I thought it would be fun to wrap up this series by comparing impressions from my original visit to Australia in 1997 to my return there in 2018. A lot remained the same although I also noticed some discernible differences too. Of course I couldn’t ignore the two decades of changes within myself, nor that our children didn’t even exist the previous time. Those certainly influenced the course of our latest adventures.
Sydney Skyline in 1997
The skyline of Sydney, Australia changed a bit. A quick comparison of the view showed a few new highrises sprouting along the waterfront. My camera also changed. Digital cameras existed in 1997 although I didn’t own one. That didn’t happen for another few years when we purchased one after the birth of my older son. The image I posted on my website back then — the one displayed above — had to be transferred from an actual print photograph using a scanner.
Sydney Skyline in 2018
Some things remained the same too, like the camera angle I used to capture the image. I took both of these photos from the same approximate spot, an overlook at the Taronga Zoo. It was one of those designates spaces designed to offer a nice photo op. I’m sure someone would describe this as "Instagrammable," however as the evidence clearly showed it existed long before Instagram.
Upon my return to the U.S., I pulled the old photo album from a dusty bookshelf. It displayed all of the images from that earlier Australian trip. I’d done a good job of reproducing many of the same photos from identical angles on my recent trip without even realizing it. Apparently my brain worked in very predictable patterns.
Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel
Lord Nelson in 1997
One of the key landmarks we visited in Sydney sat in one of its oldest neighborhoods, The Rocks. Here, the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel offered respite and sustenance as it had since 1841. I hadn’t been to many brewpubs when we stopped there a couple of decades ago so the concept still felt a little fresh to us. We found it memorable enough to take a photograph.
Lord Nelson in 2018
Fast forward to the present and I’ve now been to nearly 500 different breweries. Of course we needed to return to Lord Nelson. Little had changed. Actually it did contain one major difference that I only noticed after I compared the photos upon returning home. The hotel seemed to have sprouted a whole new floor! Look how the top of the building grew. Inside, however, the bar looked exactly the same as I’d remembered it from many years before.
A lot happened technologically between the trips. The Internet certainly existed back in 1997 although we didn’t bring any gadgets to attach to it. It wasn’t like I could bring our clunky desktop computer and oversized monitor with us. We simply survived without connectivity for a couple of weeks and didn’t worry about it. Email collected in an unread inbox and we dealt with it when we got back home. This time we had so many laptops, tablets, smartphones and such that we practically overloaded the WiFi at every place we stayed. We kept complete connectivity nearly the entire time. Electrical differences posed no barriers either. Adapters worked effortlessly because nearly every device could regulate the voltage now. We needed a true electrical converter only once, for our younger son’s night light.
We didn’t own a mobile phone during our original trip either. Literally, we dropped out of existence to everyone and everything we knew. This time we switched temporarily to a special pricing plan offered by our service provider so we could use our phones internationally. It cost only a few bucks a day and only on days when we actually used it. On the couple of occasions we needed to call back to the United States we connected our phones to the WiFi and called for free.
Cash? Who needed cash? In 1997 we certainly did. Back then we even brought a bunch of traveler’s cheque (do those even exist anymore?) which we had to cash at a bank and convert into local currency. Now credit cards served as a universal currency. We did bring a small amount of local currency "just in case." We needed cash only a single time though, at a convenience store in Rotorua, New Zealand when we bought some soda and chips for the kids. Mostly we used cash just to get rid of our little stash.
We’ve all seen certain companies disrupt entire industries. Those trends extended here too. We arranged all of our accommodations through Airbnb. All of our reservations worked out fine and provided better living situations than any hotels. Generally we got around by rental car. However, we did have a couple of urban situations where driving would have been a pain. For that, I’m happy to report that Uber worked just fine using the exact same app we used back home. Neither of those options existed twenty years ago.
That’s All Folks
We’ve finally reached the end of this series after a dozen installments. Now it’s time for Twelve Mile Circle to go into hibernation again for awhile. New articles will be back in a few weeks.
Articles in the Australasian Adventures Series:
- Preparations and Arrival
- On the Waterfront
- Heading Inland
- The Hunter Region
- Wild Animal Encounters
- Captive Animal Encounters
- Epic Runs
See Also: The Complete Photo Album on Flickr