Uke can do it

Ukuleles

Our night of playing the ukulele together at the Sydney Festival First Night got me wondering what other possible excuses I could find for the five of us to jam together. So here are few ideas for you to get your uke on in Sydney.

Meetups

(Seems Monday is the night for uke playing!)

Classes

Any other get-togethers or lessons I should add to this list? Let me know.

(Incidentally, I promised our sixteen year old that I’d buy him a resonator uke when he’s learned the chords for five songs off by heart. So far it looks like my money’s safe in the bank.)

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