Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Day Out

This afternoon after church we hopped on a train and headed to the city. After a few weeks of working on school assignments with the girls we were feeling recklessly free and in need of some different scenery.

We bought some lunch and sat on the grass at Circular Quay. There are a few cruise ships in town, and we walked along and saw the Crystal Serenity - so huge, yet not as big as others we saw last year.

The old part of Sydney is known as The Rocks, and this was our destination. First we visited the Rocks Discovery Museum and saw archeological finds, mostly old and broken, but arranged cleverly. This is about as old as you get in Australia's short history, not counting Aboriginal artifacts, of course. I loved how they filled a display cabinet with "place settings" from what had been found. Steve and the girls played with the touch screens and the computers while I stared at an old corset and smock, found in an old attic and partly disintegrated. (couldn't photograph it, though)

Then we went to Susannah Place Museum, where we met a lovely lady in the shop and she guided us to this room, to watch an introductory video. At this point we were wondering what on earth we had gotten ourselves in for, because the room looked like this:

and the ceiling like this:

(all of which makes our house look pretty good, really)

But when our amusing tour guide rejoined us we learnt that these 4 terrace houses had been left as much as possible in the condition in which they were found. Built in 1844 and renovated (or not) over the intervening years they are a sort of time capsule of life in different eras, although they are largely in their original condition. Some rooms are furnished, and some are empty. It's hard to believe that people lived in these homes right up to the 1980s as they are now.

We learnt so much and found it all fascinating, even the girls.
This was one of the furnished rooms, a bedroom.

In one room was an exhibition in tribute to the laundry, and the women who laboured so hard to wash their family's clothes. I loved the way it was presented, photos printed on fabric aprons, singlets and tea towels, hung out on a clothesline by a cardboard-cut-out woman - very clever.

And there was a peg exhibit, showing different types of pegs through the decades, including these gypsy pegs (like you read about in novels where the gypsy woman comes to the door selling pegs).

With the laundries left in original condition, one could imagine women in long full skirts carrying laundry baskets up and down very narrow staircases, collecting water a few blocks away from the pump, boiling up the copper and then slaving all day to wash the family laundry. And I was thankful for my washing machine! The washing was then hung out across the street, blocking the way for horses to drive through!

The corner terrace was a shop and here people bought their food for years. In the video were people who remembered coming here as a child and seeing the bulk butter, sugar, apples and so on. Now the shop is filled with boiled sweets, fly paper and other old-time goodies. I wanted to buy everything, but resisted except for a postcard.

After dragging ourselves away from the museum we visited the markets and some interesting shops, including a puppet shop, which was just incredible. Rooms of marionettes and wooden toys.

We visited an Irish shop, and a candle shop, then headed home. A good day out!


Emily said...

Hello! The museum looks like it was very fascinating! I would love to visit there and it truly does look like a time capsule!

Hill upon Hill said...

Have wanted to go to Sussanah Place. Sounds like a special day.

Miri said...

The museum sounds wonderful...I love "living history" museums. Thanks for the tour since I don't know if I'll ever get to Sidney.