While Zalina Mohd Som is in awe of the Sydney Opera House, she’s equally charmed by The Rocks weekend arts and craft market in the capital city of Australia
I LOVE the markets... wet market, arts and craft market, farmer’s market, basically any type of market.
The Rocks Market is one place I had wanted to visit even before I left for Sydney, Australia’s most cosmopolitan city. And thankfully, I arrive during a weekend as now I have all of Sunday to experience Sydney.
It’s a good time to start the day; after all, it’s Sunday. But the scene at the world-famous Sydney Opera House is already busy, busy, busy, with tourists clicking away from every imaginable angle or, like me, standing there in awe of the majestic architecture.
Its food outlets, located one floor below from the main entrance and along the waterfront, are packed with breakfast diners. Some have chosen to sit comfortably inside the outlets for their meal, while others do it al fresco on the benches.
As standing face-to-face with the Sydney Opera House earlier already gave me goosebumps, I can’t wait to take the Essential Tour. Our guide starts by telling us the history of the ground and the architecture, its creator, the late Jorn Utzon, and how its construction took 14 years to complete.
The tour takes us into three rooms, not even one-tenth of its 1,000 rooms, as well as a couple of corridors and walkways. Every little detail of the rooms and corridors, right from the choice of furnishing and furniture, is of significance. For example, the wooden flooring and seats “echo” for more surround sound effect, while the carpets and some cushioned seats absorb unwanted sound.
But what moves me the most is the story of Danish architect Utzon who had to leave Australia while the Opera House was still under construction due to a conflict with the government. He never returned to see his masterpiece. He fashioned the ground-breaking design after the simple act of peeling an orange — the shells or sails of the opera house, when combined, make a perfect sphere.
Though Utzon’s video saddens me a bit, the secrets and tales behind the architecture marvel make for a perfect way to start my Sunday morning.
It’s time for lunch, but what awaits me is no ordinary lunch — it’s the Captain Cook Cruises’ Top Deck Lunch! We’re told that the Lunch Cruise or any of the Captain Cook “meal” cruises is tops for an enjoyable dining experience.
Jetty No. 6 is already lined with visitors waiting to go onboard the MV Sydney 2000 for the 1230 Lunch Cruise. I see a good mix of nationalities. Most are tourists, I thought.
There are two choices: the Seafood Buffet or the captain’s recommendation Top Deck three-course lunch. Ours is the latter, though I wouldn’t have minded the seafood spread.
The service is OK and the food good. But what makes this lunch special is the view and, of course, the journey.
When the boat sets sail into the open waters, I get a “clearer” picture of Sydney, the city that watches over the busy, U-shaped Circular Quay and the Sydney Opera House, with the Sydney Harbour Bridge standing guard at both arms of the quay. Simply picture-perfect.
The boat then heads east, passing by the Opera House, for a view of the more “expensive” side to the city. Right after the Royal Botanic Gardens, the shore is dotted with posh bungalows. Most of those at the water’s edge have their own jetty, some with even boat houses.
Our boat makes a U-turn and passes by the Opera House again but instead of stopping by Circular Quay, it glides the waters under the grand Harbour Bridge. It then heads for Darling Harbour and makes a quick stop for some passengers to disembark. But we choose to alight at Circular Quay and move on to our next activity.
The canopies and stalls we had seen earlier as our lunch boat cruised by The Rocks, located at the foot of the Harbour Bridge, charms us. As soon as we set foot on the ground, we head for the popular weekend market The Rocks, which is less than five minutes away.
Though it’s already the final hours before the market closes for the week, the place is still brimming with activity — but not as busy as the street markets we have back home. The pace is more relaxed and the items on sale are generally collectibles, made and sold by the stall operators. Most are arts and craft items, from knick-knacks to jewellery and clothes.
I spot a one-of-a-kind boomerang and the didgeridoo, an Aborigine musical instrument. And no, there isn’t the typical fridge magnet or “I Love Australia” T-shirt in sight. This is probably the best place to find something uniquely Australian to bring home.
On Saturday and Sunday, the market is on the pebbled streets of The Rocks, Sydney’s historic precinct, while the Foodies Market kicks off on Friday.
We head towards George Street on foot to go to Sydney Tower. But just before that, we make a quick stop at the recently reopened Museum Of Contemporary Art near the starting point of The Rocks market. From there, the tower is 10 minutes’ away, that is if you don’t get distracted by the many souvenir shops along the street.
Sydney Tower is located in Westfield Sydney, a chic shopping mall at the corner of Pitt Street and Market Street. But we’re here not for another round of shopping. Rather, we’re here to see the city from 268m above the ground!
Like our very own KL Tower, it has an observation deck for a 360-degree view of Sydney, and, if the weather permits, one can see Blue Mountains, which is some 110km away. But unlike KL Tower, this one allows you to walk on its platform — I figure it’s because it’s above the observation deck — and have the wind blow against you.
The brochure says the Skywalk will take us two times higher than the Bridge Climb of the Harbour Bridge. I’m prepared for the adventure. But as it turns out, the 45-minute walkaround is more another exciting way to see the city. All geared up in all-in-one suites and harnesses, we walk out to the platform in the windy afternoon and have the bustling city under our feet. The path is steel mesh but it’s sheer glass floor for the viewing platform.
Our guide offers an insight into the different landmarks. She also takes our photos, a “jumping pose” no less, while at the viewing platform. And since we’re already in the shopping mall, we might as well do some shopping before the shops close at 6pm.