The Hungry Wanderers

Eating and exploring our way through the world

Sydney’s Darling Harbour, and a Train Trip to Brisbane

Posted by gingerbreadpirate on March 12, 2010

After our trip to the Blue Mountains and the Hunter Valley, we popped back into Sydney to see the rest of the downtown area.  After getting up early, we headed into Sydney to return our rental car.  We popped over to a small cafe for a bite to eat and waited for my brother to come pick us up.

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It was a nice little open-air cafe, really.

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The orange juice was pretty weird.  At first, I thought it just wasn’t freshly squeezed, but after looking at it, I don’t think that was it.  I think the oranges in Australia are just different than oranges I’m used to.  Perhaps they’re a different variety, or maybe the soil composition simply has a huge effect on the final product, much like grapes used for wines grown in different parts of the world.  Whatever the reason, the orange juice was really odd, and I had kind of a hard time finishing it.

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Once Jeff showed up, we headed over to the downtown area to check out Chinatown and Darling Harbour.  It took awhile to find a parking space on a workday morning in downtown Sydney, but once we did, a nice gentleman gave us the leftover time on his parking ticket, saving us about $10.  We then trekked off to Darling Harbour.

Darling Harbour is clearly a tourist-focused area of the city.  It’s gorgeous, but it’s a real tourist-trap.  My brother said that it was mostly a dockyard for large ships prior to the Olympics.  During the Olympic renovations, though, a lot of money was put into building new docks outside the downtown area to provide easier access for the ships, free up otherwise mega-buck real estate, and alleviate big rig traffic in downtown Sydney.

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IMG_4026If you’ve ever been to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, it’s really very similar, except larger, and surrounded by a nicer, safer neighborhood.  Take a look.

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IMG_4031 The National Maritime Museum was located right there in the harbor.  I would have liked to have checked it out, if I had the time, but we just didn’t have that kind of time to spare.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Australia has a tremendous amount of shoreline to protect.  The strong naval heritage of the British certainly has provided them a fine lineage to draw on for how to manage such a huge national responsibility, but still, there is just so much shoreline.  I was imagining in the Japanese during World War II, amassing a huge army someplace between Darwin and Cairns, with no real way to tell that it was even happening!  Anyway, I digress… but think about it!

Anyway, here is an Australian naval vessel and a Soviet submarine.  If you look closely on the Australian ship’s superstructure, you can see a small red kangaroo (emblem), identifying it as an Australian ship.  This would be like the blue star that American military aircraft have on them, identifying them as American.

IMG_4034This is a sightseeing boat which cruises the harbor.  My brother, who is a competitive sailor (part of the Sydney Yacht Club, and has sailed in several competitive sailing events, including the annual Sydney to Hobart race) says the cruiser is known to terrorize sailboats on the harbor, while giving riders a speedy thrill as they get carted about the harbor.  The boat certainly LOOKS fast.

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IMG_4056 During our walk around the harbor, we headed into Chinatown.  It looked like any other Chinatown, I suppose.

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IMG_4064On our way back to the car (actually, Jeff drives a pickup truck, called a “ute” by the Aussies), we hit a sushi train.  I had heard about sushi trains before, particularly from my friends that have lived in Japan, but I had never seen one.  Getting to a sushi train was on my list of things to do while in Australia.  If you’ve never heard of one, basically it’s a big conveyor belt hauling sushi plates.  You grab what you want, and each plate is color-coded to let you know how much it costs.  Once you’re done, you take your empty plates to the register, and pay for the sushi you ate.  It’s pretty cool.

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IMG_4072To be honest, though, it really wasn’t very good.  The novelty was there.  I’m guessing it would have been better if we had gone somewhere NOT tuck in the tourist area of the city.

After Darling Harbour, it was time to head to the train station to catch our overnight train to Brisbane.  It was a little difficult to get around, to be honest, particularly with five weeks worth of luggage, but the employees were friendly in helping us find where to get to.  We did have to lug our bags up two flights of stairs, which was no fun, but the stairs were wide, and they weren’t busy, so it certainly could have been worse.

IMG_4080 Not really sure what this is, but it was in the train station lobby and looked kinda cool.IMG_4083

IMG_4089 Our train, pulling into the station.

Once we got on the train, we headed for our berth.  We got a first-class sleeper berth for the trip.  We considered some other kind of seat, but we knew that we’d be tired and would lose time in Brisbane if we booked something else.  Besides, it would be an adventure.  It wasn’t my first time overnight on a train in a sleeping berth, but it was the Wife’s.  Always an adventure!

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The beds actually fold up into the wall, revealing three seats.  We were able to pull the beds down whenever we wanted them.  The train left Sydney at 4:10, but didn’t arrive in Brisbane until 5:30 the next morning.  Also, Brisbane doesn’t observe daily savings time, so they were an hour behind Sydney.  14 hours on the train, we were definitely glad we got a sleeper berth.  Sorry the picture’s blurry, but you’d be amazed how hard it is to take a picture, in a VERY dark train, while the train is moving and rocking back and forth.

To be honest, I really didn’t sleep well.  The bed wasn’t long enough, and while the gentle rocking keeps you perpetually sleepy, I couldn’t stay asleep for anymore than 15 minutes at a time.  The Wife slept ok, but not great.

IMG_4094The bathroom AND shower.  The toilet and sink fold out of the wall, and the showerhead is behind the towel you can see in the upper left corner.  This is a shared bathroom between two berths, but the other berth was empty, so it was all to ourselves.

IMG_4102 There was some beautiful scenery for the first couple hours, but it was pretty overcast, so it wasn’t the best for landscape shots.  Also, all the motion made some of the pictures a little hard to take.

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This is the Hawkesbury river, which dumps into the Pacific not too far north of Sydney.

IMG_4107Our tickets included a couple snacks and an evening meal, too.

IMG_4109Our afternoon snack included an Indian tomato and vinegar dip, along with some crackers, cheese, a Cadbury chocolate, and a small container of spring water.

IMG_4111On my list of things to try was a sausage roll.  I picked on up, along with a Hahn Premium Light beer.  When the Australian’s say light beer, they are talking about alcohol content, and not calories.  This beer is a 2.8%(ish) beer.  In general, Aussie beer is around 4.5%, and light in color.

IMG_4119 This was our morning snack, provided at 4:30 am.  It included some toast, with butter and Vegemite, some cereal, juice (orange or pineapple), and some milk.

As we rolled into Brisbane, we were able to see the sun rise.  It was beautiful.

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IMG_2072 It was a nice end to the trip into Brisbane.  We gathered our bags, and looked to find some coffee and a taxi.

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2 Responses to “Sydney’s Darling Harbour, and a Train Trip to Brisbane”

  1. Jeff said

    Just a few minor corrections:

    A) I’m currently a member of the Blues Point Yacht Club. I sailed the Sydney to Hobart Race with the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA).

    B) That sushi was “fast food sushi” and in the worst part of town for such things. We’ll show you a way better one (which would be pretty much any other sushi joint around) when you’re back in town.

    C) I’m so jealous that you made it to the XXXX Brewery! I’ve been to Brissy 3 times and never had the time, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    D) Start using the little green square setting on your camera. I know you think you know it all about taking picts but the people at Canon have been doing these things for a while longer than you have and the automatic setting they put together will help you avoid the blurry & dark picts.

    E) I’m really glad you’re having a good time in Australia (or at least looking like you are). I’m thinking that I might fly down and catch up with you in Melbourne for a day if I can get my mate to come with me (we’ll split a hotel room and not impose on you two) if you’re keen.

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