A bit too British?

We spent Saturday doing some hectic sight seeing in Sydney. The opera house, I'm sad to say, photographs much better than it really is. The harbor bridge is nice but it doesn't really add to the view. The harbor itself is quite lovely, and traversing it in a ferry is a wonderful experience. Manly beach is quite fun.

We took a tour of Government House, located in the Royal Botanic Gardens. Australia, to me, is an appealing mixture of American openness tied together with British scale. So, the people are friendly and obliging while the cars are small and the towns are built for walking. It was in the Government house that I saw the other side of the coin.

The Government house is the official house of the Governor of New South Wales, the state that Sydney is the capital of. Now, the Governor is not really elected (that would be the Chief Minister). The Governor is the representative of the Queen (of England). Bloody weird, if you ask me. And to make things weirder, there is very little that is Australian in that house. It's British style through out.

And incidentally, that's where we learned about the new fashion in Australian political life. The Governor doesn't actually live in that house. She has her own house and uses the British monstrosity as her official residence. But she's not the only one. Our hotel was in Kirribilli, a suburb right across the harbor from central Sydney and in Kirribilli is the house of John Howard, the Australian Prime Minister. Apparently, he decided to continue living in Sydney and to travel to Canberra for official functions? How strange is that? Imagine if George W. Bush had decided to stay in Crawford and visit the White House occasionally. That's pretty much what the Australian Prime Minister does.

Bill Bryson, in his extremely readable travelogue on Australia, remarks that John Howard's decision to continue living in Sydney caused an uproar. Mostly by residents of Canberra who were pissed that they hadn't thought of that first.

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