Impressions of Sydney and Melbourne, Australia

Day-trippers to Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach are rewarded with stunning views overlooking the ocean on an easy walk from Bondi to Bronte.
Day-trippers to Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach are rewarded with stunning views overlooking the ocean on an easy walk from Bondi to Bronte.

Travel can be life-changing, especially when it’s a three-month-long odyssey to Asia and Oceania. And it’s what launched the husband and wife team of MacKenzie and Doug Freeman to create a unique travel book series.

R. Mackenzie Freeman and Doug Freeman.
R. Mackenzie Freeman and Doug Freeman.

As they edited the hundreds of digital photographs from their trip, the couple began to develop the idea of revising the popular phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” They challenged themselves to write books that feature original photographs and stories which are exactly 1,000 characters long.

Impressions of Sydney and Melbourne Impressions of Sydney and Melbourne (A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Characters) (Volume 3)  is the third volume in their series, from the seemingly endless waterfront to discover Sydney’s maritime roots and love of anything that floats

Plunge into one of the city’s idyllic bays, coves or nearby seawater pools. Take a stroll along the vibrant Circular Quay and central business district or an easy day hike overlooking the sapphire waters of the Pacific Ocean just minutes from downtown.

Dine your way through Melbourne’s dynamic food scene from the city’s eclectic markets to her world-class restaurants in the distinctive laneways and cultural areas of Little Italy, Chinatown, and the Greek Precinct. Then take a drive to see the colorful beachside town of Brighton and the spectacular Great Ocean Road.

Apollo Bay, Sydney Australia.
Apollo Bay, Sydney Australia.

Whether readers plan to visit this corner of the world or simply experience it vicariously, Impressions of Sydney and Melbourne does what few books do and gives a real sense of place.

Residents of Apollo Bay

Australia is an enormous nation. It is the sixth largest in land mass compared to other countries, but it ranks only 55th in population—in between Côte d’Ivoire and Sri Lanka. There are over three times as many sheep in Australia as there are people. Consequently, enormous tracts of land have a bucolic look and feel.

One such place is along the Great Ocean Road with countless family farms. We jumped at the chance to see this renowned stretch of highway and a portion of the state of Victoria outside of Melbourne.

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The spring morning’s showers had a significant effect on the number of times we stopped for strolls. However, they increased the intensity of the terrain’s verdant colors.

One time we did get out of the car was near Apollo Bay. The overlook provided a sweeping view of the ocean and lush rolling hills. We also saw flocks of sheep in every direction. Those closest to us momentarily lifted their heads to acknowledge our presence and then returned to more important things like lunch.

Sydney—Splish Splash

Yes. Sydney’s an enormous city. And like most metropolitan areas it’s divided into multiple suburbs and neighborhoods. Each has its own identity and feel. However, we discovered something that permeates life throughout the city, the proximity to the harbor and nature.

Many communities are built right along the water. If someone doesn’t live next to it, he or she can be there in less than 30 minutes.

Such easy access to the water encourages residents and visitors alike to pick up one of the three S’s: swimming, surfing or sailing. There are countless coves, inlets, bays and beaches, so there’s no excuse not to be outside enjoying the water in one way or another.

And when Sydneysiders want to stay on land, they have their choice of drop-dead gorgeous day hikes along cliffs overlooking the ocean, through the bush or just about an hour away into the Blue Mountains.

No question. Mother Nature has been extremely generous to Sydney and the people there take full advantage of her gifts. So did we.

Visitors to the Sydney Opera House are in for a surprise with an up-close look at its “sails.”
Visitors to the Sydney Opera House are in for a surprise with an up-close look at its “sails.”

Two-Toned Sails

Many of the world’s most iconic landmarks have been featured so often in movies, magazines and postcards that it’s easy to think you know exactly what they look like.

Case in point, the Sydney Opera House. We were absolutely convinced that the distinctive roof with multiple “sails” was made of snow white smooth concrete. Not so.

Both of us were taken aback when we caught sight of it for the first time. This was due to the thrill of seeing it in person, but also because we noticed that the sails weren’t white. They appeared to be creamy. That is until we stood inches away from a sail. Only then did we realize that the roof wasn’t one color but two and rather than being smooth it was textured.

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While it’s true that the sails are made of pre-cast concrete, they’re covered with over one million beige and white glazed ceramic tiles set in a chevron pattern. We admit that the design and resulting optical illusion surprised us. Yet in a way, it made us appreciate this unique structure even more.

A stroll along North Sydney’s Lavender Bay provides the opportunity to gaze at the endless boat traffic and the ANZAC Bridge.
A stroll along North Sydney’s Lavender Bay provides the opportunity to gaze at the endless boat traffic and the ANZAC Bridge.

ANZAC Prayer

Within the two countries at the bottom of the world, there’s a deep respect, almost a reverence for the word ANZAC.

This acronym stands for the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps that fought in Gallipoli during World War I.

Thousands of their young men volunteered and proudly served in this 1915 conflict that proved to be much more difficult than anticipated.

The ANZAC sustained major losses and eventually had to withdraw. Nonetheless, Australians and New Zealanders believe what happened in Turkey demonstrated what’s good about their soldiers and citizens: dedication, bravery, and loyalty to one another.

This pride can be seen in quiet and enduring ways throughout the countries in the form of ANZAC tributes. One such place is the elegant cable-stayed bridge over Johnstons Bay.

We walked along the harbor and looked out across the water towards Sydney’s silhouetted ANZAC bridge. This evening’s watercolor sunset was almost like a skylit vigil of remembrance and a glowing prayer for peace.

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