Reccy: Aussie slang for reconnaissance mission.
While I hung out waiting for Heidi to finish up at St. Pat’s, my eye fell on a list of rules for uniforms and grooming.
It’s very specific, especially with the haircuts. I must be old because I don’t know what lines, steps, “under No. 2 in length,” or the other prohibitions even are. I do know that “fringe” is what we call “bangs” in the US. When you think about it, fringe is a lot more descriptive than bangs.
I wandered the halls a bit and learned from a display that St. Pat’s most famous “old boy,” as they call alumni, is Thomas Keneally, author of Schindler’s Ark, the novel upon which the movie Schindler’s List was based. How did an Aussie come to write a book about the Holocaust? Heidi Googled this later and read the story to me. On a visit to Los Anglese, Keneally went into a luggage store to buy a suitcase and happened to talk to the owner, Poldek Pfefferberg, a Holocaust survivor. When Pfefferberg learned Keneally was an author, he told him about Oskar Schindler, a German businessman credited with saving the lives of 1,200 Jews, and urged him to write the story. The rest, as they say, is history.
There were display cases featuring Cricket awards.
It reminded me of Eton, but spacious, bright, and new.
There was a physical acknowledgement of the Darug Aboriginal people, upon whose former land the school stands.
When Heidi was done with her year-end odds and ends, we walked across the street to the bus stop and waited. And waited. She consulted her transport app and reckoned it would take as long to wait for the bus as to walk, so we gave up and ambled toward the train station. That was fine with me because it was a nice day and the neighborhood we walked through was lovely.
Houses in Australia tend to be one story (think about heat rising). It was spring, and everything was in bloom. These are some photos of Australian houses I took elsewhere, but they seem pretty typical of what I saw near the school—Victorian or Edwardian with beautiful gardens and massive trees.
We took the train into the CBD. That’s Central Business District, for those of you who like to spell things out. We headed for the QVB, or Queen Victoria Building, and here I will use the word massive again. So many things in Australia are massive. The QVB, constructed in 1893, fills an entire city block.
We wandered around inside and gawked at window displays of the high-end shops and the architectural features.
You can’t see it because of my lousy photo-taking abilities, but the clock is incredibly detailed with lots of—literally—bells and whistles and a train that runs around it at the lower level. Just think, this was the era when clocks used to be the proud main feature of buildings.
We sat down for lunch at a tea shop, and I noticed the tables adjacent to us had Chinese newspapers scattered on them.
I could say this over and over but I’ll just say it here—there is such a big Chinese presence in Australia that I sometimes had these weird moments where I had to check myself and ask, “Where am I? Am I in China? No, I’m in Australia.”
When you think of the geography, it makes sense.
There are Chinatowns in Sydney and Melbourne but also Thai towns and Japan towns and probably Korean and Vietnamese neighborhoods. So if you like any of these types of foods, you’re in luck in Australia.
After lunch we hit a couple shops where Heidi returned some clothes, then she led me to Hyde Park, the “Central Park” of Sydney. It is dominated by St. Mary’s Cathedral, which seemed to be the most massive church I had ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot of churches.
It’s frustrating that photos cannot capture the scale of things. I tried including Heidi, and a lamppost, in these two photos to give a sense of scale of the trees, but that didn’t really work.
This is the ANZAC (Australia New Zealand Army Corps) war memorial.
Next stop: Bondi Beach