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Surfing, Skeletons and Spacecraft

There’s no doubt about it – autumn is definitely approaching Sydney. The mornings are darker, there are dead leaves on the ground, and there have been fewer beach-weather days.

In fact, the last time I went to a beach was probably for the Australian Open of Surfing at Manly. This event was great fun to watch since there were some seriously classy surfers, and the beach was unusually crowded for a weekday.

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I bought some frozen yoghurt and settled down on the beach wall to watch. It turned out the guys sitting next to me were competitors, and so I got the low-down on surf comp rules and the incredible level of funding given to sponsored surfers.

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I haven’t really been to the beach much since then. Instead, I’ve been visiting some of the museums that Sydney has to offer. One of these trips was to the Australian Museum, which is the oldest museum in Australia. It focused especially on natural history and anthropology, and was reminiscent of the Natural History and Pitt Rivers Museums in Oxford.

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There was a good exhibition on Aboriginal culture, and I liked the section on Australian animals. Apparently the collective noun for a group of wombats is a ‘wisdom’. I also discovered that Giant Beach Worms – up to two metres long! – wriggle beneath the sand of beaches in south-east Australia. Yup, that’s where I live, though I haven’t seen any… yet…

The second museum I visited was the Powerhouse Museum, focusing mainly on science and technology. Whilst most people know me as an arts student, I actually really enjoyed science when I was younger. Not so much school science, which seemed to consist of writing out F=ma in myriad different ways, but I liked trying to understand theoretical stuff like quarks and black holes.

Anyway, the Powerhouse Museum was right up my street. As the flagship venue of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, it was located in the old Ultimo Power Station building (next to Darling Harbour).

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The variety of featured exhibitions was huge, ranging from artificial intelligence to radioactivity to transportation.

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Solar-powered vehicle

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My favourite section was the exhibition about the International Space Station. You could go inside a replica habitation module and see how the astronauts sleep, eat, exercise and go to the loo…

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Here’s a replica of a Soyuz re-entry module, used during lift-off and when returning to Earth.

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Both of these museums are definitely worth a trip on a rainy day in Sydney. They charge entry fees, but it’s worth checking on Groupon for vouchers (in fact, always check Groupon. I saved myself money on a Hunter Valley tour in this way). The Australian Museum also has a lovely rooftop cafe which merits a visit!

2 thoughts on “Surfing, Skeletons and Spacecraft”

  1. Am enjoying that end of term feeling from school & Oxford, and now having the chance to catch up on your blog. It’s just amazing how much you are getting to visit and experience! xx

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