Michael Sullivan Online


Week 9: Mike Goes to Sydney

CANBERRA AUSTRALIA - 5 July 2000 - This week, Mike finally left the A.C.T. and ventured to New South Wales, specifically Sydney. Early on Saturday morning, Steve and Stacey picked Mike up and headed to the train station. Mike had never ridden a train before and so was very excited. As the train moved into the country-side and into the mountains, Mike saw kangaroos hopping along the side of the train. It was at about this point that Mike thought to himself (everyone was wondering what that burning smell was :) ), "I'm definately in Australia". After the four hour train ride was over, Mike, Steve and Stacey found a place to stay about four blocks from the train station in China Town. After lunch, they went over to Darling Harbour and into the Australian National Maritime Museum. While there, Mike worked his way through the tight spaces of the HMAS Onslow submarine and the destoyer HMAS Vampire. It was incredible to see how sailors lived on these Navy ships; from the cramped quarters of the Onslow to the teamwork required for the Vampire. By the end of this time, Mike had a bit of a headache, possibly from being on these sea going vessels. After the time on the ships, Mike, Steve, and Stacey wandered through the galleries of the museum and saw lots of model ships, histories of early explorers of Australia, and the boat that holds the water speed record.

After they had spent 2 hours in the Maritime Museum, Mike went to the Sydney Aquarium while Stacey and Steve went shopping. Mike got to see lots of native Australian waterlife there. It started out with some rather mundane things like turtles, crayfish, and fish, but soon Mike saw tree frogs, platypus, and a freshie (a freshwater crocodile that is relatively small). From there, the path took Mike to the seals and penguins, then on to the Sydney Harbour tank that housed some beautifully colored fish as well as moray eels, pufferfish, and a few small sharks. This was just a prelude as the next tank held bigger sharks and HUGE stingrays. It was amazing to see rays floating above Mike that were longer and wider than he was. This tank was the highlight of the aquarium. From there, Mike went into the new Great Barrier Reef exhibit. Here were corals in addition to fish of every color and so brightly colored at that.

Mike then met Steve and Stacey at the hotel and got dressed up for the opera. After grabbing a steak at The Rock's Cafe in The Rocks area, the crew headed over to the Sydney Opera House to see The Gondliers. As Mike proceeded to his seat, he was struck with awe; he couldn't believe he was in this place that he had seen in gradeschool as the definition of the other side of the world, never thinking he'd ever be there and here he was. The opera itself was fun and playful. It included a great set and a few tweaks to the lyrics that made reference to Microsoft and releasing an IPO. Mike had a little trouble understanding the words through the accents and the slightly imperfect acoustics but nevertheless Mike really enjoyed the experience. After a beer at the Orient Hotel, Mike and the others called it a night and went to bed exhausted.

On Sunday, Mike, Steve, and Stacey went to Homebush Bay, home of the 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games. They took the ferry from Cirular Quay (pronounced "key"), which is right between the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, went under the bridge and arrived about a half hour later at Homebush Bay; Mike did take his motion-sickness medicine just to make sure that he'd be okay. Once there, they hopped on a bus that took them to passed Olympic Village (in the distance) and to the Sydney Superdome. Once there, they got off the bus and walked to Stadium Australia and took an hour tour. They saw the luxury suites, broadcast center, and locker rooms. This will be the site for track and field events and holds about 110,000 people. After picking up some items at the gift shop, they once again boarded the bus and listened as the driver told about all the buildings, streets, and parks, even mentioning that a fence keeps frogs that were once thought extinct from getting run over by the cars; he did this in a very comical way through his Australian accent. After climbing the top of Kronos Hill, they took pictures of a distant Sydney and the Olympic site. Having just missed the bus for the ferry, Mike, Steve and Stacey had some ice cream from the McDonald's there and waited about 45 minutes for the next ferry as a shower passed. There were a few things that struck Mike. One was how new all the buildings were. Everything seemed to have been built within the last 3 years with a few exceptions. The site had been very industrial and required a lot of cleaning up but once that was done, it bacame an area with lots of room for all the necessary venues. Another was just how busy the grounds will be during the Olympics. While the placed seemed so empty when Mike visited, it was nearly impossible to imagine the plazas clogged with people. It will be fun to see it in this state. Lastly, the site seems a ways away from the city. Mike had envisioned it right in the city in an area that was well developed; this is certainly not the case as there few places to eat or shop.

After an Italian dinner, they headed to a small pub and had a few drinks as a small band played. Steve seemed to want to go back to the hotel and Mike initally suggested this. It had been a long day and Stacey accused Mike of being what amounted to a party pooper. They headed back to the hotel all the while Mike and Stacey exchanged friendly jabs. Once at the hotel, they were at a bit of a stand off. Mike didn't want to back down so once he dropped off his backpack, he said let's go to the bar. Stacey called a truce but would still make a comment to which Mike would grab his coat and head for the door. Once it was clear that they were going to stay, Mike and Stacey watched Jerry Maguire while Steve read his book. Less than twenty minutes passed before Mike and Stacey were sound asleep. Mike only woke briefly to ask Steve if he was watching the movie and turn off the tv. Steve then stayed up and read for a while longer.

On Monday, the gang did some shopping in the Rocks and spent the afternoon at Taronga Zoo. Mike got to see lots of native Australian animals including kangaroos, emus, wallabies, echidnas, and platapus. The highlight though was the sleeping koalas and the saltie crocidile. The group had there picture taken with a koala; Mike was a little hesitant to turn his back on the koala with it moving around a bit behind him. Needless to say, he didn't get too close to it. On the ferry ride home, Mike took a picture of the pharmaceutical building Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) had broken into in Mission: Impossible 2. From Circular Quay, they headed to the train station to catch their train. They headed home tired but happy. They'd packed a lot of stuff into the weekend and had a great time in the process.

Here ends Mike's second month in Australia.

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