05 January 2008

Driving in North Sydney

"Who in the world would close a multi storey car park on the busiest day of the year?....Fortunately I hadn't picked up a parking ticket. Parking officers must have time off - even in North Sydney!"

New Year's Eve is a special day for most people. From a psychological point of view it is the end of the old year and a day away from what can be perceived as a 'new beginning'. It's like wiping the slate clean and starting all over again. Resolutions are made and most will be broken before the month is out. Then eleven months will pass before the same resolutions are made. Shades of Groundhog Day!

In Sydney it also means fireworks. As most people would know, Sydney hosts probably the best New Year's Eve fireworks display in the world. It's not just the fireworks themselves, but its the setting. The view of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House is utterly fantastic, even more so on New Years Eve.

For children it is a highlight of the year akin to Santa, Dora the Explorer and Elmo. It is an exciting day for my two young daughters. Amazingly, they were so well behaved as they knew that if they were 'good' they would be taken to see the fireworks. At one stage I was so surprised by their great behaviour that I thought the two toddlers in front of me were imposters!

Anyway, I had agreed to meet up with friends at St Leonards park in North Sydney that offers a superb view of the harbour and Sydney Opera House. We had been there before and I knew that the fireworks would look amazing. The only dilemma was in relation to parking. As I was driving to North Sydney I would need to find a parking spot. I knew this wouldn't be easy especially on New Years Eve.

We left home at 7 o'clock to ensure that we would have a chance of finding a place to park. I had packed food, a picnic blanket, Nemo ball, dental floss (for me - i'm addicted to it!) and water. I drove from the house with two well behaved girls sitting in the back seats. I was still wondering if they were imposters or not!

Our friends had suggested that I try a car park in Ridge Street as it is normally empty on New Years Eve. I drove there and my heart sank when I read the sign 'car park full'. I was now beginning to get worried. If this car park is full then where am I going to park? Even the most casual of visitors to North Sydney will tell you that parking is hard to find even on a quiet day.

So I drove around looking for a parking spot. In fact, I drove for the next thirty minutes trying to find a place to park that was not too much of a walk for my daughters. I had mentally calculated that a long walk after midnight would be nigh on impossible for my two gals. So the parking spot had to be no more than 10 minutes walk from the park.

I drove around untill cold beads of sweat appeared on my brow. I was getting frustrated! Every darn spot was taken. Then I saw a sign pointing the way to a multi storey car park. Hooray, I thought. At last a place to park the car. However, when I drove up to this impressive and very tall car park my heart sank. It also had a sign. This one said "closed". I let out a profanity under my breath. Who in the world would close a multi storey car park on the busiest day of the year? Only in North Sydney, I thought.

I drove around and after pondering parking at the Mater Hospital visitors car park I found an illegal parking spot in a quiet road. This will do I told my daughters while praying I didn't get a parking ticket. North Sydney parking officers are red hot on issuing fines as I had heard many times.

I made my way to the park and was joined soon after by my friends. I told them that I couldn't park in the Ridge Street car park as it had a sign saying it was full. When I asked them where they had parked they replied "the Ridge Street car park". I was totally confused. How? why? what the...? Apparently the car park has the full sign to deter people from parking there. I presume as there is no one manning the pay booth. My friends advised that there were plenty of parking spaces. Again I thought 'only in North Sydney'.

After the 9pm fireworks I went with one of my friends to collect my car and drive to the car park and thus saving a potential fine. This was quite a stressful thing as I couldn't remember where I had parked the car! For the next 30 minutes we walked up and down quiet roads until we found it. Fortunately I hadn't picked up a parking ticket. Parking officers must have time off - even in North Sydney!

So we parked my car in the 'empty' Ridge Street car park and made our way back to the park. The rest of the night was uneventful in comparison. For the record, both the 9pm and midnight fireworks were great. My daughters will attest to that. Afterwards we made our way back to the car park and had a relaxing drive home.

So if you are visiting North Sydney on New Years Eve I suggest taking public transport, or parking in any car park that has the words 'car park full' displayed!

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