It was an image I had seen a hundred times before. It is replicated on postcards, adorns the front cover of guidebooks and is the first image to appear when you google search ‘Sydney’. Yet there was nothing that could have prepared me for that first glimpse of Sydney harbour. That enormous metal infrastructure looming on the horizon, growing larger and larger at every onward metre until I had to crane my neck to see the sky beyond it. The white peaks that gradually appeared and fanned out forming that gleaming white symbol of a city. I had arrived.
I had read an article on the plane over in which the writer described how he still caught his breath every time he came upon Sydney harbour and saw the bridge and the Opera house. But there was nothing like seeing it for the first time. I must admit I was sceptical. In my mind I had seen these landmarks a hundred times already in picture form, would the real thing really be so different? Equally I was used to seeing the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben on a regular basis. I was used to famous landmarks. I expected them.
My naivete was rewarded instead with pure amazement. This was very different from a postcard. The main thing which struck me was the sheer size of these images. Situated as they were in the harbour, they seemed to stick out larger than anything around them, drawing the eye. The bridge in particular, with its huge curved sides which seemed to stretch endlessly to the sky made of thick metal components. After driving across the bridge we stopped at Milson’s Point on the Northern side and walked along the grass in the shadow created by the bridge. Standing in this cool area and gazing across to the Opera House on the other side of the harbour, I have to admit that the article was right.