Another few days in Sydney is drawing to a close. Somehow six months have managed to pass since I was last here, much to Pablo’s surprise when I told him. Nothing much seems to have changed apart from the weather (it’s a bit chillier) and the building next to the Maze Hostel is a lot higher (which is good as the sounds of building work are a lot further away).

Managed to squeeze a lot in though. Monday night went to see my first ever opera, Otello, at the Sydney Opera House (with big thanks to Catherine and Alison for sneaking me in as a student for only $40). The Opera House is a lot less visually impressive inside, but the sound quality is amazing. I have to admit to being a little under-awed by the world’s “perfect opera” – I loved the singing voices and the ensemble pieces between Iago, Otello and Cassio but somehow found the music to be reminiscent of bad b-movie scores! Suspect this is because what was innovative for Verdi in expressing emotion back in the 19th century is now common place and hence less impactful. Good experience though.

Tuesday was a trip with Oz Experience up to the Blue Mountains, so called because of the pall of blue mist that comes from the tea tree oil bushes that pervade the area. The scenery up there is stunning and I ended up wishing we had more time away from our organised tour to do some hiking. I’ve noticed that I’m now a lot more blase about snakes and spiders than I was when I first arrived in Sydney, happily tramping around the paths with nary a care. Highlight of the trip though was the orphaned animals zoo where got to stroke koalas, wombats, cookaburras and a strange looking owl-like bird. Nothing like a good bit of tourist fodder sometimes.

Yesterday was mostly spent walking across the coathanger (aka Sydney Harbour Bridge) taking pictures. Again quite grateful for digital film to keep my development costs down. I’ve just been banned from taking any more pictures of the Opera House by the way. Bah. Also got to catch up with Jeremy and Aoife last night and see Mars through a big telescope as it moves further away from Earth again. Bit of a disappointment really as I was expecting a huge red globe type image as we keep seeing in the papers, but of course that’s what you see from Hubble. So of course we got to look at a large white dot, about 5mm across where you could just see a brighter bit of the ice cap and some darker bits on the surface. Cool telescope though with built in tracking adjustment motors that follow the planet across the sky!

Next stop: Melbourne, where I stop for a bit – put my rugsac in the cupboard and enjoy the Melbo cafe lifestyle. Oh, and maybe get a job I guess.

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