Thursday, October 13, 2005


Link to Complete Set of Sydney Photos


One of Meew Kim’s Felt Moi Bunnies (email:, discovered in Sydney’s New Town, and described as:

Every FeltMoi bunny has its own story. Born bright mismatched colors and without tails, these little animals are of an affectionately naive yet rebellious nature. They easily fit into your pocket and make lucky traveling companions. Optimistic and curious about your life they want to share adventures with you...Meew Kim could always take a break from sewing bunny mayhem. You can contact her via smoke signal or putting strawberries under your pillow before sleep...


Sydney seemed a little like Vancouver mixed with New York City, but with giant fruit bats, ibises, and other beasties. Our schedule was both busier and more relaxed—fewer formal events but more group lunches and dinners. But Sydney has the rhythms of a big city, and that means more people and more exhaustion, in a sense, even though it is wonderfully walkable. We were really happy to have booked a “relaxation suite” at the Hilton, because we needed it. Ending each night in the jacuzzi was really nice, and we figured we’d earned it, by god! It was also a great place to entertain people.

Anne Sydenham, Anna Tambour, Ann, and Ben Peek

We saw some of the usual tourist things, like the opera house, the zoo, and the botanical gardens. We absolutely loved the botanical gardens, with its countless cockatoos and other exotic birds—as well as our old friends, the fruit bats.

We ate dim sum in a great Chinese restaurant and tried a “degustation” meal at a trendy place called Becasse. We also checked out Sydney’s China Town and its relaxing Chinese Garden. In addition, we shopped a lot the first few days, buying some clothes and a few books. (Well, okay, so we had to buy a large suitcase to take all the books back.)

But this was very much a Sydney trip punctuated by our meeting various interesting people and groups. We met Cat Sparks (pictured below) and her friends, along with/including Margo Lanagan, Kim Westwood (also pictured below), and alumni of the latest Clarion South. Cat is a powerhouse of energy and fun; we also argued long into the night, in a very playful way, about the relative merits of certain Duran Duran albums.

Lunch with Garth Nix, his wife Anna (with Pan Macmillan Australia), Malcolm Knox (Sydney Herald), and Cate Paterson (also with Pan Macmillan Australia) was very relaxing, and offered up a lovely view of the harbor.

That same day, we had an amazing Nepalese dinner with David Lynton from Galaxy Bookshop, his wife Natalie, Michelle Kearns from Borders and her husband, Peter (pictured below), as well as three Anns (more on that later). It was outside and started raining. At one point, someone tried to deliver a pizza through a hole in the back wall. A great deal of fun, followed by playing pool and drinking beer in an Irish pub.

We also met members of rock group The Church at Bondi Beach—Steve Kilbey, Tim Powles, and Marty Wilson-Piper--for one of many highlights in Sydney.

I’ve loved The Church since picking up their CD Hey Day in the 1980s, so it was a real treat to have a chance to talk to them—and to find that they were all genuine, honest, intelligent, fun guys. (I’d rather not jinx it by mentioning the details yet, but it appears The Church will be collaborating with me on a future project of mine, debuting in August of next year. Check out their website. They’ve been making great music for over 25 years. Absolutely one of my favorite bands of all time—Shriek was mostly written listening to The Church.) This year, they're a finalist for Australia's prestigious Aria awards.

The photo below of The Church’s Tim Powles and his precocious daughter Bryn is my favorite of the entire trip. (Unfortunately we did not get a photo of Tim’s charming wife, Jane.)

Our final weekend in Australia, Anna Tambour and Anne Sydenham came up to tour the city with us. It was the weekend of The Three Anns, pictured below flying. (Check out the main photo link for several more amazing photos...) Anna had lived in Sydney and took us to New Town and other cool areas. On Sunday, the writer Ben Peek joined us for a trip to the zoo and a great meal in China Town.

...and then it was over, way too soon. That final night, we were very sad. We’d had an amazing time in Australia, to the point where I don’t have any bizarre stories. Everyone was so nice and everything went so well, there were none of those odd or unsettling moments that usually punctuate trips like these. We just generally loved Australia and want to go back as soon as possible.

Next time, we need to visit Melbourne, Tasmania, and maybe take a trip to New Zealand as well.


P.S. We shared the plane back with the band Unwritten Law and a guy who had just won a triathlon in Adelaide. The athlete was cool. The band, a kinda-punk outfit featured on MTV, was generally okay, but every once in awhile would say something really loud that was really for the benefit of the passengers, so everybody would know how cool they were...which was kinda uncool...


At 6:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does Steve Kilbey sport a mullet these days????

At 5:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome re the Church! One of my favorite bands. That website of theirs is great.


At 10:46 AM, Anonymous Edward Morris said...

WOW. Neil Gaiman and Jim Henson Productions ("Mirrormask"), now Jeff VanderMeer and The Church... This is apparently the year for improbable/ unbelievable collaborations. And not a wild pig in sight... ---ed.

At 5:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hate to be a nark, but ... just wanted to let you know that it's Newtown not New Town ... glad you had such a great time in Sydney!!


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