A Trek Around Macquarie Point

Title

My next destination in Sydney (the morning after I had spent and exhilarating time at the Observatory) was to visit Woolloomooloo, namely because it has one of the coolest names ever (though Woollongabba comes a pretty close second). I decided was going to get there the long way by visiting the botanic gardens, and then walking around Macquarie Point (namely because there is a chair there – though why anybody would want to see a chair is beyond me). So, I made my way to Museum Station and caught the train to Circular Quay (a journey that I would make many times over the week I would spend here). However, before I continue I should mention that Musuem Station is by far my favourite station in Sydney, namely because it was built in the 1920s and is a mix between a London and a Paris subway station. The name of the station is also stylised similar to the London Underground.

Anyway, I caught the train to Circular Quay and suddenly discovered the the coffee van that used to sit next to the glass elevator has vanished since I was last here. So, at little disappointed (and minus a cup of English Breakfast Tea) I ascended the elevator and made my way to the Domain. Before I continue it might be an idea to point out where the Domain is, so here is a map I borrowed from Google:

Gardens of the Botanist

As I made my way towards the park, and the entrance which is closest to Government House (which offers tours, but I’ve never been around in time to take one) I past a rather interesting object, or should I say objects. Basically they are a collection of carved stones that seem to have at one time been a building, but now lie scattered across the grass. There is no plaque indicating what they are or what it once was, and there doesn’t seem to be enough of them to actually make a building. This still baffles me, though for all I know it could be some form of modern art.

So, having spent some time wandering around these stones, without coming to any conclusion as to what it is supposed to mean and what the building (if any) was that stood there, I then walked through the gate and into the Botanic Gardens. The shaded path runs along the side of government house, and it was as I was walking along that I discovered that this is a legitimate botanical garden, namely because there are small signs beneath the plants that have some Latin Words on them.

Latin Sign
They Even have a helpful English translation

Well, one of the main reasons people visit Botanical Gardens, me being one of them, is to actually see some gardens. Okay, I know, the entire park is one big garden, but in a way it is also comprised of a lot of little gardens. In fact some of these botanical gardens have the plants collected into various habitats (though it is probably not possible to have a whole range of habitats – setting up a tundra is not going to work in the tropics). Anyway, this was the first garden that I encountered, which I suspect is just a random garden that somebody put together simply to look nice as opposed to having any scientific merit.

After spending some time wandering around this garden I decided to plunge into the forest of trees that made up the garden proper. As I have mentioned, since this is a botanical garden they tend to categorise the plants into certain habitats (as long as they are able to grow in the specific climate of course). Mind you, the problem that I have with plants is that I am not a botanist so I really can’t tell the difference between one sort of tree and another (though I am smart enough to work out the difference between a gum tree and a pine tree). Anyway, the path took me into the shade, which was good because it was a rather sunny day today.

Fortunately for those of us not familiar with the gardens there are a number of signs directing us to various points of interest: one destination was the fern house. As you can probably guess the fern house is dedicated to, well, ferns. In fact the entire place is full of ferns. Like most exhibits which has been established for scientific curiosity, the fern house has a number of plaques which talk about the uniqueness of the plants. For instance they suggest that some ferns are edible, however before you rush out and start pigging on your neighbour’s fern tree, they do emphasis the word ‘some’, namely that some of them aren’t edible, and some of them are outright poisonous (so you may have to resort to Jamie Oliver to find out the difference). The other thing about ferns is that they don’t produce seeds (though since I’m not a botanist – I never studied biology in high school – I can’t give details on how they reproduce – you’ll need to go to wikipedia for that). In the middle ages they believed that fern seeds were invisible (namely because they couldn’t see them) so the belief was that if you found the seed of a fern, and ate it, then you’d become invisible.

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After leaving the fern house I discovered a glass house next door which contained some plants that had the name ‘flamethrower’. That name sounds almost as cool as an ‘anti-matter’.

So, after leaving the fern house (and the glasshouse containing the flame thrower and other flowers) I continued my walk around the gardens. Mind you a part of me was rushing through so I didn’t get to pay too much attention to what I saw there, nor was I studiously taking notes as I was elsewhere. Anyway, since my story goes beyond the gardens I’ll simply say that I then made my way towards what I thought was the exit. However, here are some flowers that I photographed as I was there:

As well as some random plants:

Oh and I shouldn’t forget the tulip patch (not that I was tip-towing through them):

Into the Domain

As I have mentioned the Domain is a pretty large park that surrounds Sydney’s Farm Cove. Obviously the cove got its name because in the original colony this was mostly farmland. Obviously the farms have now moved much farther out of Sydney and this place has now been converted into a rather tranquil park. I remember that a group of friends that I was in Sydney with years ago decided to spend their day off lazing around here, but being a much more adventurous type I went to explore the city. Anyway, here are some photos of the park:

Along with the acres of lawn that you can spend some time lying upon, having a picnic, or playing some form of contact sport, they also have a number of flower beds (upon which you can’t do any of the above).

You also get some pretty impressive views of the Sydney skyline:

There is also a rather special pond in the Domain which I call ‘The Eel Pond’. The reason I have given it this name is because it is full of eels. In fact no matter how hard they try to get rid of them the eels just seem to keep on returning to the pond. As such it makes it a rather dangerous pond for ducks to swim in, and apparently you will occasionally see a duck being pulled underwater after being attacked by one of the eels. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see anything along those lines, but I did see a couple of eels break the surface.

Eel Pond
You might be waiting a while to see a duck disappear

 Oh, I should also mention that as you wander around here you are likely to encounter some statues a well – there are a few scattered about the place.

Well, my next stop was a place called Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. This is one of those places that seem to appear on Google Maps as a point of interest, and everybody time (okay twice) that I have been here there have been a gaggle of Chinese tourists gathered around it taking photos of people sitting on the chair. Mind you it isn’t all that fantastic, it is basically a stone bench carved out of the rock, however it seems to be a place of historical significance.

The first time I made my way here it was raining, which was really annoying, however this time it was quite pleasant. The path takes you along farm cove to Macquarie Point which happens to be a rocky outcropping. As you walk along here you will see a number of stairs that were carved out of the rock in the earlier times (though most of those steps have been roped off now). In fact there is a bus stop just above the point which takes visitors from the city out to the chair (though the walk is actually much better).

Mrs Macquarie's Chair
Nothing much here

I should also mention that there is a lookout here where you can look out onto the harbour and across to the city and the opera house.

Macquarie Point Lookout

Woolloomooloo Waltz

That might sound like the end of the story, however it isn’t (though it was the first time I came here because previously I turned around and walked back to the city) because I then headed down the other side of the peninsula which takes you along Woolloomooloo Bay to one of the suburbs with the coolest name ever (though you got to admit the town named Bong Bong is also pretty cool – I suggested that it was aboriginal for Place of Much Marijuana). Anyway, along Woolloomooloo Bay you have a swimming pool named the Andrew Charlton Pool (a swimming pool named after an economist – how different – must have been Labor’s doing), on the other side is the Garden Island Naval Base (which gives you a good view of some naval ships) and the walk finishes off at a marina.

Anyway, as I passed the pool (and it was quite busy due to it being quite a nice day) I discovered these rather odd contraptions sitting just off the shore. There were some stairs heading down the side so I decided to check it out. What it turned out to be was some art that had been set up here that changes based on the tide. One of the pieces is also structured so that when then wind blows through it it creates that haunting blowing noise.

I then arrived at the marina, which meant that I got to look at all these boats that were parked there. Mind you there would have been a time when I would have said to myself ‘I wish I had enough money to afford a boat’ until I realised that if I did own a boat then it would probably spend all of its time sitting in the marina doing nothing and costing me marina fees. Mind you not all of the boats sit in marinas because as you travel through Sydney Harbour you will find boats anchored all over the place, and you will also find dingies hidden in the bush next to the harbour, which are no doubt used to allow people to get out to their boats. I wonder if it is cheaper to simply anchor the boat in the harbour rather than docking it at a marina (actually you can find the fees here – though I am a little baffled about the 50% concession discount – I can’t imaging anybody owning a boat being eligible for a concession).

As I was walking past the Marina I did notice a list of the obligatory marina rules, one of them being that you had to wear clothes while your boat was in the marina (which sort of says something about the type of people who use the marina). However, remembering the saying that one of my friends said: the best way to solve money problems is with more money; it makes me wander whether this rules are actually enforced, considering that some of the boats suggest that the owners actually have quite a lot of money (or quite a lot of debt)

(pic - Story) Macquarie Point - Harbour Boats.

I finally reached the suburb of Woolloomooloo and decided to have a break, so I went into one of the pubs and grabbed a beer. It was the Bells Hotel because that place had a much better atmosphere than the Woolloomooloo Bay Hotel across the road (not only is that one a Woolworth’s pub, it is simply doesn’t have the charm of the other pub).

Woolloomooloo is basically one of those inner city harbourside suburbs which means that to be able to live there you need to be earning a pretty decent sum of money (or sharing a house with around twenty other people, and considering the size of some of those houses it would be a very tight squeeze). One thing I noticed as I walked along the foreshore was that there was this little caravan parked at the side of the road with all these people crowding around it. As it turns out it is the original Harry’s Cafe de Wheels, a famous food van that dates back to the early fifties. In fact it is covered with pictures that gives it that historical flavour.

Harry's Cafe de Wheels

My last stop in Woolloomooloo was a park called Embarkation Park. The thing about this park is that it has been built on top of a car park. This I thought was quite novel, though these days you seem to find parks being built everywhere, including up the side of high rise buildings. It was quite nice wandering through this place, however since time was pressing on I once again descended Elhorn Stairs, this time to make my way to the Art Gallery.

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A Trek Around Macquarie Point by David Alfred Sarkies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.If you wish to use this work commercially please feel free to contact me.

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