Around Town Down Under:
A Sydney Saturday

by Brian K. Kelly

Managing Editor

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    “We think Australia is the greatest!” said Bill Foggle as he and the other young Latter-day Saints rushed to explain some of the unique and unusual facts about their homeland and its inhabitants.

    Australia is the only place in the world where there are four-legged mammals (platypuses) that lay eggs, have bills like a duck’s, and yet are covered with fur. Where other animals hop around on their hind legs and carry their young in pouches. Where birds, like the emu and cassowary, don’t fly. Where the famous koala bear isn’t really a bear at all, but an opossum, and one without a tail at that!

    Australia is an island continent about the same size as the continental United States. It is the smallest continent, yet it is the six largest country in the world. It is the only continent that is also a country.

    In addition to the whole of Australia’s uniqueness, Sydney, Australia’s largest city, has its own share of “this-is-the-only-place-in-the-world-where’s.” Sydney Harbour is considered the world’s most beautiful deep-water port, and the Sydney Opera House is billed as the most striking building ever created by man. Besides being the oldest city in Australia, Sydney has its own world class harbour bridge and a history that dates back to 1788 and includes a fascinating array of convicts, sailors, and other early settlers.

    Young Latter-day Saints in Sydney often meet together to do service projects, work on the local Church welfare farms, participate in sports, and see the sights of their fair city. On this Saturday the young people met at the famous Sydney Opera House, then took the ferryboat across the harbour to Taronga Zoo, where they laughed at the animals’ antics and lunched on meat pies and chips.

    From the zoo, the young people caught another boat ride back to the Rocks area on the western shore of Sydney Cove. Here they caught a glimpse of the very early colonial life of the city. After a walk under the bridge and a stop at the Argyle Center to see some aboriginal art and shops featuring Australian sheepskins, pottery, and needlework, the day was gone. Bill and his friends had to hustle back to the opera house parking lot where everyone said their good-byes and ta-ta’s and went their separate ways for home.

    Photos by Brian K. Kelly

    Robby Bishop admires a monument to an early soldier, one group to first settle in Australia. Robby and his parents moved to Sydney from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 10 years ago. They joined the Church soon after settling in Australia. “When the missionaries came to our door, we were so shocked to hear others with an American accent that we invited them in.”

    Situated on a point overlooking the harbour, the Sydney Opera House startles visitors with its size and beauty. Five main performing halls, restaurants, and many other facilities are housed under the clam-like tiled roofs. It is considered by many to be the most striking building ever created by man. Leaving the opera house, the young people depend on ferries and buses to get them around Sydney—queued up at a bus stop Sydney style.

    Koalas, those misnamed “bears,” really belong to the opossum family, and though they might look like bears, their nocturnal habits are more like those of the opossum. This cuddly looking character is a favorite of Michael Cooper and his sister, Amber. Michael and Amber also enjoy occasional outings in downtown Sydney. Michael was born in Australia of Jamaican and Scottish ancestry and has been adopted by the Cooper family. They enjoy getting together with other young Latter-day Saints because, “Here, the Church and not school is the center of our social life.”

    The Sydney Harbour Bridge is another important landmark. It can be seen from the opera house and is across the harbour from the zoo. Sydney’s early colonial life is represented in the Rocks area on the western shore of Sydney Cove. Here you can see interesting examples of Georgian and Victorian architecture. Craftsmen and artists can be viewed at work in the many small shops, and you can even mail a letter in an antique but very serviceable letter box.

    Kerry Edwards enjoys the warm sunshine at the zoo while Danielle Parker practices patience as she waits for some activity at the koala enclosure. Besides koalas and the usual zoo animals—such as lions, tigers, elephants, and gorillas—the group saw the platypus, a furred, duckbilled, aquatic mammal that lays eggs and feeds its young with milk. They also saw wombats and other small mammals which are native to Australia and rarely seen anywhere else.

    An opera house balcony is a great place from which to enjoy the sights of Port Jackson which is known as the world’s most beautiful deep-water harbour. One hundred and fifty miles of shoreline provide plenty of room for a thriving maritime commerce, a large ferry fleet, and more than 10,000 privately owned yachts and power boats. The hydrofoil ferries make regular runs to Manly, a nearby Sydney beach suburb.