Craig's been keen to visit the Sydney Observatory for awhile; he took an Astronomy class once and fell in love with the dorkitude of knowing the difference between stars and planets. Apparently planets (every once in a while) explode and contract and leave Roombas in the middle of space, while stars are overused design elements. This all sounded desperately boring to me. I don't know why, but I've never been very interested in constellations. Maybe it's just that the patterns and sketches of the zodiac have always proven too elusive for my near-sighted eyes, or that I'm not superstitious enough to overcome myopia. Maybe it's all just too far away...
I will admit the night sky does hold a certain romance. But my breath has never been taken away by a message of light sent by a star millions of years ago. It's a gift I can unwrap every night, I know, but it's a gift I'm not sure I miss when my beloved city lights are bright. On a side note, it's been rather uncomfortable looking up at the sky here and not seeing the North Star and the dippers. I've never been camping, and I have thankfully never had to find my way home using the stars, but seeing them every night was remarkably reassuring.
Anyway, on Saturday we found ourselves in the Central Business District with nothing better to do, so I agreed to get my nerd on. After dark, the Observatory charges for constellation tours and planetarium type stuff, but it's free during the day, so I thought, "Ok. Stars. You know, planets, a telescope or two. I can handle this."
I was not prepared, dear readers. The Observatory is cool. I mean, well, it is nerdy. It's so nerdy, it's cool, and suddenly you start thinking it might actually be a little sexy. It is the Tina Fey of Sydney sightseeing. Ok, the Maritime museum is also nerdy and cool. And I haven't even been to the Powerhouse museum yet. So maybe Sydney as a whole is the Tina Fey of Australian sightseeing.
Regardless. The Observatory is filled with old-timey telescopes and wacky instruments that keep time based on Venus' movement. We're definitely going back. The Observatory also showcases some amazing views of Sydney Harbour.
The same day, we had a picnic lunch at Hyde Park, and luckily (oh, so luckily) Craig found his new favorite treat.
Actually, this here is another example of why Australians are just not flipping like us. They are simply not. We got home and giggled as we showed our housemate this picture, and she said, "Oh...you guys don't have Golden Gaytime?"
We responded like the sarcastic wankers we are. "Oh, sure. We have Golden Gaytime. We have Golden Gaytime everyday." Giggle. Giggle giggle. Before you ask, no, Craig did not actually eat the Golden Gaytime, mostly because we do not have the discretionary income for luxuries like hilarious ice cream yet. Wait until I get my first paycheck.
Australia is obsessed with environmental friendliness. Or at the very least, Australia is obsessed with acting like it's obsessed with environmental friendliness. We haven't seen any cool municipal recycling dumpsters like Barcelona had, but the parks here do have separate bins for rubbish and recycling. The government used to offer incentive rebates to defray the cost of getting solar panels put on your house, but they've ditched that program. Rumors have it Rudd will bring the rebates back, but we'll see.
The Live Green festival, held on Sunday at Victoria Park, was a giant eco-friendly orgy sponsored by the energy companies and local governments; it threw Sydney's slightly schizophrenic attitude toward sustainability into deep relief. There were tons of companies there, not only selling their minimally-packaged, eco-friendly wares, but also handing out tons of paper brochures. Energy Australia (an electricity company) was there, handing out free tote bags to all attendees, filled with paper advertisements for all the vendors. There was a band playing awful jazz all day, and their equipment wasn't even partially solar-powered. When I say awful jazz, I mean jazz-flavoured covers of Oasis, Kylie Minogue, U2, and perennial favourites, Moron 5.
Don't get me wrong, we enjoyed the festival. We learned about some really cool things going on in Sydney, like Sydney City Farm). We had fun. There was a local farmer's market, free bike tune-ups, vendors selling sustainable clothing and local honey, and of course, fodder for my nightmares.
After the Live Green festival, we thought it would be appropriate to jaunt on over to the Designboom and Youngblood Designers Markets, part of Sydney Design. We saw some amazing and beautiful products, met some amazing designers, and couldn't afford any of it. Some of it was a little ridiculous, as design can often be. One of the designers was selling broken teacups made out of untreated beeswax. She said she was removing the ordinary function from the functional object. She was charging $110 for a broken teacup that will melt when tea is poured into it. We raised an eyebrow in that way we do, you know, the one that makes you question your sanity. Other designers gave us free candy and are thus exempt from our snarky criticism.
One of our most comforting reminders of home is our beloved Dinky Rabbit, made by David Stephens, your friendly neighborhood puppeteer and banjo player. David asked us to take some pictures of Dinky in Sydney, so we took him out for the day, and I must say, Dinky is quite the outgoing rabbit. He made friends with two arty women, right quick!
Don't show the coppers, though, we don't want Dinky getting clapped for the poetry/graffiti we keep finding all over our neighborhood. Fangor Bangor indeed.