G’day Mates!

We’ve learned another version of English–the Australian one. We spent last week in Australia over the mid-Autumn festival break. Yes, they spoke English, but those Australian accents can be tough to understand sometimes, especially when they’re using phrases you’re not accustomed to. The first time I used a credit card I was asked “pinorsign?” Umm, “yes?”…”no?” Thankfully, Meredith was standing by to interpret for me.

The girl wanted to know if my credit card used a pin or I just signed for it–“pin or sign.”

Funny enough, they couldn’t understand me either. And I always thought I was so articulate.

I’m going to start backwards, because the pictures from the first part of the trip haven’t streamed onto photo stream from Mark’s computer yet. We spent the first part of the week in the Outback and the last in Sydney.

We didn’t get the harbor view room (could have been ours, plus a suite, for only an extra $180 per night!), but we did get a bit of water view from our room

Friday afternoon and Saturday were spent at the Sydney Opera House, a truly magnificent structure.

Some people had their minds on something other than the scenery.

We considered going to the opera on Friday night to see Aida, but the only tickets left were $270 a piece! The very kind ticket lady told us that if we went on a tour, we could get $270 tickets to Madama Butterfly the next afternoon for $50! Sold!

We learned all about the construction of the building on the tour. There was a competition for the design and the winning design was only a few pencils lines on a page, showing a building reminiscent of the sails on a ship. They started construction with no idea how they were going to build the roofs, and estimating it would take 3 years and cost 7 million dollars. As will happen when one doesn’t have a plan, it took 15 years and cost $102 million! Whoops! No surprise, the architect was fired mid-construction.

The foundation had been constructed and they still had no idea how to build the roofs so they wouldn’t fall down on everyone’s heads. Then one night, the architect had a eureka moment. All the shapes could be cut from a sphere, thus making them inherently stable. The shapes were cast in concrete and moved into place.

The resulting building has many interesting shapes and angles, along with views of the harbor.

What I hadn’t realized before the tour is that there are 5 theaters in the building, each with their own characteristics. The theater for plays, for instance has black walls, so you concentrate on the play and not the decor.

The theater for the symphony is magnificent. Apparently it’s ok to have something to look at while listening to music.

The lighted bits in the middle of the picture under the organ are not interesting light fixtures as I had thought, but acoustic balloons that bounce the sound back to the musicians, so there’s less delay than there would be if the sound went all the way up to the ceiling and back. They can be adjusted in height according to the situation.

Notice that organ in the back? That’s the world’s largest mechanical tracker-action pipe organ, with 10,154 pipes. It took 10 years to build and 2 years to tune and cost $1.2 million rather than the original $400,000 estimated. Oops again.

The roofs are covered with ceramic tiles that took 3 years to design. The architect wanted them to shed dirt when it rained, but not produce a glare in the Australian sun.

We took a special trip to the bathroom to get a look at these amazing sinks. They are meant to look like waves and the plumbing isn’t visible so as to not break up the lines. The water flows to the back and disappears. We were sure it was going to end up on the our feet, but it didn’t!

Sadly, we had no need to “cloak” anything during our tour.

When we came out of the tour, we saw this tall ship coming in to the harbor. Isn’t it beautiful?

Here we are at the opera. Mark was in Madama Butterfly when he was 6, playing the role of Butterfly’s son. His parents started an opera organization in Schenectedy to bring opera to the area and Madama Butterfly was one of the operas they brought–it pays to have connections, especially when you’re 6. He says he remembers the vibrations coming from the singer’s chest when she held him in her arms.


After leaving the opera, Mark and I went off in search of 2 meter long Apple cords. On the way we came across what was apparently a popular site for wedding photographs to be taken.

Changing of the guards, wedding style. One goes out, one goes in. There were three parties waiting to use this spot.

It was a beautiful spot for pictures.

We didn’t find the cords and when we checked the restaurant we had emailed for dinner reservations it appeared to be closed for the evening–hence their lack of reply. Turned out most of the few restaurants that Sydney has were closed on Saturday night. Perhaps they charge such outrageous prices the rest of the nights they’re open, to make up for their days off. We finally were able to locate an open Chinese/Malaysian restaurant right near the hotel. The food was good and the prices were $20-$40 a dish, not $80 and up. (Or $400–really)

Luckily it had a more appealing name than this restaurant in Shanghai that I recently came across.

The Australians don’t kill their dinner out on the street either. The lady with the interesting clothing choice, at the neck end of this chicken, had a most fearsome cleaver with which to do the job. The chicken never made a sound.

Here’s a view of the opera house at night.

View of the other side of the harbor with all it’s pretty lights and a boat going past.

Parting shot of the opera house without distracting people in it.

Many thanks to Mark for taking most of the pictures on this trip, as my shoulder was still not up to heavy duty picture taking.

And finally before I say, “Ta!”:

Our beautiful mail envelope from the last shipment

Until next time–Ta!














About DECRYPTKNIT: knitter on the loose in Shanghai

Hi, I'm Marisa Newhouse, a former pharmacist (for a brief time during the Reagan administration) who's real calling was probably anything that has to do with cooking, plants, literature and especially knitting; hence my last and favorite job, working at Woolyminded, a wonderful yarn store. But now, I have moved half a world away to Shanghai where my husband will be working. Lots of people are interested in what we will be doing here and I have always kept journals of our travels, so I thought I'd do it the modern way and keep a blog.
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2 Responses to G’day Mates!

  1. Hello, nice pictures! Bring back so many memories. Glad you enjoyed time down under.

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