A weekend with Mumzy-in-law

This weekend, my Mumzy-in-law came to stay. We had a great time Museuming it up. It’s always nice exploring your own City with someone who doesn’t see it that often – it forces you to do touristy things that you wouldn’t normally do and to actually pay attention to the buildings you walk past every day.

We visited the State Library as well as six of the Historic Houses Trust properties. It turns out that Mumzy-in-law is the perfect museum companion. Like me, she wants to look in every room, read every sign, watch every video and sometimes double back.

Highlights of the weekend were:

– The Hyde Park Barracks.
Who knew this was such a fantastic museum? I shall be recommending it to international guests forever more! It has a really great summary of Australia’s convict history.

I was surprised to hear that we have a rat infestation to thank for the amazing museum the Barracks has become today. The 19th century rats that scurried beneath the floorboards dragged away clothes, food, newspapers, etc to build their nests. They left mountains and mountains of debris behind. Then in the the late 70s/early 80s when builders started to work on the museum, they found about 100,000 items below the floorboards in ‘ratacombs’. I don’t like rats one bit, but I do like that word. Ratacombs. Lol, lol, lol.

Ratacombs! Seriously gross but seriously amazing.

-The Mint.
Did you know that the old Mint was originally a Hospital? For the first 43 years of it’s existence it was referred to as the Rum Hospital. Apparently Governor Macquarie funded it’s construction by giving the building contractors the authority to import 45,000 gallons of rum.

During the gold rush, one wing was turned into a Mint and stayed that way for 74 years until Canberra was created and the Mint shifted there.

Something else I think is interesting is that Francis Greenway, the dude on our $10 note was actually a convict transported for forgery. Ah, the irony.

As a side note, the Mint Cafe also does a really good cauliflower soup!

Christine, out where the fireplaces were in the coining factory

– The World Press Photography Exhibition at the State Library.
Have you been to the old state library? Not the new bit on Macquarie Street, but the old section, opened in 1826? If you haven’t, then you really must go. And if you HAVE been, well then you are in quite a lot of trouble for not telling me how absolutley beautiful it is! I can’t believe I’ve lived in Sydney for 10 years and not known the library was so grand and gorgeous. The photography exhibition upstairs was great, but the highlight for me was walking into the library and gasping so loudly that the Librarian had a giggling fit.

State Library of NSW - it blew my mind!

I also LOVED the libray’s display of maps. They have all the incorrect versions where the early explorers thought that New Guinea and NZ were part of our country. There’s also incomplete versions, where parts of the country were still to be discovered. And then there’s the first correct map ever completed. I really, really wanted to touch the map Matthew Flinders did. Damn that glass cabinet!

– Dinner at Jazushi.
Live jazz plus sushi. Weird combo, excellent execution! Jazushi’s on Devonshire Street in what I now know was originally called Brickfield Hill, not Surry Hills. Apparently in convict days it was known as Brickfield because of all the clay it had underground. They made pipes and earthen ware from it.

Jazushi, on Devonshire St, Surry Hills

Brunch in the tea rooms at Vaucluse House.
The food was great and afterwards there was a lovely and knowledgeable guide who gave us a tour of the house, gardens and crypt. I really, really, really want to live in this house! It has fabulous high ceilings and old, old furniture. Divine!

I also have to say that after hearing all about Mr William Wentworth (whose house it once was), I think I have a bit of a crush. Maybe I’ll move to Wentworth now :)

Vaucluse House, designed by William Wentworth

– The Justice & Police Museum
The ASIO exhibition was really interesting but the old holding cells in this museum kinda gave me the heebie jeebies!  I was also mortified to see all the weapons they have on display. Some were from crime scenes (and still had blood on them!), some  confiscated by Customs, and some handed in as part of an amnesty.

Creeepy hallway of holding cells

Afternoon tea at The Rocks Cafe.
I’ve been wanting to try their chocolate meringue cake for years!

Chocolate meringue cake

– Wandering through the Botanic Gardens and then joining a tour of Government House. By all accounts, it sounds like our Governor is actually a really smart, lovely person. However I’m still not convinced we need her AND a premier.

Whoops, forgot to take my camera! This one's from the Historic Houses website.

The Museum of Sydney.
I loved all the Australian and Aboriginal history in this museum. I also loved the 52 suburbs exhibition –  tres cool! It’s a selection of the photographs taken by Louise Hawson, who decided to explore one Sydney suburb each week for a year. This is exactly the kind of way I’d like to spend my time. Her images were fantastic and alot of them really quite funny.

I was also quite happy to discover that I’ve actually been to almost all the suburbs she visited.

These are some of the shots from Pyrmont

Can Mumzy-in-law come to visit every weekend?

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2 thoughts on “A weekend with Mumzy-in-law

  1. Neen, what a FABULOUS weekend! I want to take pictures of 52 different suburbs and visit Vaucluse house! I have been to the Library many times. Did you see the Mitchell part? That is my ancestor! Paris may have the catacombs under their city but we have the amazingly cool ratacombs!

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