Thursday, August 03, 2006

Travelin' South (Part I)

Following is the first of three posts containing some images, thoughts, and reflections from a recent trip I made to Sydney and Wagga Wagga.

While in Sydney I stayed with my friend Garth – one of those great friends who is not afraid to pose challenging questions on a range of topics and issues. For instance, during our time together, we had a lively and insightful conversation about why, as a gay man, I bother with the Catholic Church – let alone dedicate time and energy to coordinate the educational and advocacy activities of a group like CPCSM.

I appreciate such challenging questions as they force one to be clear about what it is one really believes in and is dedicated to. (And why do I stay with the Catholic Church? Part of my response to such a question can be found here.)

During my time in Sydney, Garth was in the process of relocating to Wollongong, two hours south of Sydney (and pictured below). Accordingly, over the weekend of July 8-9, Garth and I made two trips to Wollongong with his utility truck (or “ute” as we call it in Australia) loaded to the max and impressively secured by Garth!

Monday, July 10, dawned warm and clear in Sydney: a perfect day to enjoy the sights of the “Harbour City.” Rising early that morning, I purchased a “Day Tripper”, which allows for unlimited access to the city’s trains, buses, and ferries, and set off to explore.

On my way by train to the City from Eastwood – the outer suburb where Garth was still living (albeit now without much furniture) – I disembarked at the inner city suburb of Stanmore so as to photograph the house that my father had lived in with his Aunty Phyllis (1913-1996) during the Second World War.

Decades after the war, my brothers and I, as children, would be taken by our parents to visit Aunty Phyllis and her partner Frank – then living in nearby Ashfield. These visits during the 1970s and early 1980s, always involved day trips into the City, during which Dad would always point out the house as we passed by it on the train (Stanmore being on the railway line between Ashfield and the City).

During the war years, my Dad, Aunty Phyllis, and her husband at that time, Jim MacDonald, lived in a rented room at the back of the house.

Dad was only a young boy at this time but can recall search lights at night and, on one occasion, rowing out with his father and others to the immense gray bulk of the Queen Mary – anchored in Sydney Harbour and converted from a luxury liner to a troop carrier.

I’ve always wanted to take a closer look at the house and photograph it. Now, I thought, was as good a time as any. As you can see, it’s a very beautiful and stately old building.

Once in the City, I took a train from Town Hall, across the Harbour Bridge to Milsons Point. From here I walked down to the Kirribilli shoreline and its beautiful views of the Sydney skyline, Opera House, and Harbour Bridge.

A ferry from Luna Park took me back to the City via Darling Harbour.

On one of my last nights in Sydney, Garth and I visited the Mean Fiddler tavern in Rouse Hill, an establishment which boasts to have been “entertaining since 1826”!

NEXT: Travin' South (Part II)

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