Fellow SMPTE TC delegates:  Welcome to day two of the TC meetings in Sydney.

For those on the phone: today is even better than yesterday – sun is out, and it’s lovely.   So today you can be jealous.   On the other hand, the weather still is predicted to turn seriously pearshaped over the weekend,  so feel free to act smug when we tell you it’s raining in buckets.

Those of you in the room:  please make time to say hi to me and Franco.  Please find questions for us to answer.   We love this city, and we want you to know why.   Franco is incredibly shy and will appreciate the approach.  So am I, for what it’s worth.

* UTS is south of the city.
* The general area north of us is called Darling Harbour, which is off Sydney Harbour.  No, it’s not a bay.  It’s a harbour.
* the specific inlet near the convention centre, where all the shops and restaurants are, is Cockle Bay
* the CBD is east of Cockle Bay, and the Convention Centre is SW of Cockle Bay

If in doubt, remember that the sun is ALWAYS in the north here.   Always.   I know that sounds like an obvious thing to point out, but every time I’m in the northern hemisphere my brain screams at me that I have lost my sense of direction.  Surprise!  Seems we learn early on to follow the sun.      Who would have thought?

Thursday is late shopping night.   Stores are open to 2100 in the CBD.

Nearest coffee is even nearer:   you can get to the internal cafe downstairs via the lift, directly to level 3.  That will save you many many steps, but you have to wait for the very slow lift.   There are no accessible level-to-level stairs near our room.   This was arranged by the same architect who thought it was a good idea to locate the toilets in the area between the liftwells on even- numbered floors (so none of the lifts stop on even numbered floors).

Nearest vending machines:   there are drink machines across the open space from the level 3 cafe.   These are priced typically ($3.50 for a 600ml Coke) but get my vote for two reasons:  they are charged with Vanilla Coke, and there is an entire machine loaded with different flavours of Mother.

Nearest water fountain:   OK, this was a surprise.  Next to the vending machine is one of those neat taps which dispenses filtered chilled water and boiling water.   For anyone who wants to refill a water bottle, or make instant noodles, you’re in luck.  And there’s a microwave oven built into the bench.  That might not seem important today, but over the weekend it gives you another option (and something to do with the doggy bag that you took from the restaurant and hid overnight in the minibar).

Great tourist attraction:   Sydney Tower provides a magic view of the city and harbour.   It’s absolutely worth the price of admission, but best value if you do three things:  1.  Allow enough time to look around.    90 minutes would be sensible… the harbour keeps changing.   2.   Go up about 40 minutes before sundown, and stay for the sunset.  Sunset is1703 today (14 July) and getting one minute later per day.  3.  Read the next item, in which case the price of admission will be reduced to zero, even better value than best.

Least known high value tourist attraction:   The Bar at Sydney Tower.   Huh?   The observatory at Sydney Tower is the top level (4), and you have to pay to get up.   The fine dining revolving restaurant is on level 1 and you don’t have to pay to get in, but you do have to pay to have dinner and get out.   But the real secret is the restaurant bar, which opens at 1630.   There is no charge to go up to it, and you can sit on couches and look straight out the window as Sydney revolves.  All they ask is that you buy a drink – a beer costs around $8, which is a bargain considering the view.

Jogging:   If you’re in the Citigate, head further up Broadway past UTS and the shops.   You will come to Sydney University which has open grounds and is great for jogging.   In the city, you could go to Hyde Park (east side), the Botanical Gardens, Art Gallery, and Mrs Macquaries Road (from which you get THE BEST view of the Bridge and Opera House together in the one shot).

Staying dry:  it’s going to rain.   When it rains in Sydney, it rains heavily and for a short period and the rain stops for a while.  But then it rains again.    You might want to get a cheap umbrella at Paddy’s Market.

Places to eat:   Hmm.  I’ve had lots of questions about where and what to eat.   There are too many eateries in Sydney for me to give you more than a scratching.   The restaurants in Darling Harbour (and especially those on Cockle Bay) can be surprisingly good value, especially those on the east side.   Chinatown is very close, many of the restaurants in Dixon Street (the pedestrian area) have spruikers who will leap out and try to get your business.   Yes, you can negotiate an even better deal if there’s a group of you and you negotiate hard.   Use your standards-setting skills!

If you would like to find a specific cuisine, ask and we’ll try to find something.   Point to note:  there really isn’t an Australian cuisine as such.

If you want me to lead an expedition to somewhere interesting, I’m available Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

Organ Recital:  today at St Andrew’s Cathedral, 1310-1340.  Will cost you $5 donation.  http://www.sydneycathedral.com/content/organ-recitals

Language tip of the day:   If you want Australian lessons, Franco and I will try to help.  If you want the definitive guide to Australian English, it’s a book called “Let Stalk Strine”, by Afferbeck Lauder (I’ll find a prize for the first person to tell me why that’s his name).   It was in stock at Kinokuniya a few weeks back.

Language style tip:  apparently it’s a government style mandate that Australian place names don’t have apostrophes when there is an implicit possessive.  Hence:  “Frenchs Forest”, “Coxs Road”.   Go figure.   Australians are losing the concept of how an apostrophe works, so expect to see plural’s and other ghastly abomination’s.   Don’t blame me, and kick me in the head if I get it wrong personally.

Taxi tips
* taxis don’t need tipping
* they all take credit cards.   All of them
* the Silver Service cabs charge the same amount, but offer a better class of service
* you can choose the cab.
* you don’t have to take the first cab at the rank, and you don’t have to share.