Sydney Director’s Cut: 2nd to 13th January 2014

As with Melbourne, having previously posted a cricket focused shorter account of my time in Sydney, here’s the more detailed version as originally published on Tumblr at the time…

My final stop on my Australia/Ashes odyssey saw me in Sydney for a bit under two weeks, plenty of time as it turned out due to the most inept and woeful England cricket performance of the tour, but I’m not going to talk about that just yet. Overall, I had a pretty good time in Sydney but I also am now looking forward to heading home (currently writing this at Sydney airport en route to Dubai for a quick pit-stop before going back to London). To start with, I stayed fairly central in Sydney, just below Hyde Park and at the top of the Surrey Hills area, so well placed for the city, some good bars/restaurants and also a nice half hour stroll to the Sydney Cricket Ground. After 3 days of misery at the SCG (interspersed with some pleasant evenings), I did the tourist thing for a couple of days – saw that bridge, saw that shell-type building etc; all impressive stuff but I think I could tell I was struggling from travel fatigue too at this stage. Probably most enjoyable was a boat trip around Sydney harbour, where as well as seeing the main sights, I stopped off at a picturesque enclave called Watson’s Bay for a good lunch with some fellow England sufferers.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Can y’guess where I am yet? On some boat near some building in some city down under

I also spent a day at Bondi beach, walking down a beautiful coastal walk from nearby Bronte beach, before needing to retire to some local pubs on Bondi as it started raining – and fairly heavily, as changeable weather continued to follow me around from time to time over here. Seemed a decent enough place, but I wasn’t that blown away by it. Sydney is indeed fairly picturesque, but I actually think I preferred Melbourne as a city – better laid out and easier to get round, plus Melbourne just seems a bit livelier and more my type of place. I get the feeling that the surrounding areas of Sydney are probably also pretty spectacular places worthy of investigation, but that’s not that much fun when travelling solo, when it is better to stick to urban terrain, I find.

The annual “Sydney Festival” started towards the end of my time there – a mix of public installations around the city plus a range of performances: music, comedy, theatre, you know the kind of stuff. The main installations will be familiar to some, such as Jeremy Deller’s bouncy Stonehenge “Sacrilege”, that mirrored building facade they had in London recently apparently called “Merchant’s Store” (see picture below) as well as that massive inflatable rubber duck that seems to basically go everywhere in the world. There was some good stuff as part of the music line-up too, such as Kurt Vile and Edwyn Collins, but unfortunately this was all happening after I was leaving. I did however to get see The War On Drugs (the Philadelphia based rock band, not societal problem) while in Sydney, at the Oxford Acts Factory; superb for the first half hour but dragged a little mid set. This gig was also the day after England lost the cricket, commented on by the band something like this: “5-0, eh? Pretty cool, yeah? Man, we have no idea about cricket but hear that’s a pretty big deal…” Cue cheering from the crowd while I was muttering “this was one place I thought I would escape from this”.

Merchant Store Sydney

Here comes the mirror, man. Part of the Sydney Festival: “Merchant’s Store” installation in Darling Harbour, as seen in London too

I spent my last few nights in Sydney staying in a neighbourhood called Kings Cross, well between Kings Cross and Potts Point to be exact, still a pretty central area. I’d heard quite a few different things about “the Cross” and my description would be to say that it’s a cross between Shoreditch, Soho and well Kings Cross (although a bit behind in the gentrification stakes compared to its London namesake). Certainly a “lively” place with many “characters” I would say. I did have a couple of really good nights there however and found some really good pubs and bars, while equally managing to steer clear of what seemed some fairly ropey establishments. I was also staying in a pretty swanky hotel here to treat myself at the end of a long tour, where my room also had its own private courtyard, a wise move indeed.

But hang on. Wasn’t there some other reason I went to Sydney? Oh yes, the fifth Test at the SCG. Despite the terrible performances in the preceding four Tests, this was the nadir with it being all over in 3 days this time, which at least gave me more time to explore Sydney, plus I do get a refund for my fourth day ticket too, so that is at least something. As ever with England, there was a bit of hope on the first day, as Australia were reduced to 97-5 just after lunch on day one before the inevitable Brad Haddin plus one other (in this case Steve Smith) show saved them before various batting collapses from England – and these two innings from England were the worst of the tour for various reasons I won’t go into now. As for positives, it was good to go to the SCG, although I was a little underwhelmed compared to the majesty of Melbourne’s MCG and actually think I prefer the Adelaide Oval too. Also, I did feel for the couple sat next to me, who had come over just for the Sydney Test. At least by going to all 5 Tests, I guaranteed I would be there for the approximately 6 sessions that we won in the entire series, as well as the best day (day 2 at the MCG).

2014-01-03 10.35.54

The Sydney Cricket Ground’s iconic pavilions

So then, that is it really from me in Australia. An enjoyable trip even if it could have been so much more if the series had at least been close rather than the absolute battering we got from the Aussies, but fair play to them – they wanted it more and their bowling attack, especially Mitchell Johnson, was a privilege to watch (or so I hope I will think in years to come). Only 18 months till they’re back in England for us to take back the urn hopefully, I just think we shouldn’t let Brad Haddin into the country should he still be playing then. As for Australia itself, I’ll definitely come back at some stage to explore some other areas, return to the main cities but probably give Perth a miss I would say. Bonza.

Signs Sydney

Right, time to go home. Which way is London please and how far is it? Ah, quite a distance then…

One thought on “Sydney Director’s Cut: 2nd to 13th January 2014

  1. Pingback: My Ashes diaries from Australia: 2013/14 | No Longer Teenage Fan Club

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