When Saturday morning dawned in Sydney, the group awoke ecstatic. We were ready for our first full day in Sydney. We met for breakfast provided by the hostel staff at 8:30. After that, Jim and Luke sent us on a scavenger hunt all over the city. In teams of four or five, we trekked from one spot in the city to another, doing our best to follow Jim and Luke’s clues. We took pictures to prove that we found all of the clues.
We saw some of the historic Sydney buildings, such as the old barracks, custom house, and hospital. We even saw the oldest church in the city. Fortunately, the weather was beautiful. Located on the southeastern coast of Australia, Sydney has a temperate climate. Fortunately that means mild winters, and our group had a beautiful day for trekking around the city. With temperatures in the 60s, we soaked up the sun. Many of us even fit in a little shopping throughout the day. One major highlight of the scavenger hunt was the Royal Botanical Garden where we got our first view of the Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge.
The bridge was constructed in 1932 and is the largest steel arch bridge in the world. It stands 134 meters above the harbour and connects the northern and southern harbour shores of Sydney. Locals call the bridge Coathanger. A popular tourist adventure is the BridgeClimb, a guided tour that takes you to the top of the Harbour Bridge and offers a 360 degree view of Sydney.
The Sydney Opera House opened in 1973 after nearly 16 years of construction. Jørn Utzon, an architect from Denmark, won the worldwide competition to design the opera house in 1957. He designed the opera house to resemble full sails of a ship.
The final part of the scavenger hunt took us to The Rocks, the historic district of Sydney. In January of 1788, Governor Phillip arrived in Sydney Harbor with the First Fleet of settlers and convicts. Today, with cobbled streets and old buildings, The Rocks was a beautiful sight to behold. We also got to experience The Rocks Market which is only open on Saturdays and Sundays. Vendors filled the streets with tantalizing scents and hand crafted wares.
The final scavenger hunt clue brought us to a historic hotel where Jim and Luke waited with unique pizzas topped with such things as kangaroo and emu! Luckily, all of the groups managed to at least navigate their way to dinner. The hunt allowed us to experience the joys of the city. It was exciting to take in all of the sights and thrilling each time the answer to a clue was found. There were also moments of frustration because Jim and Luke had some tough clues! By the end, we all had tired feet, but were grateful for how much of Sydney the scavenger hunt allowed us to see.
Lucky for our group, Vivid Sydney, a festival of lights, music, and ideas, started the weekend that we arrived in Sydney. This 18 day event takes place every year from the end of May to the beginning of June. After dinner, a few of us went to see the festival in the Sydney Harbour area. A light show lit up the Opera House as well as other buildings in the nearby Foundation Park area. People of all ages filled the streets to view the lights. It was a fun display of the artistic side of the City of Sydney and a great way to end the day. To better understand what Vivid is like and to see more pictures, click the Vivid Sydney link above.
The scavenger hunt may have been a day of sightseeing, but there were still takeaways about sustainability. Already half way through our time abroad, the group had developed a better understanding of how to characterize sustainability. For instance, while standing in the midst of Vivid Sydney, Jason and I debated how sustainable the festival is. Our immediate thought was that the amount of energy required for all of the lights makes the festival unsustainable. However, this thought only covered the environmental side of sustainability. When we considered the economic and social aspects of sustainability, Jason and I saw benefits. Both economically and socially, Vivid Sydney is quite sustainable. The festival draws people into the city and promotes social interaction. Once the people are in the city, they are likely to purchase something from the local shops or restaurants. Thus, the festival has advantages and drawbacks in regards to sustainability. Vivid Sydney demonstrates that sustainability is not a black and white concept. Nothing is perfectly sustainable; society faces tradeoffs in sustainability efforts. For example, the City of Sydney could end the festival because of its energy use, but the social interaction and spike of economic activity would be lost. Jason and I considered all of this as we watched little kids giggle as they ran through a tunnel of lights and as we passed packed restaurants and people oohing and aweing over the light displays. We couldn’t help but notice the complexity of sustainability. Yet, after our discussion on the pros and cons of the festival, we chose to join with the crowd and enjoy the festival.
Australia Tourist Guide. (2012). Sydney History – Australia Timeline. Retrieved from http://www.sydney-australia.biz/history/
Australian Government. (2008). Sydney Harbour Bridge. Retrieved from http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/sydney-harbour-bridge
BridgeClimb Sydney. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.bridgeclimb.com/english/
Sydney City Council. (2002). Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City. Retrieved from http://www.sydneybarani.com.au/main.html
Sydney City. (2013). Vivid Sydney – Light, Music and Ideas. Retrieved from http://www.sydney.com/destinations/sydney/sydney-city/vivid-sydney
Sydney Living Museums. Bridge Construction. Retrieved from http://www.hht.net.au/discover/highlights/blogs/bridging_sydney_scrapbook/constructionSydney Opera House. (2012). The Building. Retrieved from http://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/about/house_history_landing.aspx
The Rocks Shopping District. (2013). Retrieved from http://therocks.com/sydney-Shopping-The_Rocks_Markets-The_Rocks_Markets.htm