Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Brett Whiteley view of Sydney (by bike)

This morning the rain had cancelled soccer, it hasn't stopped raining for weeks so the fields are soaked. I tried to persuade the girls to come riding with me instead but they had curled up with the dog in front of the heater and were rewatching Eurovision for the fifth time. It turned out to be a good decision on their part!

I headed into town singing Anti Crisis girl to myself. Not only is Svetlana Loboda "Viagra personified" as Julia Zemiro called her, not only does she do amazing gymnastics AND a drum solo, with leaping flames and Trojan warriors but it's a very catchy tune and it stayed with me for the rest of this long day. I was still humming it as I rode home!

Next time I go riding with Gilbert, remind me to check the Bikely route. For some reason I thought we were going for a little jaunt up to Brett Whiteley's old studio. I thought it seemed like a short ride from the meeting place at Central but that was fine with me. I'd have plenty of time to get back home and take the girls to IKEA afterwards.

If you take a look at this map you will see just how wrong I was. Gilbert had planned a 35km round trip taking in all the important landmarks in the life of Brett Whiteley. Not just any 35km either, the route also managed to include just about every steep climb in Sydney!

We met in the Square of the Americas. The statues there always seem to be getting up to some sort of mischief and today was no exception. One of them had got himself tangled up with a shopping trolley

and another was having a smoke!

Anyway we read Gilbert's literature and then headed off up the hill into Surry Hills.

The gallery was well worth visiting, my favourite thing was reading some of the sayings Brett had written on the wall. I couldn't take pictures inside so you will have to go and see it yourself, it's free!

After a while I went outside to wait for the others, I found this cute little fish in the back alley. There's a close up here. I don't know if it has a Brett Whiteley connection but he did use a lot of Asian influence in his work.

Then it was off again across town to catch the ferry down at Darling Harbour. There was a short delay in Martin Place because a big demonstration was going past.

Here we are on the ferry trying to name all the islands. I'm not sure why Gilbert is giving Tim that funny look, maybe this was when Tim asked, "is that Balmain?" while pointing at the North side of the harbour. Gilbert's probably thinking "I better not let this guy get lost..."

We got off at a wharf named Huntley's Point, sadly the Turkish Baths are no longer there.

Then we rode up lots of hills and over bridges and into the wet and muddy Bush!

Minerva has never been in the bush before, she thought the air smelt a bit funny.

This is Gilbert explaining how to remove the leeches.

We struggled up out of the bush and did some running repairs. Then it was off to the childhood home of the Artist. Apparently he was the terror of the neighbourhood with his calipers and his shock of bright red hair.

Tim was amazed to see the actual house Brett Whiteley grew up in. Paul wanted to know if Brett was Tibetan. It was pretty mountainous terrain.

We always seemed to be climbing steeply or rocketing down the other side. I was a bit concerned about Minerva's brakes with her wheels all covered in mud but she lived up to her cross check heritage and kept me safe. Her chain was starting to get pretty slack though. Have to go and get that tightened tomorrow. One woman did take a nasty spill but she did a beautifully executed judo roll and jumped straight back on undaunted.

Somewhere in Lane Cove Gilbert led us back into the bush and down into a creek, it was time for a bit of caving! At least we could get out of the rain for a while.

The tunnel was quite long and dark, long and dark enough for Minerva to switch her lights on. It took us under the road into another valley where we bush bashed our way back up onto the streets again. Soon we were climbing again, arriving eventually at Wollstonecraft train station. At this point about half of the riders suddenly remembered urgent appointments they had in the city that afternoon and disappeared into the station. Did I mention it was raining?

So then we were five. More climbing ensued, I was having a good time but I think Minerva was getting a bit tired.

Our next stop was Wendy's secret garden down in Lavender Bay. It was really beautiful, I can't wait to take the girls there for a picnic one day. Wendy made the garden on a bit of neglected State Rail land when she was dealing with a lot of grief. She had lost both Brett and her daughter.

The garden was full of interesting little bits and pieces.

After a bit of a wander in the garden we carried our bikes down to the board walk and rode along past Luna Park and then up the hill to the Harbour Bridge. Kerry and Michael were heading North so we said goodbye and then we were three.

On the other side we farewelled our last companion and then Gilbert took me to see the final stop in the tour Black Totem II down at Miller's Point.

Gilbert was all set to ride back to Marrickville but I decided I'd best get the train, after all the girls were waiting for me, it wasn't that I was tired or anything... I should have just kept riding. Why is it that every time I try to take my bike on State Rail they are doing bloody track work? Unbelievable! Anyway I made it home in the end, the girls were busy assembling things they'd bought at IKEA and there were Swedish Kotbullar for dinner! And beer! Yum.

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