The D&O Diary is on assignment in Australia this week. Here’s what you need to know about Sydney in late February – if you traverse the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, fly across the Equator and the International Date Line, and then finally arrive Down Under, when you get there, it is summer. Warm, sunny, beautiful summer. Given that the day before I left home the thermometer on the dashboard of my car read minus 17 degrees Fahrenheit (or minus 27 Celsius as they would say in Australia, as if it would ever get that cold there), the trip to Australia came at a particularly welcome time.
Sydney, Australia’s largest city and financial center, is a modern, busy metropolis. It is also massive. Its population of 4.7 million is larger than that of either Los Angeles of Chicago. At the city’s center is its vast harbor, which Captain Arthur Phillip, who led the famous First Fleet to Australia in 1788, described as “without exception the finest harbor in the world.”
The city’s central business district sits along the harbor’s south shore, as shown above. The beautiful, lush Royal Botanical Gardens sit adjacent to the central business district and lead down to the water’s edge and the famous, iconic Sydney Opera House, which is one of the world’s most distinctive, beautiful and photogenic buildings.
Just west of the Opera House, beyond the Circle Quay, now in the place where the First Fleet landed back in 1788, is the Sydney Harbor Bridge, which crosses the harbor to northern shore. It is possible to cross the bridge on foot. The bridge’s pedestrian footpath affords fabulous views of the city and of the harbor.
This was actually my second trip to Australia, after my first trip there nearly thirty years ago. Just as happened on my prior visit, I found this time that I kept getting lost. Because I have a fair amount of pride in my sense of direction, I found this quite vexing. On my prior visit, I finally figured out the source of my disorientation. It was the sun. It was all wrong. It turns out that in the Southern Hemisphere, the sun passes from east to west through the northern sky (rather than through the southern sky, as happens in the Northern Hemisphere). When facing west, the sun has a right-left trajectory (unlike the left-right trajectory in the Northern Hemisphere). The sun’s position kept steering me in the exact opposite way of my intended direction. Despite my prior acquaintance with this phenomenon, I still struggled to avoid getting lost. There is, however, no truth to the rumor that the water in Southern Hemisphere toilets circulate counter-clockwise because of the Coriolis effect.
On the plane on the way over, I read The Fatal Shore, Robert Hughes’s excellent book about the European settlement of Australia. Among other things, Hughes describes how Francis Greenway, the so-called convict architect, working under the direction of the then-governor Laclan Macquarie, designed and directed the construction of the first durable civic architecture in Sydney. Several of the buildings he designed still stand along Macquarie Street, near Hyde Park. One of these buildings, the Hyde Park Barracks, pictured above, is noteworthy not merely because it is an important landmark from the city’s early days, but also because it has a simple, symmetric and utilitarian order that even today seems appropriate for the place.
Thanks to United Airlines, which if it is incompetent it is also at least consistent, I once again had an overseas trip cut short by a day because of mechanically-related flight delays. I also had the pleasure of spending the night last Saturday night sleeping on a bench in a concourse at LAX. So much for the “friendly skies.” As a result of the lost day, I didn’t have nearly as much time to visit Sydney as I would have liked, and as I had intended. (Basically, all of the pictures in this post were taken in the course of one very busy afternoon.) I had just enough time to be reminded that Sydney is a great place full of friendly people. And best of all, in late February, it is full of warm, summer sunshine.
I would like to thank John Goulios and his colleagues at the DLA Piper law firm for inviting me to participate in their firm’s client event in Sydney. I was delighted to be introduced to so many industry colleagues at the event. (Please see my pictures of the event, below.) I was also delighted to learn how many of them — not just from Sydney, but also from Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne and Auckland – follow The D&O Diary.
More pictures of Sydney:
The lush Botanical Gardens are full of a fascinating array of flora and fauna. The trees and grounds are alive with bird life, including brightly colored lorikeets, white Cockatoos, and the Australian white ibis.
I love maps and signs, because they convey so much about places you might visit. Even a simple road sign suggests so many possibilities. What are the places referred to like? The sign not only points the way, it suggests that you might easily travel there. The world is full of such a vast array of places and possibilities.
In this picture, I demonstrate how to prevent half of a room full of Australians from seeing a powerpoint slide.
Here, I am joined by two of my new friends from Australia, Kathleen Warden of Berkley Insurance Australia in Sydney, and Andrew Quartermaine, of Arthur J. Gallagher in Sydney.
In this picture, I am joined Sophie Devitt of DLA Piper’s Brisbane office.
Here is a picture taken with John Goulios of DLA Piper’s Singapore Office.