A hot Sunday morning to begin with, and the care factor with our host Gregg is alive and well. Welcome to a Peek Tours experience. Plenty of water? Check. Do you need any sunscreen? Check. Maximum time in the shade as much as possible? Oh yes.
A a guided three-hour walking tour with Gregg (correct, his name is spelt with two G's at the end) began at Customs House. Turned up with ten minutes to kill for the 10:30am session, and Gregg mentions that the tour will start at 10:40am to allow for any latecomers; with track work on almost the entire Sydney train network, combined with Chinese New Year Celebrations (as at the time of writing this), a few minutes grace was needed.
The Peek Tours experience is suitable for both locals and visitors to Sydney. Gregg says it is quite common for locals to participate as a family. Peek Tours started in Europe, and has been around in Sydney for the last three years. Additionally Peek Tours also runs a party tour every Wednesday and Friday at 8:30pm. Gregg is one passionate tour guide, and let me say his knowledge and historical quirks on Sydney is quite impressive.
Although the tour is free, you are asked to contribute in cash what you feel the tour was worth to you at the end of the Peek Tours experience. Not going to give too much away as I would not want to ruin the surprise for you, but here are some of the highlights of this tour.
The story of the rainbow serpent was mentioned, and how convicts at the time were given the options between a 'cruise' (in other words, a boat trip to Sydney) or face the death penalty. Port Jackson also had a mention, and so did Captain Cook and Botany Bay. It is amazing to discover that Customs House is also a library with free Internet use for research purposes only.
Great art installation, yet not sun friendly for the grass.
Gregg mentioned that the most popular ferry is the Manly Ferry. It was fascinating to learn a few more things about this beachside suburb. Manly was named by Governor Phillip. Hot tip: ensure you're back at Circular Quay by 8pm in the summer time. Why? Come on this tour and you will find out why. Fascinating.
Did you know that a Manly Ferry hit a whale along Sydney Harbour last year? Same deal, you will find out more from Gregg, the Sydney walking encyclopaedia himself. Did the Sydney Opera House get built due to the Sydney/Melbourne rivalry at the time? Why was the construction of the Sydney Opera House 10 years over budget? These answers will be revealed on a Peek Tours walking tour of the city.
A $53 million upgrade of the Museum of Contemporary Art also includes some outdoor art that burns the grass in front of it in the sun. Who would have thought. You will also learn that backstage tours of the Sydney Opera House are available for $35 and go for an hour. Gregg reckons the best way to experience the Sydney Opera House is to go to a show there. Find out how you can nab yourself a last minute discount to such shows on this tour.
3. Did 5000 nude people stand outside the Sydney Opera House?
Who would have thought, and on this amazing tour you will be surprised to discover that US based photographer Spencer managed to pull this off on a cold Monday morning right outside the Sydney Opera House two years ago. See, fascinating and quirky.
Yes, we did pay a visit to Sydney's oldest sanctuary starting with Cadmans Cottage, a building built by convict Francis Greenway in 1816. Later in the tour our group also learnt that Francis Greenway also built the Hyde Park Barracks. Meanwhile Gregg talks about the various markets in Sydney, and the verdict is that the Bondi markets is his favourite. Come on the tour, you will find out why.
Fruit and vegetables can be purchased for bargain prices at Paddy's Markets every Sunday. Food for thought indeed. You will also learn about a weapon comprised of a sock filled with wet sand. Gregg also talked about The Rocks Discovery Museum, an establishment of which is also kid friendly. The most popular pub in The Rocks is right next to the market stalls, and they run a happy hour from 4pm-6pm. Think German. Another gem of this tour.
Tips on getting to walk the Sydney Harbour Bridge were also given, and some time was also spent right outside the Susannah Place Museum, which was built in 1884. What's the reason for the hotel explosion? The Government (at the time in the 1960's declared the area to be a slum.
This occurred on the 27 February 1788 when rum was currency. You will receive a chance to stand at the site of this extreme event. Want an alternative to Sydney Tower? You will learn and see this alternative on this tour.
We stood on the grounds of this exotic hang out spot, only to discover some hanging birds around the corner. Forgotten Songs. Awesome street art. Next stop: Martin Place. Commemorations were going on at the GPO, and we learnt what we need to do to get onto TV in this area without getting caught. The blue pill or the red pill? Discover the exact location where hit film The Matrix was filmed.
Not far from the Golden Bucket. More history. Cool.
Interesting to also learn that this park used to be a horse track. Gregg also talked about the chess sets system, and how Park Street was formed to divide the park in half. Gregg also mentioned that when you come to the red Coca Cola sign you're in "the cross." The owner and editor of The Bulletin has a water fountain named in his honour, as well as an elite art prize. Gregg will also talk about this on the tour.
Who is "the flasher"? Did the mint used to be a rum hospital in the colonial days? If you're "lucky" you might get to handle the lucky pig outside Sydney Hospital in your own special way on the tour. This technique comes with special instructions to bring yourself more luck.
Shame that all good things do come to an end. The last stop was the Royal Botanical Gardens. Gregg also spoke about a special tree and the "Choo Choo Express". Legal and illegal ways to climb the bridge were also discovered with the view to the Sydney Harbour Bridge itself.