Melbourne and Sydney Trip 2008: Happy New Year!

Today is New Year’s Eve. Went into the city in the morning so we could explore Darling Harbour. From Malaysia Hall, we took a bus and got off somewhere near Liverpool and Geroge Street and walked to Darling Harbour. If you have 4 persons traveling together, take a taxi instead. It will be cheaper than taking a bus.

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Some of the many attractions at Darling Harbour.

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This monorail runs through Pyrmont Bridge (wiki). A section of this bridge can actually rotate so big ships can pass through it. Click on the Google Map link above and zoom in on the bridge. You can see the curved seams of the bridge. There’s a photo in the wiki also.

Go take a look at the first photo of this post. Notice that black submarine and the grey destroyer? Both of those are open to the public at the National Maritime Museum (website).

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The National Maritime Museum.

This is a museum not to be missed by boat lovers. Take a close up look at how ships are constructed, how life on a ship must have been, and the various exciting equipment that they have onboard. Admission is cheaper if you go on both the HMAS Vampire destroyer and HMAS Onslow submarine. There’s a guided tour in the submarine. The guide will tell you a lot about the submarine so listen to him/her.

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This is how sailors slept on the HMAS Vampire destroyer. On the submarine the beds are about the same, except it’s more crammed.

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Beds on the HMAS Onslow submarine. Reminds me of an aircraft’s cabin. The crew in the submarine don’t work regular hours. They have shifts that don’t follow the usual 24 hour day pattern. I think in a submarine, your sense of time will be distorted because you can’t see the sky and because of the artificial lighting. And the crew are not allowed to switch beds anytime they want. They’re not allowed to sleep in another person’s bed without proper permissions.

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HMAS Vampire’s main turrets. These turrets are radar and computer controlled so you won’t need to aim them manually. Quite advanced for a ship built in the 1940s. That’s why military technologies are always very fascinating. They’re years ahead.

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Twin anti-aircraft guns. Two gunners will sit on the moving turret platform and shoot at oncoming planes. There are levers and wheels to move the turret.

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These are depth charges used against submarines. They will explode at a predetermined depth and the explosion will hopefully destroy a submarine.

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The submarines are also well equipped for battle. 6 torpedo tubes are mounted in front of the HMAS Onslow. Some of these torpedos are powered by diesel engines, and some by electric motors. Some are exploded using wires connected to the torpedos.

Ships are not exactly sunk using the torpedo’s explosive power alone. If the torpedo explodes beside a ship, it might not cause a lot of damage to the ship. That’s why they explode them UNDER a ship. If you watch movies, you’ll always see ships getting sunk that way. When the torpedo explodes under the ship, a huge mass of water is pushed upwards. Due to the principle of buoyancy, the ship will move upwards. But because the column of water (due to the explosion) only supports the middle section of the ship, the structure is not able to withstand the stress and the ship breaks into 2.

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There’s 2 periscopes in the submarine. Here’s one that will give you a good view of the top of the tower. Submarine is at the bottom of this photo.

There’s a whole lot more to see and learn here but I won’t want to spoil it for you. Spend at least 3-4 hours and you’ll be glad you paid for the entrance. A real eye-opener. Since it was nearing lunch time, we headed west from the National Maritime Museum to Sydney Fish Market.

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Sydney Fish Market. Don’t ever skip this place when you’re in Sydney.

I can’t get enough of the Sydney Fish Market (website). It has everything from the sea under one roof, fresh or cooked. From lobsters to giant sea crabs, fishes to oysters, there’s something for everyone here. And where else better than to have lunch than at the Fish Market? How to get there.

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It was packed. Good luck trying to find a seat inside. Instead, go outside. They have a place overlooking the Black Wattle bay where you can enjoy the good food and the sun.

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AUD12.90 per dozen.

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Found a place outside. If you prefer, you can sit on the grass. We had fish, lobsters and oysters. Great stuff.

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Powerhouse Museum.

Left Sydney Fish Market and headed off back to Darling Harbour. Sydney is hotter than Melbourne so walking here is not as pleasant as walking in Melbourne. But it is still acceptable since there’s always a cool breeze blowing. Next off: the PowerHouse Museum (website).

If you’re into engineering or just have a very curious mind, prepare to spend about half a day here. There’s A LOT of things to see. It is also a very interactive museum so there are a lot of hands on. There’s a whole section dedicated to going green. For example there’s an exhibition where you get to see how much CO2 you’ll emit for showering, depending on the duration, the type of heater you use and the type of shower head. By far the best museum I’ve been to in Australia (since I’m into engineering). It’s totally worth the entrance fee (AUD10 for adults, AUD6 for concession). Again, I won’t spoil it for you. You must see it for yourself.

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The Enigma Machine.

We planned to be in Sydney during New Year’s Eve because it was rumored that the fireworks here was going to be great. There are many places that you can be to witness the fireworks. Some companies even offer a river cruise for about AUD200+ for a spectacular view of the fireworks, complete with dinner and drinks. But we opted for a cheaper method (free actually) and headed to Bradfield Park at Milson’s Point.

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Security is quite tight here. No alcohol.

Because it’s free we had to be there early because it will be packed. We arrived at 5pm and it was starting to get packed already. The fireworks will be at 9pm and the grand finale will be at 12am on New Years Day.

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After the entrance. I counted 50 port-a-loos here. The number of people lining up for the toilets are uncountable later on.

From our location, we can see the full view of Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Waiting from 5pm till 12am was unthinkable. But we had cards and Taboo and food.

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Met up with Ben’s friend Arthur (chemical engineer working in Sydney). Seen here playing bridge.

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7pm. 5 more hours to go.

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8pm and it’s already almost full. Arrow shows our location. Here’s our exact location on Google Maps.

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Still 8pm.

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Some sky writer writing random messages. Still 8pm.

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The words on the bridge pillars are projected by projectors. Almost 9pm.

From 9 to 11, we played Taboo with another group of people who were there for the countdown as well. In 2 hours we managed to go through the whole deck. It was great fun and it helped pass the time. At around now, it was impossible to go anywhere because it was jam packed. Don’t try going to the toilets because you won’t be able to get back. Some people at this point will be high on alcohol already so watch out for people falling down around you.

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11:55pm!!

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Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year!

The fireworks lasted for about 12 minutes. The crowd went wild during the countdown. People were screaming, hugging, kissing, throwing stuff around, and popping crackers. All that waiting has finally paid off. It was truly an unforgettable experience, especially when you’re with your friends. I will definitely do it again. And now, time to head back home.

We, like almost everyone, were headed towards the Milsons Point Station. I can’t tell you how many people there were, only photos can do justice to how packed the streets were.

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Heading towards Milsons Point Station.

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Looking back. The crowd stretches all the way back almost half a kilometer from where we came from. Although the crowd was huge, there was not much pushing or shoving.

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Finally we’re outside the gates of Milsons Point Station.

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The police were limiting the number of people entering the station. They only let people in when the trains have arrived and have ferried people away from the station. Trains and buses are free tonight.

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In the station.

Took the bus back to Malaysia Hall after that. On the bus there was a drunk girl screaming profanities at everyone including the bus driver.

Arrived at 1:30am. A New Year’s Eve well spent.

Next: Last day in Sydney. Continue reading