Bondi’s Sculpture by the Sea

November 15, 2006

Despite threats of hail and thunder-storms, Tamara and I braved beautiful bondi beach for the annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibition.

What this is, is an outdoor expo of some really awesome sculptures set within the rocks and sand alongside the promenade which leads from Bondi Beach through to Tamaramma and then eventually ending at Coogee Beach.

Apparently there are throngs of curious visitors (being free obviously is also an attraction) over the weekend so we chose to meander through the art today (Wednesday) after Tam finished work.

There are 108 sculptures created by artists from 15 different countries. Some are more on the modern side (entwined copper wire doo-dabs) and some are plain old plain. For example, one of the so-called sculptures was a line of white strips that formed a trail on the rocks…like the lines in the middle of the road. Tam and I reckoned that on the night before the sculptures were due, the artist still had no idea what he/she was going to create so he just cut up some white sticky paper and glued it to the rocks….oh wow, how avant-garde, how genius….hmmm – NOT!

The talking toilet at Sculpture by the Sea
My favourite was a toilet cubicle which had a satellite dish and a solar panel on top and a recording of a man talking to himself inside – clever.

The melted ice-cream truck
There were also some cool squishy red coral things and my ultimate number one – the top of an ice-cream truck which had “melted” onto the sidewalk. (click on the pics for a better view)

So we got some excercise and culture at the same time. And we beat the storm. Fanatastic!

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Hunter Valley: Sydney’s winelands wander

November 12, 2006

On Sunday, I did my first day-trip out into the Australia wine country-side. My new mate, Russ, invited me along with a group of his friends to head out into Sydney’s answer to Stellenbosch.

It all started with a very crack of dawn start (7:30am). After a late Sat night, I must admit I was a little bleary-eyed…but hey, a couple of glasses of wine could only perk me up. So we (Russ, Rob & Lior were in the car) headed up North, passing the very South African spot of St Ives, Gosford and about 2 hours later arrived in Cessnock. This town marks the start of the Hunter Valley and is actually where my Contiki mate, Kate grew up in.

Sadly, on an overcast Sunday morning, the streets were a bit ghost-town-ish and the couple of shops that had yawned open seemed stuck in a time warp. Kate has promised to take me back and show me the wild-side of Cessnock – so I’ll reserve final judgement until then 🙂
We did stop in a cafe which made a massive (and very yummy) hot choc.

The Hunter Valley Mates
Click on the pic on the right to enlarge it
Right, on we go…into the heart of the winelands. And here, I discovered a region which I know I will be visiting often. I always loved going into wine country back in Cape Town. And I felt the same appeal for Hunters – the fertile vineyards, the fresh air, the magnificent wine estates.

The best thing here, is that the wine estates are so close together. So when my sister mentioned that she and Richard would visit up to 10 wineries in one day, I was somewhat dubious. But now, I can see why this feat is possible.

Tasting is free at all the estates so you simply enter the tasting room, taste the wines you want (you can sample them all if you’re not driving 🙂 ), buy whichever suits your palate and move on to the next-door estate. Quite a few of the wineries also offer lunch options in immaculate landscaped environments.

As I’m writing, I am chiding myself for not paying more attention to the names of the estates we visited. All I remember, is that each one was unique in architecture – we visited one that looked like space station, another that looked like a sports stadium and one that was very rustic and country-fied. My favourite was Tempus Two which was elegantly modern in dark woods and shiny travertine floors. The wine here was lovely and I bought a bottle of the slightly fizzy and juicy Moscato (it seriously tastes like sophisticated juice – yum). I also bought their boytritis (a fungus which grows on the grapes which make them sweet and raisin-like) desert wine.

Price-wise, you’re looking at on average about $20 per bottle (just over R100). I gather you can get much cheaper bottles at your local but I guess you’re also paying for the experience and quality of wine.

I also bought a fine bottle of merlot from Cockfighters Ghost wine estate and tasted the famous Cricket Pitch wines at Brokenwood. There was a handful of other wineries we popped into before settling down for a scrumptious lunch at Cafe Enzo. There were 12 of us in the group and with no reservation, the waitron staff very obligingly set us up in a table inside (outside was way too humid). I munched on a spinach salad with fresh fig, butternut and parmesan – delicious.

Our last stop was the Hunter Valley Gardens Village Centre which had a chocolate shoppe, beautiful gardens, a deli and some art galleries.

Russ and Rob wanted to make quick stops at 2 more wineries before we headed back into Sydney – the boot filled with an assortment of wine and chocolate.

All in all, a fabulous intro to the Hunter Valley. Next time, it’ll definitely be a weekend.
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Race Day Hysteria

November 9, 2006

Imagine the whole of Cape Town grinding to a halt when Durb’s hosts the Durban July horse race? I don’t even think most Capetonians would even know what the Durban July is (I only know ’cause I grew up in Durbs).
Well, let me tell you, horse-racing celebration is a national thing (and a HUGE one at that) in Australia.

To be honest, I reckon it’s all a fabulous excuse to shivy off work and head to the pub and the Sydneysiders do it in style.

It was the great Melbourne Cup on Tuesday. It’s a horse race that lasts all of 3 minutes with the pre- and partying (and the ensuing hangover) that lasts something like 3 days. For the last 2 weeks, there has been posters on almost every restaurant/bar window trying to lure in race enthusiasts with original deals. Tabs (ie the betting stations) opened up all over the city so you didn’t have to take a step out of your way to put down your bucks on your favourite stead.

Just incase you didn’t pick it up from the name, this race is in MELBOURNE – an hour and a half flight away from Sydney. It’s enough glamour for melbourne to declare a public holiday for the occassion. There is no ways though that Sydney is going to miss out on a good party. While it’s not an official holiday here, I reckon most people had left their office pods by lunchtime to prepare for a looong day (and night) of drinking.

The city had a fabulous festive vibe with many of the women decked out in elegant race gear and hats and the men suited up in funky colours. The bars were heaving and everyone was getting well and truly sloshed.

And what about me???? Well, in the quest to get a job to earn money so one day I can too afford to drink all day and night with the best of them, I had an interview at 3pm on race day. My kind interviewee made sure that we watched the race before proceeding with our chat (Delta Blues won by the way ; my favourite horsey Mandela didn’t stand a chance sadly 😦 ).

As an epilogue to this tale, I got the job – I think the company was damned impressed that I would give up race-day for an interview. To be honest, I didn’t really know what the fuss was all about.

There’s always next year.

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Hello Sydney

November 6, 2006

I have now been an Ozzie for over 2 weeks and so far it has been awesome – better than I could ever have imagined. My welcome at the airport was wonderful – I was met by sister Tamara, brother-in-law, Richard as well as my cousins and uncle and aunt, armed with a box of roses. How loved I felt. We then climbed into Rich’s snazzy new Audi (with my seatbelt well and truely fastened in the back seat – otherwise you could get a fine) and headed into Pyrmont.

T and R live in the most maginificent flat right on Darling Harbour – I really couldn’t ask for a better location. Plus I have my own room – with a new bed, duvet (which I rapidly discovered is called a ‘dooner’ here), some artwork that Tam painted herself as well as my own bathroom. I tell you, it’s better than a hotel.

Plus the flat has wireless so I can connect up all over the flat. The general scenario is Tam, Rich and myself sitting in the lounge with our IBM lappo’s on our lap.

I feel like I have hit the Australian ground on a sprint – I’ve been out and about most days and nights and am finally feeling it. I think this week will have to be a quiet one.

In a nutshell over the last 2 weeks, I have:

  • Gone to the races at Randwick with my 2 fabulous Contiki mates Kate & Monique
  • Been dancing at the Shelbourne Hotel (ditto with the Contiki gals)
  • Frequented a number of different pubs along King Street Wharf (Cargo Bar, Pontoon etc) – these Aussies can drink!!
  • Had dinner at a magnificent restaurant called Cafe Sydney – must be one of the best harbour bridge views in Sydney
  • Cocktails on the top of the Shangri La hotel in Circular Quay – here again – amazing panoramic view
  • Been to an authentic Ozzie barbie with beef boerewors
  • Got my learner’s license
  • Booked my driver’s test
  • Walked across the Pyrmont Bridge about 100 times
  • Have had 4 recruitment interviews and three company interviews
  • It’s all very exciting…..