Monday, 22 October 2012

The Land Down Under- A History

So the first thing that we do when we get to Sydney is learn. Not Shop, eat or rest since its the holiday, no we go learn. We head out at 10 am to The Rocks (See previous blog for the intro of the Rocks). The Rocks is the first settlement in Sydney.

As some know, convicts were sent to Australia from England for committing crimes. The equal punishment given to people who were sent to Australia was Death. Now that seems a bit unfair, Australia is a popular place, with great food and culture. The music is unique and the people are so nice, but back then Australia only the belonged to the Aboriginals. So let the lesson begin....

We met our tour guide beside Ezy Mart- the equivalent to 7-11. So Vicky took us to a small alley where the tour started. She told us how when the people came here they owned almost nothing, but there was a governor that thought that to get a good community and to get the best out of people you had to treat them as equals, treat them with care. So he gave those people something to start with and so the community started. The community was mostly built of these three classes: the soldiers, who at one point were disliked by most; then there were the settlers, they came to Australia on their own free will, they were given their own piece of land by the British Government; lastly their were the convicts whom made up most of the community in the beginning, some were sentenced to Australia for a few years or for a life time, both groups of convicts (most) chose to stay and try to live in Australia.

We saw some old buildings dating back to 1840, and some remains of older buildings dating back to the around the year 1812. We visited a cottage that was one of the oldest buildings in the Rocks. The Cadman Cottage was named after two convicts, John and Elizabeth Cadman. John was sent to Australia for stealing a horse; his punishment was death but later changed to lifelong sentence to Australia. He came to Australia about 20 years before his wife, Elizabeth Mortimer. She was sent to the Land of the Aboriginals for Stealing two hair brushes and some knives, she got an ‘easier’ sentence, she was sent to Australia for only seven years.

By the time she got here in 1828 John was a free men, he spent his time working as a slave for some one in a higher class and worked as supervisor to the newer convicts. She was sent to help a boot maker and one day came over to where he was living while delivering boots. By law if a convict married a free person they became free too. So she seizing the opportunity married him. They were happy. After John’s job wasn’t needed anymore they opened a pub and after he died, Elizabeth opened a public bath, or swimming pool. Some believe that Elizabeth was in a more middle class when she was sent to Australia, since she came with two girls, which was usually not allowed.

We went on saw some methods of cement to hold buildings, some architectural achievements and also saw how some people lived; it was not a pretty sight. It stunk, there wasn’t much plumping so the waste belonging to people was washed away by the rain. After seeing a few more places we said out goodbyes and went to have Branch.

We shared a sandwich, filled with roast beef and vegetables and also had a small quiche. It was quiet delicious. We then headed for a walk, we went into a book store and looked at some books, it is what you do in a book shop for those who don’t know; then came back to hotel to rest, since at 5 pm we would be heading for a tour in the Opera House.

The structure was magnificent, the shape and history behind it, was just breath taking. So out tour guide on this trip was Pam. A skinny woman who looks old but don’t get fooled by looks she has to walk 200 or so stairs everyday 5 -6 times a day. We saw a small video of the structure of the building and how the site at first wasn’t used right away for the Opera House. What I really liked to learn was that there was a competition held to see what design would be used to build this Opera House. There were a lot of entrees sent, all from around the world. A group of judges sat and looked at each entrée one by one. One entrée which was entered later than most was unique, it was original, the shapes of the domes were semi-circular and well the structure was different than most sketches. Most were square-ish, some ventured to a more circular design, but it was discarded. A late judge, an American-Finnish judge- wanted to see all entrees and when he saw this unique one it caught his eye. He was able to convince the rest of the judge that this was the one. So they called the architect who sent this design, Jorn Utzon. He came to Sydney to start his work.

Though of course he faced some challenges across the way, the biggest was building the domes. He and his fellow architects tried various methods, all calculated, tried and discarded. Then one night Utzon called them and said he had the solution. The answer lay in the Sphere. Instead of building the whole thing as one, you build it in strips. So they set to work. The rib cage was made out of strips of cement later decorated externally by tiles. They weren’t clean white, which I was surprised to hear, they were more a yellowish color. Pretty cool. We saw the Opera Hall, the Studio and the Utzon room, the smallest from all. The studio used to be a recording studio only but now is used for performances too. The technology in the Opera House must always be the best, since the halls are almost always booked and popular. We didn’t see the Concert Hall since it was being used and the renters didn’t want people to see thee set up, but we saw most things which were remarkable. Some halls reminded me of the Black box Theater.

So good night, sleep tight; Keep tuned, since tomorrow I set out to Blue Mountain.

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