First: A Prelude to Adventure
I used to love airports. There’s a great sense of anticipation, waiting in an airport, either knowing where you’re going, or not having a plan but considering your options, knowing there’s somewhere new or exciting just hours away, and you can go anywhere you want to if you set your mind to it. I was always someone who arrived at airports hours early to soak up the anticipation of a holiday or the buzz of adventure. I’ve travelled solo enough times to be completely comfortable waiting for a journey alone in a room packed with people coming and going, and never had I found anything to be anxious about with travel.
Until three years ago.
Four years ago I was experiencing anxiety in its most desperate and nervous state. It’s not the time to explain why, although it’s never really the time to explain why, but all roads lead somewhere and mine resulted in abandoning my sister on a flight to my grandmother’s funeral in 2013 because I was overwhelmed and claustrophobic. Until May 2016, I hadn’t flown in three years.
I wasn’t anxious about the funeral, I had never been claustrophobic before and with parents who lived on opposite sides of the country to each other, I was a perfectly seasoned traveller – I’d been flying alone with my sister since the age of six. But anxiety is anxiety and it manifested itself as a panic attack during boarding where I left my – granted, she is as well, or perhaps more well travelled – teenage sister to go on alone.
The process of overcoming these problems has taken years, but step by step and slowly but surely, the unconscious side-effects of this situation have been dealt with in time, until the final and most difficult was set for last – flying for fun. But as of December 2016, I can finally say that, with the aid of one or more anti-anxiety tools for backup, I can fly again.
I had a blast.
Have you ever been to a new city before and straight away just “yep, this is my vibe” and all of a sudden things fall into place and you know you’re somewhere that’s for you. That was Sydney. Now, I will always love Perth and as I’ve said countless times before, I will always return to the SWAFR, it’s my home. But Sydney was just perfect. Maybe only needing to survive two days was the key, but I have a sneaking suspicion that that’s not it.
Sydney is also the second best Australian locality for #the1001project so here’s a run-down of my 56 hours of constant adventure.
Day One: ANZACs, Heights & So Much Walking
The first key to travel is understanding timezones, and though I crossed state lines five times in ten days during my holiday, I’m happy to report that I avoided jet lag completely. That first day though, waking up at 4:30am “my” time was not easy.
Day One started with an early train to Hyde Park. Now I had travelled to Sydney once before, as a beret-wearing, book-loving thirteen year old – there are no photos of this phase, thankfully – and I have specific memories of grumpily heading to Hyde Park with my parents and my copy of the Goblet Of Fire in tow. In some ways my travel habits have not changed – if where we’re going is of no concern to the 1001 Project and does not have a museum of natural history or a petting zoo, then please leave me in my hotel room so I can read and watch Gilmore Girls. More importantly though, in many ways it has changed, and Hyde Park was the first tangible proof that I was no longer that inside kid.
While the Park itself is not on any of the relevant lists, there are two nearby attractions which are: The ANZAC War Memorial & The Hyde Park Barracks. Side note, there is also a museum of natural history, but unfortunately I didn’t have the time.
The photo above is a relatively terrible representation of the War Memorial, but a cute photo of me, and though the fellow I asked to be my Instagram husband for the moment had “just returned from an overseas trip where he became adept at portrait photography” he did a remarkably poor job with a real photo – it’s in portrait orientation and anyone who follows me on Instagram knows that isn’t how I roll so this’ll do for now.
The ANZAC Memorial however, is fantastic. I’ll soon post a YouTube video of the days I spent in Sydney and if you haven’t been to the ANZAC Memorial in Sydney, please consider watching it because the artistic symbolism throughout the monument is wonderful, and it’s too difficult to portray in either text or photography. One item of particular note however, is the incorporation of nurses into the list of commemorated casualties of the collective war effort. They are memorialised among the important groups which also include the army, air force and navy leaders. To me this gesture to the underrepresented women, over 2000 of whom served overseas during the Great War is significant and in my experience, one of a kind.
As an Australian, the ANZACs are kinda like our gladiators. Not in a glorified or overall sense, but we each have connections to a family member who was involved in World War I, and though far from exalting war in its many forms, the commemoration of the ANZACs is fuelled by a certain sense of pride and respect. Seeing this memorial for all of the soldiers and nurses who lost their lives was a sobering and pensive experience, which I’m glad I was able to experience in the relative silence and contemplation of the memorial.
As of December 2016, the ANZAC War Memorial is actually receiving an upgrade. Though the initial building commemorates all 120,000 casualties from New South Wales, these men and women are represented by stars on the roof of the building. The upgrade will instead present soil samples from each suburb as a token of memory. In addition it will also expand the memorial and incorporate rooms with an emphasis on education and support.
Please click here for more information or donations!
Stop number two for the day was the Hyde Park Barracks, and where the Memorial made me pensive and reflective of our past, the memory of Australia being formed by convicts has always been humorous to me. I think there’s something telling in the fact that our entire society was based on a group of people who stole bread or killed people, and I’m not sure exactly what it is, but it’s definitely great that we are all related to people who were the scum of England.
It’s really hard to take something seriously when you know there were probably people who were stuck there because they stole an apple, and your mum always taught you that eating grapes while you’re in Coles is fine.
To be honest, after the ANZAC War Memorial, the Hyde Park Barracks was a little less special. I’ve grown up with Fremantle Prison, so the Barracks seemed too similar to be particularly interesting, and it’s difficult to discuss properly an experience that isn’t new or educational. The stand-out parts of the exhibition were comedic ones, which I vlogged about and you can see in the video part of this blog post.
As for the rest of this blog post, I have suddenly discovered that while exhaustive and detailed, 1300 words is entirely ridiculous, so I am going to split the rest of the information in further blog posts – including the much more interesting topics of the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge and of course the Hunger Games exhibit, but honestly, that’s just good writing, making you come back a second time…