Public transport the key to happy travels
THE kids are loving public transport in Sydney.
And I've got to admit, it's a brilliant set up you've got down here. Everything seems to run on time and be reasonably priced and Opal cards make it so easy.
I confess, though, we have had an issue or two.
"Give me the keys and I'll put them in my bag,” I said to Tracey as we manoeuvred the kids through the train doors and onto a Central Station platform.
"You've got the keys,” said Tracey. "You drove.”
True. And what an angsty and tight-lipped drive it was, racing around unfamiliar Sydney suburbs in heavy traffic trying to find a station to fulfil a promise we made to the kids the day before: take a long train ride.
We'd eventually found two stations, but the first one didn't seem to offer up any parking, so we drove on and kept looking. When we finally found a car park we didn't need to catch a Uber from the good mood we'd set off with an hour earlier was frayed and unravelling.
And it was about to get worse.
"I just assumed you had them,” I said to Trace, "because you were getting the kids out of the car while I tried to work out how to pay for parking.”
That's a whole other world of pain right there. The screen would light up with heaps of instructions but then shut down because I wasn't pressing any buttons - because I hadn't finished reading the instructions yet.
I admit my cranky mood wasn't lifted by this. Tracey, to be fair, had her hands full trying to coax shoes back on to feet while giving judgments on squabbles which had broken out in the very back seat presumably for no other reason than three of our children had been sat next to each other for a spell.
While I was mentally stamping my feet over the whole parking meter scenario again, Tracey moved on quickly to a, if I'm perfectly honest, shock revelation.
"Wait,” she said suspiciously. "Are you saying you didn't lock the car?”
"Oh, s***t,” we both hissed. We don't leave our car unlocked in our driveway in little ol' Gympie.
Tracey, always the voice of sense and reason, was for jumping straight onto a train and heading back, but I, always the whiney voice of "stuff that”, argued by then it would be two hours since we parked it so chances were the seats would already have been ripped out.
And by "argued”, I obviously mean I stomped off towards the light rail stop, as per the next step of our original plan. And although Tracey did concede to follow me, I suspect that might have been because I had all the Opal cards in my pocket and her purse in my backpack rather than because she came around to my side of the argument.
At this point, I should like to relieve you of any suspense on the matter of our car and announce later that night it was still where we'd left it, still had a stereo and didn't smell of urine. The trifecta of "told you so” I was hoping for.
Meanwhile, we'd had a fantastic time exploring Sydney's Chinatown, Paddys Market and Powerhouse Museum, so our moods had lightened considerably.
This was about to change.
"Best bit of today?” I asked the kids on the light rail from the Chinatown district back to Central Station.
They had a lot to choose from.
We ate some cream puffs in Chinatown which were delicious, talked about architecture among the old and new buildings, filled our bellies with fruit from the markets, bought clothes and a couple of those stupid fidget spinners which are all the rage, plus saw some quite simply awesomely thought out displays at the museum: anyone who can hold the interest of a five year old for longer than a minute in an exhibit about the history of 3D printers is doing something right.
Plus, we'd managed to catch to jump on several trains, light rail and buses to scratch their itch for public transport. So I was keen to hear their thoughts. This is, after all, the reason we exhaust ourselves cramming these sorts of experiences into our days.
"The bottle of Coke,” said Miss7, waving her drink in my face and effectively puncturing my enthusiasm for counting heads when we jumped off at the next stop.
"Don't be stupid,” said Master12 to his little sister, giving me some hope at least one of my kids was getting something out of all this. It was a brief reprieve. Iced tea is heaps better.”
I turned my attention to Tracey instead.
"Any idea which platform we have to head to?” I asked her, because we'd be disembarking shortly.
"No idea,” she said.
"No worries,” I said, pulling out my phone. "I can look it up. Which station do we get off at?”
"What do you mean?” she asked suspiciously.
"Where did we park the car?” I clarified. "Which station?”
"You didn't look?”
"Oh, s***t,” we both hissed.
So yeah, just the odd difficulty.
PS: In case you're wondering how we worked out which station we were parked at, we didn't. The bloke who overheard our conversation did after we gave him some hints - we went over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the station was sort of under shops. It was St Leonards.
Learn more about Bruce's efforts to raise his family on little more than laughs at bigfamilylittleincome.com