The alarm went off at 5AM, as planned. I wanted to get a 10K in to finally hit my 150-mile mark. But I felt lazy. I hit the snooze on my blackberry and conveniently passed out again. The next time I heard it, it was 6:58. Why didn’t I guess that?
I wanted to catch the Woggan-ma-gule Morning Ceremony at Farm Cove in the Royal Botanic Gardens. Of course, it starts at 8AM. I was in and out of the shower quickly and ran for the bus stop. Then I remembered – all buses are running on a holiday schedule. The next one will probably show up in about an hour. Suck ass.
I walked to the top of Birriga and was immediately on the look-out for a taxi. Spotted one! The driver was really nice and he was familiar with the ceremony. “It’s a big deal!” He got me there quickly, but I was dropped off pretty far from the Royal Botanic Gardens – the streets surrounding the park was closed because of the Vintage Classic Car show. I made a mental note to scope it out later.
I ran into the Domain and started looking for posted directions; for something supposedly so important, this event was actually kept on the DL. Very few people I’ve told were even aware that this is something that happens every year on Australia Day. Weird. I didn’t find the place immediately, but I did run into someone heading to the same place – Irina. She’s originally from St. Petersburg and has been living in the city for a little over seventeen years. And like every person I’ve met in Sydney, she was very amicable and was more than happy to keep me company. We found the cove after trailing a small group of people in front of us. We exchanged numbers and she invited me to attend her BBQ later in the evening (apparently, we’re neighbors!) Then I walked around to find a good seat on the grass.
The ceremony began promptly at 8AM. There was a large grassy area with decorative circular patches of sand scattered across. There were a few props that were set up earlier and, just in the distance, you could see smoke drifting towards the audience… when it started to drift in different directions, I caught a glimpse of our cast. They moved forward with heavy feet and slouched as though the weight of the entire world rested on their shoulders. They made a haunting sound. The beating of the drums really set the mood and the droning noise of didgeridoo gave me the creeps. It was quite the spectacle.
A 30-minute performance that had the elements of every good story: your good guys and bad guys, the evil and the virginal, a goddess figure, a battle, and a happy ending. There was something very primal about the entire thing. The music really helped in understanding the context and, it was enjoyable! At one point, in the middle of the battle between good and evil, they started playing this funky tribal beat layered with some trippy ambient music and I swear I wanted to dance so badly. Is that wrong? That I felt like jamming to music that’s supposed to convey war? Eh. Maybe a little. But it sounded so good. And the finale? It was even better.
I left the gardens at 8:45 and went in search for food. On my walk to the exit, I came across a section of the gardens that the bats considered their sanctuary. They looked like fruits hanging from the trees… until one of them spread its wings and freaked me out. There must have been several hundreds of them. Everywhere.
Anyway… searching for food… I couldn’t find any open vendors yet (too early) so I dived into my packed lychees and look! They were beautiful =)
Now I know what a really good lychee is supposed to look like. When you pinch it a little to crack through the skin, it should be pretty easy to peel. It’ll be pink inside and the fruit itself practically false right off the seed in the middle. Yummy! It lasted me a good 10 minutes just until I found myself a sausage roll. Why not? It’s Aussie Day.
I headed to Circular Quay shortly thereafter and met with Mitch and Daniel – two students I previously met at the Al Green concert on the Domain. They’re both in Sydney for a little while to finish up their Masters… I think Daniel is doing his in Marketing and Mitch might be doing his on Jazz Music. -laughs- They’re a funny combination.
We were catching the Ferrython at 11:30AM and then the Tall Ships Race right after! We found a nice corner right underneath the Harbour Bridge and snapped away.
It turned out to be a really sunny day, despite a bad start in the morning. And it was hot again. I would’ve killed to have been wearing shorts or a dress.
After the races, we needed to grab some grub so we went straight to Paddy’s Market and visited Mamak – Mitch’s favorite Malaysian restaurant in Sydney. The food was pretty incredible, as promised. We had the Chicken Murtabak, Roti Bom, Ayam Berempah, and Ais Kacang for dessert. Solid meal for $15 when we split it between us. And it was pretty filling! Daniel mentioned that Mamak is probably the 3rd best Malaysian restaurant in Sydney… the best one was located in Paramatta – too far a trip for today, but we’ll be sure to visit it soon.
Afterwards, I went off on my own again. They were in the mood for jazz at Pyrmont Park – I preferred reggae, funk, and ska by the Quay. Although, I might have enjoyed the jazz a little more just because the bands I saw were a little disappointing. I was telling Chris the other night that anyone can play a reggae tune, but not just anyone can write a good reggae song. The lyrics were weak. I stayed for a bit, but left sooner than I expected.
And to end the day? I took up Irina’s offer and went to her BBQ at Bellevue Hill. She tried to warn me just as I stepped into her yard, “it’s really a BBQ for middle-aged folks”. I laughed. I should fit right in. Her house was so beautiful. It was massive. Her kitchen? I want to live there. I was the last one to show up at the BBQ and so I was the last one to leave (not necessarily by choice). Irina was sweet though, and drove me back since I’m only about 5 minutes away. “Call me anytime. Just in case you’re bored.” Me? Bored? Oh please… tomorrow, I’ll have yet another source of amusement.