I think there will always be a sense in which Sydney will be my city. I was born there and grew up in its suburbs and outskirts. Despite today’s forecast for uncharacteristically gloomy November weather, if I could hang out there today (ideally with my sister and niece!) instead of the other things I have to do at home, that would make for a wonderful Monday!
I still feel a strange kind of pride when filling in a form asking for place of birth that I get to write the name of a place so iconic and universally known. I walked across the Harbour Bridge on its 50th birthday and saw Allan Border play his last game at the SCG. I performed in primary school choirs at the Opera House and went to the Royal Easter Show every year. We watched the Tall Ships come into the Harbour from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair on the bicentennial. My 13th birthday party was at Luna Park and while our house was being built we lived for six wonderful weeks in a hotel on the Corso at Manly. I’ve spent a number of New Years Eves in the city for the fireworks, and I was at The Rocks the night Juan Antonio Samaranch announced that the 2000 Olympics would be held in “Syd-a-ney.”
I sometimes find it hard to believe that I have lived in a completely different part of the country for nearly two decades. I love Adelaide, but Sydney will always have a pull for me. Whether it is flying in over the harbour or driving up the Hume Highway, whenever I go back to Sydney there is a sense of coming home.
What is it about Sydney? It’s not a city I particularly wish to live in these days – the traffic alone would drive me crazy (although I do love that I still know how to drive from Liverpool to Newcastle without using any toll roads!) But it’s a city I appreciate and enjoy and I can certainly understand why many of my friends choose to make it home.
What do I love about Sydney?
All the usual things that everybody else loves, of course – from Darling Harbour to the Corso at Manly, Taronga Zoo and Circular Quay. I love the northern beaches but am happy to leave Bondi to the real tourists. Living in Adelaide even makes me appreciate City Rail 🙂
But I also love many of Sydney’s suburbs because of all the memories they bring back. Driving past the house I grew up in at Frenchs Forest or the unit my grandma lived in at Burwood, the hall where we did Physical Culture competitions at Willoughby or the publishing company where I had my first grown-up job at Lane Cove. Am I the only one who feels that pull just to go past and see old familiar places when I am in the area?
What have I learned from Sydney?
Many, many things, but what stands out today is the power of memories. I’ve learned so much from so many people in Sydney, and going back to those places is a way of re-connecting with my history and some of the experiences that have shaped who I am today. It’s a cliché for a reason, that the place you grew up will always be a part of you. And I wonder if it is all that I love about Sydney that set me down the path of traveling and seeking to appreciate and learn from all the other wonderful places this world has to offer?