Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Down Under at Last

Sailing Into Sydney
After almost 30 days at sea, we finally arrived in Australia, and at 6:00 am, we sailed into Sydney Harbour.

It was not an easy journey to get there.  After leaving New Caledonia we sailed through seas of almost 4 meters, so the ship was bouncing and pounding through heavy swells and waves. As we walked around the ship there were noticeably fewer people out and about. I think many passengers were finding the rough seas a bit unsettling so were staying close to their staterooms. Many of the people I saw around the ship were complaining about the rough ride. I imagine most people were happy to feel the ship pull into the calmer waters of Sydney Harbour.
Just fitting under the bridge

We were docking at the White Bay Cruise Terminal, and the Noordam is the largest ship that can make it this far into Sydney Harbour. It still has to be timed closely so the tide is low enough to give the ship’s funnels the two meters clearance under the bridge. This timing worked well, however and the sun rose as we entered the harbour allowing everyone to watch as we slowly made our way into one of the most beautiful harbours in the world.

Sydney Harbour really is spectacular. It is deep and long, allowing the largest ships to get far inland. Of course there is the iconic Opera House sitting right out into the water underneath the city’s famous harbour bridge. We had to make two tight turns, which forced the local ferries to stop and wait for us the get around and once we reached the cruise terminal, the ship swung completely around, and the captain backed us neatly into the mooring.

Barangaroo Park
Sydney is a beautiful city, with a pleasant combination of modern buildings and old historical landmarks. I was especially pleased to find walkways all along the waterfront. It is a particular annoyance of mine to find prime waterfront locations sold to big resorts and hotels that then block access for the public. Increasingly cities are seeing the value to creating “Public” areas along the waterfront and Sydney is following this example. I was able to walk all along the waterfront from the Opera House back to Darling Harbour with only a short break where a waterfront park was being constructed. One section called Barangaroo was once a huge concrete pier and has been reclaimed and converted into a beautiful park with trees, sandstone breakwaters, and trails for walkers, joggers and bicycles. Of course there is lots of commercial development along this same waterfront, but attractive public walkways have been maintained and you do not find yourself blocked by fences and exclusive resorts hotels. Even the converted warehouse condos in Dawes Point feature walkways all around them.

One nice thing about cruising is that you get a taste of many different places and it is brief stops on cruise journeys that have brought me back to places like Spain, Italy and the Caribbean. Sydney is certainly a city that our one day visit made us put it on a list of locations to visit again.  

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