Blackheath, Thursday 20th January 2005
My old slippers from Malaysia are in a dustbin in Paramatta. The new Australian ones have adapted the shape of my feet.


Hours before landing at Sydney Airport whole Australia looks like a desert. For hours on a row the view is just desert, with dry bushes sparse and far apart. I do see rivers beds, winding paths but they are all dry. Slowly a bit more roads come into view, bright, straight, artificial lines, dirt-roads in the sand. The red landscape is slowly getting a bit more green. The inhabitable edge of the country is approaching. The Blue Mountains pass by. The first suburbs of Sydney pass in a flash and so does the city centre. The aircraft makes a U-turn over the ocean and prepares for landing. The inhabitable edge of this country is small.


It is fun to meet Rob & Annet again. Rob is an ex-CARGOAL colleague of me, now working in Sydney for Amadeus, a world-wide system for airlines. Around the globe three computer centres jointly offer 24-hour service. It is like the SUMit Roster Helpdesk.

Sydney enjoys summer. The sun shines. The dark Dutch winter seems non existent. It is a but too much of summer here actually. Sydney is too dry. There is a shortage of water. Rain does drop, but not far enough from the coast to fill the lakes. It does not make much difference to me as a visitor. There is no garden for me to water, no car to wash.

Victoria Bitter
needs no brown bag
in your home fridge
The sun shines a bit too well. After two weeks of tropical sunshine I thought to be sun resistant. No I am not. At the terrace of an Irish pub it takes just to pints of Guinness to get a bit sun burnt.

The standard sun cream has a Sun Protection Factor of 30. Lower SPF's are not available, as it would only lead to skin cancer.


My traditional Donar Kebab at the Circular Quay matches my sweet memories. A visit to Sydney would not be complete without it. From the benches at the west side I get a fine view of the Opera House. The view did change a lot, is not as nice as my memories. The image in my memories has expired. I fail to recall the apartment buildings in front of the Botanical Garden. They are new.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge has not changed. The ferry to Paramatta takes a left, under the bridge, onto the wide Paramatta River. Both shores show expensive villa's.

A bit upwards the river narrows fast. It is quite amazing in a city with a water shortage. Where does all this water come from to make it so wide in the city centre?


The show off villa's disappear more upstream. Nicer houses come into view. In Paramatta the river is so small. It is only a small canal actually, crossed by a small bridge for pedestrians. I like Paramatta. It has character, an odd mix of Sydney and lots of Asian influences. This is where lots of Chinese and immigrants from India settled. It is like part of Asia joined me on my journey. The Chinese at the cash register for my new slippers is probably born here, speaks Australian English without a trace of an accent.

Train schedule

Great Southern Railways created an open ticket for me, with unlimited travel. That is good, no planning, but unlimited flexibility. Their timetable is a bit too complex for me. But with an improved layout it is easy for me to find every departure and arrival from Sydney to Alice Springs and vice versa:
City Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
Sydney     14:55     14:55
Broken Hill       6:45   6:45
      8:20   8:20
Adelaide       15:15   15:15
        17:15 17:15
Alice Springs 11:55         11:55
      12:45   14:00
Adelaide         9:00 9:10
  10:00     10:00
Broken Hill   14:30     16:30
  18:30     18:30
Sydney     10:15     10:15
Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
A quick glance at the map makes me realise that the train travels very large distances. The first stretch to Broken Hill is already 1,200 kilometres. That is a long walk, just as far from Holland to the South of France. My image of Sydney may be expired, the journey to new memories of far walks is yet to begin.

Till next Nut,