Me and Snook on a lighthouseWhile everybody else was bitchin’ and moanin’ about the heat yesterday, the Snook and I decided to get out of the house and enjoy it. We headed down to Darling Harbour to visit the Maritime Museum, which we chose on the basis of two criteria: 1) we’d never been there, and 2) it’s currently free. We walked over from Chippendale and soon discovered a Japanese Festival happening in Tumbalong Park. I took some photos…Japanese DudesAlong with the usual array of food stalls and travel booths, the Festival featured lots of visiting Japanese performers drumming and dancing onstage. We joined the crowd, and I snapped this picture of some Samarai dudes coming out of the VIP tent.

Dancing girlsThis act featured about fifty of these dancing girls along with a lot of drummers. The traditional dance was related to the rice paddies and featured a lot of movements of the workers.

Japanese ladiesDown at the harbour foreshore, some of the “less-polished” groups were performing. We stood to watch this troop of, uh, older Japanese ladies. They were dressed like very sparkly Golden Girls and I swear for the first sixteen bars of their song they were all doing the Robot.

Dread Pirate SnookumsThe Maritime Museum had a “Pirates” thing going on for the kids over Spring Break, so here’s the Snook doing his pirate imitation. (I wanted to pay the extra $7 for the Pirates, but upon further inspection it was basically a pirates-themed kids’ playground. So we gave it a miss.)

Emigrate to Australia!The museum itself – to be honest – isn’t super engaging. They’ve got the world’s fastest speedboat, along with a few interesting things they’ve brought up from shipwrecks. The one section where I learned the most was on immigration. I had no idea that they basically coerced British parents into signing away their kids so they could be brought out here to “inject some good British stock” into the gene pool. This was back during the White Australia policy, when the white folks were worried they needed to “populate or perish.” Another phrase from this time was Ten Pound Pom. This referred to the scheme – advertised in this poster – that assisted Brits in moving here for only ten quid.

LighthouseThey’ve got a lighthouse! It was from up the coast and they moved the whole thing down here. We decided to climb up it.

On the lighthouseHere we are at the top of the lighthouse. What a gorgeous view! Sydney on a sunny day cannot be beat.

EndeavourThe jewel in the crown of the Maritime Museum is this replica of Captain Cook’s ship Endeavour. It costs about $15 to get in, but I think it was worth it. The volunteers onboard were all really knowledgeable about life at sea, and at least one of them actually sailed it on its last trip around the world. We clambered up and down and asked lots of questions and tried not to fall over when the waves made it sway side-to-side. I especially liked a nondescript round metal plug in the Captain’s office at the stern of the ship, which had apparently been taken up into space on the shuttle Endeavour. It’s such a neat way to tie this new era of human exploration to its older ancestor. (As you may imagine, Cloud Atlas was on my mind a LOT when we were on the ship.)

Captain BloodThis little kid was on the ship with his parents, and he was dressed in a full-on pirate’s costume. I asked him if I could take his picture steering the ship, and he assented. “What’s your pirate name?” I asked. “CAPTAIN BLOOD!” he responded. Good pirate name.

And that’s it! We headed home – well, with a slight detour to Simon Johnson for some delectable cheese – and felt we’d earned the right to laze away the rest of the day…

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