Ferries, Churches, Vegemite, Bagpipes, and Pubs: Saturday in Sydney

Yesterday I felt like riding a ferry and had nothing better to do, so I went to Watson’s Bay.

According to one of my Australian acquaintances, Watson’s Bay is where Sydney’s really rich people live. The homes are gorgeous, the clifftop views are beautiful, and it’s only a ferry ride away from Sydney’s CBD (central business district). In my little hypothetical world where I am rich and live in Sydney, I live in Watson’s Bay.

Anyway, back to reality. The ferry ride from Circular Quay to Watson’s Bay was pretty awesome. Most Sydney ferries are big and ugly and yellow and kinda slow and I love them. This one, however, was less ugly, white, and surprisingly fast. Shortly after the ferry blasted off from the wharf, the cloudy sky opened up and rain began to fall. I stood on the aft deck and enjoyed the rain and ocean water and wind in my face. It was absolutely exhilirating. (Sydney’s ferries do have inside seating. I just refuse to acknowledge it.)

Sign on the Circular Quay wharf. Was anyone actually planning to do this?

A typical Sydney ferry coming in to dock at Circular Quay.

Look guys, I shrunk the city!

When I got to Watson’s Bay, it was, of course, still raining. Blustery days in Sydney are good for three things: surfing, having national parks to yourself, and making the ocean look fierce. They are not, however, particularly good for photography (at least not amateur point-and-shoot camera photography). So I walked around and explored the bay, trying to get some decent pictures.

I found the Watson’s Bay portion of Sydney Harbour National Park and wandered around there for a while. Sydney Harbour National Park is a unique concept. It’s actually a bunch of small parks spread out in various places on the harbour, but collectively they’re all one national park.

Layering: not just for clothes anymore.

Fierce ocean is fierce.

This lighthouse, like most, was built after too many ships crashed themselves into the rocks along the shore. It's still used today.

In case you haven't noticed, I really like palm trees. I think it's a result of spending my entire life in a place where they don't grow.

At some point as I was walking through the park, the rain let up. It was still cloudy and windy, but at least I wasn’t getting soaked. I made my way to Gap Park, which I first visited on my third day in Sydney. At the time I thought it was one of the most beautiful places in the city, and I wanted to go back just to make sure. Yup. It is.

Sydney has the most beautiful coastline I've ever seen. Then again, I've only seen three and the other two were in Florida.

Gap Park is stunning, but it’s also kind of depressing. The sheer cliff unfortunately makes it a popular place for suicides, so signs like these are everywhere. There’s also a free phone that connects to 000 (the Australian equivalent of 911) and Lifeline.

I wonder how many lives these signs have saved.

Turning away from the ocean, I saw the steeple of Watson’s Bay’s Catholic church, and beyond that, the city.

Breathtaking views everywhere I turned. No wonder everyone wants to live here.

Up close, the church is absolutely charming. It was built in 1909, and it looks exactly like you’d expect a 100-year-old coastal church to look: a small, strong building constructed of perfectly weathered stone and intricate stained glass windows.

The front of the church.

I'd love to go to Mass here sometime, but Sunday, Thursday, and Friday at 9:00 a.m. is not a real Mass schedule. That's a...I don't even know what kind of schedule that is.

I was just thinking about how it would be a perfect place for a wedding when I looked in the door of the sanctuary and, oh hey, a marriage ceremony was in progress. One can only get so close to a stranger’s wedding without being a total creeper, but I did my best. Saturday was a state election day and there was a polling place next door, so plenty of people were coming and going. I tried without much success to blend in with the well-dressed Watson’s Bay residents.

Looking through the fence into the church.

Wedding guests gather as the newlyweds make their dramatic exit.

After I’d had enough of watching pretty people and looking at pretty buildings, I caught the ferry back to Circular Quay. I stood on the front deck of the boat this time, and struggled to stay on my feet against the hurricane-like force of the wind.  Here’s my Sydney tourist tip of the day: You could pay $65 to take a jet boat ride around Sydney Harbour. Or you could just pay $5.30 to ride the Watson’s Bay ferry to Circular Quay. It doesn’t go quite as fast, and doesn’t do the wild acrobatics, but I’d say it’s close enough.

After disembarking from the ferry and attempting to put my hair sort of back into place, I took a train to Central and walked a few blocks to Bourke Street Bakery, which I heard about from somewhere. The internet, maybe. Anyway, the line at the bakery was out the door, but the service was super fast. I ordered a meat pie and a chocolate cookie. The meat pie was amazing–beef and mushrooms encased in a flaky crust sprinkled with poppy seeds. The cookie was delicious as well. It had raisins in it, which I wasn’t really expecting, but they were good raisins (is there such a thing?) and the effect was quite nice.  After devouring the late lunch, I took a train back to college. But wait…this story isn’t over yet.

At dinner that night, I told one of my friends I hadn’t yet tried vegemite.  She encouraged me to do so…so I did. I remembered Ryan’s advice about having a good-tasting drink on hand, so I poured myself a glass of limeade. That was a very, very good decision.

At DLC, the vegemite is served in little packets, right alongside the peanut butter, jelly, honey, and other such condiments that normal people eat. I opened a packet, spread some very thinly on just a corner of my toast, and corageously took a bite.

I’m pretty sure it was the worst tasting thing I’ve ever had on my tongue.

The rumours are true. It was absolutely hideous. Ariana says it’s better mixed with butter. Somehow, I don’t really believe her. According to Australian Geographic Outdoor, vegemite can act as a substitute for salt when removing leeches from the body. I think that pretty much says it all right there.

That evening, with my mouth still tasting slightly of vegemite, I went to the city to visit a few bars pubs with some friends. No one says “bars” around here–it’s one of those lingiustic differences that after six weeks I’m still getting used to. Anyway, it was fun to see what normal Sydney twentysomethings (i.e., not nerdy me and my nerdy friends) do with their Saturday nights. The pubs were great, I’m sure, if you like pubs.

Personally, my favorite part was the street musicians. Walking down George Street, we saw a guy in full Scottish regalia–kilt and all–playing the bagpipes. The six of us just turned to each other and busted out laughing. It was so ridiculous.

My favorite, though, was in Town Hall train station. A man was performing a very good, very energetic version of Katy Perry’s “Firework.”

On the flute.

It pretty much made my night.

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2 Comments on “Ferries, Churches, Vegemite, Bagpipes, and Pubs: Saturday in Sydney”

  1. ariana flood says:

    ahahahahahaha. It is better with butter! and better on crackers not bread! I stand by my statement.

    but leeches are gross and if vegemite works, that is kinda disgusting too….although, to be fair, I hear that potato chips work too. and they are quite tasty (as long as one eats them PRIOR to putting them on the leech)

  2. T.D. says:

    Leeches from Leech Lake would not be so easily impressed by Vegamite, I would guess.

    Hearing “Firework” on a flute would be novel, I’m sure; but, I bet he was not as wildly dressed as Katy Perry generally is!


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