Thursday, November 20, 2008

Darling Harbour

Writing this post might make me cry.

I know Darling Harbour is a total tourist trap.

But I ended up loving it.

We stayed at the Medina Grand Harbourside which was right next door to Sydney Wildlife World. We were extremely close to the Darling Harbour ferry station, the Lizard Lounge, and The Sydney Aquarium.

We weren't pleased with the current prices at Medina so we had to take our business elsewhere. It's probably better in the long run. We'll have a new experience in a new place. We won't be too far from Darling Harbor so I'm sure we'll go back there.

The tough decision I have to make is about buying memberships or not.

Last year, we bought memberships to Wildlife World and the aquarium. Since we were right next door, we went to them almost everyday. It usually wasn't for a long visit--twenty minutes to an hour. There was this great feeling of we're members. We can stop in at anytime!

Okay little psychological aside here: I sort of have a THING about memberships. I'm very attracted to them. I think it's because I moved around so much in my life. I rarely feel like I really belong anywhere. So, having a membership to a place (ie. zoo, museum, amusement park) makes me feel like I sort of belong. I know that's very pathetic.

For 2009 we're not going to be staying super close to Darling Harbor, so it will be harder to do a quick last minute visit. Also, we'll be in Sydney for a shorter time. I think last time we were there for three weeks. This time we'll be there for two weeks. And there's so much other stuff I want to see.

Okay. Never mind. I think I have the issue solved. I just looked at the Sydney Wildlife World Website and it doesn't even seem like they have a membership. I'm not sure if they simply don't post it on their website, or if they got rid of it. I remember when we were there, one of the staff members said we were one of the first people to get a membership. It must have been pretty new.

Anyway, I'm thinking we'll skip the Sydney Wildlife World pass (sniff) and go for the aquarium pass. This will allow us to do the behind the scenes tours which we loved last year, and it also gives us discounts to Wildlife World and the Maritime museum. Oh! It also gets us into Oceanworld Manly. The cost of membership equals the cost of three visits to the aquarium so that's not bad. We need to go only three times to feel like we got our money's worth. I'm sure we'll go at least that much.

And here's something else! You get a discount to Questacon too!

Okay, now I'm all happy about this. Although I would still be MUCH happier if they would just include Wildlife World with the Aquarium membership--even if they have to increase the price a little bit. The damn buildings are connected! They share a kitchen! So, they should also share a membership thing.

I've rambled on enough about this. I meant to write about the history of Darling Harbour.

I guess I shall do that now.

I think most of us can guess who Darling Harbour was named for. I say this because most people reading my blog are actually Australian. But for my fellow Americans (or other nationalities) it's named after Governor Darling.

Lord Wiki says that during the Great Depression, the eastern section of Darling Harbour was called The Hungry Mile. This name refers to all the people on the wharves searching for work. It was pretty much just a working port after that--not a big attraction for tourists. Then in the 1980's, some people decided to turn the place into a tourist trap.

I'm trying to figure out which part of Darling Harbour is the east side. Is that where we stayed? Or is it the other side?

Google Map Time!

All right. If I'm reading the map right, the aquarium was on the east side. Lord Wiki says all this interesting stuff about the east. He says by 2020 this area will be the new "Wall Street". They're going to call the area Barangaroo. I can't help but be a bit shocked and weirded out by all of this. Sometimes, I have a hard time adjusting to change.

One of the seasons of MTV's The Real World was filmed in Darling Harbour. I missed that one, but one of my friends told me about it. She's all into the reality TV thing!

The official Darling Harbour website has some more history.

The first name given to the place by the white folks was Long Cove. I guess this is because it was a long cove. Since there was a lot of shell middens (Aboriginal version of food rubbish) the name Cockle Bay soon replaced Long Cove. In 1826 it became Darling Harbour. But it wasn't yet quite that darling.

In the 1970's, Darling Harbour was a place to avoid. Deserted, lonely, and not quite pretty.

The announcement that it was going to become exciting and wonderful occurred in 1984. It then reopened during Australia's Bicentennial in 1988.

I tried to find more information about Darling Harbour of 2020. I found this. I quickly skimmed through it--not sure it's something I want to carefully read. But if anyone is into that kind of thing, it's there for you to study.

I'm looking at the Powerhouse Museum website now. I'm sure we'll go back there. They're going to be having the Star Wars exhibit. It was here in Fort Worth last summer. It's pretty cool although I'm sure it's much more exciting for people who are Star Wars fans.

Oh crap. I was going to go and end this so I could get ready for our playdate. But it turns out The Powerhouse museum has a fascinating history.

Lord Wiki says it all began in 1879. They were going to open the museum in The Royal Botanical Gardens. It was going to be placed in a building called The Garden Palace. There was a fire before the poor museum even opened. It seems a lot of stuff was destroyed. One of the few survivors was an elephant statue. It seems Lord Ganesha was looking out for that guy!

The curator rebuilt his collection and brought it to a tin shed in The Domain. Sadly, he had to share this shed with the Sydney Hospital Morgue. A museum where you can smell dead people. Wow. Gross and also ironic. Why? Because the original name of the museum was The Technological, Industrial and Sanitary Museum of New South Wales.

The museum was moved and named the Technological Museum.

Then it was moved again and became The Powerhouse Museum. I don't think you can smell dead people there. But if you're a medium, maybe you can SEE dead people. I don't think I'd want to be able to see dead people. But I think I'd much rather see dead people than smell them.

The Australian National Maritime Museum looks really awesome. They have a replica of the Endeavor. I hope it's still there in February. You can go in it and everything. If my bladder was full right now, I'd probably be in danger of peeing in my pants from all my excitement. Seriously.


louise said...

The Maritime museum is really worth the visit, especially if you do a guided tour. you used to be able to do mystery cruises on the harbour, where they sell you a cheap ticket on tours that have seats left, we've done some great cheap cruises that way, don't know if they still offer it though.

Anja said...

Crikey (to quote the late Steve Irwin) I think you know more about Sydney than most Sydney natives.

Dina said...

Louise: I unfortunately don't like guided tours. I think I'm lacking the patience. I'm immature when it comes to those things.

Anja: My problem is I forget everything I've learned so by the time I get to Sydney, I'll probably not remember any of this. Plus, I think have now overfed my brain. It's probably close to exploding.

Fe said...

Dina, I think you need to schedule a lunch with us at "The Oaks". It is one of the most famous pubs in Sydney, and is great for kids as well as adults. There is a huge Oak tree (doh) in the middle of the Beer Garden, which is just stunning. Oh, and it's right near where I live, so we'll have lunch there with you.

Can you email me your dates? famish(at)gmail(dot)com. xx

Trish said...

wow Dina - your coverage of Darling Harbour history is amazing - I am a resident of Sydney since ...birth and even I haven't bothered to do my history.

The Maritime museum is free to see and but you pay if you want to see the Big Ships.You can get memberships there.I love the Maritime museum.

I can't wait till my little boys are older to take them all these places.

Mim said...

I just got an email promoting a new combined annual pass for Wildlife World and the Aquarium.

Dina said...

Fe: We would love to eat with you guys! That would be so cool. We could do dinner or lunch. Where is this place? I'll email you later with the dates.

Trish: I don't know much about my own city's history. Maybe because it's not really my city. But I should know a little more. I was crazy when Jack was around two. I took him to the zoo, museum, mall,etc. He enjoyed it. I guess. I went a little overboard though and I think now we're burned out. We're at home most days now. Saving gas (petrol) money. Looking back, I think all those outings were probably not that necessary. I probably should have waited until he was older!

Mim: My wish came true!!!!!! How awesome is that? I wonder if I got an email too. I'm on one of their mailing lists. Thanks for telling me!!!!

Mistress B said...

We want to do the maritime museum the next time we are down that way (god only knows when) TJ was fascinated with the Endevour replica last visit.

MissKris said...

Wow, everything you said reminds me of school. We learnt all about Darling Harbour, The Endeavour etc in school then visited the sites - it was incredibly boring LOL!

Love, Love, Love Questacon it's so much fun. I remember visiting as a kid and was terrified of the earthquake machine and the lightning simulator.

We go to Surfers Paradise every year and are looking forward to our visit in February as we are going to Infinity it looks awesome

Dina said...

Mistress B: I think you should go in February ; )

MissKris: Are you trying to tell me I'm boring????? Huh? LOL.

Dina said...

MissKris: I think that Infinity Place would terrify me!!!!