Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sydney's Royal Botanical Gardens, Opera House, and Aboriginal History

It took two days for me to walk through the entirety of Sydney's Royal Botanical Gardens, because they are vast, sprawling, and filled with tons of flora and fauna to look at and photograph. In order to see it all, I wanted to carefully go through all the areas, hence taking more than one day. But the time spent was not in vain, as I reaped hundreds of photographs from this garden and the surrounding area alone.

There are two major endpoints for a hike through this park: Macquarie's Point and the Sydney Harbor. From Macquaries's Point on the far right of the garden, you can enjoy a spectacular view of the Sydney Opera House paired with the Harbor Bridge. At sunset, this view is amazing. Words can't describe it, but a picture can.

The left end of the garden takes you past the Government House and up to the Opera House. At first you catch glimpses of its' recognizable shape peeking through the tops of trees. My first glimpse had my heart racing in anticipation. I made my way down the path next to Farm Cove, and there, at the end of the path, was the Opera House.

My camera was working overtime as I snapped shot after shot, trying to get the best photograph from this moment to take home with me. I even whipped out my iPhone to get a few artsy shots with Hipstamatic. I couldn't believe I was standing next to a building so magnificent, and so unique-looking. Until I came to Sydney, I never thought that I would have the chance to see this up-close, and that it would only exist on TV or in magazines.

I even got to touch the Opera House, and took a picture of it to document the moment. Tourists from Australia, as well as other countries around the world, swirled around me taking photos and murmuring in shared awe. Languages floated around my head: English, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, German, French, all commenting on the beauty of the Opera House and how enjoyable that moment was.

After I exhausted my camera at the Opera House, I headed up to check out Circular Quay for a little bit before grabbing some dinner and heading back to my hostel. The next day would involve seeing the rest of the Botanical Gardens.

So my next mission was to check out Macquarie's Point and see the other half of the gardens. This included the Tropical Garden, the Herb Garden, the Oriental Garden, the Fern Garden, and the Garden Shop. On the way I learned a little about the founding of the Botanical Gardens, as well as some history of the Aborigines and their role in the early settling of Sydney.

The history of how the Aborigines and European settlers encountered and interacted with each other mirrors that of how Europeans interacted with Native Americans and Africans. Unaccustomed to diseases brought by the Europeans, smallpox killed almost all of the Aborigines who lived in what is now the Botanical Garden area. The children of Aborigines were taken from their families and forced to live with English families as house servants, in hopes that eventually interracial marriages would breed out the Aboriginal bloodline. The exhibit in the garden went on to explain how the Aborigines fought against these changes as hard as they could, and were eventually granted the ability to vote like others in Australia. As recently as the last century, they were voted to be included in the census. I left the exhibit feeling both unsettled about what had happened, but also possessing the desire to learn more about what transpired in Aboriginal history.

I soldiered on to Marquarie's Point in the nice sunny weather and was rewarded at the end of the path with great photo opportunities. With the winter sun shining down on the harbor and illuminating the water, it cast both the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge in a great view. I took my photos, then purchased some iced tea and salt-and-vinegar crisps (potato chips) to snack on beneath a shady tree nearby. Everything came together that afternoon for a wonderful relaxing experience: the weather, the view, the food, and the atmosphere.

Sydney has offered me a lot of great photographs since I arrived, and my computer's folders are proof: over 700 pictures have been taken this week alone. I am happy that I will have more than enough good ones to choose from when I go to print them and give them as gifts.

1 comment:

  1. So glad you're enjoying my beautiful country and that you're able to find fun places to explore even when I'm busy at work.

    Love the photos!


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