Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Going Local

I am not finished with Sydney yet but thought I'd take a detour to show you something local.  We have seen some pretty spectacular sights on our travels abroad but sometimes these are right at our front door, or quite close to it.  These are photos from a hike we went on last weekend - an hour and a half away near Hamilton - people would go to work every day driving that distance!

We started at Webster Falls, hiked along the river bed then went uphill and reached Tews Falls, from which it was just a short hike back to the car at Webster Falls.  The loop took us all of 3 hours.  Water and rocks, I've found, are the key ingredients to making a hike interesting.

Webster Falls, considered one of the top 10 falls in Ontario
Waterfalls make you do crazy things

Tews Falls

A classic U-shaped valley - glaciers were here a long time ago!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Oz: Sydney the city

Sydney was a surprisingly walkable city although it also had great surface transit on which we depended for most of the four days we spent in town.  Our hotel was strategically located close to Chinatown and that was where we started off our sightseeing.  We were pleasantly surprised by the high standard of Chinese food here.  The proximity to the sea clearly placed it at an advantage for fresh seafood although this had no apparent effect on the steep prices.  But cost of living in general was quite high here, so we were thankful that at least it was money well-spent.  Restaurant meals were overwhelmingly delicious wherever we ate.

Chinatown portal "Four seas - one family"

Humongous abalone in shop window

Delicious fresh abalone and oyster on my plate

Sunday market at The Rocks, the historic area where Sydney began

Fresh fruit at The Rocks market

The famous Paddy's market

The ornate Queen Victoria Building with a shopping mall inside

The Edge of the Trees sculpture in front of the Museum which sat on the site of the first encounter between the original Gadigal people of Sydney and the first British exiles to arrive here

An eclectic mix of architectural styles in downtown Sydney
It was spring and the jacaranda trees were in bloom

St. Mary's Cathedral and the Art Deco fountain in the square beside it commemorating the Australian-French alliance during the Great War

Sydney Harbour Bridge, climbable for the young at heart

Awesome panorama of the Sydney skyline

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Oz: Sydney Opera House

In November, 2010, we spent an amazing month in Australia and New Zealand.  You are invited to join us on this journey starting from cosmopolitan Sydney through the wilds of two national parks in New Zealand to the rolling hills of Christchurch.   

We landed in Sydney after a 20+ hour plane trip across eight time zones and visited the iconic Sydney Opera House that same day.  We had tickets to see Rigoletto that evening - what could we be thinking?!   But it was well-worth the visit.  Designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon and completed in 1973, the building lived up to its reputation as a masterpiece of 20th century artchitecture and we found it to be breathtakingly spectacular.  You see below how stunning the interior was, as well as the exterior, under different lights and from various angles.

What the "sails" look like on the inside

The entrance

A view of the magnificent lobby and staircase

Looking out onto the harbour

From the inside looking out: roof detail

Framed by the bow of a cruise ship in the harbour

Majestic under threatening skies

Resplendent in the sun

Striking against the Sydney skyline

Breathtaking at night - whichever way you look at it.  And so Rigoletto became just a sideshow, although I did stay awake for the arias...

Monday, 22 August 2011

Haliburton Sculpture Forest

It took us 10 years to discover this remarkable art gallery spread out over 10 acres of a forest reserve, only a few hours from Toronto.  You can see below some of the offerings by Canadian artists inspired and enhanced by the natural backdrop.

Curled Figures by Susan Low-Beer
Dreaming Stones by Kevin Lockau - A "mystical totem" made from granite boulders collected from the region.

Gelert by Mary Anne Backhouse

Fire and Ice: A Really Big Shoe by Charles O'Neil

To Cut or Not to Cut by John Beachli (Father and Son figures)

C to C - John Shaw-Rimmington

Redwing Frond by Darlene Bolahood

Sound Vessel: Forest - Metalgenesis by Don Dickson and Amy Doolittle
Forest Design in a rectangular prism of steel plates encasing sound rods which you see in the photo below

Sound rods inside the sculpture

This sculpture looks better from the inside than it did outside

Guardians of the Forest by Brett Davis

Kennisis: Horse and Rider by William Lishman
The red entrance to Fleming College's Haliburton School of the Arts

This is the loghouse farmstead on the grounds of the Haliburton Highlands Museum which you can see on the way to the sculpture forest.

The blacksmithery

And if you're lucky, he'll be there and he'll do a live demo and make a real metal hook souvenir for you...

There is more to cottage country than you think...