Barangaroo on The Rocks, a social encounter, changes of plan – and freaks on the street…
Wednesday 18th March 2020. It’s back to Adelaide today – but there’s a snag: Our return flight has been put back a little (not for the first time), and transferred to another airline. As a result, we’ve had to cancel the shuttle bus that should have met us at the airport. We’ll have to rely on a public bus to get us into the CBD instead, but at this end we do have a private shuttle arranged to take us to Sydney’s airport, for a similar charge as we’d have had to pay to sufficiently top-up our Opal cards.
Our journey would start from the hotel at 3.30, leaving us a few hours to kill. There’s a relatively new attraction opened near the Harbour Bridge, and with a name like “Barangaroo” it had to be worth investigating. The walk there took a familiar path, although we only found the entrance after seeking help from a guy who worked there. The Barangaroo Reserve is a green and pleasant stretch of parkland celebrating Sydney’s indigenous heritage. We began by watching a short movie concerning aboriginal culture handed down to present inhabitants. But not a didgeridoo in sight. Instead, we wandered along a path at the edge of the harbour until we saw a small group of people posing for photographs in front of The Bridge. They hailed from South Africa, but had the same gregarious nature as the Aussies. Somehow Elaine was inspired to pose too – displaying her yoga skills at balancing on one leg. (I’m told it’s actually called “The Tree”.)
The heat was rising, so we sought the shady side of the street to find our way across to The Rocks, and to the Italian restaurant where we had been serenaded on Sunday night. This time we enjoyed a pizza, but also a conversation with a fellow diner whose cruise around the coast of Australia had just been cut short. She would be flying back to Oregon tomorrow, another victim of cancellations caused by the spreading coronavirus. Her news made us grateful that (so far) our own plans were proceeding much as planned.
Our final destination in Sydney was a tram journey away down George Street. We got off at Chinatown and walked a short way to a large indoor space called Paddy’s Markets that (to us) seemed disappointingly quiet, with many stalls closed. Some of the stallholders were voicing concerns about their businesses if something called “self-isolation” took off, but there were still plenty of fruit, vegetables, clothing and souvenirs on offer. Then curiously we saw our Blackpool neighbours from last night. Their plans had also been changed. Bali was off, and their travel agent had advised them to return straight to the UK by the first available flight. Oh dear…
Returning to the Woolbrokers to meet our airport transport, we had plenty to think about. Up until this morning our “trip of a lifetime” had been exactly that. Now it appeared threatened by an early curtailment. But with the rest of our belongings hundreds of miles away in Delamere, we had little choice than to continue with our plans until we were reunited with our luggage. Neither Emirates nor our own travel agent had made contact with alternative advice, and I was due to email them on Friday to confirm our return journey at their own request. All we could do was to stick to our itinerary until then, and hope for the best.
So, then we had another surprise.
Sometimes the unexpected brings good news. Upon arriving at the airport we had to find the check-in desk for Virgin Australia, as we had been unable to use the online service when our booked flight had been transferred from TigerAir. The girl at the desk was cheery and helpful – and then offered to put our (overweight) bags in the hold, free of charge! Ker-ching… The experience got even better on board, with a bright and chatty flight attendant handing out complimentary savoury snacks with a glass (or two) of wine. Well done Virgin Australia!
And farewell to Sydney.
The flight had left late, and arrived in Adelaide around 8.30 pm. We found ourselves running for a bus and caught it just in time, dropping off in the heart of the CBD with a short walk to our final motel of the trip: the Adelaide Paringa.
With dusk falling rapidly, we were surprised at the warmth of the air. It almost felt oppressive, and after another conversation through a door intercom, we were relieved to reach our room and turn on the air conditioning. It was an upgrade on the Woolbrokers, but we would only have the one night to enjoy the comfort. And after depositing our bags there, our immediate need was alcoholic. Where might we find a cold beer?
I’d chosen the Paringa for its central location as much as its price. We were on Hindley Street, just off King William Street with Rundle Mall opposite. Our first impressions of the city at night were a little off-putting. A group of teenage boys were crossing the road as we arrived, one of them barefoot, and the words that leapt to mind were “street urchins”. All the shops were shut, very few people about, and we found ourselves walking back up Hindley Street to a bar just round the corner from our motel.
This had the quaint English-style name of “The Little Pub”, but there was very little resemblance to anything we’d seen at home – especially in these temperatures. Elaine found a table outside while I ordered the beers, and when I brought them out to her, she was already being chatted up by one of three men at the next table. “Anyone gives you any trouble, I’ll sort them out for you. There’s a lot of freaks round Hindley Street.” He spotted the beer in our glasses. “West End? That’s shit beer, mate.”
A toast to all the freaks of Hindley Street, then. It was small comfort to see “The Little Pub” was just across the road from the Police Station. So, we stuck to just one beer each and legged it back to our room as quickly as dignity allowed.
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