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The Voyage of Spectacle Rugby

The Voyage

Spectacles

Andy and Melissa are sailing around the world on their 48-foot sailboat, Spectacle.

The Position

Bali, Indonesia

The Pictures

The Voyage of Spectacle

Archive for the ‘Rugby’ Category

Kings Cross, Sydney, New South Wales

Posted by: melissa

The wifi in the marina is pretty unstable, and I have a lot of high bandwidth projects that need to get done.  As such, my last chore on the shaky wifi was to find an Internet café that I can walk to.  The closest was in the Sydney neighborhood called Kings Cross, which is the red light district.  This part of town is on a fairly large hill, so historically, wealthy settlers moved up the ridge away from the city slums and waterfront squalor.  Kings Cross developed into a pretty snazzy neighborhood, but as always, slums spread and the rich migrate to the suburbs.  By the 1920s, Kings Cross earned a bohemian reputation providing safe haven for artists, immigrants, and drifters.  Pubs, clubs and cabarets started to spring up, and by the 1970s, Kings Cross was a seedy and crime-ridden combination of drug addicts, mob bosses, and prostitutes. 

These days, Kings Cross has been cleaned up quite a bit, and appears to be trending upward.  The iconic symbol of the neighborhood is the huge glowing Coca-Cola sign at the intersection of William and Victoria.  While there are some sketchy pockets, I found the Cross to be very “seedy chic” and pretty much safe in a “just keep your wits about you” way.  There are lots of shady bars, sex shops, massage parlors, and of course, strip clubs, and several are quite humorous … Two Hands Required, the Bada Bing, the Pleasure Chest, the Landing Strip.  One displays a banner out front proclaiming “No NRL Players Allowed.”  The NRL is rugby league, and many rugby league players are notoriously badly behaved while fans and management look the other way.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of street people just milling around.  There’s no mistaking the drug-addicted prostitutes who hook to support their habit … they are very haggard, bruised and battered, and frequently heartbreakingly young.

There’s the occasional odd ray of hope in Kings Cross as well.  There’s a former drug addict turned street-cleaning janitor who walks Darlinghurst Road everyday bidding “G’day” to everyone and tending to those in need.  There’s the famous Russian hawker at one club who has been greeting customers at the door and protecting the strippers employed there for over 30 years.  There’s the alcoholic who sits at the bus stop on the corner of Darlinghurst and Bayswater every single day screaming four-letter-word insults at passersby.  Okay, that’s not the greatest example.  Nevertheless, the Kings Cross neighborhood appears to be improving with the appearance of higher end establishments catering to a normal crowd (restaurants, grocery stores, etc.), rather than the street crowd (strip clubs, massage parlors, etc.).

Eavesdropping at the Yacht Club and Off to Rugby League

Posted by: melissa

After our nap yesterday, we realized that the Newcastle Knights were playing the Canberra Raiders in rugby league that evening, and we felt pretty good and recovered enough from the passage to go out.  Andy bought tickets online, and we set off.

First, we went to the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club for an adult beverage.  It’s a very nice place, and chock full of local boaters.  Andy and I were eavesdropping on the conversation going on at the table behind us.  They were in a heated discussion about the Gold Coast and how it is culture-free.  We hear this a lot, and of course, the same criticisms are frequently made about the United States.  And I think it’s all pretty harsh.  I mean think about it … places like Sydney and Los Angeles are just never going to be Rome or Istanbul, but that doesn’t mean that they’re culture-free. 

In a way, Australia has a much better excuse than the United States.  Captain Cook and the Endeavor landed in 1770, but the First Fleet didn’t arrive until 1788, and that was for the penal colony.  Plus, Australia is far more remote than the U.S., especially by the standards of early days.  And, exploration and travel across Australia was far harsher than the experiences of American settlers moving west.  To this day, large parts of Australia are still uninhabitable even with technological advances. 

Newcastle Knights Super Fan -- and much warmer rugby league spectator!

Newcastle Knights Super Fan -- and much warmer rugby league spectator!

My point is that I think Australia has evolved into a very distinct culture given its youth as a society and its many geographical and topographical challenges.  As we further eavesdropped, one guy tried to make the point that China has no real culture either, just a long-standing civilization.  I still haven’t figured out what that craziness actually meant or what it has to do with Gold Coast, but I thought it was pretty amusing.      

We then went next door to have a bite at the local restaurant which happens to be one of the best in Newcastle, and it was really good.  We hopped into a taxi and headed out to the ground.  I immediately realized that I was going to be too cold, so we swung by the team shop and I instantly became a Newcastle Knights super fan by double bill-boarding with hat and scarf.  After a convincing Knights victory, we cabbed it home, had dessert and decaf at the local, and went to bed.  Tomorrow we’ll rent a car and head out to the Hunter Valley wine country.

Back from Hunter Valley

Posted by: melissa
Spectacle at the Dock in Newcastle

Spectacle at the Dock in Newcastle

We spent Sunday night at a nice and pretty famous inn called Peppers in Pokolbin, where we had a surprisingly good degustation menu for dinner … scallops, quail, and veal, all very nice.  We also enjoyed delicious dessert called “Night at the Movies” with savory popcorn-flavored sorbet, Coca-Cola jello, malted milk balls, sweet Sprite sorbet with pistachios, and a couple of other chocolate items with creative twists on candy treats.  Very yummy!  We then passed out watching an Australian 60 Minutes special on the American Amish. 

On Monday, we had breakfast, did some wine-tasting, and met three guys, all Ph.D. candidates in math, in the area after a convention in Sydney … one from South Africa, one from Colombia, and one from Switzerland.  All three were wickedly smart and super interesting.  We had a lovely late lunch together, and then Andy and I drove home to Newcastle.   

Back in Newcastle, we took advantage of having the car, drove around a little just sight-seeing in general, and ended up at the local brewery at Queen’s Wharf for some televised rugby league, beer, and burgers.


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