Stealing Bacon

Trip Start Sep 09, 2011
Trip End Jun 29, 2012

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What I did
The Ship Inn
The Sydney Opera House Bar

Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Saturday, March 10, 2012

I woke up today knowing that my kindred friend Laura was marrying her best boy Nigel and that I would not be able to be there. It was a sad thing, especially as Skype and the internet were against us and we were not able to talk as planned before the ceremony. It is the fly in the ointment of traveling that you have to miss out on things you would dearly love to see and be part of. Still, I will be able to celebrate with her when I get home, so I just said a quick prayer for them in the hope that they had the most amazing day, and then Bec and I headed towards the train station to head out to Bondi, so that we could take the coastal walk from there to Coogee.

We arrived at Bondi Beach, which was super busy, and made our way towards the shoreline. After stopping to buy a bag of almonds and an apple (which cost $8... ridiculous) I was stocked up for the walk, and the sun was shining, so it looked like it could be a beautiful day... and it really was.

The coastline was stunning, and the walk interesting. We also had a proper celebrity moment when we walked straight past Taylor Swift as we left Bondi Beach. She was tiny and beautiful, walking with her brother and preceded by a photographer who was snapping away. While on the one hand that could be seen as a real invasion of privacy I couldn't help but feel that there were plenty of smaller, less busy but very beautiful beaches just round the corner that she could have gone to if privacy was what she wanted.

There were lots of families out and about with plenty of parents in the water with their kids teaching them how to surf. I have really loved that about Australia: that emphasis on being outdoors as a family. It seems like a lovely way to live.

That evening we met up with the lovely Aaron and Laura Huey for our 'last supper.' We ended up going to Chat Thai, a lovely Thai restaurant near the top of the Westfield Tower. It seemed fitting that the last time we saw them we ate Green Curry, as a lovely reminder of the first time we met in Bangkok.

After a lovely dinner we walked down to the Harbour and had a scooner of a cider called 'Dirty Granny' in The Ship Inn. From there we headed down to the Sydney Opera House bar where we treated ourselves to a cocktail. It was really quite beautiful looking at the lit up Harbour Bridge and chatting with our lovely traveling buddies.

It was a bit of a bittersweet moment to leave them. They've had a bit of a rough time here and it was an emotional goodbye, especially for Laura. They are such lovely people, and I really hope that they start to love it in Sydney and find some great people to hang out with.

We got back in about 3am, which considering we had to get up early for Hillsongs was probably not wise.

Later the same morning (!) we headed out towards Paramatta on the train where a bus from Hillsongs was waiting to take people out to the large stadium centre complex. We had visited one of the smaller (though still very large) Hillsongs churches last time we had been in Sydney, and decided to come to the largest church instead.

It was brilliant: the worship, the sermon. I really, really enjoyed it, which was nice, because I had feel a little disconnected at the last service we went to.

Although we had planned to go out again to some museums in the afternoon we actually ended up snoozing in the hostel, so in the morning we got up and, fresh as daisies, walked up to the Hyde Park Barracks... another World Heritage Site... honestly, we are tripping up over all these heritage sites!

The Barracks was built by convicts in 1819 and between then and 1948 over 50, 000 convicts passed through the gates here. It was a really impressive building, and the museum was pretty interesting. It also had lots of fun clothes to dress up in! Bonnets and shawls and convict clothing... lots of fun. Bec and I seemed to be the only ones taking part in the dressing up, so we got a few funny looks... I think they were all just jealous because we were having so much fun.

There was also a room filled with hammocks, set up as the room would have been for convicts to sleep in. So obviously we had a go in those too.

It was really interesting to see how the convicts had behaved and what life was like in the barracks. For example, even though gambling was banned, some men made gaming tokens out of bones fished from their soup and playing cards were made out of the pages of bibles handed out by missionaries.

In spite of the fact that some convicts were determined to continue their dubious way of life, others worked hard in Australia to use it as an opportunity to 'better themselves.' Once convicts had worked off their sentence or had been granted a free pardon, they became fully fledged  members of society, known as 'Emancipists.' By the early 1920's emancipists held more than half the wealth of the colony and were the masters of half the remaining convicts. Some of them even became magistrates.

By 1821 ex-convicts and their children made up 85% of the free population. "Proud of their success and new social standing they looked forward to passing their wealth and 'retrieved character' to their children."

However, this was a little bit scuppered by the Commissioner, John Thomas Bigge, who was sent by the British Government to investigate the colony. Some people believed that the convicts should be treated more harshly and so Bigge recommended that the penal system should be much harsher and no longer would convicts be given the opportunity to have their own land and live and work independently.

Macquarie, who was in charge of Sydney, felt a bit differently and said "Once a convict has become a Free Man, either by servitude, free pardon or emancipation, he should in all respects be considered on a footing with every other man in the colon, according to his rank in life and character."

I like that attitude; the idea that someone deserves a second chance.

The highlight of the museum though had to be the computer system which allowed you to 'Search for a convict' to see if you had any ancestors that had been sent as convicts to Australia.

Turns out there was a Randall on the First Fleet (which is a real honour in Australia) and several other Randall's shipped out. There were also two Hamer's! Both were shipped out for 'stealing bacon.' Sounds about right... a Hamer thieving delicious salty pork treats.

Tomorrow we head to Canberra to see Anne and Brent (who we met in China) and I am so looking forward to staying with them. I have adored Sydney though. It really feels like the way that modern cities should be : clean, cultured, healthy... I loved it.

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