the sky will be full of them.

The night we went recently, there were lots of babies taking their first, unsteady flaps. Very cute. (What is the correct name for a baby bat? A batling? Cub? Pup? Kit?)

A great excursion for a Summer night.

Gordon Flying-Fox Camp
Rosedale Road bridge (between Minns Road and Glenview Street) – 10 minutes walk from Gordon railway station.
Every night, October – March

The Queens are coming to town

(No, not Mardi Gras – through we’re pretty excited about that too!)

On February 22nd, the two ocean liners the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Elizabeth will meet in Sydney. The grand dame Mary will meet the younger Elizabeth (on her maiden voyage) outside Sydney Heads, and lead her into the Harbour. They’re meeting before 5:30am, and are expected to sail past Fort Denison at around 6:30am, before berthing at Circular Quay and Garden Island.

Both ships will leave Sydney the following day, so you get a chance to see them coming and/or going!

Good spots for a view include:

The schedule for the two days of the “Royal Rendezvous” is:

  • Tuesday, February  22
    5:30 am (approx) Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary 2 meet off Sydney Heads.
    6:30 am (approx) Ships to sail past each other, either side of Fort Denison. Whistle salute from Queen Mary 2.
    7am  (approx) Queen Elizabeth berths at Circular Quay and Queen Mary 2 berths at Garden Island Naval Base.
  • Wednesday, February 23
    Noon: Queen Elizabeth departs Circular Quay. Whistle salute as she sails by Queen Mary 2
    5 pm : Queen Mary 2 departs Garden island Naval Base

Sydney Ferries are running a dawn cruise to meet the Queens as they sail into the Harbour. See www.sydneyferries.info for more information and tickets.

It’s Show time!

Royal Easter Show - the regional displaysThe Sydney Royal Easter Show is coming soon – it starts on the 14th April and runs for nearly two weeks, closing the gates on the 27th April.

This is a must-do event for our family, and we have a real routine for the day. We start with the Food Dome, nibbling our way through the free food samples for morning tea, making sure to talk to the old hands at the regional food displays. We definitely have to look at all the animals, but our favourite is the dogs’ agility trials (although last year’s showjumping rabbits gave them a run for their money). We try to time our picnic lunch so that we can eat it while watching the woodchopping, and we make sure to have our afternoon tea at the CWA cafe (fluffy, fluffy scones). The showbag hall (only one each!) is the last stop of the day, so that we don’t have to drag them around with us all day.

I can’t wait! We’ve already booked our Showlink tickets online. Early bird tickets at discounted prices are available until 29th March.

Sydney Royal Easter Show
14th -21st April
Sydney Showground, Olympic Park

Rabbit rabbit

Chinese New Year Twilight ParadeIt’s the year of the rabbit. So the Chinese New Year Twilight Parade through Chinatown this year was heavily populated with bunnies. Racing bunnies on rollerblades (above); bouncy bunnies on stilts; giant bunnies made of recycled water bottles… there were even marching bands playing rabbit-related tunes (I heard the the Bugs Bunny theme more than once!).

We line up every year right at the tail end of the parade route. Apart from the fact that it’s very easy to get a spot with a good view, I love to watch the groups as they finish up. Some are still pumped full of adrenaline and yelling “Happy New Year” at the tops of their lungs, whole others switch off as soon as they cross that invisible finish line.

As soon as the last rabbit had run the gauntlet, the crowd dispersed as if by magic, headed to Darling Harbour for the fireworks. We went off in the opposite direction to buy a little bag full of Emperor Puffs to sustain us on the train home.

Chinese New Year Festival
28th Jan – 13th Feb
All over Sydney

Sydney Festival First Night


Sydney Festival First Night - Gramaphone Man

Last night we headed into the city for the early part of the Sydney Festival First Night. Our major driver was to participate in the big You Can Ukulele uke-off. All five of us (aged 10 to 43) had been watching the video on YouTube, and had learned our chords. We took the opportunity to do a bit of last-minute swatting up on our lyrics (the chorus, at least) while sitting in Hyde Park waiting for things to get going, and before we knew it, it was our turn! (Along with several hundred other ukulele wannabes.)

It was over far too soon! I wish we’d been given a whole songbook to learn – it was just so much fun playing along with such a huge crowd.

We wandered about Macquarie street and Hyde Park afterwards, and the feeling in the streets was great (though admittedly it was mostly families at this early stage). A large group of the NSW constabulary were joking around having their photos taken in front of Il Porcellino at the Sydney Hospital. Gramaphone Man (above) was entertaining passers by with his funky hapsichord beats. Orkestra Del Sol were keeping toes tapping. Everywhere you turned, there was something to groove along to or marvel at.

Before we headed home, we took advantage of the ANZ chill bar an the Hyde Park Barracks, drinking our free hot chocolates under the fairy-lit fig tree and lazing on cushions strewn across the astroturf. A perfect way to kick off the Sydney Festival.

Sydney Festival
8th-30th January
All over Sydney