A few weeks ago now, I blogged about the mysterious identity of author Aaron Fletcher, who wrote the Outback Saga books that I have been reading for the last few months. At the time I was posting about how I hadn't been able to find out much about him as an author, and that hasn't changed. This week's post is not so much about the author or the books themselves, but rather a day trip to Parramatta that was inspired by reading the books.
I've mentioned once or twice that I was in Sydney last weekend, and I am sure I will mention it again given that I still haven't posted anything about ARRC yet. Because I wanted to be in Sydney for the Thursday night book blogger meet up, I flew up early Thursday morning which meant that I had most of the day Thursday and a few hours on Friday that I could use to explore.
I have been to Sydney a few times now, so have done most of the obvious tourist stuff that can be done in and around Sydney itself, so was trying to think about what I could do when I had an idea.
The Outback saga is predominantly set in the Outback of New South Wales, but there is quite a bit of toing and froing from Sydney, and many of the characters started out in Sydney in the first place. Every time the people travelled, they had to go via Parramatta and then Bathurst. I therefore decided that I might go and have a bit of a look around Parramatta. I couldn't spend a lot of time there because I needed to be back for the blogger meet up, but I really wanted to be able to still have a Sydney experience so I decided I would catch the Rivercat ferry up and the train back again.
It was a gorgeous day in Sydney, and there was a big cruise liner in port, so there were plenty of tourists around that I could have a chat with while I sat at Circular Quay eating my lunch, and then again as we got on the ferry.
I sat out the front of the ferry, which was a really bad idea for two reasons - it was really windy and my hair went everywhere, and I got sunburnt - but it was beautiful, sitting out in the sunshine on a lovely day going past some of the most famous sights in the world! Here are a couple of images from the boat ride.
Once I got to Parramatta, I walked through the main part of town and was surprised by how many restaurants there were. A short walk and I was at the entrance to Parramatta Park. This used to be part of the ground of Old Government House, which was my destination. From this direction, you get to see a Tudor style gatehouse
The original Old Government House was a lath and plaster hut that was built in the1790s. A more substantial residence was built in by Governor King and then further extended by the Governor Macquarie (who is mentioned in the books) who came to Australia in the early 1800s. The double story section you can see at the front below is the King House, with the wings and the back part of the house added by Governor Macquarie later.
This property is now part of the National Trust, and as such there were guided tours of the building by a member of the Trust. In my case, my tour guide was Mavis, and we got to have a look at the interiors of the building including the formal reception areas as well as the family area. I was really pleased to see that the Trust is working to make the upstairs areas into more interesting displays, which when they are finished will show a room as it would have looked like from the 1820s to the 1850s which is when the house was no longer used for official purposes.
There were some fascinating details in the house like the fold back window shutters (which you can see in this image), the grandfather clocks that were amongst the earliest in the colony, and the cabinet that was made by the first Australian born cabinet maker to complete his apprenticeship.
On the second day (the morning after the meet up which I which I posted about here) I spent the morning at the Museum of Sydney, which I enjoyed despite the fact that it wasn't quite what I was looking for. I really wanted a museum about settlement. There was a little bit of that , but there was also an exhibition of Edwardian summers in Sydney. The other exhibition is called From Little Things Big Things Grow and was about the struggle for indigenous rights. We like to think that we live in enlightened times, but it was only four years before I was born that a referendum was held that gave Aboriginal people in Australia the right to vote.
When I was talking to the tourists they asked where I was from, and when I said Melbourne, I was asked a couple of times how Melbourne compared to Sydney. My answer to that question is that Sydney feels like a much bigger, more crowded city. For example, there are lots and lots more apartment blocks scattered around Sydney compared to the houses that predominantly form the Melbourne housing market.
I love living in Melbourne. There is always stuff on, things to do and the lifestyle is great, but it has to be said that it can't compete with the sheer physical beauty of Sydney. The harbour, the bridge, the Opera House, the history, the beaches - everything really! When I got my first glimpse of the harbour from Circular Quay train below train station (seen below) I must confess that my breath caught, just a little bit. I also wondered if Sydneysiders ever get a bit immune to the sights? I hope not because it is gorgeous!
Sydney is a fantastic place to visit!
Have you ever been inspired to visit a place due to reading a specific book?