When Australia was first settled by the British in 1788, this sun-drenched land down-under was introduced to the English language. It was spoken in all its English and Irish accents with a bit of Scots and Welsh thrown in as well. Over time, the amalgamation of the accents plus a dose of cockney rhyming slang has created a unique Australian brand of English which can be a little daunting to first-time visitors.
The Market, as we kids called it, has been in existence as long as I can remember. Looking through the eyes of youth, it seemed huge, with lots of sheds and tables and vendors. As I grew into adulthood, I began to realize what an important role the Market played in the lives of so many, especially the farmers who were its mainstays.
The inspiration for the original Old Country Market came from Kristian Graaten and his wife Solveig who emigrated from Lillehammer, Norway in the 1950s. In Norway, it was common for homes to be built into the hillside with the sod roof becoming an extension of the hillside. Voila — the market was born in 1976. As for the goats, the weekend of the Coombs Fall Fair was approaching, and it was decided to put the goats up on the roof to trim the long green grass. A tradition was born, and the goats go onto the roof approximately Mother’s Day every year. Thus a tourist attraction was also born.
As the sun slowly rises behind the Sydney Harbour Bridge, ferry traffic starts, back and forth, as a well-orchestrated ballet. Soon, Sydneysiders are flooding Circular Quay. The ferry terminal is at its busiest and you’re sitting by the river, sipping your coffee. The Opera Kitchen terrace is the perfect place to watch the show while being served your first meal of the day, overlooking the bay and its “coat hanger,” as the locals call the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
As you ride along, it’s easy to spot the dark brown form of an alligator sunning itself along the side of the road. Look deeper into the swamp to see even more of them submerged, with only snouts and eyes peeking above the surface. (Yes, it’s okay to get out of your vehicle, but not okay to get too close to — let alone feed — the wildlife.)