Despite having lived in Sydney for almost three months I’ve somehow managed to avoid learning much about it’s cultural and/or historical background. Which is weird, I’m quite into history and I’m very proud of the enormous history we have in England and Great Britain as a whole. So when the opportunity presented itself to me – in the form of the free walking tour around Sydney – I figured why the hell not?!
Truth be told, I didn’t get too much of a say in it. It was The Parentals’ last full day in Sydney and it was tipping it down with rain, so we could hardly go on a picnic or coastal walk could we?! At least on a city walk there’d be man-made shelter dotted about!
After reading the pamphlets beforehand we ensured we were where we should be at the correct time – outside Town Hall at 2.30pm. We joined the slowly growing crowd and were greeted (separately) by the two guides. I can’t remember their names, all I remember is the guy was much more down-to-earth and easy going, whereas the girl was very uptight and only really wanted to talk about that time her boyfriend and she went travelling. Did I care about that? No, no I did not. I certainly didn’t want to spend over two hours in the pouring rain hearing how many ways this girl and her boyfriend could be related back to the historical sites of Sydney, Australia.
So when it came to splitting up the rather large group I made sure The Parentals and I were paired with the male tour guide, and off we went on a two and a half hour walking tour of Sydney.
It turned out that even without the annoying girl not doing herself any favours I would’ve been right to have chosen the male guide anyway. He was studying history at university, and so this part-time job suited him down to a tee. A Sydneysider through and through, he could not have been more passionate, proud or enthusiastic about the tales he was sharing with us. He was not merely reciting a script, instead he seemed to embody the whole experience and had an answer for every question and then some!
And d’ya know what? I actually learnt some stuff!
For example, St. Andrews Cathedral on George Street was initially built with the alter facing the wrong way. This has since been remedied, hence why now it’s a little bewildering to enter and one may feel a little off-balance! In the Queen Victoria Building there’s a clock that re-enacts the beheading of King Charles I on the hour, every hour. There’s also a cool little alleyway just off Martin Place a lot of Sydneysiders don’t know about that has funky birdcages hanging down from it! It was here that we bumped into a bride and groom having their wedding photos taken – she was not happy to have been interrupted by a bunch of tourists, that’s for sure!
The tour route made its way down from Town Hall all the way to Circular Quay where we were treated with the now familiar sites (for me, anyway) of the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. These too, of course, came with their own dramatic stories about how they came to be and what they now represent to the modern day Sydneysider. If it hadn’t been for the fact it was still raining and I was very much beginning to fade I’d had been a lot more interested at this point, but really I wanted nothing more than to hurry up and have our picture taken at the Harbour Bridge lookout and then be on our way back to warm cups of tea and dinner.
Which is what happened, eventually! I must say, even though I was weary by this point I was still very impressed with our tour guide – at the end of the day he has to be good, as he works for tips rather than gets paid. But there was the sense he was going above and beyond the call of duty, especially as it was Good Friday, it had been raining non-stop and this was his second tour of the day!
Once the tour had come to a close on the lookout to the Harbour Bridge we (read: Dad) tipped our tour guide the appropriate amount and we went on our merry way back to their apartment. We were a little damper than we’d started off and were lacking in energy but all in all had had a great afternoon whiling away the hours, not letting the miserable weather beat us and learned a little bit more about this famous city as a result!