A Travellerspoint blog

Escaping the Rain

and being a sydney tourist once again

rain 18 °C

Winter is settling upon Sydney, and that means it's cold - but not the cold we're used to back home. Cold in Sydney means the dry air whips through your layers of clothing and bites your skin, and the rain comes in spurts. It's pretty funny actually: it'll start to sprinkle gently, as though Mother Nature Down Under is warning you about what's coming, and as the drops begin to fall faster, you have just enough time to pull out your umbrella and cover your head before it starts pissing rain. It only lasts for a few minutes, then the rain ceases, and the cycle repeats.

One of my (new) favorite things to do in this sort of weather is escape to one of the many museums around the city, so today, I chose to strike the Powerhouse Museum off my to-do list. Since Rob had already finished exams as well (he studies property economics) and finished work (at a real estate company) at midday, he went with me to explore what I gathered to be "the museum of inventions."

Well, that describes a few galleries.

It was the most random museum I've ever been to: along with the Steam Revolution (trains, power and industry) and outer space/NASA galleries (pretty much everything featured American or Russian astronauts, as the space station in Canberra sends out mostly satellites), we explored...

- Cyberworlds: computers, "Girlgeeks" and robots, which also had a bunch of interactive games that Rob happily tried out while I took photos.
- EcoLogic: sustainable housing appliances and disposable clothing inspired by Japanese fashion. After taking Sustainable Enterprise, I felt much more knowledgeable about the power-saving displays and legislation-producing summits held in Europe from the 1970s.
- Lace Study Centre: 300 types of lace collected over a 100 year period - unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, this was closed.
- Chinese belt toggles: no idea.
- Yinalung Yenu: a gallery filled with Aboriginal artwork and loaned possessions. An interview with Aboriginal Australian academic (at UTS) and writer Larissa Behrendt was played in a corner room next to a glass display of her prized possessions, which ranged from a barrister robe (she was the first Aboriginal Aussie to graduate from Harvard Law School in 1994) to a pair of glittery purple stilettos (apparently she's a fan of shoes.)
- Inspired!: a really cool room featuring funky shoes by Christian Louboutin, a newspaper print evening gown (commissioned by the Weekend Australian newspaper), and a gorgeous amethyst-colored glass piece by Dale Chihuly. Another one of my favorite galleries.

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On the way back, I stopped at Bar Broadway (a pub located across the street from UTS; during exam time, it's packed with students once they finish finals) to meet up with my Danish friend Soren, who'd just completed his last IT (info tech) exam. We've been friends since International Business last semester, so we talked for nearly two hours about our experiences in Australia, American politics (he likes to keep up with US affairs and sent me quite a lot of fun-poking sites about Sarah Palin before the election last year), Twitter, and how we wanted to visit each other's countries. Good to know I have somewhere to stay in Aarhus!

  • SIDENOTE: According to my mother, I've been to the Powerhouse before - when I was four. Evidence of me, Katie and my cousin Jason is below...

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Posted by Alykat 03:50 Archived in Australia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

To Market

to market i go!

sunny 22 °C

Most of my friends were still studying for their final exams, so I decided to check a couple sights off my to-do-in-Sydney list (which is a compilation of guidebook and sightseeing-inspired places I have yet to visit in Sydney and plan to see before I leave). On Saturday, I took the Bronte Beach bus down Oxford Street to the Paddington Markets: a craft fair filled with vintage clothing, handmade greetings cards, jewelery, paintings, woodwork, and so much more, all displayed under summery canvas umbrellas. I grabbed a coffee and ventured in.

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Passing by a particularly colorful booth, I paused to take a closer look at the artwork displayed on the table. They were magnificent: painstakingly detailed sketches of the Sydney skyline was etched on bookmarks and greeting cards, while the Harbour Bridge was portrayed across a canvas, dotted with paint in all sorts of colors. I stopped to examine a greeting card more closely when the woman running the booth approached me. She pointed at the card in my hand and said, "My son painted that when he was 11." I was gobsmacked. We chatted for several minutes and she (Sarah) told me more about her son, Ping Lian: he'd been diagnosed with savant syndrome (a developmental disorder similar to autism, allowing him to really shine in at least one area of expertise) at a young age, and as a form of "art therapy," Sarah had taught him how to trace and color. Ping Lian quickly caught on and was soon sketching all sorts of cartoonish figures (which she showed me through the laminated pages of the book on the table). By the time he was eight, he was sketching animals and architectural structures around his home city, Kuala Lumpur (yup, we talked a bit about Malaysia too!) and his work appeared in several solo and group art exhibitions. When they moved to Sydney in 2006, he began painting Australian icons such as the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

Sarah told me she's working on a book about Ping Lian's life and how art has given him an outlet to express himself. Fascinated with his story, I purchased a few cards with his Sydney images printed on them and exchanged contact information with Sarah so she could keep me posted on the book (which she's working on with autism researcher Rosa C. Martinez in New York.)

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Check out more of Ping Lian's work: http://www.pinglian.com/

On my way down Oxford St, I stopped in the Australian Centre for Photography to check out the galleries. There were two: once featured photos that depicted an artistic take on outer space, and the other had photos of somber-looking Nigerian people. Interesting, but I didn't spend too much time looking around.

The rest of my walk down Oxford St was pleasant: window shopping past the boutiques, poking around knick-knack stores, and popping into Fringe Bar, which had magically turned into a vintage clothes and handmade jewelry market that afternoon. Gotta love those little surprises.

Posted by Alykat 02:15 Archived in Australia Tagged foot Comments (0)

Ending My UTS Education


sunny 22 °C

I'm officially done with uni in Australia!

Last week was my final week of classes, meaning Sustainable Enterprise was canceled on Monday for "revision time" and Wednesday's Australian History & Politics class consisted of a 30 minute wrap-up lecture and a trip to the Museum of Sydney, which was actually quite awesome. I spent the week finishing my final papers (for Malaysia, a 10-pager on Australian wine exportation to The US and Malaysia; for politics, another 10-pager about the assimilation of Aborigines into white Australia between 1940-1970), reviewing lectures and assigned chapters for business, and holding study sessions with my friend John, who took the same business class.

Saturday was the first day of a three-week finals period. Fortunately, my business exam was scheduled for 2 p.m. that first Saturday, so I was pretty lucky. The exam went well - 20 multiple choice questions, which were ridiculously hard but I think I did okay, and two short essays based on subjects I'd studied for hours (life cycle thinking, and sustainable fishing in Australia). Hopefully the marks reflect my confidence! :)

When I get back to SF State, I'll have four classes to finish up before graduating in December. It's a little nerve-wracking to think about, particularly because many of my friends graduated last month and several have since moved back to their respective hometowns, but I'm getting pretty tired of school at this point (regardless of the continent) and am looking forward to a new challenge!

Posted by Alykat 00:12 Archived in Australia Tagged educational Comments (0)

Scoring an Internship

breaking into the magazine industry

sunny 22 °C

So here I am, four years into my journalism degree with a stated emphasis in magazine writing...and I have absolutely no magazine industry experience. I've written for online and newspaper publications, interned for a TV station and gained experience in newspaper marketing, but other than a couple magazine journo-related classes in SF, I've got nothing.

That's about to change: I've just landed an internship at Women's Health Australia! The way it happened was kinda funny.

Two weeks ago, I received an email from a UTS journalism lecturer stating that Women's Health was looking to fill two weeklong internship spots - one in late June, the other in late July. I've been reading the magazine for years in the States (and I always stole my dad's Men's Health because the articles are hilarious), so I was stoked to discover this magazine existed in Australia too. I excitedly amended my resume, wrote up a cover letter to the editing coordinator, and sent it all to my lecturer.

A week went by and I'd heard heard absolutely nothing. I emailed my lecturer a quick note to let her know I was quite keen on the internship and if there was someone at WH I could contact. The response was less than appreciative: in short, I was told I was up against forty or so other students and that she was swamped with letters to read. Fine, I figured, I'll wait it out.

When I had still heard nothing by the beginning of the following week, I phoned my lecturer: "I'll call you back in five; I'm on the line with another student," she said. All right, I'll take five minutes.

Thirty-five minutes later, with no callback, I called the magazine myself, had a chat with the coordinating editor...and scored the June internship myself. Wahoo! I was due to start on the 22nd, where I'd act as an assistant to the editors and writers: researching, filing, that sort of thing. Alice, the editor I spoke to, said the office is relatively laid back and that I could jump between departments. Sweet!

The following day, I received an email from the UTS lecturer asking if I was free for one of the internships. "Already set it up" I replied. The phone rang - it was the lecturer. Apparently I wasn't supposed to do that, but fortunately she was calling to offer me one of the positions, so it worked out okay. :)

Posted by Alykat 23:41 Archived in Australia Tagged educational Comments (0)

Family Gatherings

a weekend of family gatherings, starting with mine and ending with Paddy's

overcast 15 °C

On Friday, Paddy and I walked to Chat Thai, a yummy restaurant on Campbell St (between Pitt St and George St) to meet my mom's brother Bruce for dinner. My uncle used to live in North Sydney and I'd visited him when I was about four years old with my mom and Katie, so it was really great to be able to see him in the city again. (Last time I was here, I was a frequent visitor to the Taronga Zoo.) The food was fabulous and the conversation flowed easily as we discussed world travels, Australia, catching up on family news, and the holiday season I'd missed back home. After dinner, we walked across the street to Paddy Maguire's bar for a round of...James Squire amber ale! I will not rest until all my visitors have enjoyed a pint of my favorite Aussie beer. (No worries, it was Megan's first beer here too!)

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After parting ways with my uncle, Paddy and I grabbed our bags and boarded the train to Paddy's hometown, Batemans Bay (a little beach town located a couple hours south of Canberra). I'd been once before back in January when a group of us from Sydney went down to visit Paddy and Dylan (from Geegal), so I'd already met most of his family. It was like living in the Schratz household for a weekend - Paddy's the oldest of six kids. :)

On Saturday, Paddy had an AFL (Aussie Rules Football) game to play, so I spent most of the day at the footy ground. I'd been to a Sydney Swans AFL game with him and he talks nonstop about how he used to play in high school, so it was awesome to see him in his element. At 6'4, he was easily the tallest on the team, making him "the ruck" (the player who hits the ball to his teammates at the start of each quarter - kind of like in basketball.) Everyone around the field seemed like they'd known each other for years as they chatted around the field, and the atmosphere reminded me of a kids' soccer game back home.


That night, we had dinner at his house for his mom's birthday, then headed out to meet up with some friends at the usual bars - Mariner's and the Bayview Hotel. Ahhh, always a good time at the Bayview. It's about as cool as bar hopping through Danville.

Morning dawned early as Paddy - being the sweet older brother he is - took his brother Dominic (age 14) and eight-year-old cousin Louis surfing, then we quickly drove back to get ready for his brother Joseph's (age 12) confirmation. I've never been to Mass before, so sitting in the pews with Paddy's whole family and listening to everyone sing along with the music during the ceremony was a surreal experience. It was nice though, sitting in that church, overlooking the cloudy sky and choppy ocean, while I listened to Paddy (Joseph's "sponsor") promise to protect his youngest brother.


We had to speed to the station to make the train home, but we made it just in time to get to the concert that night in Sydney: Van She, Architecture in Helsinki and The Presets, the latter of whom we danced to for their entire 1.5 hour set. It was the best way to end a very special weekend.

Posted by Alykat 09:13 Archived in Australia Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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